Language & Cultural Learning

[IN PROGRESS] We are exploring the potential of mixed reality to create positive cultural impact with language & cultural learning.

Project Description

Our prompt this semester is from Microsoft, who has written a brief about "intentional design for positive cultural impact for mixed reality." So far, my team and I have defined a territory for exploration (language and cultural learning) and have conducted fairly extensive exploratory research. We have just entered our generative research phase and will conduct workshops with potential end users to inform our concept going forward.

Territory Definition


We began our first phase by dissecting the project brief as a group. After brainstorming a myriad of potential applications of mixed reality towards that prompt, we decided to focus specifically on new ways of learning, and then scoped down to language learning. We talked a lot about how we could intentionally design to increase empathy across cultural and linguistic barriers, use storytelling to direct learning about global cultures, and connect people across space and time through multisensory experiences. Beyond that, we wanted to approach the language acquisition process as a cultural learning process. While language learning can begin close to home, we had a hunch that out of full immersion comes true cultural learning and understanding. We believe that language learning is not just about the four key skills we identified, but that it can lead to a deeper understanding of cultures that are different than our own.

Read more about our territory definition phase on our Medium documentation site.

Exploratory Research


Our exploratory research consisted of language acquisition expert interviews, language and cultural teacher interviews, language and cultural learner interviews, observation and participation, secondary research, and diary studies with people who are currently immersed in cultures other than the one(s) they grew up in.

We used affinity mapping to synthesize our findings from our research as we went. Eventually, we translated the quotes and standout points from those buckets into seven main findings, and then into seven main design implications.

We created two simple journey maps to visualize our intended opportunity space and target context of intermediate/advanced learners who plan to go abroad (or are already there).

Read more about our exploratory research phase on our Medium documentation site.

Generative Research


[IN PROGRESS] During our generative phase, we are looking forward to conducting workshops with language and cultural learners who plan to be immersed in another culture, are currently immersed, or have been immersed in the past. We hope to gain more of a sense of their past experiences, what's broken about current ways of learning languages and cultures, and what an ideal future state could be. We also plan to conduct speed dating exercises to evaluate our potential concepts with experts.