Taking your training virtual

Dear LifeSciTrainers Community

Clearly the world is changing because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Hopefully you and your family have been spared the illness, and our heart goes out to all those affected. 

As we all make adjustments to the way we live and work, many are also looking for ways to teach and that means working virtually. We thought there might be several areas where instructors may be looking for help and advice. This may especially apply to those of us who may just be ramping up for (northern hemisphere) summer teaching:

  • How to use video conferencing platforms effectively (e.g. Zoom, Skype, Adobe Connect, etc.)
  • How to run a virtual classroom
  • How to assemble computing resources for remote teaching/learning (e.g. making use of the cloud, virtual machines, etc.)

If you have advice to share, we are inviting you to do talks (short or long), blog posts (tips, tutorials) etc., or just feel free to use the channel. Posting this collective knowledge to our blog and YouTube can also be of use to many. 

To help organize, here is a short form to collect info on how you’d like to contribute: https://forms.gle/okyoo5DZPRpzFzEo9 

We are also going to be polling for our next community call. It will be a chance for some of these talks and also another chance to chat as many folks may welcome since many of us are working from home for the foreseeable future. 

Wishing everyone well – stay safe!

  • Steering Committee

Update – Announcing Community Call Dates/Times for April 2020

We now have times chosen by poll for our April 2020 Community Calls. The topics will be Community meet & greet, and an ideas swap on training in the coming months given challenging circumstances

Western Hemisphere Call Thursday April 9th, 2020 – 02:00PM UTC (See in your time zone

Eastern Hemisphere Call Friday April 10thth 01:00AM UTC (Thursday in USA), (See in your timezone)

Please sign up for your choice of calls in the Google Doc

One comment

  1. I just want to share my one experience. I used the Data carpentry semester course by Ethan White. He had updated it to using R-programming, I changed the course to using the Shell, and the ability to run some bioinformatics software (Genomics scripting). In short, the class was held on campus in a room with large monitors, and I sat at the same table as the students. The class display monitor had it’s own computer, I was at the University, so I used remote desktop (Win10) to my *office* which worked quite well. I simultaneously pulled up both a Gitbash window (working on my remote desktop), and the curriculum, which was on Github (split the monitor in half). When we needed a larger computer, the curricula used Putty and our local HPC (writing submission scripts, which was actually very useful). Mac students had very few problems (now annotated). I only used my laptop if there was an error on the Github site, which could be fixed without exposing the students to the entire Git process (saving that for another day). I also included material from an older week-long bioinformatics workshop I had put together a few years ago. In the end the course included Basic Shell (with some “Nelle”) then more advanced shell for loops and scripting, writing submission scripts for genome assembly (and assembly QC), variant calling (and QC), and ended the Genomics material up to using RStudio (we ran out of time, so did not teach R). The students were pleased and felt empowered. It wasn’t smooth sailing because it was the first time teaching this material, and without using containers, some dependencies changed, but overall, it DID WORK.

    This seems to me like it would be essentially the same as sharing my screen in a ZOOM meeting, and that is how I will prepare for next semester’s offering.

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