Transforming the Instructional Landscape: Moving Towards Learner Centric Design in Times of Change

By Philippa Gosine, Senior Research Assistant

Philippa Gosine, Senior Researcher, smiling at the camera in the sunny outdoors.

Through our user-centered consultations, we’ve realized that learning spaces are extremely personal and important places for the people that use them. Instructors and students have a strong sense of ownership over their classrooms and want to see their individual needs and preferences in the design of learning spaces.  

Designing Virtual Spaces with Accessibility in Mind

By Betelehem Gulilat, Lead Writer & Editor and Philippa Gosine, Senior Research Assistant  

Betelehem outside smiling at the camera
Betelehem Gulilat
Philippa outdoors smiling at the camera
Philippa Gosine

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.   

Student & Youth Mental Health Research Initiative – The Student Advisory Committee

By Emma McCann – Engagement Lead & Kristin Cleverley – Chair, Student & Youth Mental Health Research Initiative

A headshot of Dr. Cleverley smiling to the camera wearing a dark blue blazer.
Dr. Kristin Cleverley

A headshot of Emma McCann smiling to the camera, wearing an olive green shirt.
Emma McCann

The Innovation Hub has been involved in a scope of conversations on mental health, wellness, and initiatives to support students. Most recently, our work with the Presidential & Provostial Taskforce on Student Mental Health shone a light on many needs in the community and has been a launch pad to important partnerships and initiatives to further support students at the University. We deeply understand how it’s so important to continue to highlight what is happening now in the community on student mental health and opportunities to be a part of these important conversations.

If you are a student and are passionate about improving campus mental health through collaborative research, we encourage reading this week’s special blog post on the Mental Health for Students & Youth Research Initiative!

*** Please note that the deadline to apply to this wonderful opportunity has been extended to January 11th, 2021! ***

‘Tell us about being a graduate student’ Call for Participation!

We’re excited to share a call for participation with our UofT graduate student community!

Banner illustrating various graduate student competencies

Graduate supervision and mentorship are the backbone of a graduate student’s experience at the University of Toronto. This is why the Innovation Hub, a student-led group which uses student-centric design to improve campus life, is looking for graduate students and postdoctoral researchers to take part in virtual feedback sessions on their mentorship and supervision experiences.

Stories Through Research Spotlight: Our Languages, Our Lives and the Global Pandemic

This guest blog post is part of our Stories Through Research Series: Learning from UofT Researchers on How Students are Impacted by COVID-19. Each post in this series highlights three UofT research projects helping us understand student experiences and challenges in these unprecedented times. Each spotlight includes a blog post and scheduled zoom session for individuals from all areas of the University to come together as we listen, learn, and share important elements that must be engaged through conversation. Learn more at uoft.me/storiesthroughresearch.

Two speech bubbles overlapping with an icon of a globe in the top right-hand corner

Thinking deeply about how language in students’ lives has shifted during a pandemic.

Project Team: Dr. Maya Abtahian (University of Rochester’s Department of Linguistics) and Dr. Naomi Nagy (University of Toronto’s Department of Linguistics) 

To get in touch with and meet the team, come to our live zoom session next week, August 26th.

The E-Motion of Research at the Innovation Hub

By Terri-Lynn Langdon, Lead Editor and Writer – in collaboration with Johanna Pokorny (Ethnography and Insights Team Lead) and Danielle Baillargeon (Data Analysis Team Lead)

A mosaic of students connecting over Microsoft Teams, with sticky notes around the outside with writing on them such as "navigating resources" or "commuting students". Dashed lines and icons are connecting with one another to visualize collaboration in research.
Virtual Collaboration at the Innovation Hub, Summer 2020

At the Innovation Hub an intended focus of our research as a by and for student research Hub at U of T is empathy and the tapestry of it in the development of our questions, writing, and its role in research findings.

[1]The research process at the Innovation Hub includes design thinking supported by ethnographic research methodology, which seek to understand people in context. Where other qualitative methods (like survey work) operate through “extracting” data, ethnography is wholistic and expanding. The goal is not to be ‘statistically significant’ but rather to identify insights and themes from a few rich and unique stories.

Centering Hope, Action and Change for National Indigenous History Month at the Innovation Hub

Written by Terri-Lynn Langdon, Editor and Writer

Magnifying glass with a heart in the middle. Looking for hope and loveJune is National Indigenous History Month and The Innovation Hub wishes to celebrate this month and Day  (June 21st) by celebrating the lives of Indigenous communities and acknowledging the richness and diversity of Indigenous knowledge, histories, and world views.1

In recent years, our work with Indigenous Student Services (also known as First Nations House) has focused on engaging with spaces, services, and needs for Indigenous students on campus. Through these projects, we collaborated these spaces from 2018-2019 to foster spheres of community on campus. The Innovation Hub then explored the core needs of services that are needed on campus for Indigenous students to feel supported and engaged throughout their respective studies. It’s through these integral community partnerships and our design thinking processes and resources that we continually work to address realities that Indigenous lives, spaces, and communities face in a Canadian context (and beyond).

The Innovation Hub is Hiring for the Summer 2020 Work Study Term!

We are hiring!


Julia Smeed – Manager, Innovation Projects

As we work and learn in these uncertain times of COVID-19, the Innovation Hub has been thinking deeply about our projects this summer, and how they can truly benefit the UofT community and beyond. We want to offer our potential team members the opportunity to both contribute to the university and learn new skills during these times. We’re looking for dedicated students who are interested in improving campus life by focusing on student needs, who want to work with design thinking inspired methods, and also have the ability to work remotely and engage in virtual project work in collaborative environments. We hope to put together a diverse team that enjoys the challenges of our work!

Please note that job postings go live April 30th, 2020.

The deadline for applying to positions is Monday, May 4th, 2020 at 11:59pm.  

Read below for job descriptions, and go to the Career & Co-Curricular Learning Network and search for the work study job board to find the positions and apply.

The Many Dimensions of Space

Bird's-eye view of a large open space with students sitting at communal desks and others walking through

By Cynthia Zheng, Writer

What does space mean to you? According to Dictionary.com, it’s a noun: the “expanse [where] material objects are located and […] events occur.” But it’s more than that sterile definition—it’s what constantly surrounds us, what we inhabit, and thus part of our mental and physical experience.

The Innovation Hub has conducted many projects examining the experience of space. Examples include Transforming the Instructional Landscape, Chill Spots, and the New College Dining Hall and Clara Benson Pool Gallery redesigns. Through this work, we’ve seen how the physical environment impacts us.