The biomanufacturing industry is one of the fastest growing sectors of the economy. It is also known for its continuous attention to modernizing its facilities and adopting new technologies. Emerging technologies are rapidly changing the landscape of biomanufacturing. As a result, biomanufacturing technicians require new courses and workforce skills to stay current. This project will facilitate development of a learn-by-doing instructional model that combines a traditional, in-person laboratory with virtual experimentation. The project predicts that this blended learning environment, which includes in-person and virtual experiences, will boost students' understanding of bioprocessing, prepare them for hands-on training, add to their academic knowledge, and teach practical job-related skills. Through a series of workshops, webinars, and other dissemination activities, instructors around the country will learn how to incorporate project materials and blended learning models into their biomanufacturing programs. Short courses will be offered as professional development events that bring biotech industry technicians up-to-speed with emerging technologies and the latest advances in bioprocessing.
This project is an activity-centered approach based on a theoretical framework of social constructivism and situated cognition. It builds on a successful blended (in-person and virtual) instructional model that responds to industry demand for biomanufacturing technicians with modern, transferable skills. The modular architecture and flexible framework of the instructional approach in conjunction with reconfigurable and customizable interactive assignments will make it possible to adapt online exercises to students' backgrounds and training needs. The project will develop a cloud-based cyberinfrastructure to integrate and organize curriculum resources and assure access to learning/training modules from any computer or mobile device. Activity-based curriculum modules will be developed in collaboration with academia, leading biopharma companies, and the ATE National Center for the Biotechnology Workforce. All virtual modules will be aligned with industry requirements, skills standards for biopharma technicians, and the latest biomanufacturing trends including the paradigm shift toward Manufacturing 4.0. This project is funded by the Advanced Technological Education program that focuses on the education of technicians for the advanced-technology fields that drive the nation's economy.