I first became involved in the area of digital education in 2000 creating online content for a biology course taught at the University of Cincinnati through the Blackboard course management system. Using course management systems became an integral part of every course I taught as a faculty member and evolved over eight years to include discussion boards, real-time chat and online assessment. In 2007, I was asked to become a member of the Genetics Editorial Board for the Nature Publishing Group’s project Scitable. Being on the ground floor of this large project gave me the necessary experience to manage HudsonAlpha’s digital education efforts and understand the complexity of delivering educational materials online. One of my responsibilities at HudsonAlpha is to develop and maintain the Educational Outreach department’s web presence. This area of the website is categorized into eight areas and consists of more than 100 dedicated pages of content including static and dynamic pages, webforms, discussion forums and interactive educational tools. In addition to website development and maintenance, I have been involved in the development of both HudsonAlpha iCellTM Online and HudsonAlpha iCellTM for the iPhone. Both of these tools allow educators, students and the general public to explore the 3D nature of animal, plant and bacterial cells. Most recently, I coordinated the development of HudsonAlpha’s Educational Resources CD that compiles twenty digital education tools HudsonAlpha has crafted over the past two years. This resource has now been distributed to biology teachers across the state of Alabama and to the Huntsville area community.
Managing large-scale projects at HudsonAlpha has become an integral part of my position. I am the program director of BioTrain, HudsonAlpha’s internship program. This program has brought in approximately 60 high school, undergraduate and graduate students over the past two years. The program is primarily conducted over the summer months of June and July and provides a student-focused, unique and well-balanced comprehensive internship experience that trains and educates future leaders in the field of biotechnology. Participants gain not only laboratory or educational outreach experience, but are also immersed in professional development through weekly lunch meetings. It is the addition of the professional development and support networks created in BioTrain that separates an internship with HudsonAlpha from other laboratory experiences. In addition to BioTrain, I also manage a group of professional genetics educators involved with the American Society of Human Genetics (ASHG). This group plans and facilitates the annual ASHG Undergraduate Genetics Education Workshop. I have chaired this working group for five years and have successfully reached over 175 faculty members teaching genetics across the country. Managing all aspects of BioTrain from application to graduation and the ASHG working group has provided me the necessary skill set to oversee large educational programming such as that proposed here.
In addition to my other responsibilities, I remain involved in the field of educational assessment and evaluation. I began this work as a Masters degree student at the University of Cincinnati evaluating the course structure of introductory biology courses at the undergraduate level. This work was completed in collaboration with colleagues from the American Society of Human Genetics and lead to a peer-reviewed publication. I followed the publication of this study with the development and evaluation of a genetics concept inventory while earning my Doctorate of Education at Ball State University. Although this inventory remains unpublished, the experience of creating a large scale assessment instrument and working through validity, reliability and statistical measures provided me a wealth of knowledge on appropriate assessment strategies and statistical analysis. I currently coordinate all of the assessment efforts underway in educational outreach at HudsonAlpha. This includes a large-scale assessment of multiple high school laboratory kits, a community education program, the summer internship program and a summer teaching academy. Programmatic evaluation and assessment has played a large role in my career and continues to be a strong area of emphasis.