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 offers participants an opportunity to explore their own interests in coding, game development or other digital media, or to simply socialise with friends while playing games. The Lab and The Lab online place a high value on both the social at technical experience at Lab sessions.
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 have transitioned to The Lab Online format with around 200 sessions delivered during terms 3 & 4 2020. Th is expanded program has demonstrated the capacity for The Lab Online to provide a valuable social and technical skills experience for Lab participants around the country.
The Lab Online currently uses the video conferencing platform Zoom to engage Lab participants in tech mentoring and social sessions. Zoom provides the ability for participants to chat with one another in a video environment where everyone can see and hear everyone else as they speak in turn. Individual user’s screens can be shared so that everyone can see at once what an individual is working on or a game they are playing. Zoom provides breakout rooms so that participants who want to play a game can gather in one room while others who might want to learn a tech skill remain in another room.
This year The Lab introduced a new fee structure in response to the increasing number of participants being funded by the NDIS in order to keep the cost of our service affordable and equitable for everyone. These fees apply equally to The Lab Online, with the one exception that all Lab Online sessions will be charged at the weekday rate (weekend sessions will not attract a higher fee).
For participants without NDIS funding:
The cost of any Lab session (face to face or online; weekday or weekend) is $25.
For NDIS-funded Participants:
The cost of any Lab Online session is $34.40.
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.
For more detailed information on Lab sessions please see the Lab Online FAQ document linked below.