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I am taking part in a seminar-course given to graduate neuroscience students. The students come from various backgrounds; mainly - Computer science, physics and life science (biology).

In the current course format, each student chooses an interesting neurobiology subject and gives a short (1 hour) literature overview of it.

This format works well, but I feel the course does not fulfill its full potential.

I am trying to think of a new, better format for this course - suggestions would be warmly appreciated.

An example vision is of a medium sized project that could be divided into a few sub projects, each would be assigned to one or a small group of the students. Ideally :

  • The project would have some impact on \ helpful to the science community.
  • Each sub-project would allow its student to shine by using his unique background.
  • The sum of all the mini-projects would be greater of its parts.

An example of such a project would be to create a new or expand an existing (wiki-like) open knowledge-base of a specific subject.

Your ideas would be greatly appreciated.

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Sometimes the hardest part is figuring out what the project should be.

I use a large-group project for one of my classes, and I've started soliciting faculty in certain departments with an email a few months before class gets underway. Essentially, this email states:

  • My class will be working on a semester-long project soon.
  • I would rather the students work on something real-world, as opposed to a toy project.
  • Because these are students, there are no guarantees you'll get a useful result when they are done. However, you won't pay anything, either, and you might get lucky.
  • If you have something that might be a suitable idea, contact me.

The result has been a big success. Students tend to work harder when they feel like something useful and tangible may come from their efforts. Moreover, this set-up requires the students to work with real "customers", which is sometimes one of the most valuable parts of the learning process.

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  • Sounds like a good start, consulting colleagues may indeed yield some interesting ideas for projects. Thanks! – Ohad Dan Apr 4 '13 at 10:41

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