Train the trainer

Train the trainer

EMBL-EBI has been running a train-the-trainer (TtT) programme since 2012, providing opportunities for both external and internal trainers to develop their training skills.

An integral aspect of the EMBL-EBI training programme is building capacity in bioinformatics knowledge and skills through the provision of quality, impactful training.  To increase the impact we can make in this, as well as training users of bioinformatics resources we embarked upon a programme to increase the numbers of confident trainers in bioinformatics and enhance our reach for quality training provision. The programme was designed to provide new trainers with guidance, methods and tips for developing and delivering quality, impactful training; whilst also providing them with the knowledge to become reflective practitioners, able to seek and act upon feedback and try new modes of training. 


The EMBL-EBI TtT programme

The two main requirements for joining a TtT workshop are subject specific knowledge and enthusiasm for delivering that knowledge to others.  The training we provide is highly interactive in nature, reflective of the practical training courses we offer to our users.  Throughout the workshops new trainers are encouraged to bring their thoughts and voice into all discussions; sharing experiences and swapping ideas and often creating new ideas along the way. This helps start build a network between the trainers, regardless of their areas of interest, enabling the devlopment of a support network for future practice development.

The workshop programme itself has four main components:

  1. What makes good training (and trainers)
  2. How people learn and learning methods / activities
  3. Designing sessions and course curricula
  4. Assessing learning and collecting feedback

An important element of the whole workshop is engaging participants in reflective practice - looking back at their own practice to date; reflecting on what they can try / change for their next training sessions and, how they can continue on this path of reflection and development as they become involved in further training opportunities and expand their skillset.


TtT for external trainers

For external trainers the programme has to date focused on both general training skills and  enabling a group of trainers to deliver a specific course based on EMBL-EBI models. 

The first TtT course in 2012 is one such example, where 8 trainers travelled from Australia to learn first-hand how EMBL-EBI delivered training in NGS analysis.  Armed with both the skills to enhance their own training and a course designed with EMBL-EBI trainers using a model appropriate to Australian researchers, the group returned to Australia and ran their first workshops.  This model has been extended since to include other Australian trainers across other genomics based topics; and has additionally been used with trainers from the UK, South Africa, Brazil, Colombia and Argentina.

External groups normally attend a specific on-site course as they wish to deliver a similar course in their home institution/country.  Trainers will also attend a TtT course and then spend a day working with the organisers of their course of interest eg NGS analysis, to design a course which can be delivered in their local context. Often the first version of the course will include EMBL-EBI trainers, and they will also help in reviewing feedback from course participants and collaborate on course revisions.


TtT for internal (EMBL) trainers

Internal trainers all have an opportunity to attend a TtT course either at the start of their training time, or if they would like a refresher at any time.  All new trainers are allocated a mentor who provides them with support during their first few training sessions and is able to give further advice and guidance as needed. 


Training Materials

TtT materials are openly available via our training FTP site and consist of a presentation and associated handbook.  As with all EMBL-EBI training materials these are creative commons licensed (CC-BY-SA).



EMBL-EBI is a co-lead (along with ELIXIR-ITA) for the ELIXIR Training platform TtT programme, and the EMBL-EBI programme formed one of the main component parts of the initial subtask overview. This programme will develop a network of new trainers and new instructors across the ELIXIR nodes, further increasing training capacity across Europe.


Contact us

If you would like to know more about the TtT programme, or would like to get involved, please contact Dr Sarah Morgan (Training programme co-ordinator).