UCAELI Students Learn Design Thinking During Innovate Workshop

On Thursday, November 14th, OPIM Innovate hosted a Design Thinking workshop in partnership with the UConn American English Language Institute (UCAELI). During this workshop, students participating in the College Preparatory Experience program learned the first three steps of design thinking: define, empathize,¬†and ideate. These steps implore students to define business objectives, understand the needs of their audience, and brainstorm potential ideas for a business solution. Tara Watrous, Innovate’s project coordinator, assisted students throughout the design thinking process by providing an overview of each step. She then provided the following prompt for students to answer in groups: “How can technology be utilized to enhance learning English as a second language?”

Throughout the group portion of the workshop, participating students were able to work with Innovate Lab specialists for insight. As the prompt allowed for many open-ended ideas, each group had their own unique solution at the culmination of the workshop. Ideas included:

  • a chatbot
  • a virtual reality application where students can immerse themselves in English-speaking environments
  • an application for students of different native languages to communicate and practice other tongues
  • an augmented reality application that quizzes students on their English by displaying images that represent different dictionary words
  • mixed-reality glasses language learners can wear to learn English through environment narration

“The combination of our students’ innovative minds and emerging technology create immense potential for solving problems,” Watrous commented after the event. “Each student group came up with their own unique and creative idea for English-language learning. We hope to see them in our space again to start prototyping!”



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