conVRse 

An app to help kids learn languages through Virtual Reality.

This was a 10 week capstone project completed as part of Brainstation's UX Design program. 

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Role                                                                                                                                UX Researcher, UX/UI Designer

Team                                                                                                                                                                                Solo
 
Platform                                                                                                                                                                      Mobile

Project length                                                                                                                                                       10 weeks

Tools                                                                                                                                                 Invision, Figma, Otter

Watch this short 4 minute walkthrough of my entire design process. 

01 Problem 

I noticed a disturbing trend. 

Highly skilled online language teachers being paid less than minimum wage. 

Despite the language learning market being valued at a whopping $54 billion dollars, highly skilled language instructors struggle to find students and are often underpaid by large online teaching companies. 

With the rise of online learning expedited by the pandemic, the industry continues to grow in profitability while the hourly compensation for instruction continues to decrease due to an oversupply of teachers.

I wanted to help English language instructors find teaching jobs online, specifically tackling the China market which boasts the most number of English learners.

 
Remote Learning

$54.9 billion by 2027

According to a report from Meticulous Research, the English language learning market is estimated to be worth $54.9 billion by 2027.

1.5 billion learners globally

There are currently 1.5 billion English learners worldwide. English is viewed as the lingua franca of the world and is seen as the key to better life opportunities and economic growth.

Online Classes

The Pivot

Suddenly and without warning, the Chinese government banned all foreign tutoring in August 2021. This called for a major pivot. 

I quickly adapted my problem space to focus instead on the gaps in technology that have emerged in online language learning.

With the rise in Virtual Reality technologies being applied to the healthcare, gaming, and automotive industries, I saw huge potential for Virtual Reality applications in the field of education.
I chose to explore how Virtual Reality can be utilized to improve language learner’s outcomes.

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02 Research

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I conducted 30+ interviews.

I performed in-depth interviews with teachers and language learners. 

In my interviews with teachers, I wanted to understand how their experience teaching online compared to teaching in person.

Talking with students, I wanted to hear about their experience learning a language online. 

Key Insights

Teachers

Students

Online class is boring. I hate it. 

- Student

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My students get distracted very easily during online classes. When I see their screen light up on their face I know they're probably playing a video game.

- Teacher 

Through my user interviews, I noticed a common pain point among teachers and students:

lack of engagement. Teachers struggled to retain interest from students in an online learning environment and students found learning languages online to be boring. 

I chose to focus my design solution on tackling the language learning experience for students. 

I created a journey map for a student learning a foreign language to understand their path to fluency. 

I decided to pick immersion as my point of intervention. 

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Problem Statement

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How might we improve language learners' online experience learning a foreign language so that they can become fluent speakers without leaving their home?
 

Based on my interview insights and research findings, I constructed a persona to help me stay aligned with my users needs and problems.

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03 Solution 

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I brainstormed possible solutions. 

Virtual Reality to tackle lack of student engagement

Why Virtual Reality?

Immersion is the holy grail of language learning. Time and time again, research proves that students who acquire language through immersion (bilingual schools, study abroad programs)  exhibit higher levels of fluency.

The problem is that immersion is not always possible. Bilingual schools are not always widely available in certain regions, study abroad programs can be extremely costly, and travel during the pandemic is risky. 

This is why I turned to Virtual Reality. 

VR is reshaping the way we learn, play, and even live. Education is expected to be the 4th biggest sector for VR investments and 97% of surveyed students would like to study a VR course. 

VR offers a fully immersive experience for language learners. All the benefits of immersion. None of the risks or costs of traveling abroad. 

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Prototyping

I translated my sketches into low fidelity wireframes in order to minimize risk and obtain a quick proof of concept that I could test.

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Testing

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I conducted 2 rounds of user testing with 10 individual participants in total.

The mistake I made here was conducting usability testing with adults-even though my intended users are kids. As a result, the feedback I received may not have been accurate to the true users. A big lesson was learned. 

Overall, users successfully completed the tasks I assigned to them. The biggest takeaway was that users didn’t know they needed to flip the orientation of the mobile phone horizontally for the VR lesson. 

 

I thus added an additional screen with VR instructions.  

Branding

Next, I defined the brand identity.

 

My vision was to evoke a sense of play and exploration. This was achieved through the use of bright, pastel colours inspired by Parisian imagery. Purple, metallic accents were incorporated to give a futuristic feel.

 

Font

I was drawn to the roundedness of the vowels which make it playful and child friendly, while the sharpness of the consonants gave it a futuristic look.

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Introducing the Final Prototype 

 

conVRse is an app that promotes language learning through cultural and linguistic immersion.

My goal was to create a platform that would allow language learners to connect with skilled teachers while immersing themselves in a language environment from the comfort of their own home. 

  1. The student goes through a passwordless login 

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2. The student browses through their personalized feed

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3. The student joins a lesson 

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4. The student meets their teacher in VR

 

04 Key Learnings

This design process has taught me the importance of pivoting quickly. I never expected my problem space to suddenly change overnight due to new government regulations, but I learned to adapt quickly to the changing landscape by having an open mind and conducting extensive research to look for alternative options.

The main challenge during this design process was having to start from square one with my design solution once I discovered the new government regulations on foreign tutoring.

 

An additional challenge included not being able to conduct user testing with kids and thus resulting in certain design features that may not be well suited to younger audiences.

Next Steps

 

Adapting to the Metaverse

I believe that my product has the potential to change cultural habits surrounding language learning. VR is reshaping the way we learn, play, and even live. Given that education is expected to be the 4th biggest sector for VR investments, I am confident that language learning through VR will become a popular method for students around the world to learn foreign languages. I see huge potential for

online learning to become a key feature of the Metaverse in the near future. 

Fueling the Gig Economy 

Even though my original problem space changed, I am still motivated to find ways to help teachers find work online. I'm interested in building out a user flow for teachers so that they can find students interested in learning languages in VR. 

Given that time is the most precious resource we have. Thank you for taking the time to read my case study :)