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Course Delivery

Delivering your training plan
group of learners sitting around U shaped tables listening to the teacher standing at the board
© Wellcome Connecting Science

Here is a short check list to help you make a delivery plan for your course. Please note that detailed description is out of the scope of this course

A delivery plan should consider the following items:

  • Availability and access of training materials and resources covered in Step 2.18.
  • Ensure that required infrastructure and equipment are tested and functional, and that instructions for software installation, and troubleshooting are provided
  • Health and safety requirements are met and instructions are made available to participants
  • Reagents and consumables are prepared
  • Venue or virtual spaces and online platforms are accessible well provided
  • Session plan to guide you as the trainer on what you intend to cover and breakdown of allocated time. An example of a session plan from the Train the Trainer course in Genomic pathogen surveillance is attached as pdf below. The session activity structure should consist of varied activities, which timed and presented in a sequential manner.
  • Include active learning strategies and varying activities when delivering training (some covered in Week 1). Trachtenberg also highlights some teaching strategies aligned to the level of learning outcomes (Tractenberg, 2020). Read here a blog which describes active learning strategies for bioinformatics training

Course delivery during pandemics

During this week, we have heard from various experts on how they had to adapt their training for virtual delivery due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Most institutions had to experiment in various ways to continue to deliver the much needed training in genomics.

For example, Wellcome Connecting Science converted some of their face-to-face courses to virtual formats. This was more convenient for bioinformatics courses, which required breaking down sessions into a mixture of lectures, hands-on practical sessions in small break out rooms, discussions and group projects. However, the technical set-up presented challenges, as learners were expected to have their own computer infrastructure and good internet connectivity. Although this had to be checked and tested before the course.

Some participants may struggle to remain engaged due to unstable internet connectivity. Provision of online chat platforms, pre-recorded videos and step by step instructions was beneficial for cases where participants had connectivity challenges.

Converting laboratory courses to virtual format presented its own set of challenges. Instructors had to film their techniques and ensure that these are well presented. This required developing filming skills, something which could be daunting for some people. Although watching experimental videos for highly specialised techniques is far from ideal, it also meant the time normally allocated for that session was reduced. To maintain active teaching strategies, sessions for experimental techniques were often done in a flipped manner, starting with watching the video in learners’ own time or during a short period at the start of the session, followed by Q&A, then provision of pre-prepared results for analysis and interpretation done in small breakout rooms. Using single real case studies from publications or research projects woven into the activities provided a coherent approach for learning.

Krutchen, 2020 adapted the training approach for a course for teaching metagenomics to undergraduate students. The virtual course used synchronous and asynchronous delivery methods. The schedule for contact sessions was also reduced to limit fatigue. The article described their virtual delivery approach in following text:

Breakout rooms in Zoom were used extensively to facilitate small group discussions of research questions and to build comprehension of the sequencing videos. Beginning in week 3, the course took on essentially a “flipped” format. Students viewed and practiced skills introduced in the videos and synchronous class time was used for troubleshooting, comprehension checks, and setting up the “next steps.” Students in this virtual course were still able to successfully use R for statistical analysis and visualisation of their data.

To ease the delivery, activities should be designed with clear instructions for accessing resources and relevant platforms, and particularly adhering to health and safety requirements. Design, development and delivery considerations need to factor in contingency plans. While designing the activities it is important to consider the tools, resources and infrastructure requirements. For example, developing exercises which use open access online databases and software may still require a back-up activity, asynchronous plan, or alternative materials in case there are connectivity challenges. Where laboratory equipment may be affected by power outages or just malfunction, having a set of readily prepared results can provide materials for further analysis and interpretation.

Your tasks:

  1. Discuss some advantages, challenges and solutions when delivering or attending a course in virtual format. You can look at it form the trainer’s aspect or the learner’s aspect.
  2. Write down your initial ideas about your own course delivery:
  • Who will deliver the course
  • Teaching strategies and learning strategies to be used – encourage active learning, student centred approaches.
  • Use of resources, budget
  • Use of technology
  • Accessibility considerations (how will you ensure all learners can participate fully)
© Wellcome Connecting Science
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Train the Trainer: Design Genomics and Bioinformatics Training

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