LabArchives is many, many things. It’s an electronic notebook. It’s a teaching tool, grade book, learning platform and now it’s a one stop shop for course content too.

Inside of Lab Builder, our new course content library, instructors can find and distribute everything they need for their course like lab manuals, assignments, projects, protocols and more.

Sound too good to be true? It’s not.

You (our users) always have ideas for us. And we listen. Ready made course content living within LabArchives is something our instructors have been after for a while. With that in mind we decided to devote time and talent to make it happen. Enter Natalie Stringer…..

Natalie Stringer our Resident Professor brings her experience as a professor and her hands on approach to learning (which you can see here) to LabArchives and Lab Builder.

Last year she joined us as Director of Content Development and Resident Professor. She brings her experience as an instructor to LabArchives and has brought Lab Builder to life with the help of some of LabArchives instructors. Lab Builder contains 190 pieces of course content on subject areas including:

Instructors can simply browse through the Lab Builder library, choose content they want to use, customize it for their purposes, add their own content and begin to teach. It’s actually that easy and new content in more subjects areas is already in development.

Since Natalie is the lead creator behind Lab Builder we’ll let her tell you a bit more….

What do you do at LabArchives and what is your background?
I came to LabArchives after teaching biology and biotechnology at Montgomery College in Maryland. I brought my background in molecular biology, active-learning, and online course design to LabArchives. I have a BS in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry from Oklahoma State University and PhD in Molecular and Cellular Biology from the University of Iowa. 

At LabArchives I am expanding the resources we offer to our instructors. I know that teaching responsibilities extend far beyond the classroom. Finding new course content (or updating the old) is not a small task. These resources will complement all the other things our instructors already love about LabArchives.

What exactly have you created? Explain this project to us!

We’ve created almost 200 pieces of original and proven course content within Lab Builder. We’ve also started to design course packs that contain everything instructors needs to teach their course. The molecular biology course pack, for example, comes with access to LabArchives, molecular biology software SnapGene and all the content needed to teach a molecular biology course.

Along with my co-authors, I designed two different semester long projects that utilize key molecular biology techniques and computational tools. Instructors can pick and choose between different labs, assignments, and projects. We have also included instructor resources for special projects, alternative techniques and more. This is just one example of the breadth and utility that Lab Builder content has.

Lab Builder is all about giving instructors the ability to customize their course without bending over backwards.

What was your goal when you started this project? Why’d you create this?
As an undergraduate, I hated lab classes. They felt archaic and lacked purpose. It wasn’t until I started working in a “real lab” that I truly fell in love with science. Asking my own questions and designing experiments really clicked for me. I continued independent research throughout my undergraduate training, learning real skills that prepared me for graduate school and beyond.

When I started teaching, I decided to use this approach in the classroom as much as possible. When students feel empowered to guide their own learning, amazing things can happen. Lab Builder allows instructors to teach applicable skills while enabling students to guide their own learning. My goal is to help instructors and students who, like me, love to ask “why?”. 

Some of Natalie’s past students. When students feel empowered to guide their own learning amazing things happen, she says.

How did you bring this to life?
I love designing curriculum and thinking about how something can be used in the classroom and beyond. I developed Lab Builder with the help of LabArchives instructors, who are now as a result, published content authors! For the molecular biology course pack specifically, I worked with two professor from Villanova and UMBC. I blended their work with SnapGene’s impressive tools into a cohesive package that helps both instructors and students. 

How do you see Lab Builder benefitting instructors and students who use it?
For instructors, this is a starting point for creating a great course that fits their needs. These labs have been used for many semesters. The kinks have been worked out. We have also provided a number of suggestions for modification. Because the content is in LabArchives, it is easy to customize it to fit your classroom/equipment.

For students, this content provides an authentic learning experience. Students will use real tools such as electronic notebooks, SnapGene and techniques they will find in any ‘real world’ molecular biology lab. And they will be guide their own projects.

What’s up next in the world of LabArchives content creation.
We are working to expand our content offerings in major disciplines. Keep an eye out for updates!

Want to know more about how you can use Lab Builder? Sign up for an upcoming webinar or click here to learn more!

Wednesday Nov. 13th 3:00pm EST / 12:00pm PST

Friday Nov. 15th 1:00pm EST / 10:00am PST