To offer Riffyn users a couch-friendly learning experience, last week (April 8-10) we offered for the very first time a live, virtual version of Super User training completely free of charge. And by all accounts, it was a resounding success! Or, as one attendee put it:
“These sessions have been awesome! We have come to realize you basically threw the kitchen sink at our workflows to get us what we need. This has really helped to cement the methodology for resources/properties/classifications and getting to “design” gave me some ‘ah ha!’ moments when thinking about our application steps and calculations. Has been worth the very early mornings!”
Loren Perelman, VP of Science at Riffyn, credits that success to his Science team, which led the training. “I have an incredible staff of scientists who double as trainers and I'm very proud of my team. It's such a pleasure to work with such consummate professionals,” he said.
Given that many of our users are relegated to their couches and living rooms right now, we wanted to enable people to make good use of the extra time they’ve found on their hands and equip them to hit the ground running once they get back to their laboratories. This helps our customers to become proficient at creating processes and executing experiments, as well as to take advantage of the advanced functions in Riffyn, such as how to use the Riffyn API to automate and accelerate their workflows.
To maximize value for attendees, we capped the registration list to 40 individuals. And while attendees were spread across time zones and hidden behind computer screens rather than physically together in the same room with each other and the instructors, audience engagement and participation was high.
“I appreciate the level of learner engagement during the training session,” Associate Director of Education De Anna Allen says, adding that the value gained from the training will continue to build and reach customers throughout the coming year. “Their questions and feedback help us to prioritize all of the learning and support resources we intend to roll out over the next quarter. It was a good way to build rapport. I look forward to growing this relationship.”
By the middle of the third day of training, attendee presence was still at 90% -- an impressive statistic that underscores the value people received from the training.
“For a 'free' training, I was impressed that >90% of participants stuck around until the end of every module, every day, and >60% of those attended the API training [the final and most technical section of the training],” says Senior Scientist Miles Minvielle. “People obviously have a desire to learn how to maximize their use of the platform on their own accord, which is an impressive claim for any vendor.”
So, what was it that captured peoples’ attention for six hours a day, three days in a row, as early as 7am and as late as 10pm, depending on their geographical location?
On Day 1, after a brief introduction from Perelman, scientist Joe Walker led attendees through a detailed overview of Riffyn. This introductory material emphasized the importance of process design for understanding, tracking, and following scientific protocols -- all critical for ensuring reproducibility and for more quickly identifying causes of scientific variability, whether across experiments or across laboratories.
Walker’s overview teed things up for scientist Bridget Smith, who put these concepts into action, providing an in-depth overview of Design mode using a basic chemistry experiment pretty much everyone loves: baking cookies. Users got their hands wet (and appetites whet) following along to design their own cookie baking process.
On Day 2, the cookie baking process was further developed as attendees learned about version control (important for tracking changes across the lifetime of your scientific process) in Riffyn and then, using Measure mode, how to execute experiments from processes. Senior Scientist Zoey Herm demonstrated how to connect runs, upload data, and modify and plan experiments: in other words, the meat of it all and a pain point for many.
Attendees learned how to use Riffyn to join and contextualize data across multiple runs of an experiment or even across multiple experiments, eliminating manual intervention and thus, a significant source of error (not to mention time that would be better spent analyzing data instead of fixing spreadsheets). Herm closed out the day with a demo on how to create a 384 well plate: a less delicious example than baking cookies but far more relevant to most training participants.
On the third and final day of training, Walker returned to teach attendees the ins and outs of Riffyn libraries and sharing and access control, particularly useful capabilities for collaborative projects involving multiple teams or entities. Returning to our cookies, Minvielle then dove deeply into cleaning, joining, and exporting data using JMP. For attendees, seeing data quickly and easily ready for advanced statistical analysis -- a daunting task that is often outsourced to data analysts -- is always an “ah ha” moment.
Minvielle concluded the training with a fairly technical explanation and demo of how to use the Riffyn API to add experiments, add runs, and interrogate resources -- an especially useful discussion for users wishing to connect Riffyn to an ecosystem of instruments and tools for automating and accelerating their laboratory workflows.
Attendees weren’t the only ones who benefited from the training, though. The instructors walked away with important reminders, too.
“Discussing Riffyn with a variety of scientists was a fantastic reminder that Riffyn transcends scientific disciplines and provides an opportunity for a powerful paradigm shift, regardless of what type of R&D you work in.” — Senior Scientist Zoey Herm
Added Walker, “It was great to see so many users engaged through the online experience and to know that we're making a difference despite these unprecedented times."
As for Perelman’s part, the most important take away was that people simply love training -- regardless of the extenuating circumstances. “We definitely sell ourselves short when we think we only need to do this during a pandemic,” he said.
Perelman and his team are planning another live Super User Training in the near future, and will record the next session so it is accessible to anybody, any time, anywhere. If you want to get in on the couch learning next time around, be sure to follow us on LinkedIn, where we will post information about how to secure your spot in the next session.
Embriette is an academic-turned science writer with a passion for spreading responsible science. She holds a PhD in microbiome research from Baylor College of Medicine. After a 4-year post-doc, during which she managed the world's largest citizen science research project (the American Gut Project), Embriette became a full-time science writer and research consultant. You can find her work at riffyn.com, synbiobeta.com, and her personal webpage: drhydenotjekyll.com