The Association for Learning Technology (ALT) has recognised Remote Labs for creating accessible engineering practical work and curriculum change.
Remote Labs project lead Professor Timothy Drysdale and his team have received the ALT Award for Digital Transformation in partnership with Jisc. The ALT Awards, which celebrate excellent research and practice, and outstanding achievements internationally in Learning Technology, were given at a ceremony during the ALT Annual Conference in Warwick.
Remote Labs were created for use on traditional campuses to address space limitations, add a science museum aesthetic to buildings and create opportunities for education using online methods that are not possible with solely onsite teaching.
Low-cost lab experiments were created in-house and packaged with cameras in stackable mini shipping containers. Students and educators can access the experiments via a web browser where they can watch the experiment while simultaneously viewing its data on screen. Created as open source, Remote Labs were designed to be shared beyond the University of Edinburgh and can be used at any time of day and from any location.
Working with staff and students in the School, the team have delivered practical work ranging from general first-year to specialist fifth-year courses via over 100 remote laboratory experiments. The Remote Labs have 150 times the estate efficiency of a traditional lab.
ALT Chief Executive, Billy Smith, commented:
“Congratulations to the School of Engineering Remote Labs at the University of Edinburgh for their exceptional dedication to pushing the boundaries in Digital Transformation. Their multidisciplinary approach and commitment to accessibility, co-design, and inclusivity shines through in every aspect of their work. By sharing their expertise openly, developing resources and embracing accessibility, they're not only transforming the quality of education but equally fostering a global community of knowledge-sharing. These accomplishments truly embody ALT's core aims and mission.”
Professor Timothy Drysdale, Chair of Technology Enhanced Science Education, Director of Strategic Digital Education in the School of Engineering and Remote Labs project lead, said:
“I’m delighted for our achievements to be recognised by Jisc and ALT. A great many people have contributed to the cultural change involved in adopting Remote Labs, including students, academics, technicians, PhD researchers, teaching administrators, tutors and demonstrators, IT, buildings, and central estates, as well as our teaching and senior management teams. It’s a been a pleasure working with everyone involved and I look forward to continuing current activities as well as working with new users internationally across the education sector.”
Professor Gareth Harrison, Head of the School of Engineering at the University of Edinburgh, added:
“I’m delighted to see Tim’s pioneering work recognised. We saw great potential in Remote Labs as we sought to address the substantial pressure on space resulting from our success in attracting students and investment in staff. Remote Labs are much smaller than normal lab equipment, allowing more variety when demonstrating challenging concepts and building experimental skills. They are always available, so reduce scheduling problems and allow students to fit their lab work around other commitments.”
Professor Timothy Drysdale will hold his inaugural lecture on 20 September 2023.