Fostering Connectedness

Headshot of smiling middle-aged woman with brown hair and brown top By Erin Clifford, Fostering Connectedness Staff Co-Leader

The Fostering Connectedness domain team has been talking with students about their sense of connection with U of T. An interesting insight we have discovered is that connectedness means different things to different people.

For some, it means knowing what is going on and not feeling like they are missing out on experiences just because they didn’t know how to find out what is available. Other students have said that a friendly environment where strangers smile at each other or making a friend in a class is what connects them to U of T.

“Defining” Whole Student Development

Top: headshot of smiling young woman with wavy blonde hair, Bottom: headshot of smiling young woman with cropped black hair and glassesBy Cristina Peter & Ayana Webb, Whole Student Development Team

One of the strengths of the Innovation Hub is its flexibility; the way we can adapt our process to fit the users (i.e. the students). Our goal is to inform our process while gathering information to continuously inform our process. Clear as mud? Probably. The process of innovation that we are embarking upon is quite unique to many processes we are familiar with. Our usual methods of data collection are carefully planned and meticulously executed; however can we really capture our ever-changing student population by narrowly defining what we want to capture? Or might it be interesting to instead tailor our tools to discover how students are captured best. While we don’t want our parameters to be constrictive, parameters are certainly helpful…especially when embarking on a series of student interviews.

Ecosystem Mapping: October Innovation Hours Recap

Headshot of smiling woman with curly blonde hair in blue dressBy Alexandra Rodney, Student Innovation Leader, Operations Team

During the October Innovation Hours we asked students, staff and faculty to help us create a map of the University of Toronto ecosystem as it relates to our five domains of innovation.

Ecosystem mapping is an exercise designed to discover all of the resources an organization has at their disposal including people, programs, services, members and their relation to each other in both digital and physical realms. An ecosystems framework is borrowed from biologists who study the relationships between organizations and their environment, especially the impact that they have on each other.

Student Success: One Student at a Time

Headshot of smiling woman with brown hair in pink topBy Jacqueline Beaulieu, Student Co-Leader, Integrated Learning Experience Domain

On October 5th, members of the Innovation Hub’s Domain and Operations Teams attended a training day where we learned about design thinking for innovation from Nogah Kornberg of the I-Think Initiative at the Rotman School of Management.

You might be wondering: what is design thinking exactly? It is all about developing innovations that respond to real people’s needs. As the Innovation Hub seeks to understand and respond to the unique needs of UofT’s students, design thinking is a method we are utilizing to learn more about students and develop innovations that provide further support.

Meet the Innovation Hub Team!

Headshot of smiling woman with red hair in grey topBy Julia Smeed, Innovation Hub Project Lead

A year ago I would have never imagined that I’d be taking on the Innovation Hub project.  I feel that leading the Innovation Hub is the best job at U of T!  I love to see how people from diverse backgrounds and with a wide range of life experiences can come together to create change.  To me, the spirit of innovation is really in the collaboration and creativity of talented people coming together and each contributing in a unique way.  We are living in an age where technology and ideas are moving faster than we can and it is so hard to keep up with the innovation and disruption that exists all around us.  Yet one thing that technology can never replace is that creative spark that happens when like minded people come together with a common purpose.

Innovation & Entrepreneurship – A Place to Start

Headshot of smiling woman with red hair and glasses in blue and white striped top

By Carey Toane, UofT’s Entrepreneurship Librarian & Innovation Hub Ambassador

I hear a lot about innovation in my work. As entrepreneurship librarian at U of T, I work with startups on campus, whether they are taking a course, or enrolled in one of nine campus linked accelerators, or commercializing their graduate research, or working away in stealth mode in their dorms. These students are highly motivated, taking on the “drinking from a firehose” experience of starting a company on top of regular studies and other responsibilities. It’s incredibly inspiring to hear about their ideas and help them find information to support their pitch decks.

The Ambassador Meetings

Headshot of smiling young man with short brown hair in olive green shirtBy Taylor Stinson Student Co-Leader, Whole Student Development Domain

The Ambassador meetings were a time and place to meet, bridge and connect with our new coworkers, the Innovation Hub Ambassadors.  Walking into the room I see a number of faces of people I met with in the previous weeks. The clear enthusiasm they bring is warm and comforting.  The meeting format is similar to the Innovation Hour format.

What is an Innovation Hub?

Headshot of smiling woman with curly blonde hair in blue dressBy Alexandra Rodney, Student Innovation Leader, Operations Team

I’m Alexandra, a PhD student in Sociology here at the University of Toronto, and I am going to be contributing posts about the research side of things to the Innovation Hub blog. Whether you’re new to the Innovation Hub or have participated in some part of creating the Hub, you may be asking yourself “what is an innovation hub?” To answer this question we need to think about the concept of innovation and the postsecondary context. There are over 87,000 students at the University of Toronto who are enrolled in undergraduate and graduate programs. The UofT student demographic today is vastly different than a generation ago and is also different than it will be in the future. If student demographics are changing it raises the question of how student services need to change in response. This is where innovation comes in!