Things like Kyle Finchsigmate's great series of blog posts on running columns , Org Prep Daily, and chemistry demo posts on Mitch's blog have got me thinking about the process of learning how to do stuff in the lab, and how technology is changing that process. Back in the day, I would read the instruction book before going to undergraduate labs, but I really learned the nitty gritty details about lab techniques from talking to people (my lab TA's, my undergraduate mentor, senior grad students, and postdocs). From time to time, I also got tips from a website (Not Voodoo). What fascinates me most about the blogs is the useful discussions that each post engenders.
There are a smattering of universities who are looking to technology to help students learn their way around the lab- they're producing videos of lab techniques, some available on YouTube and/or for downloading onto an iPod, like a video podcast. Watch videos at MIT, Cal. State U. Long Beach, and Indiana U. South Bend for some examples. Searching Google for "lab demo video" brings this one up.
Does your college or university make use of video podcasts for teaching students proper lab techniques?
Would you use podcasts/ videos to learn lab techniques or brush up on skills, or do you think learning from a real person is better?
Where do blogs fall into the equation? What’s their role?
What do you think is the best way to teach someone how to properly use lab equipment or perform a certain lab technique? Does it depend on the technique in question?