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Educational videos have power to teach sciences in virtual labs.

The community college classroom is testing new approaches to learning. There's the flipped classroom, the emergence of open-source textbooks, and the importance of online social networking. But educators, particularly in the sciences, are also breaking down classroom walls--taking their students inside the world of professional laboratories where some of them will one day work.

One approach to educating science students involves a new twist on an old technology: video. Teachers at community colleges throughout the country--such as those at Barton Community College in Kansas, New Mexico State University in Carlsbad and Kingsborough College in New York--have started using on-demand, Internet-based videos to introduce their students to professional grade lab equipment such as centrifuges and high-powered microscopes prior to ever sending them into the lab.

These new educational videos were created by JOVE, the Journal of Visualized Experiments, an online, peer-reviewed, PubMed-indexed science journal that features an innovative kind of scientific article--a scientific video article--that provides scientists and students the opportunity to see exactly how experiments are conducted in order to reproduce them.

These videos have come a long way. Since JoVE was launched in 2006, we have published nearly 10,000 authors in almost 3,000 science videos from nearly 1,000 institutions. In that time we've experienced exciting growth, and we've increasingly seen others realize the power of video in communicating science.


More recently, however, we've come upon another, perhaps more interesting use for video in science education. We've discovered its ability to not only ensure the reproducibility of scientific research experiments, but to bridge the gap between undergraduates and the professional research world. Until recently, JoVE had published advanced scientific articles within our 9 traditional sections (General, Neuroscience, Immunology and Infection, Clinical and Translational Medicine, Bioengineering, Applied Physics, Chemistry, Environment, and Behavior) But last year, we began the release of a unique science video database. We published our Science Education video collections, which introduce the fundamental protocols at the foundation of modern research in an undergraduate-friendly approach.

As it turns out, there is a great demand for this kind of educational technology. After only two months of selling subscriptions to our Science Education database, 60 institutions, including schools from both the Ivy League such as Stanford University and the community college network such as Sinclair Community College, purchased access. The demand has underlined how important video is to training our next-generation of scientists and lab technicians.

The Science Education database provides demonstrations of high-tech laboratory equipment operation; basic methods like molecular cloning and protein separation using SDS-PAGE; and essential procedures relating to today's commonly used model organisms like Drosophila melanogaster (the common fruit fly) and C. elegans (worms).

We recently heard from an assistant professor, Jason Kuehner, who uses the JoVE's Science Education video database to teach one of his biology courses at the small, liberal arts institution, Emmanuel College. Located in Boston, Kuehner must leverage Emmanuel's small classroom sizes in order to stay competitive among its surrounding institutions--Boston research-giants like Harvard, MIT and Tufts University.

Kuehner's describes his class/lab hybrid, Experimental Biology, as a "crash course" in biological research. He covers a lot of ground, forcing his students to tackle a new research question each week without the guidance of a textbook (he covers too wide a range of material for one text). By using the Science Education video database, he can increase his students' odds of doing a given technique correctly upon the first try. "They get one shot at doing a western blot. And I think students miss a lot in that one shot that they would like to see again.... The video offers that play back feature that they wouldn't otherwise get in the lab," said Kuehner.

These video demonstrations help save Kuehner time on instruction, and they are also helpful for students who may miss a day of class and would otherwise miss out on that day's scientific procedure. While Kuehner had been able to teach Experimental Biology successfully without using JoVE videos in the past, he has found JoVE's Science Education videos to be especially appealing to his students. "I also use PowerPoint slides in class, I post those slides, but I don't ever hear them talking about the slides. 1 notice more though people mentioning the videos they've watched. I think it's more interesting for them to watch the videos," he said.


Community colleges play an important role in science education. By tightly linking academic studies with vocational application, community colleges provide a clear path for students looking to progress from the classroom into professional life. And because practical application sits at the heart of work in the science lab, science education through video has a powerful advantage in the training process.

One of those advantages is in making classroom instruction more efficient. In a recent survey, scientists who published in JoVE said again and again that they use video to teach techniques to other scientists and students in their labs.


In addition to keeping community college science curriculums up-to-date and aligned with the skills needed in the modern scientific workforce, implementing JoVE videos into the course curriculum gives students the exposure and training they need to be great scientists.

This is because each JoVE video is filmed on location, at the labs of premiere institutions across the world. Students using JoVE's Science Education videos see science as executed by the field's leading researchers.

The best preparation for the future involves using the right tools for the job now. Exposure to JoVE's educational science videos not only ensures a student the best possible scientific training, it provides them access to the most successful and forward-thinking researchers. And by becoming more familiar with these researchers and their work, advanced scientific careers become less far away. For the student who is willing to work hard, that puts exciting work within reach.



Rachel Greene is the director of marketing at JoVE, a peer reviewed, PubMed-indexed journal that publishes experimental techniques for the biological, medical, chemical, and physical sciences in video format in an effort to increase reproducibility and productivity of scientific research.
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Author:Greene, Rachel
Publication:Community College Week
Date:Mar 3, 2014
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