This summer I traveled to the University of Ibadan in Nigeria to participate in the West African Biotechnology Workshops as an invited instructor. Here is an update that I wrote during my stay.
Being a scientist in Nigeria means being very resourceful in finding solutions to barriers… the power goes out 2-4x per day or some days does not come on at all. Scientists here are very practiced at being practical & creative at the same time, a recipe for good science. Only one day did I start to think that the barriers were too big… but then the attitude of the students brought me back around. They work very very hard and are very excited about what they are learning. There are ~20 graduate students, medical doctors, and technicians taking our course. The people that I have met here in Nigeria is what I have enjoyed most. They are full of hope that their country will become one of the top 20 countries in the world. (The goverment has a plan called the 20:20 vision – that hopes to use education, science and technology to raise the profile of Nigeria by 2020). It has been interesting to talk to these young graduate students, to get their own views on the corrupt government and the political problems in the North, and the wars in the Delta (the oil rich region of the country). It is a country with many problems. For example, Nigeria’s children account for 18% of the global under-5 mortality rate. The UN has identified Nigeria as one African country that, if it were to improve and aim to meet the Millienium Development Goals, could make the most impact.
Today I stopped in at the 2008 UBC Learning Conference “Bring Goals to Fruition” Learning Goals Workshop, presented by members of the UBC Earth and Ocean Sciences Science Education Initiative.
Building effective learning goals is a corner stone for increasing the effectiveness and efficiency of the teaching / learning experiences for both you and your students.
Also at this workshop was Beth Simon, a Science and Teaching Learning Fellow with the CWSEI. I’ve interacted with her a lot via email and over the phone about science education initiatives happening over in Computer Science, so it was nice to finally meet her in person. As for the workshop itself, I participated in some brainstorming activities and discussion about learning goals. Nothing really that new, but it was a good opportunity for reflection. In particular, we reflected on the nature of learning goals and how they can be classified into different types: cognitive, skills, and attitude. I also thought it was good how the workshop highlighted the importance of having learning goals at different levels, for example generalized goals that relate to the whole course, as well as specific goals for each lecture. All in all, it was time well spent.
From 2004-2006,I obtained two years of funding from the Teaching and Learning Enhancement Fund (TLEF) at the University of British Columbia to embark on a bioinformatics curricula development pilot project. Through the delivery of hands-on computer based workshops this project entitled, “Applied Workshops in Bioinformatics – Enabling Students to Use Bioinformatics” developed a set of teaching materials that can be adapted for use in the undergraduate classroom.
Here is a screen shot from the website that we put together for this project: