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.
By Ayaan Hagar – Project Team Lead, Kethmi Egodage – Community, Social Connection & Support for Students Team Member, and Betelehem Gulilat – Lead Editor & Writer
Our new reality has accelerated change in all areas of our lives, from work to socializing, we’re staying connected to our communities through the most hyper-connected platform called the internet. What elements of digital connections and communities help students feel like they’re connected with one another? With this question in mind, we’d like to introduce the Digital Community & Connectedness Project. Building on our previous work, this project isexploring how the student experience of finding and engaging in community continues to shiftduring this time, and what implications this has for those who build and facilitate connections within the online UofT community.
Many of us have shifted into a new reality of learning, working, and connecting with our loved ones. As we return to campus in our relative capacities, we reflect on how this may look for everyone – especially within the scope of mental health. At a time of social distancing, it is incredibly important for every individual to have support and access to the resources they need. That’s why at the Innovation Hub, we’ve been thinking deeply of how our insights from previous (and ongoing work) with students can be shared to our campus community. Our objective is to help support students by designing spaces grounded in a culture of care at the University of Toronto.
We connected with Joshua Grondin, a Master of Education student in Higher Education at OISE and past Vice-President of the University of Toronto Students’ Union (UTSU). Joshua is also a part of Students for Barrier-free Access, a levy-funded student group that advocates for disabled and mad-identified students on campus. Through these capacities, Joshua has a great deal of empathy for the many realities at the University. Especially when it comes to mental health, wellness and understanding where culture of care principles come into play between individuals and the University.
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 a UofT research project 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.
How are young adults experiencing fear and being brave as their worlds, online and offline, transform in the pandemic?
Project Team: Dr. Madeleine Mant (UTM), Dr. Alyson Holland (McMaster), and Dr. Andrew Prine (Groves Memorial Community Hospital)
To get in touch with and meet the team, come to our live zoom session next week, August 25th.
This Summer at the Innovation Hub we have been so grateful for continuing our work by students, for students. We have had opportunities to continue to grow ongoing partnerships, while also engaging in new work and ideating projects. In a time where we are uncertain about many things, we want to offer our potential team members the opportunity to both contribute to the university and learn new skills.
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, or are passionate about engaging with communities and want to support students in a variety of ways. Individuals considering applying to a role must have the ability to work remotely and engage in virtual project work and in collaborative online environment.