TRAINING AND E-LEARNING IN ANIMAL GENETICS FOR UNDERGRADUATE AND PHD STUDENTS: FROM BASIC PLATFORMS TO SPECIALIZED BIOINFORMATICS TOOLS
The group of Animal Breeding of the University of León (ULE), teaching Genetics and Animal Breeding in the Veterinary Medicine Degree, develops most of its research activity in the field of sheep genomics and sheep genetic improvement.
Different activities of the group reflect an effort to link the teaching and research activities of this group:
(i) Development of teaching activities for undergraduate students based on publications of the group, from hereditary diseases, breeding evaluation catalogues, popular science reviews and journal club activities. The Moodle platform of the University of León is used as an interchange platform where the didactic material from the lecturers and the works developed by the students are loaded.
(ii) Supervision of summer students in the laboratory of Animal Genomics: the undergraduate students are trained in basic laboratory techniques related with genetic diagnostic in domestic species of animals and participate in case-studies analyses related with animal genetics subjects. At this level, individual supervision of the students is offered by email, whereas the Twitter account of the group (@VetGeneULE) provides an appropriate platform to stimulate the interest of the students for the latest advances and training opportunities in the field of animal genetics.
(iii) Supervision of students carrying End-of-Degree Projects and Master Science (MSc) Theses in our research group: the supervised Projects and MSc Theses are related in most of the cases with bioinformatic data analysis. Basic training and continuous supervision are provided in relation to free-available on-line Bioinformatic tools and public databases related to the field of expertise of the group (the students are introduced to work in the Linux-environment, shell scripting and/or R programming.
(iv) Training of PhD students funded by National and European funded projects: these students devote the full-time of their activity to their research PhD Project.
The supervision is continuous and is based on all of the previously mentioned IT platforms. In addition, Dropbox and shared folders in servers owned by the group appear as an appropriate way of sharing documents and providing a continuous follow-up of the individual projects. Advanced shell- and R-scripting skills and management of command line-based bioinformatics software are required at this level. The documentation of the different protocols optimized, from laboratory-related protocols to data analyses procedures and bioinformatics pipelines, is carried out to ensure safe knowledge management. The participation of the group in International Training Network (ITN) projects funded by the EC funded shows the interest of the group in participating in the training of the next generation of Animal Breeders specialists. The PhD students funded by the National Programme of the Training of University Lecturers teach at some point of their doctoral studies practical lessons to undergraduate students. This provides an initial opportunity to the PhD students to get familiar with teaching activities at the same time that provides a proof of research career opportunities to the undergraduate students.