Saturday, July 14, 2012

Learning through Research workshop: Day 1

This conference has been amazing! Though I have been taking much notes, the rest of my time has been spent talking to such an interesting and enthusiastic collection of people here while I have the chance, so not much time to updating the blog promptly. Here is the summary of Day 1. I have long detailed notes which I would be very happy to share with anyone. If you want those, just email me at mdvinces at

SUMMARY of today’s session:
Opening remarks - by François Taddei, Frédéric Dardel, Claudie Haignere, Ariel Lindner

Lee Hartwell – Teaching the teachers in a new information era 

Having received a Nobel Prize for his work on cell cycle checkpoints, Lee has been an early advocate for personalized medicine and at Arizona State University is pioneering science teacher training. Three steps for teaching science to non-science majors (whether students or teachers of students):


Too often traditional education focuses on the Skills part, at the cost of Interest and Motivation, which in the end undermines acquisition of Skills.

Nathalie Kuldell– Teaching and Learning with imperfect learning machines: Using synthetic biology for teaching students and teaching teacher.  

Nathalie has been using Synthetic Biology to engage students in biological engineering, and now is using the same techniques, through the online platform, for teaching teachers. The platform has three main elements: 1. Online content, including explanatory animations. 2. Activities for both the lab and the classroom. 3. A space for sharing data, results, practices, ideas.

This approach brings the exciting engineering aspects of hands-on design and building into biology education.

Stephen Friend – Democratization of biomedicine.
Expertise in medicine has been the closely guarded domain of the medical experts. But the time is now for democratizing biomedicine, empowering patients to control how their data is used, empowering physicians and drug companies with unparalleled power or personal patient data, and moving medicine into a commons space where real advances in predictive medicine can be accomplished. Stephen is founder and president of Sage Bionetworks, which aims at providing the necessary commons for biomedical information.

François Taddei – From individual questioning to collective exploration – the education revolution. 

Education is today a conservative affair done much as it has been done for hundreds of years. While technology progresses ever more rapidly, education has fallen behind, to the detriment of societies where more people are left out of understanding and engagement of science. Goal is to reform university education so it is open source and accessible to more people and not limited to elite campuses, hand in hand with opensource software and hardware movements, and to allow learning by playing. Some of this is being done at the CRI already, but ultimately want to establish a model for Open FIESTA (Faculty for Innovation in Education, Science, Technology and Arts).

Friday, July 13, 2012

Live from Paris: Learning through Research workshop

It's been far too long since I've written here, as counting the number of Science Videos of the Month missing will attest. But with some projects out of the way, I will have more time to devote here.

I am writing this from Paris, France, where I am attending the "Learning through Research" workshop, hosted by the Center for Research and Interdisciplinarity (CRI). The 3 day workshop has an extraordinary cast of individuals ranging from the 20 year old creator of UnCollege, on to Nobel Laureate, all with a mission in common: to re-think the way science is taught and conducted to make both more democratic, accessible and innovative. Titles of the sessions include: Innovative science teaching, Promoting innovation, Citizen science, Quick talks for emerging innovations, Scientific games, Building innovative tools for science & education, Empowering communities, and Creative learning.

I'll be writing about my experience here in the days to come. In the meantime, you should be able to follow the workshop live at this site:!live-the-event!