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. Continue reading “Fostering Connectedness”

“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. Continue reading ““Defining” Whole Student Development”

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. Continue reading “Ecosystem Mapping: October Innovation Hours Recap”

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. Continue reading “Student Success: One Student at a Time”

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. Continue reading “Meet the Innovation Hub Team!”

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. Continue reading “Innovation & Entrepreneurship – A Place to Start”

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. Continue reading “The Ambassador Meetings”

Our Student Life Staff World Cafe

Headshot of smiling woman with black hair in red top

By Ling Lam Student Co-Leader, Future Ready Students Domain

The Innovation Hub was the topic up for discussion at Student Life’s Themed Agenda Meeting on September 20, 2016. This was an amazing opportunity for the Student Leaders of the Innovation Hub to meet with staff members from various departments within Student Life. With the intention of gathering the insight of various staff members of Student Life, our team decided to facilitate a World Café styled meeting. In this style of meeting, each staff member would rotate through a cycle of four tables, each with a question related to the Innovation Hub.

The four questions discussed were:

  1. What questions do you have about the Innovation Hub?
  2. How might we creatively capture evidence/data/stories of the current student experience?
  3. What do we need to unlearn in order to improve the University of Toronto student experience?
  4. What is an example of a UofT student experience that stands out to you?

Using these questions, we were able to generate a great amount of discussion in the room. While each question touched on a different topic, there were some common threads that weaved their way through all of them:

  • Each UofT student is an incredibly unique, complex, intersectional being. There is not just one student experience that can encompass the all of the stories of our diverse student body.
  • Innovation should not be a top-down process – we need to work collectively and build up in order to truly improve the student experience.
  • There is enormous value to be gained from “reverse mentoring” – we need to ensure that we are listening to students and what they have to say about their experience at UofT.
  • In collecting data, there is a tendency of only capturing the voices of those who are successful and willing to participate. We must figure out how to access the voices of students who experience struggle and remain unheard.
  • It is important for staff to recognize that their own student experience is likely different than that of current students.

I was thankful that I had the opportunity to lead the discussion topic 4 (what is an example of a UofT student experience that stands out to you). I believe that so much value is contained within people’s stories – there is so much to be learned through lived experience. Hearing each of the staff members share, it was interesting to hear such a wide array of stories. While success stories were told, it was the stories of students who experienced challenges that stood out to me.

It was reassuring to connect with staff members that recognize how each and every one of us goes through a unique journey at UofT. I could not agree more that our experiences cannot be summarized in one story; there isn’t a magical formula that will generate “success”. I know that my experiences at UofT have differed greatly from the experiences of those of my friends and colleagues. As part of the Innovation Hub, this World Cafe deepened my resolve to find ways of ensuring more students find their stride at UofT and beyond.

We greatly appreciated Student Life’s willingness to share their experiences and knowledge. As we move forward, we will continue to keep each of these meaningful considerations in mind!

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! Continue reading “What is an Innovation Hub?”