I posted this to the confocal listserv already - so my apologies if you have read this already!
As we continue to grapple with the long term effects of COVID-19 - those of us who operate shared instrumentation facilities have been finding ways to address the problem of how to provide the same high level of instruction while maintaining our commitment to social distancing and limited interpersonal contact. While there is no one-size-fits-all solution – I wanted to share the route we have chosen in the hopes that it will provide some benefit to others.
Confocal microscopes are the bread and butter of our core – and we have created video-based training that so far has been doing a consistent job replicating our traditional confocal training. The key for us has been creating high quality video content that replicates every aspect of our in-person training session. The main issue I’ve noticed with much of the video based training publicly available is that it is nowhere near as in-depth as we traditionally get during our one-on-one sessions. Creating detailed content that is specific to our instruments has allowed us to almost completely remove ourselves from the initial training.
We’ve been requiring users to watch an introductory video as well as the full training video before arriving for their ‘in-person’ events. When they arrive we give them a quick overview of the core and then have them go through the full resolution video on a monitor right next to the instrument. This way they can follow along and start/stop the instruction to move at their pace. A second session is then used to gauge how well the user is absorbing the material.
It has been quite well received – and I’ve posted the full 4K videos for our first instrument (Zeiss LSM 880 with Airyscan) to Youtube here:
We will be adding videos as we expand training for our other instruments – as well as more advanced techniques as our users request them.
Of course these videos are specific to our instruments – but I hope they can be useful to others looking to do similar things.
Jason M. Kirk
Technical Director, Optical Imaging & Vital Microscopy Core (OiVM)
Baylor College of Medicine