Lessons in Listening

Innovation Hub members practising their interviewing skills

By Anusha Arif, Writer

To design for students, we need to understand the student experience. Thus, the Innovation Hub prioritizes learning to listen—interviewing empathically and attuning ourselves to the world revealed through participants’ words. Though ‘listening’ is a basic skill, listening deeply is another art, and learning is an important part of the process. Some Innovation Hub members come with experience from anthropological, sociological, or other human-centred research, but many others are new to empathic interviewing. How does this learning process go for them? What do they find challenging and interesting? Continue reading “Lessons in Listening”

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”

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”

Project Primer: Accessibility at Convocation

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…

People gathering for ceremony at Convocation Hall

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. Continue reading “Project Primer: Accessibility at Convocation”

Empathy & Design

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

In order to realize the Innovation Hub vision to create a seamless student experience for at the University of Toronto, we must gain a deeper understanding about the current student experience.  One way that we might approach this is using human-centred design, a creative problem solving approach using inspiration, ideation and implementation.  This approach will help us to empathize with students to best understand their experiences.

Brene Brown explains the difference between empathy and sympathy in the video below, highlighting that “empathy drives connection”:

What might we achieve for University of Toronto students if we always took an empathetic approach towards understanding the student experience?

In their article, Empathy on the Edge, IDEO experts Katja Battarbee, Jane Fulton Suri and Suzanne Gibbs Howard explain how they are using empathy based research techniques to better understand complex issues their customers face and uncover insights for innovation.  Their designers go to great lengths to put themselves in others’ shoes (like the chest waxing experience on page 5 – ouch!) so that they can understand challenges intimately and approach design from the standpoint of having had a lived experience that was similar to the experience of their customers.

The Innovation Hub will take a human-centred, empathy-based approach to uncovering insights for innovation!