From the Seed of an Idea: Introducing LoomVue’s UX Designer
While LoomVue’s product has taken different forms over time and continues to evolve, the first seed of the idea originated from a former student of our Chief Scientist, Derek Hansen. We’re pleased to introduce that person as LoomVue’s User Experience Designer, recently marking one year of supporting the team’s efforts in creating elegant, efficient technology solutions for English language learners.
Diana Shelton, UX Designer
Diana Shelton has been contributing to LoomVue in various capacities including UX design, research, and marketing. Diana graduated from BYU cum laude with a B.A. in Linguistics and a minor in Information Technology. While there, she was awarded a grant from the Office of Research and Creative Activities for her development of a language preservation virtual dictionary related to her study abroad in Amazonian Ecuador. Diana has worked and volunteered in several language-learning and education settings as a teacher and instructional writer. She is conversational in American Sign Language and is studying Spanish and Mandarin Chinese, and in her free time she enjoys reading, drawing, and practicing martial arts.
As a professor of IT, Derek has taught a number of classes on human-computer interaction and design during his time at BYU, often assigning semester-long projects based on a creative prompt. Several years ago, the class prompt challenged the class to create a technology solution related to a religious text, The Book of Mormon. Of course, as a linguistics major, Diana drew from her experience of language-learning to imagine a multilingual project: What might the reading experience be like, she wondered, if the text were interactive and provided supplemental foreign language information just in time for the reader to learn it? And what if the frequency of vocabulary impacted the language in which it was presented?
A group of students worked to flesh out the idea, working together to research, design, wireframe, and prototype the app. The simple design sketched out the concept of a dynamic reader providing translations with the tap of a button and the ability to save key vocabulary through virtual flashcards.
Later, Derek found that diglot weave readers, as they are traditionally known, have been a language learning tool for some time, but their digital counterparts are still burgeoning. Over time, Derek, Grant Rowberry, and David Wingate become the original team members of LoomVue, developing the idea into a fully-fledged web app for English language learners. Over the past year, Diana’s linguistics background has introduced additional considerations and concepts as the goals and features of LoomVue have evolved.
As an example, one unique challenge of language learning is handling polysemous words–those with more than one meaning, or “sense”. The word with the most possible uses in the English language is (arguably) “run,” with some sources attributing up to 645 different senses for this simple word. Many language-learning tools typically dismiss this aspect of language, choosing to focus on the most common usage of a word. However, for intermediate and advanced learners, learning the additional meanings of a word is vital to expanding vocabulary and deepening understanding of words beyond surface-level recognition. LoomVue not only provides multiple definitions for polysemous words but also allows learners to track their vocabulary-learning progress based on specific meanings, ensuring that students are exposed to and practicing a word in a variety of contexts. These features will help English learners succeed in their English development and core content classes, increasing their capacity to understand and use academic language in appropriate and accurate ways.
Future areas for linguistic development in the LoomVue app may include handling binomial and trinomial expressions, tracking the size of a student’s lexicon, and exploring methods for language repetition and retention.
We are grateful to have Diana as well as additional team members helping to propel the development and commercialization of our educational tool for English language learners. Recently we’ve had the opportunity to connect with educators and administrators at conferences across the country, and we can’t wait to launch our newest round of pilot programs with our partners in various schools and organizations. Moving forward, LoomVue will continue to branch out and innovate as we discover the most effective ways to support learners in their language goals–and all because of a single class project for a class called IT 355.