The Innovation Hub
Imagine a University of Toronto where every student’s experience is seamless from initial contact to graduation and beyond. It’s a place where students feel a sense of community and connectedness, experience both academic and personal success and feel well prepared for their futures. The Innovation Hub seeks to better understand the unique needs of U of T students using facilitated processes (i.e. student-centred design thinking). It is a highly collaborative, engaging and safe space where students, staff, faculty members and the community will collaborate to co-create the University of Toronto student experience of the future.
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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.
Join the Innovation Hub
The Innovation Hub is pleased to announce that the following Co-Curricular Record approved volunteer positions are available for students at the Innovation Hub for the Fall/Winter 2017/2018 academic terms. These positions will provide a rich learning experience to support your career development including training, practical opportunities to apply learning and coaching and feedback. In addition to the great learning, students will have the opportunity to be part of an engaging and inclusive community of diverse students. Students may join one of the eight teams in the Innovation Hub detailed below:
The Innovation Hub Connection Team will support the Innovation Hub by fostering communication and connections with various groups at the University. Students will build valuable relationships and connections with student groups, clubs, staff and faculty. This is a great role for students who have an interest in public relations and leadership who are comfortable talking to people at all levels. It’s a great chance to learn more about how the University of Toronto operates!
Design Thinking Team:
The Design Thinking team will support the Innovation Hub through applying their knowledge of Design Thinking and other related methodologies to analyze complex problems, tensions and challenges. The team facilitated rapid Design Thinking workshops for the larger Innovation Hub team, and supported further use of Design Thinking in the Hub's work. This is a great opportunity for students who are deep thinkers and like to analyze complex problems.
Ethnographic Research Team:
The Ethnographic Research Team will support the Innovation hub by conducting and analyzing qualitative interviews with the goal of understanding life from others' perspectives. Their work will be heavily based in empathy building. The team will acquire, process, interpret, rationalize, and critically analyze large volumes of information in order to gain insights. This is a great opportunity for students who like to get to know people and are great listeners. It’s also a great chance to gain practical experience in qualitative research. Full training in empathy-based interviewing is provided.
The Events Team will support the Innovation Hub by collaboratively planning and coordinating events that are crucial to the Innovation Hub's work. Through consultation with Innovation Hub team members, the Events Team will approach each planning session differently in order to create dynamic and engaging events. This is a great role for any student with interest and/or experience in event planning and execution. Innovation Hub events are highly creative and non-traditional, so out-of-the-box thinkers are welcome!
Information Design Team:
The Information Design team will support the Innovation Hub by providing strategic input from a student perspective on information systems designed to support students in finding programs, services and resources to support their academic career. This is a great role for students who have a technical background or knowledge of information systems design.
Innovation Hub Animation Team:
The Innovation Hub Animators will support the Innovation Hub by attending events and engaging with students, staff, faculty and other stakeholders in attendance. They will ensure that events are dynamic, inclusive and engaging. This is a great role for any student who is comfortable talking to new people and wants to help other people feel engaged and welcome.
The Storytelling team will support the Innovation Hub by generating multimedia narratives and communications to engage U of T students, faculty, staff and community members in the project. The team will curate and generate multimedia content using a variety of digital tools. To do this work, the team will work collaboratively as members of the larger Innovation Hub team. This is a great opportunity for students who have digital media interests and experience, or students who like to generate online content through blogging or social media.
User Experience (UX) Prototyping Team:
The User Experience Prototyping Team will support the Innovation Hub by engaging in the rapid prototyping process of creating multiple minimum viable products, to test out different versions of an idea. Throughout the process students will confront their assumptions, test hypotheses, and be in constant pursuit of new ideas. This is a great opportunity for students who are highly creative, artistic, and/or have experience with building physical or digital models.
The deadline to submit an expression of interest form to join the Innovation Hub teams has now passed. For more information please contact Julia.email@example.com.
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 bydeadline of October 31
- 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
To express your interest in participating by the deadline of October 31, 2017:
Students – Student Expression of Interest form CLOSED
Staff/Faculty – Staff/Faculty Expression of Interest form CLOSED
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