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How to use Google calendar to share information in a lab

Google Calendar in the lab

Lot’s of people  in biomedical labs use Google Calendar. Because multiple calendars can be created and shown in the same view, and each can be shared, either read-only or with full edit control, and with specified people or with everyone in a group via the ‘public calendars’ function, Google Calendar has also become popular with labs for sharing scheduling information around the lab.

Google Calendar in an electronic lab notebook

Google Calendar already integrates with other Google applications, in particular gmail.  But until now it hasn’t been possible to conveniently sync Google Calendar with core lab activities like documenting research and managing samples.  We thought that was a shame, and to put things right we’ve integrated Google Calendar into the latest version of our electronic lab notebook eCAT, which will be launched tomorrow!   Here’s a screenshot showing you what a Google Calendar in eCAT looks like — i.e. just the same as it looks on its own!

 

We’ve made a brief video showing you how to embed a Google Calendar in eCAT. After the launch of eCAT 4.0 on May 11 you can watch the video here.   In this post I’d like to highlight how to use a Google Calendar in conjunction with other features of eCAT to help collaboration and communication with other lab members.

Making the most of Google Calendar in eCAT

With eCAT 4.0 it’s possible for labs to  integrate Google Calendar’s scheduling capability with the rest of their work, including documenting their research and managing samples.  This is a case of 1 + 1 = 3:  eCAT + Google Calendar allows for a step jump in collaboration and communication in the lab.  Here’s how.

As the video explains, when you integrate Google Calendar into eCAT you keep the full range of sharing options you have with Google Calendar — the Calendar can be completely open, or shared with just some members of the lab, and one person, several people or everyone can have edit permission.  And of course you can have more than one calendar in eCAT, so one can be for things that everyone needs to know about, and another one, for example, might be for a group within the lab that’s working together on a particular project.

When you think about it, this fits like hand in glove with eCAT’s own sharing capabilities.

Sharing records

First,  eCAT lets you keep some records private, share other records with selected members of the lab, and have some records be public amongst all lab members.  And like Google Calendar you can set view, edit or edit and view permission on an individual user basis.   There’s more about sharing in eCAT here.

Sending messages

Second, eCAT’s notifications system (explained in more detail here) allows you to send messages and set tasks for others in the group, and include links to other eCAT records in the message.  So for example you can send a message to your PI saying that a particular experiment is ready for their review and including a link to the experiment so that all they have to do is click on the link to be taken to the experiment.  Assuming they have edit permission, they can then comment directly in the experiment.

Setting alerts

Third, the new sample management side of eCAT that’s been added in version 4.0 allows you to set alerts on samples when the sample expires, when the volume reaches a certain level, etc.  Again, these can be shared with other specified members of the lab (For more on alerts, after May 11 you can watch the following video).

eCAT + Google Calendar = a complete collaboration and communication environment!

So with eCAT 4.0 + Google Calendar you have a shared environment for managing samples and documenting research, and an easy way for communicating about your research which includes scheduling, messaging and alerts on samples. We think that’s pretty exciting!

 

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