Embracing Change – How our Process of Innovation Has Empowered New Areas of our Work

Kaitlyn Corlett smiling at the camera
Kaitlyn Corlett, Senior Project Assistant

In times of uncertainty, navigating an unfamiliar space can feel like an impossible task to achieve. Last March, we were in this very spot where we didn’t know what our work at the Innovation Hub would look like. But what we did know is that whatever it may beit would be immensely valuable in these times. By embracing change we’ve been exploring new ways to support the UofT community and ensuring we continue to drive our work by students for students through our design research projects. We’re so excited to share that by embracing change, new channels of our work have been inspired to connect individuals and build community in dynamic ways.

The I-Think Initiative x The Innovation Hub: Reframing Education from Kindergarten to Higher Ed

Innovation at work—students working at U of T

By Eddie Huang and Charis Lam

Solving the problems of an increasingly complex world requires the education of critical and creative thinkers. Empowering educators to develop students’ integrative thinking skills—to help students “face … the tension of opposing ideas and … generate a creative resolution … in the form of a new idea [that] … is superior to each”1—is essential to developing the next generation of students. The I-Think Initiative works with K-12 students and educators to teach integrative thinking practices and explicit thinking techniques, which participants use to tackle real-world problems. Similarly, at the university level, the Innovation Hub gives students the tools of design thinking to tackle issues in campus life. Together, we see a need to reframe education at all levels to reflect the challenges of the modern world.

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.

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. 

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.

Celebrating Failure

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

The University of Toronto is home to some of Canada’s most famous research, discoveries and inventions.  It’s important to remember, however, that these successes were often preceded by many failures. The Innovation Hub seeks to create a culture where failure is allowed, and even encouraged in the creative process.  Our failures spark curiosity and allow us to learn.  Failure propels us towards innovation!

There are so many great reasons to fail!  Just take the advice of businessman, engineer & inventor Elon Musk:

Elon Musk Quote: "Failure is an option here. If things are not failing, you are not innovating enough" #CNBC25 - Elon Musk in an interview with Fast Company.