Illustrated By Vlada Gorchkova, Digital Storyteller
Part of what makes us human is the need for forming connections that make us feel truly heard and understood. There is a sense of belonging that comes with feeling supported that allows us to deeply understand ourselves, one another and discover what we find meaningful in our lives. This wouldn’t be possible without the help of active listeners. Through the art of active listening, a simple conversation can inspire change, strengthen relationships, and lead to innovation.
Active listening is fundamentally the ability to attentively understand the meaning behind the words of the speaker without the intrusion of your own thoughts, opinions, and judgment on the matter. Unlike the simple act of listening to words, active listening involves understanding why the person may be feeling a certain way, where they are coming from, and the message you are receiving. (1)
This blog post is part of Researchers Reflect, a new series where we embark on the journey of a design researcher at the Innovation Hub. Each post will spotlight a different design researcher’s experience, stories, and learning moments throughout the course of their research.
Written by Sanskriti Maheshwari, Senior Research Assistantfor Transforming the Instructional Landscape
When the University moved its operations online during Summer 2020, I took a chance and applied for a work-study position with the Innovation Hub. When my application was accepted, I was extremely excited. Like many students, I was trying to stay connected to life at the university, and my position with the Stories from a Distance Team gave me just that opportunity.
We are two months into the fall semester. Classes have picked up, we are in the heart of midterm season and students are establishing a routine across their academic, work and social lives. Yet similar to last year, this school year is not quite like the rest. After spending the past year and a half at Zoom University,UofT students are returning to campus with mixed emotions from excitement, frustration, joy, anxiousness, more and everything in between.
Fragments of normalcy can be seen walking through St. George Street, while waiting in line at the bookstore, or finding a seat at the library. But despite this‘normalcy’,we cannot denythe gapsthat endured in pre-pandemic student life as much as the onesemerging post-pandemically. A recent poll conducted by KPMG surveyed more than a thousand Canadian postsecondary students and discovered that 78 percent of students agree the pandemic has “fundamentally changed” their expectations of their higher education experience.
As we enter a brand-new term, the Innovation Hub is excited to welcome our Fall/Winter 2021-22 Team! Each year our team is expanding along with our growing number of partnerships and are pleased to continue designing with and for students at the University of Toronto. In support of our expansion, we are grateful to be transitioning to a new workspace on campus where we plan to follow a hybrid work model to provide flexibility & space for innovation.
At the Innovation Hub, we see and experience how incredibly important student mental health is in our communities. In this community repost, we would like to highlight an important study by one of our community partners, the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), and how you or a peer could participate in an important study this summer!
Mental Health Research Opportunity – Detection and Intervention of Cyberbullying on Social Media
Are you a social media user? Do you have thoughts and concerns about cyberbullying? Are you looking to get involved?
We are doing a study to better understand the needs and preferences of youth (ages 16-21) around cyberbullying on social media platforms. Our team is looking to engage with youth who are interested in collaborating with researchers to generate insights that will aid in the development of a digital tool to help prevent cyberbullying.
What does it mean to be creative? At first thought, you may think of artists, designers, musicians as creatives, and indeed they are. However, being creative is more abstract than we imagined it to be. An entire field of creative studies exists that has dated back to the 1930s, simply dedicated to understanding the concept of creativity 1.
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 thatwhatever it may be, it would be immensely valuable in these times.By embracing changewe’vebeenexploring new ways to support the UofT communityand 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.
By Ahmed Hagar, Writer Many faculty members and higher-education administrators believe that design is the solution to addressing difficult problems. As society grows ever more complex, design thinking provides a way of putting humans first while tackling thorny issues. Thus,…
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.
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.