Siamo un mondo: Bringing LabXchange to Italy

Tara Bennett Bristow/ September 23, 2019

In September 2019, Amgen Biotech Experience Massachusetts Site Director Tara Bennett Bristow traveled to Italy to introduce LabXchange at a gathering of stakeholders for ABE Italy. She shared her insights with us afterwards. Thank you, Tara, for hosting a preview event in Italy! We are excited to continue sharing LabXchange worldwide, and to make it a truly global learning community.

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Tara Bennett Bristow stands next to a projection screen. In front of her, a group of educators use computers to log into LabXchange.

Tara Bennett Bristow presents LabXchange at ABE Italy in September 2019.

First thing in the morning, I offered a LabXchange preview to a group of 40 invited teachers and students from various ABE schools that were in attendance. I gave a brief introduction to LabXchange, and was then joined by Ian Saunder, LabXchange Technical Product Owner, who joined virtually from Cape Town, South Africa. Ian walked the group through the platform, beginning with the content library, then moving through model pathways and sharing other functionalities.

Once Ian finished up, the group began registering their own LabXchange accounts. The students in the room logged into the platform very quickly. I walked around the room to assist with log-in issues, and by the time I reached the back of the room, the students were already easily navigating through our virtual lab simulations.

One of the most challenging points to present was that specific functionalities would be rolled out over time. The educators wanted to make classes right away! I reassured them new functionalities would be rolled out each week and they have plenty to look forward.

At the lunch following my presentation, I was approached by many enthusiastic learners and educators. I was struck by the sheer number of ways that people envisioned using the platform. Educators were excited to use the platform and pathways as a prep tool, review tool, and to help their students explore topics beyond ABE. Their students were excited to be able to use the platform to finally complete the transformation and protein purification labs, which are not offered by ABE Italy. The organizer of the ABE Italy gathering was excited to think about how the platform can support International Science Olympiad teams. One collaborator visiting from Israel was excited to use the platform as a tool for reviewing content before required national exams in life sciences. And a representative visiting from ABE France is looking forward to resources that allow students to explore bacterial transformation.

A group of ABE Italy educators and administrators pose for a photo holding sunflowers.

Tara Bennett Bristow and ABE Italy educators and administrators.

In the afternoon, I was able to introduce LabXchange to a much larger audience of about 200 people. This group included several Amgen representatives, more educators and learners from across Italy, and professors and administrators from the University of Naples. For those attendees for whom language was a barrier, I asked ABE/LabXchange Master Teacher Linda Tanini and LabXchange Secondary School Implementation Coordinator and ABE Site Coordinator Alia Qatarneh to record short videos in Italian about their enthusiasm for LabXchange. This was a pleasant surprise for the audience! (Scroll down to watch both videos.)

The next day, I had a series of meetings with ABE Italy educators, site staff, and collaborators. We discussed additional ideas they had for LabXchange, and it was extremely productive and rewarding. They are interested in the pre-lab pathways, very excited to be able to connect with other ABE teachers and site staff globally. They are also very interested in the pre-lab pathways that LabXchange is currently developing, which support general foundational skills in the study of science, such as scientific communication, research ethics, and lab etiquette.

All in all, it was wonderful to spend time with this large, motivated group of learners and educators in Naples. I am looking forward to seeing all of the new possibilities that we discussed come to life on LabXchange!

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