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Iccha: Multimedia Strategies for Refugee Language Acquisition


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How can refugees be empowered to gain essential English skills?

For my thesis project at Carnegie Mellon University, I explored prototyped a learning platform that empowers refugees to gain essential English communication skills and supports volunteer tutors to rapidly create lessons. The system, named iccha, has two components: a web interface that allows tutors to rapidly create content, which can be transferred to the ipod so refugees can practice the lessons during the week.

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Iccha: Multimedia Strategies for Refugee Language Acquisition

  2. 2. Table of Contents Executive Summary...........................3 The Context.......................................4 Background Research.......................7 Brick & Mortar Observations............9 Competitive Analysis......................9 Directed Storytelling.....................10 Model Creation............................12 Personas....................................15 Design Implications......................17 Design Process................................18 Brainstorming.............................19 User Testing................................20 Test Insights...............................21 The Impact.................................23 ....................25 The iccha system............................26 Concept Overview.......................27 Use Cases..................................30 iccha Project Website.....................33 Retrospective & Future Work..........37iccha MELISSA ACOSTA | CARNEGIE MELLON U. | BXA CAPSTONE PROJECT 2
  3. 3. Executive Summary How can we help refugees obtain vital English language skills? Refugees arrive in the United States with very little money or re- as my additional major in Human-Computer Interaction. sources. Furthermore, they are fearful of doing the wrong thing because they lack cultural knowledge and language skills. How- I collaborated with Facilitating Opportunities for Refugee Growth ever, refugees bring with them a great motivation to succeed and Empowerment (FORGE) at CMU, a student organization in building stable lives for their families. They are able to draw dedicated to helping refugees acquire English and cultural skills upon their considerable survival skills in making their transition in Pittsburgh, PA. During the semester, I interviewed student- to the US community. They may have experienced trauma relat- tutors from F.O.R.G.E., ESL teachers from the Greater Pittsburgh ed events in their country, the country of first asylum, or during Literacy Council (GPLC), a resettlement caseworker at Jewish the resettlement process in the United States. They may have Family and Children’s Services (JFCS), and a student from the problems, mental health difficulties, and lots of questions. Refu- FORGE chapter at the University of Pittsburgh. Using data de- gees may have lived in the United States for many years or they rived from the interviews, I conceptualized strategies and tools may be newcomers. Whatever their background, refugees have that leverage the knowledge of volunteer tutors and allow refu- the common need to speak, read, and write in English to achieve gees to gain communication skills outside the tutoring sessions. self-sufficiency and become contributing members in their new community. The iccha project explores multimedia strategies that enable refugees to gain essential English communication skills. The Resettlement programs have a limited capacity to help refugees. system consists of a web interface which allows tutors to They rely on the generosity of volunteers, nonprofit organizations rapidly create content and a music player, specifically the iPod and donors to aid refugees. Currently, resettlement programs Touch, so refugees can practice the lessons with their tutors address the refugees’ basic and most immediate needs upon and as well as on their own during the week. arrival, such as housing, job search, brief cultural orientation, school enrollment and medical needs. Refugees are expected to The end-goal is to enable language learners to: (a) move through become self-sufficient within the first year of their arrival in the lessons at their own pace, (b) manage their learning environ- United States. ment, as the products can be used at home or on their daily commute, (c) and encourage language learners to request learn- As part of my Backelor of Humanities and Arts degree at Carn- ing modules that address their particular needs. egie Mellon University, I developed iccha to address some of these problems. This project, which was my Senior Capstone Project, required skills acquired from my interdisciplinary major in Industrial Design and Global Systems Management, as welliccha MELISSA ACOSTA | CARNEGIE MELLON U. | BXA CAPSTONE PROJECT 3
  5. 5. The Context Refugees in the United States Tutors and Refugees The United States has the 8th largest refugee population in the I became interested in the refugees through my experiences at world. Each year, thousands of refugees arrive in the United FORGE as a member and volunteer tutor. I have been a member States bringing with them a range of experiences and back- of FORGE for the past 3 years servicing as Art Director and then grounds. Some refugees face particular challenges upon arrival President, so I am familiar with the needs of the students and and need additional support. The communities receiving them refugees. FORGE collaborates with Jewish Family and Children’s also need to be well prepared to adjust and respond to the spe- Services (JFCS), which is a resettlement agency that helps refu- cific and unique needs of the newcomers. gees in Pittsburgh, providing housing, job, and English-learning support. FORGE volunteers (including myself) each adopt one In 2007, the annual number of refugees admitted into the United refugee family. Tutors visit the family’s home once a week to pro- States increased from 70,000 to 80,000 people.1 From 2005- vide help with English and general help associated with adapting 2008, 3,595 refugees were resettled in Pennsylvania.2 into a new country and culture. From my experience and other students’ experiences in working with refugee families, I have observed that refugees have many challenges settling in Pittsburgh. They face linguistic, cultural, and economic problems that we take for granted. Many of JFCS caseworkers and FORGE volunteers want to help them. How- ever, it is often difficult to communicate to each other what the refugees want to learn/need advice on and how we can over- come the linguistic barrier to provide the help they need. The stakeholder diagram organizes the individuals and organi- zations involved in refugee resettlement against two axis: Level of Interest and Level of Power, that is the amount of possible impact in the process of integrating refugees. 1 Batalova, Jeanne, “Spotlight on Refugees and Asylees in the United States.” Migration POlicy Institute. July 2009. 3 May 2011. <>cfm?ID=734> 2 “Refugees in America.” The Wall Street Journal. 3 May 2011. <>iccha MELISSA ACOSTA | CARNEGIE MELLON U. | BXA CAPSTONE PROJECT 5
  6. 6. The Context The Focus *Empowerment My focus is to create educational tools that FORGE tutors can use The iccha project explores strategies that enable refugees to gain to aid adult refugees in gaining basic communication skills to essential English communication skills and leverages the knowl- adjust to life in America. These tools will also provide refugees op- edge of volunteer tutors and community members. portunities to enforce what they learned outside of the tutors’ visits.iccha MELISSA ACOSTA | CARNEGIE MELLON U. | BXA CAPSTONE PROJECT 6
  8. 8. Research Research Overview To learn more about the problem and locate design opportunities, and pressures that individuals have on one another. I chose to I used a variety of research methods from the field of Human- depict this model because there are different levels of influence Computer Interaction. My objective was to learn more about the that exist between refugees, tutors and caseworkers. The flow refugee resettlement process and the experiences of volunteer tu- model represents the coordination, communication, interaction, tors. This section offers an overview of each method and my rea- roles, and responsibilities of individuals. son for selecting its use. The following sections provides a more detailed explanation of each method and its derived results. Personas From the directed storytelling, I realized that there are three main Brick-and-Mortar Observations users: refugees, tutors and community members [non-tutors]. I I explored how tutors and refugees currently experience English used personas to serve as user archetypes to guide the design language acquisition. Then I identify alternative ways, in digital process. These personas serve as a synthesis from the directed and nondigital forms, that can both benefit and diminish this “re- storytelling and work observations, resulting in a representation al-world” experience. of an individual that embody the characteristics of the target user population. Competitive Analysis I conducted a competitive analysis to review similar education and language learning systems/tools offered by other institu- tions and organizations. This analysis served as helpful a point of reference as I found inspiring product/system features. Directed Storytelling Directed storytelling is an exploratory research method in which a researcher asks a participant to lead them through stories which are related to the design objectives. This method was ap- propriate because I was able to gain insight into experiences that would be hard to observe directly. In this phase, I asked a caseworker, student-tutors, and two ESL teachers to share sto- ries about their experiences working with the refugee families. Model Creation Based on these stories, I created a flow model and cultural mod- el. The cultural model represents the different norms, influences,iccha MELISSA ACOSTA | CARNEGIE MELLON U. | BXA CAPSTONE PROJECT 8
  9. 9. Research Brick-and-Mortar Observations Competitive Analysis Through my tutoring experience and feedback from other tutors, I Next, I conducted a competitive analysis based on existing tools looked at how tutors currently find ways to educate the refugee. for language learning. Tutors generally use objects in the refugee’s house to convey the meaning of the lessons. Furthermore, tutors use flash cards, Many of the existing tools are geared towards literacy or assume printed out pictures, childrens books for adult refugees as alter- that the language learner had previous schooling. All the tools native methods to conveying the lesson. Finally tutors refer to are dependent on the teacher for preparation and organization. ESL books for ways to teach English grammer. For documen- However, as the ESL teachers pointed out, refugee literacy and tation, tutors record what happened during the session and to pre-literacy is a new field and not many materials target this pop- record the refugee’s progress. ulation. One of the few materials, “Making it Real: Teaching Pre- Literate Adult Refugee Students” by Alysan Croydon, provided a However, these materials are unsustainable in the tutoring pro- list of survival competencies for speaking, listening, reading, and cess. Materials are easily lost and difficult to transfer to other writing. It gave useful strategies to engage the refugee. However, tutors (aka they would have to remake the materials). it is depends on the tutor to frequently interact with the refugee.iccha MELISSA ACOSTA | CARNEGIE MELLON U. | BXA CAPSTONE PROJECT 9
  10. 10. Research Directed Storytelling During the semester, I interviewed a resettlement caseworker at sent American culture. They provide refugees an opportunity to Jewish Family and Children’s Services (JFCS), volunteer tutors ask questions and learn about the culture at their own pace and from the FORGE chapter in CMU, two ESL teachers from the comfort level. Greater Pittsburgh Literacy Council (GPLC) and a volunteer tutor from the FORGE chapter at the University of Pittsburgh. FORGE Students Resettlement Caseworker Next, I held a group interview with the tutors at CMU-FORGE. In the interview, there was a total of 12 student-tutors. The re- My interview with Sarah Altmeyer, a resettlement caseworker at settlement agency assigns teams of two or three students to a JFCS, provided much insight into the refugee resettlment pro- refugee family. They visit the refugee family’s home to provide cess. She is the liasion between FORGE tutors and the refugees help with English and general help associated with adapting into where she matches refugee families with the student-tutors. As a new country and culture. Overall, the tutors visit the family 3-4 mentioned earlier, refugees are expected to be self-sufficient times per month. The tutoring program at CMU-FORGE is a year within a year. However, they are provided bare necessities and old and assist ten refugee families. two months rent. For one to three months, JFCS provides cultur- al training, employment services and case management. There- The students provided key insights into their tutoring experi- fore, refugees must acquire English skills as soon as possible. ences with the refugees. They have the challenge of addressing However, the deadline of self-sufficiency was created because the unique and varying needs of each refugee. Many expressed resettlment agencies do not have the resources and staff to keep that they feel unprepared for the challenge, as the three-hour aiding the refugees. She also revealed that refugees undergo cultural orientation by JFCS was insufficient for the scope of the severe PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) and culture shock program. Students tutor a variety of refugees, often in individual upon arrival, which sometimes continue for more than a year. or group sessions and ranging in different age and education levels. For example, in one family, two tutors would assist the For agencies such as JFCS, volunteer tutors play a key role in young children in the family while the parents cooked. For an- refugee resettlement. Sarah emphasizes: other family, tutors would have to assist two adults with varying educational backgrounds. “Volunteers create a cultural bond / bridge. Refugees get an American friend and through the volunteer, refugees There are four mainbreakdowns in the tutor-refugee process: (1) tutoring sessions had little structure or focus, (2) student-tutors get used to American culture. ” had trouble finding suitable content for their session, (3) student- tutors do not have the experience/tools to go beyond teach- For refugees, volunteer tutors are valuable because they repre- ing the alphabet and (4) student-tutors found little improvementiccha MELISSA ACOSTA | CARNEGIE MELLON U. | BXA CAPSTONE PROJECT 10
  11. 11. Research from one session to the next. ESL Teachers The diagram below gives a brief overview of the issues in the After I described the tutoring program and its breakdowns, the resettlement-refugee-tutor process. All three individuals experi- ESL teachers stopped me and said that it is impossible to teach ence communication problems and limited time and resources. refugees how to read or write if sessions are held only once a week. Instead, tutors have the most impact on the refugees if they taught them English communication skills. The teachers REFUGEES emphasized that using materials with visuals and sound are most PTSD Issues effective. Furthermore, tutors should use content that is relevant Culture Shock to the refugee’s daily life so refugees have a bigger incentive to Limited English learn it. Finally, tutors should use as much physical communica- Juggle work & family tion as possible to convey the ideas in an effective manner. SHARED The following is summary of insights from the ESL teachers: CONSTRAINTS Limited Time 1. Focus on communication, not literacy Translation/ TUTORS 2. Provide informal assessment of the refugee’s Communication AGENCIES Little Training Limited Resources Small Staff English level Limited-No Few translators 3. Provide small chunks of learning, teaching small ideas experience Large workload in multiple ways 4. Establish a routine, so refugees know what to expect 5. Ensure success in some kind 6. Measure progress after a few months From these breakdowns, I realized that the scope of the educa- tion problem was larger than I expected and I needed the infor- mation from education professionals. So I interviewed two ESL teachers at GPLC to get insights from professionals who have experienced working with refugees in formal classroom settings. They emphasized that refugee literacy and pre-literacy is a new domain, as there has been an influx of refugees with very little education in the past decade.iccha MELISSA ACOSTA | CARNEGIE MELLON U. | BXA CAPSTONE PROJECT 11
  12. 12. Research Model Creation After the directed storytelling sessions, I modeled the data from Cultural Model the sessions into two different perspectives: a flow model and cultural model. Each model provided key insights and break- The cultural model explores how influences and expectations downs in the overall experience. play a role during a tutoring sessions. I discovered that there was a significant breakdown between student tutors and refu- gee adults. Flow Model The flow model defined the roles of people and objects in the Refugee adults who do not know a lot of English feel more shy refugee acculturation experience. There were significant break- in conveying that they want to learn. Instead they stand in the downs in communication, knowledge and accessibility. periphery of the room while tutors help the children do school work. JFCS has a small staff devoted to refugee resettlement and relies on a large number of volunteers from organizations like In the same respect, tutors are unequipped to teach the adults, FORGE, who do not necessarily know much about the process especially preliterate adults. They do not know how to begin and the needs of the refugees. However due to limited time and teaching English and instead feel more comfortable in plan- resources, JFCS caseworkers cannot devote sufficient time to ning activities for the children. Tutors have trouble enticing adult train the volunteers, outside of the cultural/ESL orientation. In a learners to participate in the group activities. similar manner, caseworkers have to assist many refugees who are currently resettled in the United States and prepare for ref- Furthermore, there is a breakdown between tutors and FORGE ugees who will arrive. Hence, the caseworkers cannot provide nontutors. Nontutors want to help refugees in some way but sufficient support for refugees. cannot commit significant amounts of time to visit the family themselves. There is an opportunity here for non-tutors to help There is also a disconnect between tutors and adult refugees. the tutors prepare lesson content. Adult refugees and tutors depend on the children to translate in order to communicate. Furthermore, tutors test the adult refu- gees and find little progress. They find that the adult refugees forgot the lesson or never touched the materials that tutors had given them.iccha MELISSA ACOSTA | CARNEGIE MELLON U. | BXA CAPSTONE PROJECT 12
  15. 15. Research Personas From the data, I realized that there are two main users: refugees, and tutors. By using the characteristics of each type of user, I created one persona for each category. As the directed storytell- ing and model data suggested, refugees want to gain language skills to have a better life in the United State. They need tools to allow them the flexibility to practice where ever they go. Similar- ly, tutors and community members want to aid refugees. How- ever, they have limited time, knowledge and resources. They need guidance to improve how they can better aid the refugees, despite the constraints. Based on these two types of users, I created the following personas: The Mobile Refugeeiccha MELISSA ACOSTA | CARNEGIE MELLON U. | BXA CAPSTONE PROJECT 15
  16. 16. Research The Volunteer Tutoriccha MELISSA ACOSTA | CARNEGIE MELLON U. | BXA CAPSTONE PROJECT 16
  17. 17. Research Design Implications To maintain consistency in my designs, I boiled down my re- age their content but also make their own “lessons” based on search findings into a set of design implications. what other tutors have created. Target content to each refugee’s needs Sharing and assessment Adult refugees vary widely in age and education levels. Young The system should allow volunteers to reflect on their tutoring adults, between the ages of 20 to 30, have gone to school in ref- session and assess the effectiveness and impact of their les- ugee camps and gained basic knowledge of written and verbal son. They should be able to share this with other volunteers to English. In contrast, older adults either never learned English or receive feedback/further suggestions. did not receive much instruction. The system must allow tutors to make content that targets each refugee’s education needs. Create a sustainable system A flexible system for the mobile refugee The system should be able to grow and support the refugee- tutor system. As volunteers and refugees come and go, the sys- Refugees have limited opportunity to take ESL courses. Their tem should continue to be able to pass on information to new jobs and long commute provide little time for English classes. volunteers and continue to adapt to the needs of individual refu- The system should allow refugees access to the lessons, wheth- gees. er they are at home, on the bus, or at work. Empower the volunteer tutor Volunteer tutors are not sure how to prepare content for their tutoring sessions. The system should be able to leverage tutors knowledge and allow tutors to rapidly create lessons. Tutors will use this content to guide their tutoring sessions and test refu- gees the following session. Efficiency is key Volunteers tutors have limited time and must coordinate with their partners. The system should allow tutors to rapidly create content and share the content with others. Volunteers can man-iccha MELISSA ACOSTA | CARNEGIE MELLON U. | BXA CAPSTONE PROJECT 17
  19. 19. Design Process Initial Brainstorming Keeping in mind the set of design implications, I brainstormed project. I decided to continue with the idea of using an mp3 ideas that can meet the needs of refugees and tutors. From as a tool for refugees to learn communication skills and for audio postcards via cell phone and email, to digital albums, tutors to use to leverage their own knowledge to effectively websites, and mp3s, I looked into various ways tutors can teach the refugees. After narrowing my ideas, I went on to rapidly create content and teach refugees in a visual manner. explore the mp3 idea and how it can be used in a sustain- Furthermore, I wanted to find solutions that can be immedi- able, tutor-refugee system. ately used, with the possibility that FORGE can continue theiccha MELISSA ACOSTA | CARNEGIE MELLON U. | BXA CAPSTONE PROJECT 19
  20. 20. Design Process User Testing Setup Each tutoring session was 1-1.5 hours. The study was conduct- ed over a six-week period. In that period, there was a range of 4 I went on to test the validity of the concept, with the help of to 6 sessions for each family, with a total number of 12 playlists. FORGE student tutors. There are six tutors in total, including my- After each session, I asked volunteer tutors follow-up questions self, using the iccha concept with the refugees. Tutors informed to assess their experience with the family and to explore the ef- me the content they would like in the playlists and I created the fectiveness of the concept. files using GarageBand, iTunes, and Photoshop. Two refugees were given an iPod Touch and another family received an iPod Test Goals Nano. Each iPod contained playlists of audio and visual feed- back. During the sessions, student tutors brought their laptops 1. Find out if adult refugees would use the iPod during the to the refugee’s homes to update the iPods with new content. week as a learning tool Then they went over the lesson with the refugees while using 2. Discover if tutors find this to be a useful tool the iPod. Tutors then evaluate the refugees during the lesson by 3. Asses ways to adapt audio/visual content that make it more testing the refugees on the content. conducive to learning A tutor describes the terms used in the playlist to an el- derly refugee.iccha MELISSA ACOSTA | CARNEGIE MELLON U. | BXA CAPSTONE PROJECT 20
  21. 21. Design Process User Test Insights From my interactions with the refugees and the experiences of Adult refugees practice the playlists other tutors , I summarized my findings into five insights: Despite the learning curve, refugees use the iPod even if they Learning curve on using the iPod need help to use it. Tutors test the refugee’s knowledge the fol- lowing visit by showing them the album pictures again and ask- We found that older adult refugees struggled to use the iPod ing them what the pictures represent. Furthermore, the tutors Touch and Nano. Tutors initially did not walk them through how update the iPods using their computer, thereby collecting play to use the iPod but used the iPod for them. Later, tutors gave count data. I used the iTunes Super Analyzer to extract statistics them a brief tutorial on how to use the iPod but the refugees from the playlists and convey the refugee’s listening habits in a would forget in between sessions and would simply ask their graphical form. children or friends to navigate through the iPod for them. How- ever, we found that young refugee adults and children are tech- Less how-to, more what-to nologically savvy. The young adults either knew how to use it before or learned quickly. It was easier for tutors to strategically plan their lessons using these multimedia tools. They spend less time looking for avail- One refugee’s listening habits on a driving playlist, during a one week period. Generated with iTunes Super Analyzericcha MELISSA ACOSTA | CARNEGIE MELLON U. | BXA CAPSTONE PROJECT 21
  22. 22. Design Process available books and resources on how to teach refugees. In- Screen size matters stead, the iPod provided a flexible guideline for the tutors to follow and tutors feel they can focus on content that would be Finally, we found that the iPod Touch’s larger screen size than more useful to the refugee’s life. the iPod Nano was more effective during the tutoring sessions. Refugees can see the images, e.g. the album covers, more Learnability of audio & playlists clearly on the iPod Touch which has a 3.5” diagonal screen size. The 1.5” diagonal screen size of the 2nd generation and older Playlists and audio files can be used for learning, when planned iPod Nano is too small to convey the images, especially images strategically. The playlists themselves went through a series of it- that rely on facial expressions and body gestures. erations. We initially began with numbers and the alphabet. Then we explored effective ways to teach more complex concepts, such as targeting simple phrases to learn different emotions. On page 34, I outline a series of best practices on how to effectively create content geared for language learning. Less How-To, more What-To A playlist that teaches the process of greeting some- one. The images were taken with a camera, recordings were made with Garage- Band and the audio files were compiled using iTunes.iccha MELISSA ACOSTA | CARNEGIE MELLON U. | BXA CAPSTONE PROJECT 22
  23. 23. Design Process The Impact In the end, the multimedia concept made a significant impact on After describing her success with teaching the adults refugees the refugees and the tutors. In the past, tutors focused on the simple commands, Emily, another tutor, explains: children of refugees because they were at a loss as to how to teach older, less literate adults. Furthermore, the adult refugees “For her, the fact that I said “open to the door” and she were shy and afraid to ask or did not know how to ask them to teach them. With iccha, adult refugees are encouraged to learn understood what I was saying was a huge deal, she didn’t and empowered to request what they want to learn. need to say it to someone else for us to realize that she made progress.” As one tutor, Kimby, put it: “It was the first time I ever verbally communicated to the “The fact with the we did something with the parents mom and she understood it: Tara, go turn on the lights.” shows them that they are a valued part of the tutoring sessions. It changed the dynamic, I feel like I’m helping Kimby described one session where she tested the refugee’s the whole family, not just the kids.” knowledge on commands. Kimby and her partner, Emily, had introduced the commands playlist in the last session. So she Less How-To, more What-To A playlist that conveys simple commands such as “Be Quiet” and “Turn off the light.”iccha MELISSA ACOSTA | CARNEGIE MELLON U. | BXA CAPSTONE PROJECT 23
  24. 24. Design Process asked the refugees to command Emily using the phrases in the ate ESL materials, but found that the refugees would forget what playlists. The whole family and the tutors were laughing as the we taught them in the last session. With iccha, we saw vast father commanded Emily to “open the window” or “close the improvement in the refugees’ pronounciation and understand- door.” For Kimby, it was a vital moment in her relationship with ing of the words and phrases. We worked with several refugee the family. adults who had different interests and English levels and created playlists with themes in driving playlists, emotions and locations “Everyone was laughing about it, enjoying it. They felt to cater to their interests. powerful that they were able to tell Emily what they want- Although initially created to target an individual refu- ed her to do.” -Kimby gee, the refugees shared the playlists with other family Before iccha, my partner and I tutored one refugee family for members and friends, creating a collaborative learn- three months. We scoured the Internet and libraries for appropri- ing environment. Less How-To, more What-To A young adult refugee us- ing an old iPod Touch. He is learning driving signs in prep- aration for his permit test.iccha MELISSA ACOSTA | CARNEGIE MELLON U. | BXA CAPSTONE PROJECT 24
  25. 25. Design Process Since the multimedia concept is making progress in helpings their tutoring session and assess the effectiveness and impact refugees and has made considerable impact in leveraging the of their lesson. They can share this with other volunteers to re- tutor’s abilities, I decided to explore how a web interface can ceive feedback/further suggestions. facilitate content preparation and make the tutoring-refugee system more sustainable in the long-term. The web interface will be rich in data and should be able to grow and support the refugee-tutor system. As volunteers and refu- Through wireframes, I explored how volunteers can manage gees come and go, the system should continue to be able to their content but also make their own “lesson” based on what pass on information to new volunteers and continue to adapt to other tutors have created. The system allows tutors to reflect on the needs of individual refugees. Create a Playlist Add a Track Name Arms Add a Photo Create a Photo Upload a photo Paste URL Accessing camera Take Photo Details + Add a Track Wireframes exploring Listening and how-to-create the playlists viewing a playlisticcha MELISSA ACOSTA | CARNEGIE MELLON U. | BXA CAPSTONE PROJECT 25
  26. 26. the iccha systemiccha MELISSA ACOSTA | CARNEGIE MELLON U. | BXA CAPSTONE PROJECT 26
  27. 27. The iccha system The Concept: iccha iccha explores multimedia strategies that enable refugees gain Tutors prepare and create content in the form of audio files. Each essential English communication skills. In honor of the Bhuta- playlist contains a theme or general lesson that the tutors want nese refugees I’ve worked with, I borrowed the Nepali term “ic- to teach. Each audio file is accompanies by a unique album cov- cha” to name the system. “Iccha” means a desire, a wish, a will. er, which conveys the meaning behind the audio. They can also share this content on the web interface, so other tutors can use The system consists of a web interface that allows tutors to it for their own lessons. rapidly create content and a music player, specifically the iPod Touch, so refugees can practice the lessons with their tutors and Refugees or tutors can access the playslists on the refugee’s practice the lessons during the week. computers so they can update the iPod’s on location, instead of Web Interface iPod / mp3 Digital Component Physical Component Creating, Sharing & Viewing Portable, Sharing & Viewing (Possible donation/fundraiser project)iccha MELISSA ACOSTA | CARNEGIE MELLON U. | BXA CAPSTONE PROJECT 27
  28. 28. The iccha system having the tutors carry around their laptops. Refugees can ac- ing through other tutor’s lesson contents. The following page cess the interface anytime to practice the playlists or even view provides an overview of the system. Next I developed three use the playlists together with other family members. cases: (1) Creating the track, (2) Creating a Playlist and (3) Down- loading the playlist. Below is the navigational flow for the iccha web interface. It explores how the system can aid tutors rapidly create content by connecting to the computer’s microphone and crowdsourc-iccha MELISSA ACOSTA | CARNEGIE MELLON U. | BXA CAPSTONE PROJECT 28
  29. 29. The iccha system Volunteer Tutors The Mobile Refugee A digital dialogue Iccha is a clear strategy that can be Refugees can use the ipod to gain com- Community members have the opportu- taught and maintained. Tutors can use munication skills and cultural knowledge nity for deeper involvement and under- the ipod as a way to guide their tutor- to adjust to life in America. They can standing, even if they cannot tutor the ing sessions and think of creative ways practice at their own pace and in their de- refugees directly. They can create playl- to explain the content. They can make sired environment. Furthermore, refuges ists from mannerisms to learning how-to- content that targets each refugee’s edu- can request specific lessons from tutors. use the metro, giving tutors more content cation needs. for their lessons.iccha MELISSA ACOSTA | CARNEGIE MELLON U. | BXA CAPSTONE PROJECT 29
  30. 30. The iccha system 1: Creating a Track Tutors can use the iccha interface to create individual audio Finally, tutors can record the audio online. The system access- tracks. They can add track details such as the name and adds es the computer’s microphone through Flash player. The audio tags to each track. Next they can add a photo in three different would be created initially in .wav as that is the only format that ways: (1) upload a photo from their computer, (2) paste a URL of flash uses. Then the iccha system converts it into an .mp3 and the image, or (3) take a photo from their webcam. changes the ID3 tags, which are metadata that includes informa- tion about audio tracks. 0:05 Adding Photos as an Album Cover Recording Audio Onlineiccha MELISSA ACOSTA | CARNEGIE MELLON U. | BXA CAPSTONE PROJECT 30
  31. 31. The iccha system 2: Creating a Playlist Tutors can search through the iccha system to find lessons re- lated to their target content. These lessons would be generated by other tutors and community members. Tutors can view and listen to the playlists as well as read the comments section, so they are better informed about the strengths and weaknesses of the lesson. Next, tutors can add individual audio files or the entire playlist to a new or existing lesson. This allows tutors to rapidly customize their lesson content. Health View existing playlists Visit the Doctor Describing symptoms and useful phrases and questions health x symptoms x Search for existing playlists generated by other community members Adding the playlist or track to your lessoniccha MELISSA ACOSTA | CARNEGIE MELLON U. | BXA CAPSTONE PROJECT 31
  32. 32. The iccha system 3: Downloading a Playlist Tutors can download the playlist easily into the refugee’s iPod. Tutors can simply add all the audio files into iTunes. Then, they The iccha interface has a download feature and gives the option can go to File > Library > Import Playlist... and select the down- of downloading one track or the entire list. When it downloads loaded .xml file. iTunes organizes the audio files from the tutor the playlist, it downloads all audio files in .mp3 form (with the im- or refugee’s music library and compiles them into one playlist. ages and track descriptions a part of the metadata), along with an .xml file. The .xml is a format that defines the playlist and its contents. Adding the playlist into iTunesiccha MELISSA ACOSTA | CARNEGIE MELLON U. | BXA CAPSTONE PROJECT 32
  33. 33. the iccha websiteiccha MELISSA ACOSTA | CARNEGIE MELLON U. | BXA CAPSTONE PROJECT 33
  34. 34. The iccha website /iccha.html + FORGE dropbox The iccha interface that I described in the last section is a con- cept and perhaps in the future it will become a reality. However, I am a designer and cannot develop the web application myself. Instead, I created the iccha website to provide current FORGE tutors information on the iccha concept and how they can apply these strategies in their tutoring sessions. The website provides a list of best practices [right] for developing audio and playlist content to effectively teach English communication skills. Best Practices Home Page of the Websiteiccha MELISSA ACOSTA | CARNEGIE MELLON U. | BXA CAPSTONE PROJECT 34
  35. 35. The iccha website Next, I found Actionscript code that allows tutors to record audio Lastly, I created a dropbox system so FORGE members can and immediately download them onto their computer. The audio store their playlists and share them with each other. .rtf files are would be created in a .wav format. The website provides a de- available to describe the iccha strategy and refer members to tailed description on how tutors can convert the file to .mp3, add see the website for more information. album artwork and compile the files using iTunes. The website is currently located in : Home Page of the Website File Sharing Systemiccha MELISSA ACOSTA | CARNEGIE MELLON U. | BXA CAPSTONE PROJECT 35
  36. 36. retrospectives and future workiccha MELISSA ACOSTA | CARNEGIE MELLON U. | BXA CAPSTONE PROJECT 36
  37. 37. Retrospectives and Future Work The iccha project starts to address the initial problem of en- lution. The project deviated from a traditional design project, abling refugees to learn English. However, there is still a lot of where I would develop a concept but never implement it. In this work to be done in this domain. For my user tests, I had a small case, iccha interface is a design concept, where I conceptual- sample set of a very large population of refugees. In the future, ized how a web interface can facilitate rapid lesson creation and there could be more tests done with a larger group of refugees harness crowdsourcing. and in a larger variety of refugees, beyond the Bhutanese popu- lation. Furthermore, I would have liked to explore different iPods However, FORGE is using the iccha strategy on the ground and to see what is the minimum-sized screen required for the iccha want to continue using it as an education tool. Hence, the ic- concept to still be effective. cha website and dropbox file-sharing system was created as a practical and ready solution. It is less efficient than the web The project was a rewarding experience and provided insights interface, but it still empowers refugees and volunteer tutors to into how we can appropriate existing technological tools to ad- take action. FORGE can also use the findings and materials from dress societal challenges. It represents a compromise between the iccha project in their fundraising and donation campaigns to a traditional design project and immediately-implementable so- collect old iPods that can be distributed to the refugees. A refugee helping an older refugee use the iPod and understand the lesson.iccha MELISSA ACOSTA | CARNEGIE MELLON U. | BXA CAPSTONE PROJECT 37
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