Teaching and Communicating Science in a Digital Age (Conference)

December 15th-17th 2014 saw me at Charles Darwin House (London) for the Society of Experimental Biology’s Education and Public Affairs symposium Teaching and Communicating Science in a Digital Age (click link to see full programme). This looked like a valuable event from the outset, but I can honestly say it turned out to be even better than expected. A pdf file (35 pages) capturing the Twitter feed for #SEBed2014 can be seen via this link. [UPDATE: I have also produced my first Storify from the tweets, which removes the retweets in the PDF, and puts them into a more logical order.]

It was good to catch up with old friends, to have the first face-to-face meeting with various Twitter friends and to make other new friends. Indeed, one of the striking things about the attendees was the lack of overlap with the HEA Bioscience regulars.

It would be invidious to pick out any one talk for special mention, but I would say the two sessions from which I got the most inspiration were “Engaging with the public and schools” and “Students as creators and communicators” (CoI declaration: my talk was in this session). At least two of the presentations were primarily delivered by current undergraduates, which was also refreshing.

I made three formal contributions to the symposium – a talk on our bioethics video-production assessment, and two posters (one on the Careers After Biological Science work, and one on Biology on the Box, my more recent project developing a library of recommended television clips for teaching biology). Links to all three can be found here:

The CABS programme involves Leicester alumni giving talks about their diverse careers which are then made available online.

The CABS programme involves Leicester alumni giving talks about their diverse careers which are then made available online.

Biology on the Box is my latest project, developing a library of recommended TV clips and programmes for teaching Biology

Involving alumni in careers education

The December 2011 edition of Bioscience Education included an account I wrote concerning our Careers After Biological Science (CABS) programme at the University of Leicester. The CABS series of careers talks was started in 2007. Since 2009 it has been supported and enhanced by the Bioscience careers blog which includes copies of the slides used in the presentations, as well as a variety of videos and/or audio recordings.

As the Abstract of the paper states:

Graduate employability is an important concern for contemporary universities. Alongside the development of employability skills, it is also crucial that students of bioscience, a ‘non-vocational’ subject, have awareness of the breadth of potential careers that can follow from their initial degree.

Over the past five years we have developed the Careers After Biological Science (CABS) programme. Former students are invited back to describe their current role and offer practical advice to undergraduates who may be considering moving into a similar discipline. The speakers’ career profiles and associated resources are then collated onto an open-access website for the benefit of the wider community.

This project is characterised by two principal innovations; the pivotal role of alumni in the delivery of careers education, and the integrated use of multiple social media (web2.0) technologies in both the organisation of careers events and development of an open access repository of careers profiles and associated resources.

To read the full article “Here’s one we prepared earlier”: involving former students in careers advice click here.

  • Awards

    The Power of Comparative Genomics received a Special Commendation

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