By S. Amanda Ali, UHN Trainee and ORT Times Science Writer
Among the benefits of being a trainee at UHN is the availability of a diverse range of skill development opportunities. These include conflict resolution courses, scientific writing workshops and the highly innovative Genome Editing Techniques and Applications (GETA) course, which was launched in 2017.
The GETA Course
An idea first conceived by Dr. Linda Penn (Senior Scientist and Director of the ORT) and executed by Dr. Jason De Melo (UHN Postdoctoral Fellow), this course is offered by the ORT, UHN Research and the Michener Institute for Education at UHN. It is unique in that it pairs learners with experts to share knowledge in what becomes a win-win situation. It simultaneously fills two unmet needs by providing learners with training on specialized topics (e.g. CRISPR/Cas), while providing experts with the opportunity to build their teaching skill set. The 2017 pilot course was met with such success that GETA will be offered again in August 2018. Experts are selected for teaching based on their background expertise in the content area, and learners are selected based on their lab experience. The two-week, full-day course includes theory-based lectures, protocol design sessions and a hands-on wet lab component.
The GETA Co-Founder
Dr. Jason De Melo offers his insights on what makes this course a unique opportunity for trainees at UHN: “Without trainee involvement this course would not be possible. It requires mutual interest from both experts and learners. This course was designed to help UHN trainees keep up with the continuously evolving field of genome editing, but it could easily be applied to other complex content areas where learners benefit from strong foundational understanding. For example, the GETA teaching structure, which involves two weeks of comprehensive theory and practice-based learning, could be applied to the use of bioinformatics tools in research, which requires a foundation in programming and coding in R.”
UHN Skill Development
The GETA course is one of many skill development courses available through UHN. The Teaching for Learning and Collaboration program offers 6 modules on teaching skills, covering topics such as ‘Asking Effective Questions’ (April 25, 2018) and ‘Giving Feedback’ (May 9, 2018). The 2-hour modules provide participants of all skill levels the chance to share teaching experiences and collectively build their teaching skills. For a greater breadth of topics, there are Learning & Development Courses updated monthly on the UHN Research Intranet. Courses offered in April 2018 include ‘Practical Project Management’, ‘Influencing Up’, and ‘Express Confidence and Inspire Cooperation’. Registration is required and these courses are open to all UHN staff. All UHN trainees and personnel are encouraged to take advantage of these opportunities to supplement and broaden their skills.