Work Package Plan: Training and Education Programme for Life Science Research & Technology

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The Training and Education programme (TEP) in DTL will be geared towards the new types of DTL experts, including data stewardship (DISC) and data generation experts (DTL Education), while the programme will also target users of DTL deliverables and services (DTL Training). Training and education should comprise interdisciplinary modules to streamline DTL-wide cross-technology approaches. The programme should be open to all researchers within academic institutions and industrial R&D departments.

Target level

Although the partners have developed education and training programmes targeted at all consumer levels (e.g. NBIC’s BioWise programme covers general public, high school, higher vocational institutions, university (BSc and MSc) and Phd/postdoc levels, while NPC also caters for high school), we propose to set the main target level of the DTL-TEP to PhD and beyond (including DTL experts and these in the various fields). It has to be discussed with the other DTL partners if and how other levels will be included in the DTL-TEP programme or remain at the respective DTL partners.

What is available: DTL-TEP starts on solid fundaments of the partners

Founding institutions such as NBIC and NCSB have already developed extensive education programmes, including a PhD school (NBIC), E-learning (NCSB), tutorial sessions (NCSB) and a life sciences support programme (NBIC). Together these initiatives form an appropriate background to build on, in order to train the DTL expertise and user base. Thanks to a close community built over the years within, for example, NBIC and NCSB, courses have almost exclusively been developed without having to rely on financial compensation. In the first phase of DTL-TEP, an inventory of the initiatives of all DTL partners should be made (see further below). What are the educational challenges given the set-up of DTL

DTL will have a multi-layer structure with partners covering various subsections and niches within DTL (see figure TEP 1), and this will inherently be the case for TEP. Shaping and structuring an appropriate training and education programme, catering for and integrating the different technologies within DTL, will require a balancing act with many choices to be made regarding depth, breadth, and, particularly, delineation and focus of the TEP modules to be developed. Moreover, DTL should neither double education nor training modules existing elsewhere, while the focus should be on training the DTL technology experts and user bases, which are interrelated and likely to undergo developments and shifts through the years.

Focus and scalability of the DTL-TEP

Training and education modules should be linked to the DTL infrastructure and technological solutions offered (teaching what is developed). Education is a crucial vehicle for dissemination and visibility of the DTL ‘product line’, which in turn is essential to DTL at large. Further, E-learning and teach-the-teacher initiatives will be important for (cost) efficiency, scaling and sustainability. Securing partnerships with other (accredited) training and education institutions will also be important in this regard. The contributions from the DTL partners to the TEP is likely to be in line with their technological niche in DTL (see figure TEP 1), but the roles in training and education will be determined in a central DTL-TEP committee. Partners can also extend their training and education activities outside the realm of DTL.

Figure TEP 1: Partner technological embedding within DTL. The figure shows, as an example, the putative position of three DTL partners (in black) within DISC (in blue) and DTL (in red). Arguably, NBIC could be fully embedded within DISC, whereas NCSB (with its data generation activities) protrudes also into DTL. Finally, CTMM harbours data stewardship as well as data generation activities, and various aspects outside the scope of DTL (e.g. clinical care).

What are the steps towards a successful TEP

  1. Assembling a central DTL-TEP committee covering the DTL partner institutions and with a mandate to take decisions.
  2. Defining the different target groups for the DTL partners and define their training and education needs for both DTL and DISC
  3. Stock taking of the training and education resources available within the founding partners (first half 2012). Stock taking of further national and international resources (2012) – investigation of crucial (accredited) partner institutions, such as ‘onderzoekscholen’
  4. Building the TEP portfolio by selecting and adopting modules and resources already developed within the DTL partners and elsewhere (second half 2012 and ongoing). It is conceivable that the TEP portfolio would extend over the borders of the DTL technologies.
  5. Planning and scheduling development of new training and education modules (first modules in 2012/early 2013). Building the DTL-TEP should be in close liaison with academic partners, the Dutch “Topsectoren” and with industry.
  6. Planning and securing resources to start the TEP development process (first half 2013)
  7. Starting the development cycle (first/second half 2013)
  8. Allocating TEP development experts available within the partner institutions and elsewhere if needed (first half 2013 and ongoing)
  9. Recruiting TEP organisational staff, and possibly also TEP educational specialists
  10. Planning and securing resources for TEP roll-out, operation and sustainability
  11. Developing a communication strategy
  12. Fostering international access and visibility of the TEP
  13. Compiling a concrete plan for further development, growth and sustainability of the TEP. In the first phase acquisition possibilities within the DTL founding partners should be investigated, in order to arrive at a sound overarching DTL-TEP sustainability plan.

Specific elements for training and education within DISC

The new type of DISC data expert should get specific education to become flexible and highly skilled engineers. Within the context of DISC it should also be discussed to what extent the DISC data experts can be deployed to industrial partners as consultants (using commercial consultancy fees). This is an interesting option regarding financial sustainability, for which perhaps special training modules should be developed.