Guidelines for the INNNI annual Summer Course on Neuroinformatics and Computational Neuroscience

Overview
    The INNNI Summer Course is the major outreach and educational activity of the INNNI. The DBT Initiative on Neuroinformatics and Computational Neuroscience Education (INCNE) has a fund of up to Rs. 5 Lakhs to support this Summer course, which is extremely generous, so we expect ambitious proposals of high academic quality, that reach many students and young researchers. The hosting institution must also be generous in providing facilities and resources for conducting the course.


There are many different models for conducting Summer courses, and we will shortly add some example cases from past efforts to this document. Here are some general guidelines.

1. Scheduling.

  • The course should be in summer to overlap with college vacations. June/July is typical. Plan to avoid clashes with other such courses.
     
  • Plan for a 10 day or longer course.


2. Teaching.

  • There should be a strong introductory component in the first few days, to handle diverse backgrounds. Possibly organize one stream for students with a biology background to learn quantitative methods, and another for students with a quantitative background to learn neurobiology.
     
  • Extensive hands-on tutorial sessions are recommended.
     
  • One common model is for students to work on a project based on their current or projected research. There is typically a presentation of this project at the end of the course.


3. Topics and speakers.

  • The course should have a reasonably tight theme, since Neuroinformatics is quite a broad area. Recent courses have focussed on themes such as NeuroImaging and Analysis; and on Model Building using Neuroinformatics  Resources.
     
  • The course organisers have considerable latitude in inviting speakers, who will typically be INNNI members and local experts.
    - Recent courses have benefitted from interest of local industry, who have contributed expert speakers.
     
  • Speakers should be well briefed on the student composition and on the    topics. The organizers should coordinate speaker topics to have good coverage of the Summer School material.

4. Publicity

  • Poster should be planned many months ahead. INNNI would like to send out a joint poster for the summer school and for the Workshop, somewhere around April-May. Thus the planning for these events has to be well in time.
     
  • INNNI will facilitate announcement of Summer School on appropriate mailing lists.
     
  • The INNNI has an outreach committee who will suggest further ways to reach students.

5. Organization

  • Plan the summer school many months ahead, especially for the speaker invitations and the course announcements.
    - Put in meeting title, venue, dates, and invitees list on the web at least 3 months ahead of summer course, that is, by early Feb.
    - Arrange student housing well in advance for out-of-station students. Frequently visiting students will have in-town friends who can help with accommodation.
     
  • Have a well-structured plan for student selections. INNNI will be happy to provide a simple online application system on the INNNI web page,  please contact Dr. Bhalla to set this up.
     
  • Plan for at least 30 or so students, from diverse backgrounds. The more we can reach, the better the impact of the course.
     
  • Plan for some social events for the students.
    - At the outset there should be an ice-breaking session which could involve group games, introductions and other techniques so that  students get to know each other and the organizers right from the start.
    - Occasional sports activities in the evenings are popular.
    - A weekend city tour may be attractive to out-of-town students.
     
  • See how to involve other institutions and local industry, for example in neuroimaging, high performance computing, and software. Frequently there will be interest in sponsoring the course in various ways, which would be very welcome.