By Betelehem Gulilat, Lead Writer & Editor and Philippa Gosine, Senior Research Assistant
Preserving a rich learning environment accessible for all students has been an ongoing commitment for many institutions. As faculties and administrators navigate the complexity of delivering courses online, it’s important for us to turn to our student community to understand the needs of students during this unprecedented time. Our work at the Innovation Hub is centered around students and their unique stories with the goal of designing a campus experience inclusive for all. We recognize the importance of prioritizing accessibility and hope to inspire our community members to develop equitable strategies for accommodating students in their online learning.
Written by Terri-Lynn Langdon, Lead Writer and Editor
I am a wheelchair- using mother and a PhD student at OISE in Social Justice Education. When the lockdown in Toronto began we lost access to daycare and we also lost more than one support person (Nurturing Assistants) who felt that their own lives were too disrupted by the pandemic to continue to provide ongoing support to us. Without this direct support neither myself nor my child can shower safely, and I have no means of taking my twenty-one month old outside on my own. On top of which our building has been plagued with significant apartment maintenance issues all summer which has meant I have had to solve big family pandemic issues for 4 months and counting….
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.
“What simple things could U of T do to be more family-friendly?” We asked this question at our participatory action event last month, in which we sought the voices of student parents and their solutions to the challenges they face at U of T.
Student parents are a growing group of students at the University of Toronto, and they face unique challenges that are invisible to those who do not share their experiences. These challenges create emotional and mental pressures which are exasperated by the limited support available for their practical needs.
To capture these challenges and the overall experiences of student parents at the university, the Innovation Hub partnered with the Family Care Office last year. Through that partnership, we showed that student parents are often unable to find a sense of belonging during their time at U of T. A sense of belonging is important for forming meaningful interpersonal connections, better coping with school and life challenges, and deriving comfort from the knowledge that one is not alone.
In the Project Primer series, we’ll be introducing the design projects our team members are tackling this summer. Stay turned to learn about our work in five different areas! First up: Accessibility at Convocation…
Written by Alex, Rhea Makund, Natasha Cuneo, and Kate Welsh
Did you attend your convocation? For increasing numbers of University of Toronto graduates, the answer is yes. In the past five years, the number of graduates participating in their convocation ceremony has risen by 20 %.
Thus, creating an inclusive community for graduating students is becoming increasingly important.
Social and Cultural Community at First Nations House
Written by Charis Lam – Design Research Events Lead
In search of factors driving student engagement, First Nations House partnered with the Innovation Hub in summer 2018 to ask: what causes students and staff to engage and connect with First Nations House? Among the factors identified—including assistance with scholarships and housing, personal relationships to staff members. and access to the resource centre—cultural and social programming emerged as a need strongly felt by students. Thus, First Nations House and the Innovation Hub renewed their partnership to investigate what sorts of social and cultural programming students want.
Since the launch and the Day of Learning, our five Domains for Innovation have been evolving. A team of over 30 Ambassadors continued this work which led to six versions of the domains for innovation. We are so pleased to say that thanks to all of the input and feedback from the community, we have landed on the following five domains: