BECOMING A FOOD MICROBIAL BIOINFORMATICIAN: THE EXPERIENCE OF THE LEGO PROJECT
1 Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale dell'Abruzzo e del Molise (ITALY)
2 Università degli Studi dell'Aquila (ITALY)
3 AINIA (SPAIN)
4 University of Helsinki (FINLAND)
5 University of Science and Technology (POLAND)
About this paper:
Conference name: 14th annual International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 8-9 November, 2021
Location: Online Conference
Abstract:The Erasmus+ Project Learning Genomics for Food Safety (LEGO) is a strategic initiative that responds to the worldwide increasing demand of experts able to use Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) for the analysis of food-borne pathogens, a new breed of professionals able to express high-level skills in Genomics, Food Microbiology, Statistics, Epidemiology and Bioinformatics.
After having reached a consensus-based definition of the Food Microbial Bioinformatician (FMB) profile through different Expert Knowledge Elicitation processes which have involved relevant stakeholders in Europe and worldwide, the project partnership designed and developed an integrated and multidimensional model supporting the acquisition of specific professional competences and the development of different careers for aspiring FMBs.
The model is made of four pillars. At the beginning of the LEGO professionalising pathway, beneficiaries are requested to take a technical self-assessment to evaluate the level of their entry knowledge and skills, and compare them to the ones described in the standardised FMB profile. This online test allows detecting training gaps to fill in by taking part in the eLearning multidisciplinary course for FMBs, originally designed and produced by the LEGO project. It offers trainees the opportunity to personalise their learning journey in content and scheduling. In fact, according to the results of the above assessment, learners are recommended to follow one or more module(s) while optimising, with flexibility, the time devoted to study at distance within a dedicated, peculiar eLearning environment.
In this learning context, assessment is conceived as an active and continuous process involving trainees in various steps: together with the technical self-assessment, simulation exercises, course unit tests and module final tests are foreseen. This approach lets participants know as they progress through the course and trainers easily identify possible areas to improve.
The certification of knowledge, skills and competences in the FMB domain is another pillar of the LEGO model. It takes place through Open Badges, a system promoting the recognition, transparency and comparability of skills across Europe and facilitating the exchange of researchers and professionals between university and the labour market.
Furthermore, LEGO provides the so-called “Startupper’s bricks”. They are complementary very light user-friendly tools helping aspiring FMBs to plan and develop their professional careers, such as: eTutorials and interviews to relevant testimonials illustrating different possible employments for FMBs; interpersonal and organisational self-assessment, an on-line test that figures out users’ soft skills in relation to the type of job position (employed researcher, freelance researcher or entrepreneur); the Matching Point, an open and free web-based system reserved to FMBs, companies and organisations to facilitate the matching between labour offer and demand in the relevant sector.
The LEGO model is not only replicable but also scalable to many other technical and scientific fields characterised by high level of innovation and during specific periods, such as the introduction and growth phases of peculiar industry life cycles, when the “know-how” represents the competitive lever for market success. It supports increasing employability and mobility opportunities, stimulating at the same time research, and excellence in science.
Keywords: Bioinformatics, Genomics, professional profile, e-learning, Open Badges, recognition of skills, scalability.