“Tele-Microbiology”: Top tips for virtual lab training
Last month, the Technical University of Denmark (DTU), along with several other Fleming Fund stakeholders discussed opportunities and pitfalls related to online learning.
DTU has been using distance learning combined with online e-learning courses throughout 2020 and now plans to use more virtual learning to teach microbiology and practical laboratory skills. For grantees interested in online learning best practice, below are some top tips from DTU’s experience:
- Keep module sessions short, no longer than 2-2.5 hours per day allowing for frequent breaks and rest sessions.
- Laboratory technical skill training is the biggest challenge because bench work requires observations of the technique used. Try a go-pro or a mounted camera to zoom in on specific plates and to demonstrate techniques.
- Use “blended learning” methods to keep students engaged. Combine lectures, live Q&A, quizzes, exercises and/or various online platforms like MS Teams, Survey Monkey, WhatsApp etc.
- Allow students to send photos of their culture plates or other lab work on WhatsApp or another suitable platform, so they can receive quick feedback. Ensure data privacy is respected and labels and names are removed from plates before photos are shared.
- Language can be an issue if training is only delivered in English, look for software that allows automatic subtitles or use local experts to record lectures.
- Make sure required consumables and equipment have been delivered to the laboratory in advance
- Provide certificates of participation upon completion
Some good resources for virtual training and some existing courses for laboratory scientists include Virtual Interactive Bacteriology Training, Bacterial Identification Virtual Lab, EUCAST: Preparation of Inoculum, DTU: AMR Theory and Methods, DTU: Whole Genome Sequencing
In the new year, the Fleming Fund will be advertising several online modules that have been developed by The Open University. These courses are free and open to the public and students can enrol in job specific pathways to earn completion badges.