Teaching the Fundamentals of Biological Data Integration Using Classroom Games
This article aims to introduce the nature of data integration to life scientists. Generally, the subject of data integration is not discussed outside the field of computational science and is not covered in any detail, or even neglected, when teaching/training trainees. End users (hereby defined as wet-lab trainees, clinicians, lab researchers) will mostly interact with bioinformatics resources and tools through web interfaces that mask the user from the data integration processes. However, the lack of formal training or acquaintance with even simple database concepts and terminology often results in a real obstacle to the full comprehension of the resources and tools the end users wish to access. Understanding how data integration works is fundamental to empowering trainees to see the limitations as well as the possibilities when exploring, retrieving, and analysing biological data from databases. Here we introduce a game-based learning activity for training/teaching the topic of data integration that trainers/educators can adopt and adapt for their classroom. In particular we provide an example using DAS (Distributed Annotation Systems) as a method for data integration.