Designing Mobile Application to Support Immigrants in Higher Education – A Practical User Experience Evaluation Case


In 2015, Finland received a record number of asylum seekers generating subsequently prominent challenge for social integration of immigrants. Regarding 40 % of working-age immigrants in Finland to be higher educated, and smartphones widely used among immigrants, SIMHEapp project (Supporting Immigrants in Higher Education) was initiated. Existing applications are designed primarily to speed up successful immigrant integration but they lack of educational support.
In our project, the main goal is to design an application to guide immigrants to apply for higher education and find their career path. As a part of design process, we conducted a user experience evaluation using focus group method. School counselors of immigrants were our target group, since they have a wide work experience of cultural differences and language barriers. The study focused on gaining insights of user needs by utilizing early prototype of application. Additionally, an input of the content and the features for the next design phase was collected.
Result from cultural diversity among the users, the application must be straightforward and simple, with visualizations e.g. Finnish education system. Also design implications encompass finding individual educational path, recognizing the previous competence and aiming to employment. The education search and creating user's own CV will make the application more personalized and allow to operate data efficiently later. However, adding one’s own personal information may cause uncertainty among users.
The case study provided knowledge of the main features needed for supporting immigrants in higher education. The next iteration phase will consider usability and UX-related cultural differences.

Author Information
Minna Virkkula, Oulu University of Applied Sciences, Finland
Heidi Ålander, Oulu University of Applied Sciences, Finland

Paper Information
Conference: ACEID2021
Stream: Design

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Posted by James Alexander Gordon