The I-Think Initiative x The Innovation Hub: Reframing Education from Kindergarten to Higher Ed

Innovation at work—students working at U of T

By Eddie Huang and Charis Lam

Solving the problems of an increasingly complex world requires the education of critical and creative thinkers. Empowering educators to develop students’ integrative thinking skills—to help students “face … the tension of opposing ideas and … generate a creative resolution … in the form of a new idea [that] … is superior to each”1—is essential to developing the next generation of students. The I-Think Initiative works with K-12 students and educators to teach integrative thinking practices and explicit thinking techniques, which participants use to tackle real-world problems. Similarly, at the university level, the Innovation Hub gives students the tools of design thinking to tackle issues in campus life. Together, we see a need to reframe education at all levels to reflect the challenges of the modern world. Continue reading “The I-Think Initiative x The Innovation Hub: Reframing Education from Kindergarten to Higher Ed”

View from the Inside: Coding and Data Analysis

Zahira Tasabehji, Design Research Team Lead

Continuing the View from the Inside series, Zahira Tasabehji reflects on the coding and data analysis process.

Zahira is studying Political Science, Psychology, and Education Studies at UTM. She’s passionate about transforming education, so her role at the Innovation Hub is the perfect place to use  her leadership and creative skills to enhance the student experience!

Continue reading “View from the Inside: Coding and Data Analysis”

Transforming Educational Spaces at UofT

By Darren Clift, Writer

A classroom at U of T

Each cohort of students arrives at UofT with unique considerations and learning style preferences. Today’s students are digital natives; technology is a fundamental tool for socialization and self-improvement in their lives. Since students’ needs have changed, classrooms and teaching methods must adapt. A standard room with standard desks might not favour learning, while a standard lecture style might distract rather than inspire. Continue reading “Transforming Educational Spaces at UofT”

View from the Inside: Watch and Learn

Celeste Pang, Design Research Team Lead

In the latest post of the View from the Inside series, Celeste Pang discusses the Innovation Hub sessions on participant observation and alternative methods for data collection.

Celeste is a PhD Candidate in Anthropology. She works in ageing and health-related research, and brings extensive experience in ethnography to her role in the Innovation Hub, where she leads the Family Care Office design team.

“Watch and learn.”

As a researcher trained in anthropology, asking critical questions and learning through observation and participation—ethnography—is a skillset that takes years to build. Yet ethnographic research draws upon, and builds from, basic aspects of human sociality and relationship-making. We talk to people (often through informal or semi-structured interviews); we engage with our communities of study in their day-to-day life (participant observation); we build rapport (or relationships of trust); and we strive to be continually reflexive and aware of ongoing ethical issues and power dynamics in our work. We may be studying a community or an issue that touches us personally, or we may find ourselves further afield. Either way, we aim to “make the familiar strange.” We critically, deeply, and with attention to detail, hang out.   Continue reading “View from the Inside: Watch and Learn”

Mental Health Feedback Events: This is what we heard: did we miss anything?

Kate Welsh, Design Research Team Lead, Mental Health

Since September, I’ve led the Innovation Hub team working to gather student insights about mental health in partnership with the Presidential and Provostial Task Force on Student Mental Health. I’d like to personally thank everyone who came to our events in September and provided us with your thoughts. We appreciate you. We heard you and your voices matter. Continue reading “Mental Health Feedback Events: This is what we heard: did we miss anything?”

Join the Design Thinking Experience Program!

Julia Smeed, Innovation Hub Project Leader
Charis Lam, Writer

In January 2020, the Innovation Hub and the Centre for Learning, Leadership & Culture will launch a Design Thinking Experience Program for students and staff. Building on the success of the Innovation Hub’s student-exclusive design thinking bootcamps, this program will continue to address challenges in the student experience at UofT while providing participants with hands-on training in design thinking; moreover, it will bring staff and students together to encourage dialogue and broaden perspectives on what is possible at UofT. Continue reading “Join the Design Thinking Experience Program!”

View from the Inside: Shred Carefully

Continuing the View from the Inside series, we reflect on early weeks of the Design Thinking Experience Program, in which we discussed participant interviews and transcription.

In this post, we hear from Max Yaghchi, Writer. Max is a PharmD candidate volunteering with the Innovation Hub.

Innovation Hub team meeting

In September and early October, the Innovation Hub team was trained in participant interviewing, interview transcription, and participant de-identification. We want to generate data that will help us improve the student experience, while protecting participants from potential repercussions due to their involvement. Continue reading “View from the Inside: Shred Carefully”

Student Life Redesign: Gathering Student Perspectives about Campus Life

Students at UofT

By Sujaya Devi, Design Research Team Lead (Student Life), and Cynthia Zheng, Writer

Each student’s journey through the university is unique. Yet most students spend a significant amount of time on campus—going to classes, studying at the library, hanging out with friends—and the services, resources, and student services at the university play a crucial role in their experiences. Among other services, the Division of Student Life handles Health and Wellness, the Centre for International Experience, the Career Centre, Academic Success, and Housing, and thus it provides a space for students to get support and strengthen skills, including mentorship, leadership, and time management. Continue reading “Student Life Redesign: Gathering Student Perspectives about Campus Life”

Student Ideas for Student Spaces: Chill Spots in the Faculty of Kinesiology and Physical Education

Students walk along St. George Street in the summer.
Photo courtesy of UofT Digital Media Bank

By Anusha Arif, Writer

Students at UofT desire a place to relax, grab a coffee, and sit with friends in an informal setting. According to the National Survey of Student Engagement, 35 % of students at the Faculty of Kinesiology and Physical Education (KPE) want more informal gathering spaces. They are not alone: through surveys and meetings, students at other departments have expressed a similar desire. To meet this need, KPE is working with the Innovation Hub to uncover what draws students to such spaces and to create design principles that will help with the renovation of the Clara Benson Pool Gallery into a Chill Spot for students to relax, connect, and de-stress.

Chill Spots started as one of the five “Big Ideas” from the first year of the Innovation Hub, and they have become an important priority at UofT, as seen from the Provost’s recent call for applications to the Student Space Enhancement Fund. We hope that the insights from this project will be useful for other KPE space projects and Chill Spots designs in the future. Continue reading “Student Ideas for Student Spaces: Chill Spots in the Faculty of Kinesiology and Physical Education”

The Outlier in All of Us

Charis Lam, Writer

In many fields, outliers are seen as a nuisance. We run tests to justify ignoring them; we explain them away; we resent their intrusion on our neat results. Design thinking, however, asks us to do the opposite—to forgo the blinkers that constrain us to staring at the centre of the bell curve, and to take a good hard look at the outliers. Continue reading “The Outlier in All of Us”