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”

View from the Inside: Reflecting on Empathy and Equity

Continuing the View from the Inside series, we reflect on the first two weeks of the Design Thinking Experience Program, in which we discussed the Innovation Hub’s focus on empathy- and equity-based design.

In this post, we hear from Sharon Lam, Data Analysis Assistant. Sharon worked in education after completing Bachelor’s degrees in English, History, and Education, then started a Master of Information degree in User Experience Design and Information Systems and Design. This is her first year with the Innovation Hub.

Sharon Lam, Data Analysis Assistant

During the first two weeks at the Innovation Hub, we spent a lot of time on reflection. This may seem counter-intuitive since we are just starting our projects, but it actually makes a lot of sense. By beginning with reflection, we recognize that we each bring a lot to any starting point and that there is a lot of context to every situation. There is no truly blank slate. This is both encouraging and humbling. On the one hand, we bring value based on the unique perspective formed from our past experiences; on the other hand, how we see and interpret our research is limited by the degree to which we can understand what is outside of our realm of experience—in short, our ability to empathize.  Continue reading “View from the Inside: Reflecting on Empathy and Equity”

Meet the Team—Fall/Winter 2019/20

Charis Lam, Writer

This academic year brings new and returning faces to the Innovation Hub. As always, we have assembled a team with diverse disciplines and interests but a shared excitement for the work we’ll do, including:

  • Working with the Presidential & Provostial Task Force on Student Mental Health,
  • Improving the experience of student parents with the Family Care Office,
  • Creating ideas for space redesigns with the Transforming the Instructional Landscape Project & our Kinesiology and Physical Education partnership,
  • Gathering student feedback for the Division of Student Life,
  • And partnering with Rotman I-Think.

Continue reading “Meet the Team—Fall/Winter 2019/20”

View from the Inside: Innovation Hub Orientation

In the View from the Inside series, we take you into the work of the Innovation Hub as seen by its members. Our students share their experience with our team and what they’ve learned so far.

This week, we hear from Eric Hanson, Design Research Assistant. Eric recently graduated with a Bachelor of Design from OCAD University and came to the University of Toronto, where he started a Master of Information and joined the Innovation Hub.

Eric Hanson, Design Research Assistant

Whether we’re engineers, doctors, professors, or students, design influences how we do our jobs, how we communicate with others, and how the world communicates with us. As a designer coming from a Bachelor of Design degree at OCAD University and starting a Master of Information degree at the University of Toronto, I understand the importance of human-centred design and design thinking in redefining our experience in today’s disruptive and innovative society. Empathy and social innovation were cornerstones of my undergraduate work, and coming to the University of Toronto is an exciting opportunity to see how a larger institution can use design thinking to improve the university experience and the way it serves its students. Continue reading “View from the Inside: Innovation Hub Orientation”

Gathering Student Voices on Mental Health

Kate Welsh, Design Research Team Lead, Mental Health Task Force

The cornerstone of our approach at the Innovation Hub is “students talking to other students.” We believe that peers relate to each other more openly and advocate for each other more strongly and that peer-based support both provides comfort and leads to change. This belief invigorates all our projects, including our upcoming partnership with the Presidential and Provostial Task Force on Student Mental Health, in which we are leading student consultations to gather perspectives about mental health on campus. While I, as a staff member, am coordinating this project, students are co-leading the initiative with me. Continue reading “Gathering Student Voices on Mental Health”