Re-envisioning Student Computing Labs

Jeremiah Joyner

At the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, we are in the process of re-envisioning our student computer labs in ways that are both lowering operating costs and adding new value for our students. This process is being carried out with broad involvement from the campus community, with leadership provided by central IT and the university libraries.

The process involves redesigning current computing labs so that they provide a more casual, study lounge type of environment, offering both private and group work areas. In a pilot redesign we made available last year, a traditional lab was refitted with new furniture and actual work stations were reduced by over half. The result has been a significant increase in utilization by students. Students are bringing their own mobile devices to the labs, curling up in soft seating, and working. Other students are meeting in areas design to facilitate collaboration, sharing ideas, sketching out their ideas on specially-prepared "white board walls" that can easily be erased, and plugging into and gathering around large monitors to share content.

The pilot has been so successful, we're designing three more to be located in each of our library locations. Ultimately, this effort reduce the number of labs on campus by consolidating them in three primary locations, reduce the number of work stations we currently provide, and lower costs significantly. During a visit to the pilot location, our vice chancellor for Student Affairs remarked, "the only risk in this effort is that students are going to want more of them."

We'd like to share the details of this project with other Carolina campuses. We're proposing a twenty minute presentation that will include a number of photographs and copies of our designs that should be of interest to a variety of audiences.


Experience level: 
Leadership and Management

Schedule info

Time slot: 
3 November 10:45 - 11:30
Breakout Room - D