Bio-Link Aligns With Vision and Change Recommendations

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Title of Abstract: Bio-Link Aligns With Vision and Change Recommendations

Name of Author: Elaine Johnson
Author Company or Institution: City College of San Francisco
Author Title: Bio-Link Executive Director
PULSE Fellow: No
Applicable Courses: Agricultural Sciences, Bioinformatics, Biotechnology, Cell Biology, General Biology, Genetics, Microbiology, Virology
Course Levels: Across the Curriculum, Faculty Development, Introductory Course(s)
Approaches: Adding to the literature on how people learn, Assessment, Changes in Classroom Approach (flipped classroom, clickers, POGIL, etc.), Internships, Material Development, Mixed Approach
Keywords: Interdisciplinary Contextual Skills-based Evidence-based Competency

Goals and intended outcomes of the project or effort, in the context of the Vision and Change report and recommendations: The Bio-Link Next Generation National Advanced Technological Education (ATE) Center for Biotechnology and Life Sciences builds on the success of the original Bio-Link National Center for Biotechnology that was first funded by NSF in 1998. Bio-Link’s mission is to 1) increase the number and diversity of well-trained technicians in the workforce; 2) meet the growing needs of industry for appropriately trained technicians; and 3) institutionalize community college educational practices that make high-quality education and training in the concepts, tool, skills, processes, regulatory structure, and ethics of biotechnology available to all students. The means for fulfilling the mission are aligned with today’s new biotechnology environment. The goals of the Next Generation Bio-Link National Center are to: 1) strengthen and expand biotechnology education programs across the nation; 2) enable biotechnology faculty, students, and technicians to work more efficiently; and 3) support a smoother transition of students to the technical workforce in the biosciences and related industries.

Describe the methods and strategies that you are using: In order to achieve its goals, Bio-Link emphasizes three categories of activities and products. Category I. Providing direct services to faculty, teachers, counselors, students, biotechnology programs, and educational institutions. Category II. Stimulating information sharing and collaboration among students, faculty, industry and educational institutions. Category III. Supplying greatly expanded and improved information to students and to life-sciences and related companies. Bio-Link is one of thirteen ATE Centers that is participating in the Synergy Collaboratory for Research, Practice and Transformation that focuses on practices and processes that lead to achieving scale. Bio-Link is also connecting with Vision and Change recommendations suggested by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

Describe the evaluation methods that you used (or intended to use) to determine whether the project or effort achieved the desired goals and outcomes: The annual five day Summer Fellows Forum provides educators from community colleges and high schools across the country with a series of workshops and presentations. Between 1999 and 2012, some 678 instructors and administrators had attended the Forum. Feedback questionnaires and follow-up surveys administered to Forum participants from 1999 through 2012 indicate that the great majority of them had modified their curriculum (92%) and teaching strategies (87%) as a result of what they had learned.

Impacts of project or effort on students, fellow faculty, department or institution. If no time to have an impact, anticipated impacts: Together with other workshops conducted by the Center (over 384 to date), Bio-Link’s professional development has made a substantial impact on biotechnology education across the country. Instructors who have participated in Bio-Link professional development over the years teach approximately 128,800 students (52,800 by Forum participants and 76,000 by other workshop participants).

Describe any unexpected challenges you encountered and your methods for dealing with them: One challenge was the lack of awareness about biotechnology careers. In every one of the past three years, the phrase 'biotech careers' has been one of the top ten search terms that people use to find the Bio-Link web site. The repeated use of this phrase for web searches indicates a strong interest in locating information about biotech careers. Bio-Link officially launched at the 2012 Bio-Link Summer Fellows Forum. We see the career site functioning in the following ways: Students will come to the site to learn about different biotech careers. They will look at the photo journals, read the interviews, and watch videos to see people who work in biotech jobs and hear what they have to say about the careers. They may also read the articles to learn about job-hunting tips or new job areas.

Describe your completed dissemination activities and your plans for continuing dissemination: The Clearinghouse is as an online collection of 130 instructional and curriculum materials for biotechnology. Clearinghouse website usage metrics indicate that Bio-Link’s strategies for improving and managing the Clearinghouse are proving effective, and there are positive trends in site usage from 2010-2011 to 2011-2012. Total unique visitors continued to grow, (767 to 890), as did total visits (1,086 to 1,324), average visit duration, and the percentage of repeat visitors (34% to 37%). In the National Biotechnology Program Survey, almost three-quarters (73%) of the respondents indicated that they had a high level of interest in the Clearinghouse, the highest of any Bio-Link product or service.

Acknowledgements: NSF funding of Bio-Link through Award No. 0903317 with a total of $5,086,040 from September 1, 2009 through August 31, 2014. Co-PI's: Barton Gledhill, VMD, PhD; Linnea Fletcher, PhD, Austin Community College; Sandra Porter, PhD, Digital World Biology; Lisa Seidman, PhD, Madison College. Evaluators: Dan Weiler and Candiya Mann Industry Partners who have provided support and insight and educators across the nation who have provided guidance and collaboration.