NSERC Chair for
Women in Science & Engineering

ICAN-WISE 2018 Feature

Delaney Lothian

Delaney is co-mentored by Dr. Martha White and Dr. Carrie Demmans Epp at the University of Alberta. Together, they are working on developing an intelligent tutor system to help people learn to speak Plains Cree. The project applies human computer interaction and machine learning methods towards an adaptive system to help protect this at-risk language.

Weeks 1-2

Creating a Language Learning Website for a language that’s not well documented means a lot of content development! As well, I have been reading papers on how people learn languages.

Weeks 3-4

The last couple weeks have involved different aspects of back-end website development. This includes database creation and management as well as researching what front-end interactions are worth logging to ensure the system can promote the appropriate material to the learner.

Weeks 5-6

During the previous two weeks I have been working on understanding the structure of Cree Kinship terms, which is highly dependent on who the subject is, their sex, and much more. This is so that I can create appropriate exercises for the learner to understand it simply, as well as the cultural context.
As well, I have been learning how to use and explain copyright, licensing, and informed consent. In my content creation, I have to interact with the people that are giving me their knowledge and recordings, and I have to make sure they understand what I am doing with it, the credit they will receive, and their rights over it.

Weeks 7-8

The last two weeks I had the opportunity to interview my own family to gather recordings of Cree. My family is historically from Lac Ste. Anne which lands within the regional Cree that I am aiming to teach, and I am thrilled to have the ability to document and use parts of the language they remember.