Delving into the Digital Campus: Birds of A Feather, Do Flock Together

Sanskriti smiling to the camera outside

By Sanskriti Maheshwari, Design Researcher

This blog post is part of Delving into the Digital Campus, a four-part series in collaboration with the Digital Community & Connectedness Project, aimed at understanding how students find and make connections in digital spaces. Each post is a written reflection from our Design Researchers, sharing how the insights from their project has resonated with them in their own lived experiences. 


Ever been told that opposites attract?

Through taking a course on Interpersonal Relationships, I uncovered something quite eye-opening. ‘Opposites attract’ is just a fantastical expression used to keep us invested in the romantic relationships and friendships that play out in front of our TV and movie screens. In reality, I have found that birds of a feather do in fact flock together. For example, in my own life I have observed that most of my closest friends have identical hobbies, personalities, political views, and so on. When meeting new individuals, any differences in interest or personalities can seem more pronounced than they really are. Possibly because a foundation built on a shared purpose hasn’t been established just yet.  This is also something I learnt from my experience conducting the Stories from a Distance Sessions and The Digital Community & Connectedness Project.  

An Exciting Opportunity to Learn Design Thinking and be Involved with the Innovation Hub!

We are thrilled to be launching our Design Thinking Experience Program this summer! Running weekly on Tuesdays from 2:00-4:00PM between June 1st until August 3rd, this is a 10-week boot-camp style program that will provide you with: 

  • An introduction to innovation and Design Thinking 
  • Experience conducting qualitative research 
  • Teamwork skills and connections on campus 
  • An opportunity to generate ideas to improve the student experience at U of T 

In Community: the Importance of Reflection & Meaningful Work

By Betelehem Gulilat – Lead Editor & Writer

Betelehem outside smiling at the camera

ZOOMlockdown and asynchronous. These are some of many words that come to mind for this academic year. It’s also been a year of many firsts. Many more students have been attending classes remotely, campuses have transformed, and the Class of 2020 has celebrated their graduation virtually in their homes within their bubbles.

The uncertainty unearthed many concerns for the future both near and far. Whether its deciding where to study or spend time with friends, or travelling amongst a sea of students, losses have been felt all around. For others, the pandemic might have also felt like an unexpected gift to reflect on what’s important. Perhaps it’s been a mix of everything, too! We have seen these realities in our work, both through research projects and in our own teams. Reflection on what we have accomplished this last year not only helped us learn from our experiences, but it also reaffirmed why holding space for meaningful work is so important.

‘Let’s Talk About Failure’ Call for Participation!

We are excited to share another upcoming call for participation for all students of the UofT community!   When was the last time you experienced failure? What was your experience with failure like? Academic Success and the Innovation Hub would like to hear your story! We will be hosting…

‘Tell Us About Your College Experience’ Call for Participation!

Our team is excited to share our first call for participation for the year with our UofT student colleges community! The Colleges System at the St. George Campus brings together students from across the world to become part of a close-knit community that supports students in their academic and university journey at UofT. The Student Experience Working Group (from the Provost’s Review of the…

Food Security: The Key to Student Self-Fulfillment

By Johanna Pokorny – Senior Research Assistant, Amal Yusuf – Data Analysis Researcher, Rosemarie Shephard – Data Analysis Researcher and Betelehem Gulilat – Lead Editor & Writer

A vending machine next to a clock on the right hand side

In Canada alone, 2 out of 5 post-secondary students experience some form of food insecurity2Food insecurity is described as inadequate and insecure access to food as a result of financial constraints3. Its prevalence within the student population is overlooked by many considering the significant implications it has on students’ livelihood, learning and overall well-being. It’s complex and interconnected with our core needs and different for each and every individual in our communities.  

Applications for the Design Thinking Experience Program are Now Open!

In March 2021, the Innovation Hub and the Centre for Learning, Leadership & Culture will launch a Design Thinking Experience Program (DTEP) for students and staff. Building on the success of the Innovation Hub’s student and staff DTEP bootcamps, this program will continue to address challenges in the student experience at UofT while providing participants with hands-on training in design thinking; moreover, it will bring staff and students together to encourage dialogue and broaden perspectives on what is possible at UofT. 

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The Robarts Library Project: What do libraries mean to students?

By The Robarts Library Team (Philippa Gosine – Senior Research Assistant, Mac Morgan – Design Research Team Lead, Manaal Mirza – Data Analysis Researcher, and Anshika Seth – Data Analysis Researcher) & Betelehem Gulilat – Lead Editor and Writer

Icon of a book opening up, with a conversation bubble and ideas popping out of it.

As a keeper of knowledge and endless possibility, a library occupies a key place in a student’s campus experience. Robarts Library, the largest of the UofT libraries, brings in thousands of students each day to support the diverse student population at every stage of their academic careers. Since September 2020, the Innovation Hub has worked closely with Robarts Library in seeking to understand what students truly desire from a redesigned library space. We shared a call for participation to the broader UofT community and received an overwhelming amount of interest for our virtual feedback sessions – in which students had an opportunity to share their unique stories with library spaces.  

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! ***