Psychology technicians from universities across the UK and Ireland made the trip to the University of Bath last week for the 2018 ATSiP conference. It was an impressive setting for this year’s event, which took place in the University’s new 10 West building (see its opening day video here). This blog post summarises some of Lorensbergs’ insights and findings from ATSiP 2018.
The 10 West building has been designed to support a wide range of research environments, with facilities that were described upon its opening as being unparalleled in the UK. For psychology departments, providing access to well-equipped and organised labs is fundamental to advancing their institutions’ research agendas and teaching standards. It was a wonderful opportunity to be able to present on how our connect2 lab and equipment management solution has supported staff in achieving these ambitions at Bath.
Early on Day Two of the conference, Susie Martin, Experimental Officer at Bath, gave a very insightful talk entitled ‘Finding my Feet: New building, new job’. It charted Susie’s time at the University, with her arrival coinciding with the new building project. Susie has dealt with everything from speccing new labs to dealing with building contractors and discussing cabling requirements. As part of the presentation, Susie introduced connect2 as ‘one of the first new systems we implemented in the new building’. This emphasises the importance of their front-facing services, providing efficient lab and equipment access, and supporting the professional image of the department in its new building.
We went on to demonstrate how the new building’s 31 labs, 14 rooms and range of equipment are organised and displayed in the online connect2 system (our presentation slides are available here). Connect2 showcases the range of facilities available to students. It also gets a great reception when shown to those visiting the department. Most importantly, it allows users to view and book what they need online, making it much easier to organise lab access for both staff and students, not least because users get instant confirmation of bookings in the automated connect2 system.
One of the massive advantages for Bath’s technicians is that they are able to maintain a checkout/in period at a regular time that suits their schedules (between 10-12, and between 3-4pm daily). This calendar is set up in connect2, so equipment bookings only begin and end when they are there to issue and receive the items. The connect2 system makes this clear to students when choosing their booking timeslots.
A further major benefit is transparency. Everyone has instant knowledge when each lab or item is available. Students have clear information and reminders on when to use labs booked, and when to pick up and return equipment items. Staff can easily see each user’s reason for booking a lab, plus request other details in the online booking form that staff can review as part of preparations for the day ahead.
Connect2 also ensures appropriate use of resources at Bath: the system only allows psychology students to book department resources, and then only for labs for which they have received training. For example, some labs at Bath have been set up with specialised equipment for cognitive experiments. It’s better not to move this equipment around too much as it’s fragile and also takes a lot of time to move in and out of the room. It’s better that it stays in place, with training permissions in connect2 to book access to these particular labs. Bookings are automatically approved by the connect2 system when the right training has been completed.
Connect2’s automated permissions also take care of variations in booking rules between students and staff at the University. So only staff can book certain items that are not generally available. And there are some facilities that they are permitted to book for longer periods. It also takes care of ensuring bookings for timetabled rooms are only authorised outside of timetabled periods.
Left: Lab bookings homepage in the connect2 system for University of Bath; Right: Click to view the slides from the connect2 ATSiP Conference presentation.
Throughout the conference there was a packed schedule of insightful presentations, with some particular highlights. On Day Two, Staffordshire University presented Future Made of Virtual Insanity, which focused on the use of VR technology in both the Psychology environment and the wider academic environment. For example, Staffordshire use Google Cardboard VR headsets on open days so attendees can attend virtual tours of some of their facilities – a great way to see areas of the University that might not otherwise be accessible. ATSiP delegates were given their own VR headsets and invited to try out some VR applications. For some, this was a brand new and very enlightening experience!
Then on Day Three there was a talk on the current and future landscape of holograms. University of Lincoln presented on their use in the medical environment, and we were treated to a live demonstration. It’s currently the focus of many companies to advance this technology – the presenter was keen to point out that it’s still very much an emerging and developing area, despite the proliferation of some impressive videos (i.e. don’t believe everything you see!).
Left: Hologram presentation. Right: cardboard VR headset.
All in all, it was a very interesting three days, made all the more enjoyable by time spent together outside of the presentations. ATSiP events have a great social side to them, giving everyone the chance to interact in a more relaxed setting. This year it included a tour of the Roman Baths, while others chose to watch the football that evening. However given the football result, in hindsight the tour was the better option!
Thanks to the University of Bath for being such excellent hosts, as well as the organisers for their support in enabling us to participate. We hope you’ve found our ATSiP 2018 insights useful. If you didn’t attend, we recommend you participate next year and look forward to seeing you there!