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Lab Experiment

YouXLab provides the resources for students to develop their ideas in a collaborative environment By Valerie Wade


reat life learners take their dreams and diligently work to make them real. Mark Nehrenz, a graduate assistant in Gaylord College, is such a learner. YouXLab equipped Nehrenz with the resources to complete his master’s project, which is called OKCGood. Its goal is to be a database of community

service organizations in the Oklahoma City metro area, and for starters, he needed a logo and website.

“Helping nonprofits tell their stories is my dream; it is what I love to do,” Nehrenz said. Nehrenz learned video production on his own before he got the idea to create a network of nonprofits. Following the initial ambition to begin the project, he realized he needed a website to promote his work. Chris Krug, who has taught at Gaylord College since 2006, had the original idea for YouXLab, which launched in August 2012. “YouXLab is a network of OU students, staff, faculty and alumni that collaborate and harness the university’s resources to train themselves and others to ideate and develop digital technologies, products and services that benefit the experience,” he said. YouXLab means the “user-times-lab” and the “you-x” is the user experience. If Oklahoma Memorial Union is known as the living room of the university, Krug thinks of YouXLab as its garage. This lab brings the creative minds of the campus together to create digital innovation for the future. Krug wants YouXLab to be open for people to build what they want to build. “We’re really trying to harness student creativity and help it develop rather than prescribing what happens in this lab,” Gaylord College Dean Joe Foote said. Foote told Krug to let the students express themselves and for Krug to observe their interests. Currently, the structure of YouXLab is fluid. A few students, staff and faculty meet periodically in Gaylord Hall, Room 1025, to discuss ideas and projects. Much of the collaboration is done over a private Facebook group of 51 people. They also hold an openmic night where students pitch their ideas and goals for their projects. The group then discusses what resources are needed. Looking over the Facebook group, Nehrenz explained there are people in YouXLab from all kinds of majors. Alumni even post their projects and ideas in the Facebook group. It is a social network within itself. Neither a class nor an organization, YouXLab is a collaboration. 40

Screenshot of Mark Nehrenz’s website,

Pulse 2013  
Pulse 2013  

Alumni magazine of the Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Oklahoma.