'Common room of the future' launches at the University of Sydney

3 August 2011

The TechLounge lets students get hands-on with the latest technology.
The TechLounge lets students get hands-on with the latest technology.

The University of Sydney has teamed with Microsoft Australia to bring its students the common room of the future: an innovative new 'TechLounge' that will encourage students to get creative and interact with the latest technology and each other.

In a world-first collaboration between Microsoft and the University, a variety of new technologies have been used to fit out this high-tech student space including; a Microsoft Surface, laptops, desktops, Xbox 360 consoles with Kinect and Windows Phones.

The informal space, in the middle of one of the University's student hubs, opened in time for the start of the second semester. Technologies and hardware from manufacturers such as Dell, Samsung, Sony, Acer and Asus will be available.

The TechLounge also provides students with another on-campus recreational area, close to cafes and student union facilities as well as the SciTech Library.

"We're working hard to create more informal learning spaces and expand access to technology for our students to support learning in its broadest sense - in and out of the classroom," said University of Sydney Vice-Chancellor Dr Michael Spence, who will formally open the TechLounge on 3 August.

"The TechLounge is a fresh way to enrich the campus experience, and we are looking forward to learning more from our students about how we can create even better learning spaces in future," Dr Spence added. "We are pleased to work with Microsoft on this exciting new venture, which will be a great addition to our existing and forthcoming learning facilities".

Students playing with the Xbox 360 Kinect.
Students playing with the Xbox 360 Kinect.

The collaboration between the University and Microsoft is an innovative addition to a wider University program, the Learning Networks Program. This program aims to extend and modernise on-campus learning and social spaces for students, based on student feedback that indicated the need for more places to work collaboratively in addition to independent study areas.

"It's a great privilege to be able to work with such a historic Australian public university to innovate a technology space that acts as the 'common room of the future,'" said Michael Gration, Public Sector Director, Microsoft Australia.

"We hope the students will really love and relate to the sample of Microsoft's latest technology available in the TechLounge - from the Surface unit to Windows 7 PCs to the Xbox 360 with Kinect play areas. I wish we'd had that kind of common room when I was at university."

"It's fantastic to see the University creating such an innovative space," said Donherra Walmsley, President of the University of Sydney's Students' Representative Council. "There is an increasing diversity in terms of what students need from their study spaces on campus, and those needs go beyond the traditional individual desk in a 'library-style' learning space."

The TechLounge will be supported at all times by a University staff member, who will be on hand to help students using the technology as well as monitor how it is being used and consider how it could be adapted elsewhere on campus.

It is close to a new learning hub in the Wentworth Building that provides informal learning services with space for 100 students.

Students create a replica University of Sydney ID card on the Microsoft Surface.
Students create a replica University of Sydney ID card on the Microsoft Surface.

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Media enquiries: Katie Szittner, University of Sydney, 9351 2261, 0478 316 809,

Ben Tan, Microsoft Australia, 0418 488 827,