Successful digital initiatives are rooted in an understanding of user characteristics, needs and challenges. User-centered design, also referred to as design thinking or human-centered design, starts with getting to know the people you are designing for through conversation, observation and co-creation. User testing with end-users should therefore always be a priority for projects developing open education resources.


In order to define and understand the needs of the users, we have to know who our users are. We have created five personas who can help us better understand the variety of children, teachers and translators to be found in schools and homes around the world. As part of ensuring that the educational resources are accessible for all, the user-centered design process should include users with vision impairments and other disabilities. A persona number six, a visually impaired persona, is therefore under development.

What is personas?

Personas are not real users, but invented “portraits” of users. We have tried to document what we know about our users in our personas. Thus usertesting and interactions with users in several countries have played a vital role in the creation of our personas. Included is a short presentation of the persona and his or her goals, needs and frustrations.

As mentioned earlier, we have five personas. The children have different backgrounds, education and goals for their future. They also have different experiences with and approaches to the digital world. The teachers and the translator personas are also unique, both in knowledge, skills, interests and backgrounds. 

Why and how to use personas?

Through our five different personas we aim to cover parts of the diversity of students, teachers and translators in Asia and Africa. We want to use the personas to get to know our users better, and to define their needs more precisely. Our focus on the users is important when it comes to everything we develop and create. This way, we can improve our content continuously. How will, for example pupils in a village in Phnom Penh find engagement books in their own language to help improve their reading? And where can pupils in Kibera who want to learn English find engagement books for free?

If you are translating our content or creating your own, feel free to develop your own personas based on ours. 

We have created the following personas:

  • Cambodian girl, Sak Aphae. 9 years old
  • Kenyan boy, Peter. 10 years old
  • Ethiopian female tech freelance/entrepreneur, Melikte. 29 year old
  • Ethiopian male student and translator, Bereket. 25 year old 
  • Ethiopian female teacher, Aynalem. 25 year old 

Cambodian girl 

Name: Sak Alphae

Age: 9 years old

Education: Pupil in Primary School

Family: Lives together with her family: mother, father, two sisters and one brother


  • Sak Alphae wants to become a teacher when she grows up. 
  • Sak has just learned how to read Khmer, and wants to start learning English as well.


  • Her parents can not afford to get any books for leisure reading. 
  • She needs to find books to read at a more advanced level.
  • She wants to play games/interactivities that can help her improve her English.

Kenyan boy

Name: Peter

Age: 10 years old

Education: Pupil in Primary School

Family: Lives with his family: mother, father and two sisters


  • Peter wants to become a doctor when he grows up, but getting a higher education is a mere dream for him and his family. 
  • Peter has just learned how to read Kiswahili, and wants to start learning English as well.


  • Peter’s parents can not afford to get any books for leisure reading. 
  • He needs to find books to read at a more advanced level, and he also wants to play games/interactivities that can help him learn English.

Female Tech freelance/entrepreneur

Name: Melikte

Age: 29 years old

Education: A Bachelors and Masters of Science in Computer Science from Addis Ababa University in Ethiopia

Family: Married and living with her husband in a two bedroom apartment


  • Make a difference in her society by helping children learn how to read. 
  • See the success of her startup as soon as possible.

Challenges and frustrations:

  • She is currently working on a language teaching application. She lacks enough content to train the app. 
  • Usually, she spends her free time volunteering in her local community tutoring children between 6 – 15. She gets frustrated because there are not enough children´s books, especially in local languages. 

Male volunteer translator

Name: Bereket Gobeze

Age: 25 years old

Education: Studying for his Bachelors and Masters of Science in Computer Science from Addis Ababa University in Ethiopia. In addition to his studies, he is volunteering as a translator for the GDL project. 

Family: Part of a large family. Still living at home 


  • Bereket wants to make a difference in his society, developing Ethiopia and providing education for all. The translation features on the GDL platform provides the opportunity for him to use his English language skills to translate content into Amharic, and also to use his technical background and knowledge to translate books that can be used both in printed and digital versions. 

Challenges and frustrations:

  • He is currently working with a group of students as a volunteer to help marginalized children learn to read. He lacks reading material in local languages. 

Female teacher

Name: Aynalem

Age: 25 years old

Education: She did her undergrad at Adama University. After graduation, she joined Madda Walabu university as a graduate assistant at the department of Computer Science. She then came to Addis on a scholarship to pursue her Masters of Science in Computer Science at Addis Ababa University. 

Family: Currently in a relationship, but lives with her parents


  • Create well-educated youth focusing in the STEM field. Advocate for more women in the STEM field. 

Challenges and frustrations:

  • There are very few language resources in local languages to use in the projects she is doing with her students. 
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