Microbiologists at NUI Galway are putting the subject in the spotlight with the recent launch of an ambitious student-centred, video-teaching initiative.
The project showcases a range of techniques that are routinely performed in microbiology teaching and research laboratories.
The 40 professionally produced videos are contained on a freely available YouTube channel and will be a valuable resource for both third and second level students.
Project lead Dr Katrina Lacey sees multiple benefits for students in NUI Galway and worldwide. “We started this project from a very pure, student-focused blueprint, with the goal of enhancing our teaching of small-scale, specialist, techniques that are often difficult to demonstrate to large classes," she said.
"Feedback from an initial trial used in our microbiology degree this year was hugely positive, both in helping students to develop their practical skills and in improving their understanding of core concepts in microbiology.”
Produced in combination with Slipjig Media, the videos depict techniques routinely carried out in teaching laboratories. Techniques covered in the videos range from simple methods such as culturing and identifying bacteria, to more specialised and sophisticated procedures used in analysing and manipulating DNA and proteins.
The project, which took two years to complete, saw a team of PhD students in the discipline of microbiology hone their skills in the relevant techniques before carrying out the experiments on camera. This was followed by months of video and audio editing to ensure the technical details are expertly presented in the finished mini-movies.
Professor Gerard Wall, head of microbiology at NUI Galway, said: “Visual learning is an important strategy for many students, especially when it comes to understanding core laboratory techniques. These videos will support students’ learning, not only in the case of third level undergraduates, but Junior and Leaving Cert students too.
“The videos will also help students who wish to continue their studies in the biosciences field in their progression to third level."
The new YouTube channel, containing a trailer that gives a flavour of the content and aims of the video suite as well as the instructional videos, can be found by searching microbiology teaching videos at NUI Galway on YouTube.