New e-learning tool to train lab analysts

By Emilie Reymond

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Molecular biology Lgc

Analytical laboratory LGC has set up an initiative to develop a new
approach to training for analysts working in molecular
laboratories, with a novel e-learning tool.

"Skilled analysts are in demand and there are shortages in some areas,"​ Dr Jacquie Keer, who leads the project, told

As part of the scheme called "Comparability and Consistency of Genetic measurements," a new electronic learning (e-learning) tool is under development.

The objective is to help analysts build strong skills in the molecular analysis laboratory area with a focus on quality assurance, and utilising games technology and psychology, the company said.

The new training tool, dubbed "Contamination!", requires the analyst trainee to take on the role of a researcher, in a virtual laboratory, and perform a qualitative polymerase chain reaction (PCR) analysis to identify the source of an illness made up for the purpose of the training.

'Contamination!' will be aimed at new graduates and those working in a research environment as a training tool in general laboratory practice and PCR, "So that new and inexperienced analysts can experience a realistic yet risk-free scenario to bring them up to speed with decision-making and other necessary skills, "​ said Dr Keer.

She said LGC has taken the novel approach of an e-learning tool as research has shown that the main advantage of learning in an interactive way is the retention of more of the information.

"[Research has also shown that] a combination of reading and interactive learning reinforces key messages."

In addition, the new e-learning method allows a "hands on approach" without the need for individual supervision of trainees - a substantial benefit for labs who are usually faced with the task of ensuring the appropriate training of their staff.

A Beta version of the game will be ready for testing next January in a pilot scheme which will involve approximately 50 science graduates, while the final version of the game will be released on CD-ROM in March 2007, the company said.

The release of the tool will coincide with the launch of the Royal Society of Chemistry's molecular analysis manual, which will cover a variety of molecular techniques for scientists.

The overall project, which is supported under contract with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) as part of the National Measurement System (NMS) Measurements for Biotechnology (MfB) Programme, is managed within LGC by Dr Julian Braybrook, LGC's MfB Programme Manager.

LGC developed the project alongside software designer TPLD and quality control specialist Qnostics.

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