Conference announcement: Making Career-spanning Learning in the Life Sciences Inclusive and Effective for All (December 2021, NY USA)

The formal announcement is posted below, but this conference is a milestone for the LifeSciTrainer’s community. What started two years ago as an idea how now become a small community and now an NSF-funded research project. Read more below and consider how you’d like to participate.

Overview

(Taken from the official announcement on the Banbury Center homepage)

The rapidly-increasing interdisciplinarity of the life sciences makes career-spanning learning critical. Scientists who are able to recognize and traverse skills gaps are better positioned to pursue impactful science and achieve their personal career goals. To bolster their skills life scientists often turn to short-format training (e.g., workshops, bootcamps, and short courses). While it provides point-of-need help, and is often low in time commitment and costs, this approach can be less successful than typically assumed.

Short-format training has the potential to accelerate innovation; unfortunately, it is generally not grounded in effective pedagogy. Effort has been expended to incorporate some principles of educational sciences, but much of what we know works is not implemented including promotion of self-directed learning and learning opportunities that encourage continuing growth. In addition, structural obstacles must be addressed to promote scalable solutions that equitably benefit all members of the life science community.

To address these challenges, a small think tank-style conference, sponsored by NSF (DRL#2027025), will work toward implementable solutions to improve short-format training, making it more effective and inclusive for all. We hope to attract a diverse group of experts with experience relevant to instruction (short-format and otherwise) to ensure that solutions draw on educational research, the experience and needs of the global community, and variability in disciplinary training, career stage, and career path.

The work of the conference is to use a structured process to draft pragmatic recommendations to strengthen short-format training. These contributions will progress toward a community-accepted framework that addresses how strategies can be made effective,inclusive, scalable, and work for the benefit of underserved learners.

How to Participate

Attend the conference (~30 attendees); Nominations open April 14 – Close May 31

Self-nomination form: https://survey.zohopublic.com/zs/SAChZY To drive meaningful discussion, ~30 attendees will be invited to attend the conference in early December 2021 (in-person, Cold Spring Harbor, NY; virtual participation options available). We seek to attract a diverse group of attendees. We anticipate the group convened will include expertise in the sciences, education, policy, and funding. Potential attendees should self-nominate via the form/link above.

Contribute Vignettes (anyone and everyone); Submissions open May 10 – Close June 30

The work of the conference is focused on solving challenges encountered in teaching short-format courses. Conference attendees will be considering vignettes that describe specific instructional challenges or barriers. We want to ensure that the barriers that are considered in the meeting are representative of actual experiences with short form teaching and learning. We invite submissions of challenges (e.g., “How do I ensure that my course content is up to date in such a fast-changing disciplinary context?”, “How do I ensure that my training course is accessible?” or “How can I integrate ethical content into my course?”) for consideration and solutions, from a variety of instructional contexts and as wide a range of life sciences training as possible.

Comment on the whitepaper (anyone and everyone); Available in early 2022

Following the conference, a whitepaper will be available for community comment, prior to formal publication. Through this feedback we hope to develop the broadest consensus possible on recommendations the community should strive to implement and research questions that merit additional study. Join the mailing list If you would like to be reminded of submission deadlines, outputs of the conference, or other conference-related notifications please join our mailing list using the following link: https://survey.zohopublic.com/zs/iTCs9U

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