Introducing LabBuddy into Plant Biotechnology course

Short Description

This project focusses on a solution for the bottlenecks in the practical part of the course GEN20806 Plant Biotechnology. Despite continuous efforts of the teaching team, students are ill-prepared for the practical part. The set-up of the practical is complex, with experiments running parallel, which makes it hard for students to keep an overview. Students also need to retrieve information from different sources (BlackBoard, websites, software programmes). Not only is this confusing, but also against educational guidelines that warn against a cognitive overload of students, which interferes with their learning curve. Insufficient experts are available to supervise the strongly increased student numbers. Plus, there is a large diversity in the knowledge level among students. 

By using the web tool ‘LabBuddy’ (www.labbuddy.net) we can instruct students to prepare for the practicals in advance and provide much more specific teaching material (knowledge clips and practical demos, integrated protocols and software, etc.) in an organised, but revisable manner. This will reduce the need for classroom instructions and favours answering substantive questions with a limited set of available instructors. By providing questions and feedback sessions students will be better engaged and their learning curve will improve. The web-lab-manual will be provided with a wealth of background information to accommodate the students, which need to close a knowledge gap. 

Objective

The aim of this project was to solve bottlenecks in the practical part of the course GEN20806 Plant Biotechnology through the ‘LabBuddy’ software package application.

Strong points

By introducing mandatory web-tools for practicals preparation, we are able to separate the understanding from the implementing part of the practicals, which will prevent the current risk on cognitive overload of students. By providing demonstration clips and a streamlined experimental set-up with sufficient layers of background information and interactive feedback, the student can easily focus on each experiment and dedicate time on either acquiring knowledge or practical skills. This makes better use of the time that is currently lost during, for example, experimental incubation steps.

Recommendations

Contact Mark Aarts (mark.aarts@wur.nl) for recommendations.

Products

Web tool ‘LabBuddy’; www.labbuddy.net.