The Journey to Katoa - Charity Learning Project Making Mark
A few months ago you heard how Unicorn had volunteered its services to the international ‘Global Giveback’ programme run by charitable organisation LINGOS.Now complete, the project’s lead Instructional Designer, Sam Yates, look back at the journey and what we’ve gained as a result… Three months ago I introduced Unicorn to LINGOS, a charity programme that called for learning professionals to volunteer their time and expertise to people working in humanitarian aid. Unicorn jumped at the chance to get involved with this excellent cause and generously agreed to support me in the project. For Unicorn, the benefits were clear – not only were they able to give something back to the international learning community, but they could enhance the skills of their instructional design team at the same time. Personally, as both the instructional designer and developer for the project, it was a fantastic opportunity to explore and stretch my experience with rapid eLearning tools. My product of choice was Articulate Storyline – which very quickly became my best friend. Storyline allowed me to build the entire course myself without any programming knowledge. Instead of relying on a team of developers and designers I was able to do the bulk of the work myself, which was essential for this charity project. Working this way has really highlighted the new generation of instructional design that is becoming increasingly popular. With the constant improvements to rapid development software, the writers can now get really hands-on with the design and build of their content. For a company like Unicorn, this in turn leads to a much closer and more cohesive relationship between design teams. What was the actual project? 'Last Mile Learning' is an initiative of LINGOS and our project manager for this course. They provided the brief to create 90 minutes of eLearning on the topic of ‘Influencing without authority’ – a key skill for project-workers out in the field, who often have to deal with hostile and delicate situations. Source materials provided by the programme were basic and uninspiring so after some extensive research into the subject, starting from scratch seemed the best option. I needed to find a way of bringing the content to life for Non-Government Organisation (NGO) workers based out in the field. Cue the birth of Katoa – a fictional province based on a developing country, and created as the base for my scenario-driven course. On arrival, the learner is immediately immersed in the story of Maria, an aid project worker attempting to find her way through the maze of politics, conflicts and challenges associated with her development project. Using an interactive map, the learner follows Maria through four topics, helping her to make decisions along the way so that her project can be completed successfully. Rich Kelly, one of Unicorn’s Digital Designers, provided the graphics - “It was a joy to work on this project. We make a lot of creative courses here at Unicorn, and this one is up there as one of my favourites in terms of enjoyment and creativity.” It’s so important to get the tone of the course right as it helps to carry the content and make it more memorable for the user. I had a clear idea of which direction I wanted the course to go in and Rich’s graphics really helped to catch the mood of the course and bring the story to life. So what has been achieved? Check out the course demo here The team at Last Mile Learning were thrilled with the finished product, describing it as exceptional quality and “one of the best designed courses [I’ve] seen in some time”. They’re currently carrying out final LMS checks before releasing it as part of their Team Management Suite. Once the testing is complete the course will be shared with the 75+ member organisations, who collectively have around 200,000 users. Secondly, alongside the warm fuzzy feeling of doing ‘something good’, the project has provided some interesting and unexpected benefits to Unicorn. For example, we’ve built the course in a new template that can be adapted for a range of subjects and clients, and we look forward to exploring what else we can do with it. We’ve also attracted the attention of Rapid Learning maestros Articulate, who are currently writing a case study on Unicorn Training and the work we’ve created in their flagship product ‘Storyline’. Following the positive feedback from Last Mile Learning, Unicorn have decided to submit the course to the 2013 eLearning Awards as part of the not-for-profit category. The team at Last Mile Learning will also be submitting the course to the Global Giveback competition when it opens later this year. On a personal level I’ve been able to develop my writing skills on a large topic outside of our usual remit. However, be warned – I’ve learnt a whole load of stuff about influencing, so I may try out some Jedi mind-tricks on you when you least suspect it… Final words As with any charity project, the creation of ‘Influencing without authority’ has been a collective effort and would not have been possible without the help and support of the following people:
- Last Mile Learning project team: Todd Slater, from The Nature Conservancy, and Mike Culligan, Director of Last Mile Learning. Mike and Todd were very supportive, but also allowed me the space to ‘get on with it’ – a great team to work with!
- Rich Kelly, Digital Designer @ Unicorn Training: Very special thanks to Rich for his time, patience, and stunning graphics that had everyone drooling.
- Poole-Africa Link: This is a voluntary organisation attached to Poole hospital in Dorset. They kindly gave up their time to share their experiences and stories from working on aid projects in Africa
- Thanks also to Articulate for an extended use of a Storyline licence.