In 2016-17, over 100 staff and students worked together on Innovation Hub teams to better understand the experiences of students at the University of Toronto using a design thinking process. As part of this process, in collaboration with the broader U of T community, created five domains of innovation and assembled teams for each domain.
These teams identified 25 prototype ideas designed to better meet student needs and create a better student experience at the University of Toronto. Detailed information about the Innovation Hub project and the results of the research can be found at uoft.me/innovationhub.
These 25 ideas were presented to the University of Toronto community through a variety of methods (i.e. an online feedback survey, Innovation Hours, staff/student workshops) and the following prototype ideas gained traction:
- Chill Spots: Based on the student needs identified by the Whole Student Development domain team, Chill Spots could use spaces that students already frequent to set up community spaces that could include charging stations, couches and microwaves, and be facilitated by community animators.
- U of T Concierge: Based on the student needs identified by the Fostering Connectedness domain team, the U of T Concierge could act as an initial contact point for wayfinding and referrals. The concierge could also have an online component, connecting students to a 24-hour response tool.
- Neighborhood Communities: Based on the student needs identified by the Fostering Connectedness domain team, Neighborhood Communities could be set up to virtually connect students who live in the same geographic area so that they can self-organize activities such as ride sharing, social events and study groups.
- Future Readiness Course: Based on the student needs identified by the Future Readiness domain team, the Future Readiness course could be a customizable course that incorporates career education and skills development, placement opportunities, and partnerships with U of T alumni for mentorship and career learning.
- Student-Faculty Exploration Café: Based on the student needs identified by the Integrated Learning Experience domain team, the Student-Faculty Exploration Café could re-purpose an existing central space on campus to act as a hub of activities that support engagement between faculty and Teaching Assistants and students.
Currently, The Innovation Hub is assembling teams of students and staff to explore the viability of each of these ideas at the University of Toronto. A team will be formed to investigate each idea. Each team will be tasked with researching the idea, completing a viability analysis of the idea and presenting their findings to members of the university’s senior academic leadership team in early spring next year. This is a great opportunity to join a cross-disciplinary team of students and staff working together towards a common purpose, to meet new people and learn from the perspectives of others.
Timeline & Deliverables:
- Late October – call for expressions of interest from staff and students to participate
- Early November – Teams are assembled, Team coordinators identified
- First meeting with Innovation Hub Project Officer in November for a project briefing
- Bi-weekly team meetings between November & February
- February – finalize viability report and prepare presentation
- Early March – Presentation to senior academic leadership
- Time commitment: up to 5 hours per month
- Attend the bi-weekly team meetings
- Conduct a portion of the research between meetings
- Contribute to the final report and final presentation
- A commitment to the Innovation Hub values
Pre-Requisites for participation:
- Strong understanding of the University of Toronto Community
- Some experience working on collaborative projects in the past
- Some experience that relates to the project of interest
For more information and to get involved please visit https://www.studentlife.utoronto.ca/bts/innovation-hub