(Re)Introducing the LX.lab
- The Learner experience lab (LX.lab) in Building 6 is a resource for academic staff, providing access to learning and teaching support, advice and ideas.
- With design inspiration including the Apple Genius Bar, the space is flexible, dynamic and able to be used for events, as well as collaborative and individual work.
“The initial concept was to create an environment that was inviting, open and accessible," explains Deborah Bates. "Our aim was to create a vibe where you feel like you can drop in at any time and find people on hand to answer queries or just set yourself up at a desk and get to work.”
As the Project Manager who oversaw the refurb of the space now known as the Learner Experience (LX) Lab, Deborah collaborated with staff from UTS’s Institute for Interactive Media and Learning (IML) to create a ‘teach the teacher’ space that is dynamic, flexible and functional.
“The design had to allow the space to be used well for a range of purposes. As well as being a drop-in space for immediate help or for hot-desking, it also needed to be an event space that can hold a variety of workshops and collaborative learning sessions designed to help academics up-skill,” says Deborah.
The LX.lab is an academic resource operated by IML that provides teaching support, advice and ideas.
If you cross the Harris St footbridge or grab a coffee at the DAB Building’s café, it’s impossible to miss the glass-encased space. And that’s no accident.
The site on the busy campus thoroughfare was specially chosen to give the LX.lab maximum visibility (quick access to steady supply of caffeine is a plus). The glass walls allow passers-by to see what’s going on inside, so they feel invited to drop-in and take part. It also gives the space an inside/outside feel, making it a light and bright location for working and learning.
Jan McLean, Senior Lecturer with the Institute for Interactive Media and Learning, is a frequent user of the LX.lab – and a fan.
“There’s a real sense of energy about the space. There is always heaps of activity going on with people moving around both inside and outside. Initially I thought this would be distracting, but instead I have found the opposite and that it brings a sense of liveliness and fun to workshops,” she says.
“What’s so unique is that while it’s one large room, the discrete sections allow different types of activities to happen simultaneously which heightens the sense of people working alongside each other in collaborative and innovative ways. Plus it looks and feels great – the café and bar style sections are inviting and the modern design promotes a sense that we are working in an imaginative and future-focused place.”
Prior to the refurb, IML ran the Academic Hub out of the space. Flexibility and functionality was limited by an imposing reception desk and built-in workstations.
In contrast, the new design is highly flexible and dynamic. All furniture is moveable, allowing different set-ups for different-purposes. Low tables in the centre of the room can be used for collaborative small-group work or a seminar-style session. Higher bench tables along one wall can be used for individual work or small group interactions.
One of the key features is the Green Bar, a hub surrounded by a striking colourful curved wooden installation. It’s set up with a pair of screens with connectivity to laptop or device, in a similar configuration to a collaborative pod in a classroom. This gives academics the chance to role-play scenarios in how a collaborative, technology-focussed lesson could be taught. It also provides a discreet space for group-work that requires screen collaboration.
Deborah Bates explains that the Green Bar space incorporates both practical and aesthetic design features.
“The area has a lower ceiling than the rest of the room because of air conditioning services. The architect developed a curved fin-like design that draws people’s attention to the Green Bar and capitalises on the low ceilings. The wooden detail also provides an element of acoustic treatment to the space. When a room has a lot of glass and writeable whiteboard walls, acoustics can be a challenge, so the wooden fins and the carpet help to counter that,” she explains.
The LX.lab is open to all staff during business hours, with drop-in hours for learning technologies support from 11am-1pm each weekday. There are also regular Learning and Teaching events listed online. Find out more at futures.uts.edu.au/lxlab