We are developing a suite of videos and web applications which would assist in training students how to perform biotechnology bench techniques and how to use laboratory instruments. The videos feature training by real faculty and researchers in university laboratories.
This project was conceived as a result of years of experience training undergraduates laboratory techniques. Students need to see and then practice techniques in order to become proficient. However, it is not cost effective for instructors to demonstrate the same technique over and over. Furthermore, students often forget particular steps during their practice, often rendering the whole experiment a failure. On-line in-lab availability (or personal copies of CD-ROMs) would allow students to quickly review individual procedures. The videos will improve lab outcomes and minimize instructional time and reagent costs.
In the LabTV package, laboratory techniques and sample exercises are provided, with accompanying video clips of techniques being performed. The videos and handouts go hand-in-hand as tools for training. Students could watch pre-lab demonstrations from Web-based or CD-ROM sources. The videos would demonstrate techniques, while key concepts would be explained in the text.
See the examples page.
Methods of Delivery
Users can chose from two sources of delivery: CD/ROMs and the web (intranet or internet source). The CD/ROM allows higher quality video format, and can be sold independently or bundled with a textbook. The web based video format would have slightly lower resolution due to bandwidth constraints.
Multiple delivery strategies will help students come to lab prepared for the experiment.
Students can view the prelab materials from home, a laptop, the campus intranet, or anywhere else with an internet connection. A lab computer displaying the protocol will reinforce ideas for the prepared student, and quickly initiate the totally unprepared. It might even decrease the number of times "what we do?" is uttered in the first ten minutes of lab.
We have selected QuickTime movies as the simplest and most effective way to deliver the material. As powerful as the Macromedia suite (Authorware/Director) is, we believe that it is too time-consuming and costly to develop in this environment. Quicktime and HTML provide easier development and faster turnaround times. Feedback-based interactivity, such as online quizzing, can be provided by Java.
Both PC and Mac users would be able to use the CD/ROMs. The only requirement is a browser with QuickTime plug-in (standard issue with both IE and Netscape).
We also plan to deliver the material in Adobe PDF format, with videos embedded in the lab procedure text. The PDF format has excellent cross-platform compatibility, while still allowing the student access to video demonstrations while reading lab manual text.
Our training products would meet the needs of undergraduate and graduate students learning laboratory and research techniques. As our understanding of the genome increases, knowledge of lab techniques and the ability to manipulate genetic sequence information are going to become increasingly marketable skills. Pharmacogenetics is another emerging industry that is going to demand a large number of lab (and lab software) savvy personnel.
The suite of techniques would be appropriate for students in molecular biology, microbiology, biochemistry and cell biology courses.
It could be sold independently or bundled with the lab training manual.
Professionals who need to learn molecular biology skills could purchase the lab suite as a cost-effective in-house workshop.
The videos could also serve as the basis for a distance learning courses or workshops for colleges and businesses. In collaboration with an accredited university, degree credit could be obtained.
This Molecular Biology suite would command the market, as there are no other similar products on the market. The basic lab manuals designed to lead students through simple predefined Molecular Biology experiments do not include visual examples of techniques. There are only a few professional manuals available to train in these laboratory areas, they are very expensive, CD/ROM versions are time dated, and do not contain visual techniques (Current Protocols, Short Protocols, and the Handbook of Molecular Biology).