Schools nowadays face challenges that go beyond the daily routine in the classroom. One of these challenges is the increasing percentage of students with a migration background. These students often cannot understand German, thus cannot follow the class and sometimes account for up to 70% of all students in one school. Therefore it was important for us to offer a quick and easy to use solution, that one the one hand relieve the teachers and on the other hand help the foreign students to catch up with the learning matter.
Another challenge is new media. Schools have started to digitise their classrooms with whiteboards or tablets. During research, an often heard problem was, that while teachers are open towards new media, they feel like it is not used to its full potential and can sometimes still be distracting. Therefore we tried to avoid introducing additional screens to the classrooms.
With this knowledge in mind, we developed TransPen, the translation pen that can scann any text and simultaneously translate it into any desired language. The pen looks and feels like a normal pen, thus guaranteeing easy usage and is equipped with bluetooth connectivity and several buttons for volume adjusting and scanning purposes.
The benefits of TransPen are extensive. On the one hand it works without screen, thus making sure students do not get distracted when using it and on the other hand it makes use of audio output, which guarantees that even illiterate refugees can easily follow class without much effort.
Based on the interviews and research done last week we figured out many problems
that occur in classrooms and could/should be improved. The most interesting and current problem more and more students have is the lack of understanding German. Due to the present situation of huge migration numbers there are many pupils with migration background and sometimes no knowledge in German at all.
Therefore, teachers are now facing situations that they have not been trained for. Lessons, exams, etc. just got a lot more complicated. But also immigrated students suffer under these circumstances. Our prototype is designed to help pupils understand language and thus, also relieve teachers so that they can concentrate on their actual tasks.
A translation pen in combination with a Bluetooth-headset that students use during exams or while working on worksheets shall make the start in German schools a lot easier. The pen can be used like a marker to highlight all the words or sentences that should be translated. Through wireless connection with a headset the marked sentences’ translation is read to the user in real time.
The field of e-learning and digital support systems for teachers in schools or other educational institutions is incredibly extensive. In addition, the majority of schools are only just beginning to bring technology into their classrooms, thus offering many opportunities for interaction designers to enrich the experience for students.
In order to approach this topic without bias we tried to cover as many different schools from various areas as possible in our user research. We conducted interviews with two Highschool teachers, one teacher from a Montessori school and two preschool teachers.
Interestingly, the preschool is divided into two different sections. While the classrooms of one section were rather traditional and offered little technology, the other section was equipped with multiple digital support systems. This setup offered a divers look into the daily routine of the teachers that work there. Furthermore, the school faces additional challenges with the majorityof the students being migrants.
To summarise, we obtained helpful insights that offer multiple points of contact for further development of our concept.