Improving Educational Experiences for Immigrants

  • Role:

  • Human Centered Designer

  • Strategies:

  • Inspiration, Ideation, Implementation

  • Team Members:

  • Yesh Chala,
    Emmy Zhang,
    Huihuang Guan

  • Timeline:

  • Oct - Nov 2020

  • Tools used:

  • Figma, Google Suite

Role: UX Designer

Strategies: UX Research, Synthesis, Prototyping, Testing

Timeline: May - Jun 2020

Tools used: Figma

A Human Centered Approach to Improving Educational Experiences to Immigrants.

Problem

Immigration is a reality for millions of people around the world. But life in a new country comes with a lot of difficulties. Language Barriers, Discrimination, cultural barriers, Finding Work, Access to services , Regulation ,Self Denial, Reluctance and Many more. Regardless of the age or gender, Immigrants face trouble almost everyday in their Initial days of migration.

  • Nearly 27% of Immigrants face severe language problems
  • 11% of Global Immigrants face problems in Finding employment.
  • 7% of Immigrants face problems in finding Homes.

The problems faced by Immigrants are live and are increasing everyday. One major solution to almost all of these problems is Education. Educating Immigrants on Various Life Aspects, Educating them on how to bridge the Language Barrier and teaching them various things and guidances help them acquire skills and information to adapt to their new environments so that they can lead a happy life in their new countries. And thus we started working on How Might We Improve Educational Experiences for Immmigrants?

Our team chose to try to solve this problem as we all could relate to this easily and we chose to use the Human Centered Design principles to address this.

Approach

As the problem we were addressing was targeted at a large audience, we thought to use the method that had them at the center, that is use a design process that gave more importance to the people we were trying to solve it for.
And Human Centered Design principles was the best Approach, as the entire process was based upon providing and having more empathy towards the users

What we wanted to do

At the beginning we had no Idea what we wanted to do, as this was a problem we have never seen addressing such a large scale of users, we had to look at the problems faced by large section in a general way, at the same time we should neglect the problems faced by a smaller group of people, that might also be important.

Inspiration

The first things we had to do was gain Inspiration. Inspiration in the sense, Information and Insights directly from the people for whom we were aiming to solve the problem.
This involved speaking to them, understanding them, getting into their shoes and looking the problem from their perspective.

Team Knowledge and Assumptions

The first thing we did in the Inspiration phase was noting down what we already knew.

  • What did we already know about the problem?
  • What can be assumed we knew?
  • What do we need to know?

We made a document to answer the above questions. You can look at those documents here
What did we know, or assumed we knew?
What did we need to know?
If you had a look at the documents, you would have seen that there was a lot that we did not know, even though we knew some things from our personal experiences, that was no enough.
We had to have even more insights and information and the only way to get those was Research

Research

Considering the Magnitude of the Users affected by the problem one traditional method was not enough, we needed to have more ways of understanding our users and getting to know them and their problems, so we chose 4 different methods to gather information and insights.

  • Learning from People
  • Learning from Experts
  • Immersing Ourselves in Context
  • Seeking Analogous Inspiration

Learning From People

Learning from people meant, learning from people who have already been thorugh such situations. We had to talk to them, ask them detailedly about their experiences, look at what all they faced and finally find out how they managed to overcome the difficulties.
Suitable participants:

  • Families who have migrated to another country in the past 5 years and have not returned back
  • People who have gone to other countries either in search of employment or for studies and have stayed there for a minimum of 2 years
  • Students who migrated along with their families, especially people in schools( Classes 4 - 10)

And we also had prepared a guide to follow during those sessions.
Learning From People Guide
The guide had different sections for General Immigrants, Student Immigrants and Job seekers and we followed the guides respectively.

Insights

Adults

  • Language acts as the biggest barrier to lead succesful lives in new countries.
  • Especially for people over 35, learning new languages is very hard.
  • Re-establishing Social Circle and Life style
  • People who already had friends/relatives in new countries found it relatively easy to settle.

Job Seekers

  • Language acts as the biggest barrier here too
  • Few cases of discrimination, based on their cultural back ground make it hard for immigrants to find jobs in certain countries.

We might argue Language Barrier might not be a problem as English is a global language. But when we look at people coming from countries like India, or china or Japan where the primary medium of communication is not English it IS a problem.
And there can also be another thought that immigration requires migrants to be able to have atleast basic communication. But we are looking at people who are trying to start their lives anew in a new country, a new environment with new people around them, we can't expect basic communication skills enough for it. And while people are trying to look for employment basic communication is no where suffecient, they have to be comfortable in it. Language Barrier cannot be given a low priority.

Learning From Experts

For the Learning from Experts phase, we chose Canada Visa Point, an Immigration Agency in Thrissur, Kerala with great experience in Immigration. We approached the Managing Director of the Company and scheduled an Interview with him.
Then we followed the Interview Guide that we had written throughout the sessions to gather insights. Mr. Patiently provided us with expert answers for all our queries.
You can have a look at the Interview Guide below.
Learning with Experts Guide
This was the guide we had followed, but as this was a semi-structured interview, the questions were not limited to the guide, but were improvised on need, most of which we don't remember now😂

Insights

  • Immigration for people above 35 years is more hard due to various reasons that include language and adaptability.
  • There is also the problem of inferiority and superiority complex especially in teenagers and students coming from low income backgrounds.
  • Local communities can be a real help in migrations.

Immersing Ourselves In Context

This step means that immersing Ourselves in the context of the users, that is their situation, in their shoes and in their lives. This is one of the best ways to find out and understand their problems firsthand.
It invovled us spending time in the lives of our users, studying them, understanding them and learning from them.
For this we chose 3 participants, based upon what we wanted to learn.

  • An Immigrant Family
  • An Immigrant Student
  • A Language Learning class.

All three of the choices reflected what we wanted to learn and were chosen so that we received the maximum insights from them

Insights

We spent some time with the three groups of participants, followed them around, learnt how their daily life went , what all they did, what decisions they took and why they took it. It was a great experience.
And from this we gained the following insights.

  • Normal Language Learning Classes were not sufficient for Elders.
  • Immigrant Families at the beginning had difficulties with accessing the daily resources and services.
  • Rely on relatives and friends for resources
  • Learning a new language was comparitively easier when conversing normally with friends than being trained in language centers.
  • Language and Cultural barriers cause a negative effect on personal growth.
  • Language schools and After school classes were of help, especially for children aged under 14.

These insights were important for us, one they were observed by us in the local environment of the users itself, and two they confirmed most of the insights we've been receiving for a while.

Seeking Analogous Inspiration

For this phase of the research we had to look for another instance that had the almost the same context and the same problems. We chose to use the Exchange Student Instance for this phase.
We approached a few exchange students we knew and asked them a few questions from the guides previously mentioned. And it helped us gain a new refreshed perspective to continue with the problem.
Even here we found that language was a problem, but students were capable of learning the languages quickly, but the accent was hard. Finding employment was also a problem for this user group.

Inspiration Conclusion

And thus we completed the Inspiration Phase, by the end of the phase we had a huge bunch of insights that had to be filtered down very very much inorder to be used. We were actually very proud of ourselve for achieving this much information, putting that all aside we resolved to organising them.

Ideation

We thought the first step of the Ideation was organizing the Insights, in regard to the huge amount of information at hand, we thought only after organizing we could get down to filtering them and fishing out the gems!😉
We started with Clustering all the insights into various themes.

Clustering into Themes

First, we organized each inisight onto a sticky note, and each sticky note had only one insight in a short sentence. The we organized them into different clusters containing related or the similar elements.
Iterating them a couple of times, we ended with 3 basic cluster, which you can look at below.

Languages Cluster

The Cluster Containing all Insights about Language Barrier


Languages Cluster

The Cluster Containing Insights about various challenges faced by them


Languages Cluster

The Cluster Containing all Insights about challenges faced by them while accessing resources.

As you can see above, the Language Barrier itself required a separate cluster. It was a huge problem and had to be addressed seriously!. But for now we had organized the insights, we had to filter them to bring out the gems!

Creating Insights and How Might We Statements.

This section involved filtering out the most valuable insights from the themed clusters and converting them into How Might We Statements.

What we did here is, we studied the insights as a group and filtered out the insights that are more valuable, feasible and useful for us. Then we reorganized them and questioned ourselves on our choices. After Everything seemed perfect, we went down to converting them into How Might We Statements.

We analyzed the Insights and turned them into Questions of How Might We? Implying we are open to any kind of solutions and we would approach it as a team. Spending some time on HMW's gave us a set of beautiful questions that narrowed down the problem to microscopic levels.
I can say we broke the Huge Problem into crucial individual pieces that added up to the whole and now solving these microscopic problems would result in the solution for the whole!

Some of the How Might We Questions generated:

  • How might we enable people above 35 to learn new languages, especially people with little or no schooling.
  • How might we reduce the gap between different languages and curriculums at school?
  • How might we create a platform to bring people with common interests together?

Now these How Might We's have to be answered and those answers might be potential features for the end product. The benefit of using How Might We's is there are no judgements and constraints while looking for answers to HMW's, and that is what we did next.
We Ideated, Ideated and Ideated until we were left with a ton of ideas as to how to address all the Pending Questions and then again filtered them to choose the ones that are feasible and applicable.

With the end of the Ideation Phase, we were left with a bunch of features and great ideas that could help in Improving the Educational Experiences for Immigrants.
And thus ended the Ideation Phase.

Another Important Decision We made during the ideation was about the user groups.
The problem we trying to solve applied to a vast number of user groups, and the application and solutions changed with every user group. So we decided to divide the entire affectable population into a few standard groups.

After careful consideration we decided to segment the complete study for 3 different User groups.

  • Elders in the family, either employed or Unemployed but above the age of 35.
  • Students who have migrated with their families.
  • Immigrants in search of employment.

Implementation

We are currently implementing the solution to for a sort of a toolkit. It requires testing and more stuff. I'll update the guide in here As soon as we finish it. Keep Cheering!