One Innovation Hub team shares their experience working with Tech2U, a program that provides direct technical support to instructors in their classroom. The team reflects on how they feel Tech2U is a program that supports both students and instructors and enhances the learning experience at the University of Toronto.
Written by Tiffany Tan, Chenyu Huang, Cindy Ly, Jackie Betel (Design Researcher); Anchana Kuganesan, Design Research Team Lead
As part of the Transforming the Instructional Landscape (TIL) initiative, the TIL team at the Innovation Hub works closely with Tech2U, a program providing on-site technical support for instructors. This program is primarily comprised of classroom ambassadors (CAs), students trained in technical troubleshooting. The TIL team collects weekly surveys from their experiences on the job and works with the Tech2U leadership to improve the program and student experience.
Enhancing the Classroom Experience
The team has directly worked with Tech2U in several ways, including writing weekly reports, shadowing CAs, and attending Tech2U meetings. Through this, we were able to empathize with CAs in order understand their experiences, both positive and negative. As a result, our findings yielded the following patterns: CAs develop a rapport with instructors over time, the Tech2U team is a supportive and growth-oriented community, and efficient yet compassionate communication is highly valued within the program.
Positive Institutional Changes
What resonated with us personally and as a team was the way we were able to help both students and instructors involved in the program alike. With the help of the Tech2U program, we saw an improvement in CAs’ and instructors’ technological literacy. It was nice to see the work we had done with this project having a positive impact on the university. Furthermore, during shadowing, it was also rewarding to observe positive changes in the data because of our analysis of the survey data. For example, we would see CAs growth over the semester as they talk about their winning moments in the weekly report. We would also see this reciprocal learning environment being created where CAs are developing skills while students and faculty are receiving high-quality classroom support.
Working through the Stages
Our team’s openness to new ideas made the co-creation process enjoyable and a great space to learn from each other. A personal favourite part of TIL was developing our reports. Seeing the team turn our data into a comprehensive write-up felt rewarding, and it helped push us to explore creative solutions to the problems we tackled.
Tiffany: One thing I loved about working on TIL was the team culture and everyone’s eagerness to support one another.
With every new report and piece of data collected, we challenged ourselves to apply design thinking principles to analyze and extract the key issues and propose efficient ways to remedy them.
Connecting Together as a Team
Throughout the process, we brought and shared ideas from different perspectives and aimed to present meaningful project results, from the work we are doing, but also the interpersonal skills and relationships we built on the way.
Rose: Overall, we learned that we really enjoy working as a team in TIL. As students, we usually finish tasks alone, and there are few opportunities to work on a long-term project as a team. Working in TIL is a valuable learning experience on how to work as a team.
And we learned what a comfortable working environment would be like, as we respect and care for each other, being colleagues as well as friends. This is important for us as individuals because we feel more connected to the work when we share values as a team.
Experiencing the Classroom
Continuing to gather feedback from students, CAs, and instructors is key for improving the Tech2U program in years to come. The next time you enter a classroom, think about how you experience the space. What makes a productive learning space? What make your classroom experience memorable and valuable?