On BEST, adapting an already available tutorial for your own teaching is the easiest way to get started creating tutorials. An example of this is the story of how one tutorial was created and then adapted to teach different concepts at three universities across Australia.

The Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) virtual lab was created by Dr Louise Lutze-Mann to be used in undergraduate science and medicine classes at the University of New South Wales to supplement or replace the use of a wet lab for teaching PCR. Students are prompted with questions throughout the tutorial, allowing them to revise important scientific concepts associated with PCR. The virtual lab component then takes students through the process of DNA amplification and analysis through an interactive simulation.

The lab was used to simulate performing a PCR to amplify a gene coding for muscular dystrophy. Students were asked to determine the likelihood of family members developing this inheritable disease, tailoring this molecular biology concept to the way medical practitioners would employ it in the clinic.

This virtual lab was then adapted by Associate Professor Allison Imrie to teach the detection of viral genes through PCR. A viral gene associated with Dengue fever was detected through virtual PCR. This example was particularly relevant to second year undergraduate students at the University of Western Australia.

The original virtual PCR lab was also adapted and expanded by Dr Susan Rowland to teach the more advanced concepts of cloning PCR at the University of Queensland, designed for 660, third year students. This necessitated small changes to the simulation to address the requirements of cloning.

By making adjustments and adding and removing questions, this resource was adapted to multiple uses. These labs have been deployed at their corresponding universities with great success. The original tutorial has been completed by over 400 students, with more having completed the adapted tutorials. Due to the positive feedback from students, the contributors plan to use their tutorials in future semesters.

These three success stories are a clear indication of how easy it is to adapt and use a BEST tutorial. Teach with the PCR lab or browse more tutorials contributed to BEST here.