Monica Abrudan

Monica Abrudan

Monica Abrudan is a Training Development Lead in the Centre for Genomic Pathogen Surveillance, at University of Oxford, where she develops courses in genomics and bioinformatics.

Location United Kingdom


  • What about assessing learners' interests?

  • Perhaps the trainer should have first made sure that everyone was on a similar level before the start of the course. Or, perhaps, they could have handed in some pre-course reading, to help learners with the new terminology. What do you think?

  • I agree, that is always difficult! We talked about training needs assessment and also about Formative Assessment in Week 1, Steps 1.19 and 1.20 - I hope you found that information useful for the future.

  • You are right, we also miss face to face courses. However, as we practice virtual learning, training and teaching, we gather more evidence on which educational methods are more effective online. Eventually, online communication will improve and become more efficient.

  • These are all good topics. Which one will you choose for the Week 3 assignment ?

  • I hope you get inspiration from our TtT course.

  • Perfect timing!

  • Your idea seems quite intriguing. 35 min is quite a short interval! Will of offer pre- and post- course learning materials ?

  • Having 1:1 conversations sounds like a good strategy, but how do you manage large cohorts of learners?

  • What would you ask in the pre-course survey?

  • Are you thinking of a formal, marked test?

  • Your plan sounds very tidy and organised - we are looking forward to seeing your design in Week 3!

  • Knowing how to install certain software programmes is a useful skill on its own. I do believe learners should be shown how to install and run their own software, however, during the course, they should be given very clear instructions on how to do so, in the interest of time!

  • Thank you, Stefany, I like how you phrased this: real-life data is not 'perfect data'. Yes, it is important to know how to analyse imperfect data, because often, as scientists, we hardly get perfect data.

  • You probably have some questions about the peer review project in week three – please add them to the responses to this comment so that the educators can help you.

  • You probably have some questions about the peer review project in week three – please add them to the responses to this comment so that the educators can help you!

  • @FrancinePerrine-Walker Could you recommend any funders in your country to other people attending the course?

  • Thanks for sharing your plan, Iros. Will you need additional trainers to facilitate the small projects?

  • @AlanCalder I see. From my work experience, we see a lot of discrepancies between phenotypic speciation vs WGS speciation. It is a good example where WGS performs very well in comparison to other methods, and a course on bacterial identification could motivate learners to continue studying bioinformatics!

  • Question for all: How do you include hands-on exercises in online courses?

  • Sounds ambitious! I am also looking forward to see your project in Week 3.

  • Nice questions, Francine. How would you facilitate communication between field plant pathologists and bioinformaticians? What would each need to learn for the conversation to be meaningful?

  • I liked your questions, let me answer some here: in some situations, you can predict phenotypes based on genotypes, without the need of in vitro/in vivo experiments. Also, with bioinformatics, you can study hundreds, thousands, millions of samples at the same time, something that you would not be able to do in experimental work. Bioinformatics results are...

  • It is difficult to adapt course materials when you work with large, heterogeneous groups of students. One idea is offer several versions of the course, and group the students according to their interests.

  • Thank you, Francine. How would you motivate Masters students (with no previous research work experience) that plant pathogenic nematodes is an interesting topic?

  • Thank you, Alan - that sounds like an exciting course! Just as a curiosity, are you planning to compare outcomes of different methods for species identification, such as WGS vs phenotypic assays vs other molecular methods vs Vitek? If so, could you bring experienced professionals with lab and bioinformatics expertise to share their contrasting experience with...

  • Thank you Heather, for describing the design of your course. If the trainers are unknown at the moment, is there a plan to ensure that they will meet certain training/teaching standards?

  • Thank you for sharing this, Thomas. I would expect students to know the package installation, basic scripting and ability for self-help from a Beginners course in R. This is only a suggestion, but maybe, an Advanced course in R should include some realistic use-case scenarios, or allow students to bring in their own datasets and perform analyses in R on...

  • That is a good point, Stefany. If you were to design your course, what methods would you use to assess your learner's previous knowledge?

  • A question to all: How do you organize virtual classes with multiple trainers/helpers? I sense that some of you use breakout rooms, but does this not spoil the flow of the main course? And, without breakout rooms, is there really any need for helpers?

  • @ThomasManke Hi Thomas, I re-posted your question and pinned it this post, so that it becomes more visible. Keep an eye on the answers.

  • Hi, Danai, good goals and objectives, they are quite ambitious! Here are some additional questions to explore: How many researchers would you plan to train? Is an MSc course enough to train competent researchers on the topic?
    Do you have funding for additional training (eg PhD scholarships, exchange programmes, other training courses) that MSc students might...

  • Hi Thomas, thank you for sharing your experience. Two follow-up questions on the time constrained course: What feedback did you receive from your learners after "shrinking" the course? And second, did you have to add pre- and post- course learning materials to your course, after shortening it?

  • It seems to me that an advantage to not having enough computers to match the demand was that you could keep the classroom size small and perhaps have more interactions between trainers and learners - or is it not the case?

  • Thank you for sharing your experience, Alan! I agree with you, training 30 learners online, at once, sounds difficult! How many trainers were there for the 30 learners? How would you change the design of the course, if you were to run it again? From my experience, in the case of large groups, such as yours, it might be a good idea to divide learners into...

  • Thank you for sharing, was the course successful? Did students go through the pre-recorded materials? Were they engaged? Did they show up for the live sessions? Are there any downsides to having pre-recorded sessions as opposed to live sessions?