The Lab Online was first piloted in 2016 and involved young people from across Australia who were unable to access a face to face Lab session. The pilot was funded by the Melbourne Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation and ran during terms 3 & 4 in 2016.
Our review of the pilot indicated that the young people involved in the program saw themselves learning new skills that they clearly valued. The Lab and The Lab Online aim to encourage positive social and technical outcomes, but not in a school type formal learning program.
The Lab Online will offer participants an opportunity to discuss their own interests and to complete tutorials and project work covering a specific technique or technology that is of interest.
In March 2017 the Lab Online pilot was the recipient of an NBN Co and Australian Information Industry Association award for innovative use of online technology.
During the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic many face to face Lab sessions were transferred to The Lab Online format with around 110 sessions were delivered involving 80 participants nationally. The program demonstrated the capacity of The Lab Online to provide a valuable social and technical skills connection for Lab participants around the country.
The Lab Online currently runs several sessions per week until all Labs are able to resume regular face to face sessions. Each session has a tech focus with an introduction to creative coding and gaming. The cost is $25 per session.
Participant requirements for the sessions are simple; a headset with built in microphone is highly recommended, a webcam and a quite space free from of ambient noise. A computer system capable of running games and video is important, though any reasonably new system will work well. It is advised that participants use Chrome or Firefox as their internet browsers – updated to the latest version if possible.