Reading week is officially over! The past few days definitely flew by for me because I participated in Alternative Reading Week, which lasted for 3 days. The specific project I worked on was called Innovation Hub which is:
“an initiative that partners with internal divisions, departments, and student organizations to conduct empathy-based research that deepens our understanding of the student experience, so that we can design with students rather than for students.”
Here is a rundown of what happened:
Everyone gathered with their groups, introduced themselves, and began their projects. Through talking to my team members before getting started, I learned that the majority of people didn’t exactly know what they were getting into with Innovation Hub so it was interesting to work with people who didn’t have any preconceived notions (just like me!). The representative from Innovation Hub who was instructing us and overlooking our work began by introducing us to Human Centered Design Thinking, which is a system of mapping and solving problems based on keeping human needs in mind at all times.
We then were divided into two groups: Creative Intellectuals (I was in this one!) and Global Engaged Citizens.
The second day allowed us to delve deeper into Human Centered Design Thinking and applying it directly to the UofT experience within our specific groups through pairing off to do interviews and doing lots of discussion. My Creative Intellectual team talked about what it means to be a creative intellectual, what the barriers are to developing those skills, and what potential solutions could be. We were then encouraged to decide what the basic “needs” were of students that would allow them to become creative intellectuals at UofT if those needs for fulfilled. We essentially decided that “comfort” and “clarity” were basic needs that must be focused on. If a student is comfortable at UofT and has clarity about their school and the opportunities available to them, they can confidently work towards becoming creative intellectuals.
Based on our findings, we had to come up with prototypes of how these needs that we identified could be fulfilled. We realized through our conversations that a common thread was popping up in our group: the overwhelming amount of opportunities that exist at UofT that people often never hear about. This then lead us to an important complaint that we all had about UofT: the often contradictory and outdated information that existed on UofT’s websites. So we developed a prototype that would require a massive rehaul of UofT’s online system, such as deleting old links, combining multiple websites together, and changing the way certain things are advertised. There were four phases to our plan which we presented to a representative from UofT’s Provost Office, which was really cool because it was nice to know that we were being heard by an authority that actually had the power to make things happen.