Title GENIAL - Gentechnologie in Ausbildung und Labor
Project Number D/01/B/F/PP-112 561
Product GENIAL Vocational training in gene technology
Title GENIAL Vocational training in gene technology
Product Type CD-ROM
Curriculum for teachers / trainers for laboratory assistents
Target group Lehrer / Ausbilder von biologie- Chemielaboranten
The aim of the pilot project of LEONARDO DA VINCI – GENIAL (Gentechnik in Ausbildung und Labor / genetic engineering in training and laboratory) is to develop a curriculum for a basic training course in genetic engineering for future biology and chemistry-laboratory technicians.
We have chosen the subject mainly because the amount of genetic knowledge and the applications of genetics have exploded in recent decades. Many of the new discoveries and applications also have or might have social relevance in the future due to applications of genetics in medicine (e.g. prenatal diagnosis, testing for carriers and identification of genetic risk factors), agriculture (developing of transgenetic crops, possible ecological risks) and food design (e.g. neuticeutricals). These developments will have great impact on the job situation as well as the personal situation of the students. As technicians they will probably perform genetic engineering and therefore also be confronted with questions about advantages and risks. They will need appropriate knowledge and technical know-how.
Teaching fast developing sciences such as molecular genetics and genetic engineering always leads to the dilemma of choosing the relevant aspects. It seems impossible to prepare the students for any upcoming experimental problem. Therefore we decided to develop a curriculum that focuses, as far as the content is concerned, on the cloning experiment and related subtopics. The participating partners are convinced that the principles of bacterial DNA-cloning are basic knowledge for a profound understanding of genetic engineering.
We decided to teach the principles of DNA cloning by confronting the students with an authentic case: Cloning and subcloning a eukaryotic gene (gfp) into a prokaryotic host. This approach of the subject allows us to integrate experiments into the lessons, which can easily be performed by the students. Working on a “real” case hopefully increases the interest in the principles of genetic engineering. Even though gfp is the central topic of the lessons, the main goal – teaching the general principles of DNA cloning - is at no point neglected.
The gfp-gene has various advantages, especially for teaching purposes, because it is a system that is easy to work with (availability of the gene in different vector systems, antibodies are commercially available, special precautions of safety are not necessary, the protein is expressed in many organisms in a soluble form and it is easy to detect).
Of course one has to keep in mind, that we do not deal with genomic gfp-DNA, but most liekly with a commercial expression kit, which allows us only to do subcloning experiments. This has to be taken into account when planning the course.
The scientific content is directly related to the didactic concept of the course.
Knowing that a training programme of a limited number of lessons can never cover all of the aspects of genetic engineering, we chose a didactic concept that promotes not only the students` theoretical and scientific knowledge, but also supports their skills necessary for preparing summaries and oral reports, explaining a subject to someone else, their sense of responsibility, liability, social competence and further soft skills. The teaching methods of “SOL (Selbstorganisiertes Lernen / self organised learning”) and HOL (Handlungsorientiertes Lernen / action based learning) demand a large amount of autonomy and responsibility of the students for their learning process – not only for themselves but also for their peer students, since within the method of SOL peer teaching is essential. We hope that by involving the students in the process of learning we prepare them for future challenges and give them a “tool” for dealing professionally with upcoming scientific and technical problems and/or new situations.
And of course - by developing a common curriculum - we intend to give the students the opportunity to perform a part of their education abroad. This will give the students the chance to learn not only about genetics but also about the culture and language of the host country.
Structure of the Curriculum
The core curriculum has been provided mainly as a teacher resource and is intended to be highly flexible. The teacher should determine which parts of the curriculum are relevant for their class. This will be highly dependent on the prerequisite knowledge of the class, departmental facilities and time constraints. The ways in which the curriculum structure has been adapted are reflected in how it is already being used in the partner countries – examples are illustrated in the document “Target Groups”.
The “core curriculum” provides an essential framework around which SOL-based exercises have been developed for some of the units. It is envisaged that teachers, once they are familiar with the SOL methodology, will develop tailored exercises for their own classes for the later units. “Practical protocols” and “complete laboratory session details” are provided to highlight the key concepts for a majority of the curriculum.
Area of application