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Hands-on course under physical distancing

The curriculum of the Elite Graduate Program Biomedical Neuroscience at the Technical University of Munich consists of a substantial amount of practical courses. Their theoretical contents can be entirely taught using modern online teaching formats.

Since the teaching concept of the Elite Graduate Program „Biomedical Neuroscience" is already based on a strong interaction between online and practical teaching elements only minor adaptations have been necessary.  However, due to the hygienic regulations hands-on teaching in the laboratories is extremely limited. This circumstances lead to the concept to adapt practical course elements in a way that the students can conduct them at home.

In one of the courses of the summer semester basic electronics, data acquisition, filtering of signals and recording techniques are relevant topics. Besides teaching of the theoretical background the students have to conduct practical tasks. These tasks include the assembly and application of electronic circuits used for recording of electrical signals from biological preparations. For this purpose, we provided each of our students with all the necessary equipment and electronic parts. After safety instructions the electronic circuits were assembled by each of the students individually at home in parallel to the lecturer in his office. During the entire course the lecturer was in contact with the students via online-conference. By this he could provide instructions and support the students in trouble-shooting. With screen sharing the lecturer could assess the success of the students.

This teaching format supports the idea that practical training helps in understanding theoretical knowledge also under circumstances of social distancing and hygienic rules. Furthermore, it provides a most welcome extension to exclusive theoretical online-teaching. The concept “lab at home” grabbed the attention of the Technical University of Munich and is now supported by funds of the excellence initiative of the university with the aim to generalize and adapt it to other study programs and topics.

Text: Prof. Helmuth Adelsberger, Elite Graduate Program "Biomedical Neuroscience"