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Knowl

A minimal desktop app that makes classroom learning more accessible

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Overview

Overview

Universities primarily provide accommodations or services to improve the classroom learning experience for the deaf. However, most of these are focused on the profoundly deaf creating a gap in addressing the needs of the mild to moderately deaf/hard-of-hearing community. "Knowl" is a minimal solution designed to best equip this section of users to have a comparable classroom learning experience.

My key contribution 

Duration

12 weeks (Sep - Nov 2022)

Tools

Figma, Zoom

UX Research and Design | Leadership​

  • Created research plan

  • Conducted user interviews and testing

  • Collaborated with the designers to brainstorm solutions and inform them through research insights

  • Led the team through research and design phases

  • Documented the entire process in the form of a report 

  • Presented to academic and industry experts

Team

Four, researchers and designers

Solution
Solution 

The research identified three primary concerns hindering classroom learning:

1. Reduce the barrier to accessing contextual/oral information missed out in the classroom.
2. Reduce the dependence on student position in the classroom for effective listening.

3. Reduce cognitive effort to consume information in group/noisy environments to enable active participation.

The solution is aimed at best equipping the user without major changes in the existing environment. Hence, the solution is built by leveraging in-class resources, Peers, Meeting Owl, and laptops.

Advocate for information needs
Request peers for information missed or access requests made by classmates to stay on track
Position Independence
Effective live transcription using audio input from the meeting owl irrespective of your seating in class.

Better note-taking using smart summaries, highlights, and comments.
Enable active participation
Tuned transcriptions to your group using voice recognition and feedback mechanism for better comprehension in noisy environments
Research

Research

What barriers do deaf people with mild to moderate severity experience in learning in classrooms at the university?

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Questions explored through secondary research

  1. How do the special schools for deaf/heard-of-hearing function?

  2. What issues are discussed in online forums/communities about classroom learning?

  3. What are the characteristics of people with hearing loss?

  4. What are the existing solutions that support learning for people with hearing loss?

Affinity Mapping

To inform the design direction it was essential to segregate our findings and thoughts. we achieved this in two steps

1. Individually noted down concrete issues and discussed solutions on sticky notes.

2. Performed affinity mapping as a group to bring shape to the insights.

This resulted in 13 different categories. Three directions emerged after two iterations of filtering and modification through discussions.

Three directions emerged after two iterations of filtering and modification through discussions. Based on what can be solved in the given limitations and is central to the “learning” of students, we primarily focused on designing solutions for missing out on information in the classroom learning experience.

Research Insights - Setting the primary focus

Social Isolation

Large number of community and clubs at UT for awareness on services, accomodations, connecting with each other.
Not much efforts towards connecting everyone

Further research required on knowing diverse experiences to build a solution.

Everyone is different

Figuring out assistive tools that work for them can be extremely draining.
Emotional and financial impact while experimenting technologies
Unexpected barriers during usage

Further research needed on breadth of requirements in this context to build a platform that serves the community

Missing out Information

Acceptance on reduced capabilities in learning.
Social inhibitions and isolation

In depth interview insights on the problem space. Potential technology solution addressing independence and learning.

Actionable Insights - Informing specific design obejctives

Advocate for needs

How might we reduce the barrier to access contextual/oral information missed in classroom

Position Independence

How might we reduce the dependence of position in the classroom for effective listening

Active participation

How might we reduce the effort to consume information shared in group/noisy environment to enable active participation

Persona

We created a persona, Kevin to visualize the user needs and characteristics. This played a crucial role in the ideation phase to critically evaluate the relevance and adaptability of the solutions brainstormed for target users.

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Design

To break out of our linear thoughts we first tried the worst possible idea with respect to feasibility. This was followed up by sketching and brainstorming to build upon the ideas.

 

The ideal solution needs to be:

  1. Seamlessly integrate into the classroom environment

  2. Need minimal effort from the user’s side

  3. Practical in solving the purpose

  4. Least visual overload

Expanding the solutions

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Refining the solution

Dealing with undesired usage

It was important to ensure that the request is not represented as a messaging channel as it can become a distraction. Yet it needs to be portrayed as a conversation to feel natural and connected with peers. The following features were implemented to achieve this:

  • The anonymity of users while requesting and replying.

  • The number of text replies per request is limited.

  • If a peer accepts a request, the notification disappears for the rest.

  • The notification of a request is the least distractive with just a highlight on the "request" tab.

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Reduce nuances in the suppotive group discussion tool
  • Voice recognition may not be as accurate. Users have the ability to modify mistakes in recognition by editing the labels.

  • Users have the ability to choose what's noise to differentiate in-group and out-of-group information.

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Reflections
Reflections

Accepting limitations yet pushing boundaries as researchers and designers

It is a hard fact that some issues are beyond the scope of a researcher or a designer. However, research has the potential to pave a path that can best address the issues, which is only possible if you accept the limitations.

Transfering context behind insights from research to design

Brainstorming solutions along with the designers made me reflect on the importance of transferring the contextual knowledge around insights generated from research.

Evaluating impact of design decisions in ethical and social contexts

I learned to be more conscious of my responsibilities while making strategic decisions, particularly when involving vulnerable populations.

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