We present our experience in teaching a particular scientific knowledge to a non-uniform audience with different technical background. The final goal of our Master/PhD course was to instruct students in different concepts related to “in silico” biology engineering, however, we faced the problem of different ages and different technical levels or scientific background.

In order to improve attention, motivation and transfer of concepts, we introduced in our teaching methodology a combination of different tools, that particularly involved movies and 3D visualization platforms, together with on-line scientific servers, at the forefront technological level, capable of design and evaluate complex DNA/RNA nanostructures “on real time”.

We tested a particular classroom dynamics: after explaining at the beginning of the session the key goals, through a collection of movies that anticipated the main concepts and results of the experiences planned during the class, we started series of exercises to fix such ideas. The underlying innovation in our method was a combination of both cooperative learning and a guided learning approach, where the students were guided step by step across the different stages of each virtual exercise. “On line” professional tools and 3D visualization allowed immediate interaction teacher-student, boosting communication and learning. Results at each step, derived into the comprehension of a technological concept. Moreover, any particular result was compared to a real case published in a JCR article that used such specific methodology.

As a result, we observed not only a raise on the motivation and on the level of attention in the students, but also we found a way to clarify concepts confronting real applications.
Results, involving effectiveness in knowledge transfer were tested by means of a particular survey enquired at the end of each activity. The students clearly preferred this methodology with respect to common seminars or lecturers. Through this approach, we managed to reach all the audience, transmitting the key points scope of an advanced Master/PhD class independently of ages or educational background of the attendees.

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