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Page history last edited by Norman Jackson 10 years, 1 month ago


CoLab student enterprise University of Surrey 



CoLab is a not for profit student and recent graduate organization based at the University of Surrey. The income we generate provides paid employment opportunities for students. Our goal is to foster a culture of enterprise and collaboration between students, university and local businesses particularly in the area of web design, Web 2.0 use and media products and services. We are five talented students and recent graduates with the passion, creativity, technical expertise and a strong professional ethic to solve problems and add value to your business. We are able tap into the talent of over 13000 other students to provide imaginative solutions to the question how can Web 2.0 technologies and new media add value to my business. We are mentored by Nigel Biggs, University of Surrey Entrepreneur in Residence and Norman Jackson, Director Surrey Centre for Excellence in Professional Training and Education (SCEPTrE). This wiki tells the CoLab story.


CoLab Story summary paper 




The idea of CoLab, a student organisation providing services to students and the university originated in autumn 2006. It was founded on the belief that ‘students often new more about Web 2.0 technologies than we did so why not let them lead us’ Professor Norman Jackson. Ideas were expressed in a concept paper and discussed with colleagues in the University's e-learning unit. In autumn 2006 three students went onto the campus and surveyed student opinions. The results of this market research indicated that students would be supportive of a student organisation that provided opportunities for them to learn about and experience new technologies.


'Over 75% of students polled who currently use a lot of technology, would use CoLab and are willing to share their expertise. Over 80% of students polled who do not currently use a lot of technology would use CoLab All students felt CoLab would be valuable, with over 60% of students believing it would have both an academic and a social value.'


Following the surveys the CoLab concept was refined and a proposal to establish CoLab was endorsed by SCEPTrE's Executive Group. The first group of five students were recruited in March 2007.



Start-up March 2007

CoLab was established in March 2007 with sponsorship (£6000) from SCEPTrE, E Learning Unit and Professional Training and Careers Committee. Five talented and committed students (L1, L3 placement and 3 M Level) were employed from March to:

1)       establish CoLab as an entrepreneurial student-based organization and create a brand

2)       pilot a range of workshops aimed at encouraging the transfer of knowledge and expertise in the use of technology contained within the student body

3)       build a new website/internet social networking space for students on placement

4)       build a web site to present and support the activities of CoLab.


By June 2007 the first progress report was able to claim ‘The outcomes from the enterprise are excellent given the time and resources available.The participants have gained much valuable and useful experience and the CoLab model is a groundbreaking ‘real world’ educational device that needs to be more thoroughly explored.'


The first CoLab Team March 2007


CoLab Team October 2007-May 2008 



Proof of concept 

Proof of concept phase was in two stages:  1) March to June 2007 (5 students)  2) September – December (8 students). During this period CoLab: 

1) Created a brand and developed working practices

2) Undertook a survey to find out how Surrey students use social networking spaces to inform the creation of a social networking space

3) Created and tested a social networking site based on the Ning open source platform

4) Organised and run a series of Discovery Workshops for staff and students

5) Helped SCEPTrE and the university appreciate entirely new technologies (like Second Life)

6) Organised and facilitated a series of technology forums


 Proof of Concept Report (Dec 2007) - conclusions

 ‘Eleven months after being formed, CoLab has achieved all its aims and has learnt valuable lessons to aid further development. Working partnerships are already active with Amac Ltd (an external networking business) Apple, USSU, SPLASH and the computing department. The CoLab model is an innovative ‘real world’ / educational device that is beginning to fulfill expectations. There is a huge potential for the university to grow this enterprise and to incorporate it into an identity around the idea of real world education. What the proof of concept work has demonstrated is the great need and demand for a student-led organisation on campus, and the many activities it could be involved in. It is also apparent that with no resources or space dedicated to CoLab, building it up as an enterprise will be incredibly challenging.’



2008 – 09   Fourteen students were recruited through application form and interview and employed. They included 1 part-time placement student and 8 networkers and 5 technologists. During this academic year we decided to try to create a single integrated team although team members tended to work on either enquiry or technology projects. But there were a few projects that involved all team members. The team decided that CoLab was:

  • A value-based organisation providing services to students, staff (university), business and community.
  • An active agent with capacity for – reaching out, networking, finding out things (market research), making things happen.
  • A broker, able to foster – new connections, new ideas, new relationships, new forms of collaboration.

Through these activities to enhance and add value to what already exists. Amongst other things this team created the CoLab website and helped the University developa presence in Second Life. This team designed the logo which you see at the top of the page.



April 2009 Colab students support SCEPTrE's conference


October 2009-May 2010 In June -July 2009 2 fulltime placement students were recruited to lead and manage the CoLab team they assisted in the appointment of fifteen students who were recruited to CoLab by letter of application and interview to either a technology team or a networking team in October. At the first meeting they explored together what CoLab was Here are some notes on CoLab's identity.




Examples of CoLab's work




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