Living Labs

A Living Lab is an environment for user-centered innovation, based on the observation of every-day user practice and experience for solving problems, but also based on their active participation, with an approach that facilitates their influence in the open and distributed innovation process (participatory design). It engages all concerned partners in the real-life contexts, and aims to create sustainable usage values (Kareborn et al. 2009). It is defined as 4P innovation, namely Public-Private-People-Partnership. The objectives are thus political and strategic, focused on the social role of innovation, i.e. trying to realize totally the human potential by the increase of their creativity (Conruyt 2013). 

According to Conruyt (2013) when one instantiates it in a domain, a Living Lab includes public and private actors, companies, associations, individual actors, whose objective is to co-design, to develop and to test life-size services, tools and new practices. The aim is to take out the research of laboratories to make it come down in the daily life, often by having a strategic view on the potential uses of these technologies. All this takes place in cooperation between local authorities, companies, research laboratories, as well as potential users, via helping platforms for designing innovative services and analyzes of their usages. It is a question of favoring the culture of opening (open innovation), of sharing its networks and of involving the users from the beginning of the conception.

 According to the European Network of Living Labs (ENoLL) a Living Lab is driven by four major elements namely Co-Creation, Exploration, Experimentation and Evaluation. Co-Creation is mainly about user involvement in the elaboration of innovative products and services. The Virtual Centre for Innovative Learning Technologies (now Centre for Innovative and Lifelong Learning) is a specialized unit in Education Technology at the University of Mauritius, focusing mainly on Innovative Teacher Training Systems targeting mainly in-service educators. The CILL adheres to the concept of open innovation systems and aims to become part of the Living Lab network. In this paper we describe the theoretical foundations of Living Lab from our own local practices and operational framework and discuss the components that make up a preliminary framework or model for the establishment of a Living Lab focusing mainly on the classroom education of the future for Mauritius. There are three major components that would form the backbone of our Living Lab namely the Research and Development, Teacher Education and finally The Classroom Environment and Teaching Practices. Our proposed Living Lab model is inspired from the University of Reunion Island Living Lab for Teaching and Learning, the FunEcole Living Lab, the Classroom of the Future Living Lab and the Ways of Learning for the Future Living Lab which are all established members of the ENoLL network.