Idea Laboratory – a starting point of your professional development

For several months – from January to May – the UL Innovation Centre LUMIC provided students with an opportunity to implement their ideas in teams. The Idea Laboratory took place within the framework of the UL New Technologies and Innovations Day. Idea Laboratory – a fantastic opportunity to gain experience both in the world of continuous development of technologies and in the formation of mutual contacts and self-improvement – ensured the supervision of various workshops and mentors in the process of idea implementation.

A team of 7 young people with a mentor to support the development of ideas developed digital learning materials for students for the Part C course "Climate Change and Sustainable Development". A total of eight video lectures were recorded, including an introductory lecture of the course, as well as interviews with various entrepreneurs. When developing the idea, each of the team members understood in more detail the problems faced by teachers in the new remote tool environment. The participants of the idea laboratory describe it as a great challenge for everyone, where they gained experience that could not be gained anywhere else.

In the process of developing the idea, the biggest challenge in the programme continuation was remote work, but the team members, led by their captain, understood and overcame this challenge, because they were motivated to achieve a great result. After participating in the project, there was an interest in how the daily processes at the university work.

Participation in the Idea Laboratory has provided an opportunity to learn how to plan your time correctly, as well as find the right approaches and methods in the idea development process. It also motivated to understand team members and find various contacts in the industry.

Digitalization of studies is useful for every student who comes into contact with various study materials on a daily basis. It helps to achieve academic success and gain knowledge by learning to find the right resources. The team working on the improvement of the UL study internal system conducted research and created a prototype tool that would not only make it easier to navigate the UL information system, but also improve the organization and modernization of the study process.

In the process of implementing the idea, the team did almost the impossible – created solutions to make it easier for everyone to get everything they need from the UL information system, which would serve both as a reference material and as a source of help. The development of this system required the acquisition of new skills, which not so much helped in existing work, but improved the ability to give participants a new perspective on technology. The team mutually agreed on the best and most effective solution, which was initially sought. Although acquiring new knowledge in a limited period of time in addition to the study process, as well as effective time planning and understanding of the idea development steps was a real challenge, this was justified by the vision of the team's overall goal and great result achieved. One of the biggest benefits of the team is the acquisition of new colleagues and professional contacts, as well as the most positive impression of the university's desire to change and adapt to the time when there is a demand in society for the most comfortable and modern technologies.

As part of the project, each team gained a new perspective on things that used to be unattainable and complex, but now they are self-evident and easy to learn. The period of time in which these skills were acquired is not comparable to anything else, so the experience gained can be seen as a strong basis for self-growth and peer learning, which helped not only to successfully develop the idea, but also to add new impetus to technology.

The aim of the "Short and Concise" team was to develop a system that would make it easier to occupy the premises and make it possible to book them in a much more simple way than before. Although difficult at first, due to various environmental conditions, as well as the positive pursuit of the goal, the team worked together to create a functional system that opens the way to reach unattainable peaks with modern and suitable tools. During the development of the work, it was necessary to create a database, process the available information, plan detailed reservations, as well as plan the operation of the system.

Under the influence of consultations and workshops, each team member added his/her strengths to the created tool, which culminated in a successful result or prototype that will undoubtedly be adapted in the future and used for what is needed. Over time, the creation of such a system, led by these team members and the mentor, allows anyone involved in its development to grasp the vast possibilities, as long as they are able to see them. One of the biggest challenges the team mentions is the slight difficulty in starting to develop an idea on the right path, but communication has been the key to everything, and when the exchange of thoughts, ideas and opinions has taken place over time, the participants have found the right path. The challenge, which can be justified by the benefits, was the lack of experience on the topic, but now the team members can conclude that they have acquired new skills and established contacts that will undoubtedly help them in the future.

As the created tool is developed on a modern basis, it will not be difficult to integrate it into the required system – the team achieved much more than expected, which can be concluded with a safe and sustainable tool. The main idea throughout the process was to find the most effective way to facilitate the existing processes faced by anyone working or studying at the university, and it was this team that managed to make the idea of ​​reserving space a great potential for university development in the nearest future.

Surely each of us has had difficulty navigating in the premises that are brand new and unknown to us, but the team that worked in the Idea Laboratory to create a digital map, created a good basis for the introduction of an application in the future that would help any visitor of the University of Latvia to navigate in any corner of the building.

The team's path to the final product was quite interesting – through self-study and with a little help got acquainted with technical tools and technologies, which include creating and simplifying various virtual space plans, summarizing room occupancy and attendance, consulting industry experts on the most appropriate steps in the tool development process, as well as planning and implementing tool design development. The result is noticeable in the work – the tool has reached the potential for development together with the necessary resources. The work goes unnoticed – the relevant UL employees want to work with the team to turn the idea into reality.

The main benefits of the team in the process of developing the idea can be characterized by getting to know yourself and your team members, learning from the various experiences gained, but the main benefit is a great end product, to be proud of for a long time. Motivation was provided not only by the team mentor, but also by financial support, which was support in finding various solutions. As a challenge, the team certainly sees the difficult obstacles along the way, which were ignorance of technology or tools, but all this was learned in the process and now students can call themselves knowledgeable and determined fighters who are ready to challenge themselves and test their abilities.

Each member of the Idea Lab has gained a variety of experiences while working in this programme, which in a few months has allowed students to grow as personalities, gain a broader view of the modern and ever-changing world of technology and innovation, and find their own field. This is definitely a starting point for anyone who is able to see the potential, both in themselves and in what they are working on and fighting for – new tools, materials and information that will provide a positive and modern environment for future generations.

In the future, such digital learning tools will certainly be very successful as they will be improved and modernized, especially by involving student representatives in reviewing and updating them.