While it is essential for life science students to be trained in modern techniques and approaches, rapidly developing, interdisciplinary fields such as bioinformatics present distinct challenges to undergraduate educators. In particular, many educators lack training in new fields, and high-quality teaching and learning materials may be sparse. To address this challenge with respect to bioinformatics, the Network for the Integration of Bioinformatics into Life Science Education (NIBLSE), in partnership with Quantitative Undergraduate Biology Education and Synthesis (QUBES), developed incubators, a novel collaborative process for the development of open educational resources (OER). Incubators are short-term, online communities that refine unpublished teaching lessons into more polished and widely usable learning resources. The resulting products are published and made freely available in the NIBLSE Resource Collection, providing recognition of scholarly work by incubator participants. In addition to producing accessible, high-quality resources, incubators also provide opportunities for faculty development. Because participants are intentionally chosen to represent a range of expertise in bioinformatics and pedagogy, incubators also build professional connections among educators with diverse backgrounds and perspectives and promote the discussion of practical issues involved in deploying a resource in the classroom. Here we describe the incubator process and provide examples of beneficial outcomes. Our experience indicates that incubators are a low cost, short-term, flexible method for the development of OERs and professional community that could be adapted to a variety of disciplinary and pedagogical contexts.
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- community networks
- general education for science majors
- genomics proteomics bioinformatics
- integration of courses
- learning and curriculum design
- open educational resource (OER)
- original models for teaching and learning
- professional development
- scholarship of teaching and learning