Transforming Educational Spaces at UofT

By Darren Clift, Writer

A classroom at U of T

Each cohort of students arrives at UofT with unique considerations and learning style preferences. Today’s students are digital natives; technology is a fundamental tool for socialization and self-improvement in their lives. Since students’ needs have changed, classrooms and teaching methods must adapt. A standard room with standard desks might not favour learning, while a standard lecture style might distract rather than inspire. Continue reading “Transforming Educational Spaces at UofT”

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”

Project Primer: Data Analysis

Danielle Baillargeon, Data Analysis Team Lead

What happens to all the interviews and data that the Innovation Hub collects?  Over the past three years, over 450 students and staff have shared their experiences with our teams. We are honoured that so many were willing to entrust us with their stories and experiences, which helped us identify their needs, suggest and prototype services and supports, and contribute to substantive changes at U of T through over a dozen collaborative projects. The interviews and feedback we receive are the basis from which we advocate for change in all our collaborations, including the New College Dining Hall redesign, the Family Care Office projects, and the classroom redesign under the Transforming the Instructional Landscape Project.  Continue reading “Project Primer: Data Analysis”

Spotlight: What Do We Mean When We Talk About Community?

Social and Cultural Community at First Nations House

Charis Lam – Design Research Events Lead

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. Continue reading “Spotlight: What Do We Mean When We Talk About Community?”

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!