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How do Life Scientists Teach Each Other? A Discussion on Peer-to-Peer Training in Academia


The “How I Teach” talk series is an invitation for anyone delivering professional development to life scientists and educators to share their curriculum, tips, technologies, and approaches. Email to participate or complete a submission form to sign up to give a short talk and/or demo of the teaching skill you want to share. See full blog post for details.

Time and Date for Talks

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YouTube: Link to video

May Talk

Lisanna Paladin, European Molecular Biology Laboratory

Format: Short talk and demo

Take home messages


Peer-to-peer training has become an increasingly popular approach to learning and development in the corporate world, with companies like Google and IBM implementing successful peer-to-peer training programs. However, peer-to-peer training in academic institutions is often overlooked or undervalued, despite the potential benefits for trainers, trainees and entire institutions. As trainers and training coordinators in the life science field, it is important to recognize, facilitate and support peer-to-peer training among academic scientists in order to foster a culture of knowledge and skills sharing and improve productivity and enjoyability of the work environment.

The discussion will begin with a presentation on the current state of peer-to-peer training in the computational biology community at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL), from the perspective of the Bio-IT project. The Bio-IT project is a community initiative aimed at build, support and promote computational biology activity at the research institute. Despite the project having two assigned project managers, most of the activities and training in particular are carried out by volunteer members of the community. In addition, some project activities are specifically aimed at fostering the spontaneous knowledge and skills sharing interactions between EMBL staff.

By sharing this context-specific experience, we hope to stimulate a more general discussion about the differences between spontaneous peer-to-peer training and an actual program, including the challenges and benefits of supporting both types of interactions. The discussion will also focus on how to create a supportive environment for peer-to-peer training, including strategies for recognizing and rewarding trainers, providing resources and support for trainees, and building a community of practice culture.

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