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Read & More

An educational tool that teaches visual learners how to read

Role: User Experience Engineer
Language: Java, HTML, CSS
Technology: Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, Flash & Flash Catalyst, Audacity, Google Web Toolkit(GWT), Sencha, PhoneGap

Problem: Students diagnosed with Down Syndrome have late development in motor abilities. This means that the student exerts more effort handling the flashcards than focusing on learning the material.

Solution: A mobile application with touch and swipe gestures, minimal distractions and positive feedback to encourage learning.

The Project: It was important that a lot of research was done before any designing can begin. Research included interviews with teachers, parents and academics and observing how the children learned by using using the flashcards vs. using other mobile applications on the marker. From our interviews and contextual inquiry, we learned 5 important facts:

  • The students respond well to human voices rather than robotic ones.
  • The students are easily distracted.
  • The students need to awaken their sense of touch before the start of an activity.
  • The students will purposely choose a wrong answer if the feedback for it is "fun."
  • The application will have to accomodate for a large margin to error
With this in mind, I created a general transition diagram to map out how each of the 6 activities will be reached from the main screen. Each subject that the children had to learn, were divided to books on a bookshelf. For testing purposes, I created a high-fidelity prototype of the application with 5 working activities out of the 6 in Flash Catalyst. In lieu of a voice actress whom we contracted later on, I used Audacity to record my own voice for the prototype.

Usability Testing: Testing was done in parallel with development with the focus on how easily the child could complete the activities, how they responded to the "negative" feedback and positive feedback, and how well they understood the visual metaphors on the application. Detailed observations were done rather than the traditional cognitive walk-throughs.