The Raffi Foundation’s mission is that “Every child is entitled to love, to dream, to be cherished in a loving community and be given the grounding to pursue a life of purpose.”
To further their primary objective, “To educate businesses, governments and other organizations about the universal needs of children in their formative early years”,the Raffi Foundation wanted to create an elearning instructional product to sell to educators and parents. Revenue generated by the course would support additional program activities.
The Raffi Foundation engaged Spark + Co. because of our
- expertise in the development of online courses and instructional products
- expertise in setting up and integrating courses with an LMS
- experience working with other non profits focused on children and education
As with any project there were several constraints to work within.
At the time the organization was undergoing a name change and re-branding, with a new website under development as well as the online course and the introduction of a platform to deliver and manage the course. The sheer volume of change and the limited human resources available in this small organization was a constraint, as was the complexity of introducing multiple technology tools.
Secondly, as a charitable organization the Foundation’s financial resources are very precious so we wanted to work within a fixed scope framework so the Foundation always knew the total expenditure. This meant that if out of scope items came up, we had to make adjustments along the way to stay within the financial resources allocated.
Lastly, most of the information and content available in this area is academic or theoretical in nature – there was little applied and practical content developed at the time. This meant that Spark + Co., had to take the material that was available and create practical tools, scenarios and other interactive activities so that the learner could apply the knowledge they were gaining in an effective manner.
Engage + Analyze
As this is a relatively new topic area, a large part of the engagement process was focused on determining what the elearning course should be focused on, and what types of content to include. There was little organizational knowledge of what was possible with an online course and how it could be positioned to change behaviour and boost the organizations brand at the same time.
Working with key stakeholders we determined the desired outcomes for the course which included to
- kickstart a child honouring movement
- generate revenue for the Foundation
- educate and influence people who work with young children to make more child friendly decisions
It was also important to the Foundation to release the course in a timely manner and so to keep within the budget allocated, a list of “future enhancements” and “version 2” ideas and options was created.
Instructional + Creative Design
When Spark + Co. joined the project mid-stream, there was a large amount of content that had been assembled, but it needed adaptation to an interactive online format. An overall flow for the course was developed and we identified where we could add some obvious interactivity to ensure that our learners weren’t just passively reading online content or watching a video. The course had to be more than thought-provoking. It was a vehicle for positive social change. We wanted our learners to do things differently, not just think differently.
As a result, many modules included worksheets and assessment activities, as well as scenarios for applying what they were learning. A section called the ‘change makers tool kit’ was created, containing tools for social change, workshop guides, social media conversation starters, and other outreach activities.
During the design phase, we look at the following:
- Instructional design (what activities will happen to transfer learning)
- Experience design (what’s the overall feeling associated with the training?)
- Visual design (what does it look like?)
By creating a storyboard we were able to weave together the illustrations that were already identified, and the emerging brand elements, to create an online course experience that was an extension of the brand.
The storyboard included
- sequence of content
- narrative writing of the story
- topics and a story arc
- activities for each topic to ensure all the learning objectives were covered
Build, Test + Modify
Once the instructional + creative design were established and the level of interactivity within the course modules was clear, we tackled the LMS (Learning Management System).
The Raffi Foundation had selected LearnDash, a WordPress plug-in as their learning platform. Spark + Co. worked with the web development team at Affinity Bridge and the Foundation team to understand and apply the features of the platform. Each LMS is different and knowing the capabilities and limitations is critical for success.
While we were developing an elearning course, it was important to include “offline” elements as well, including workbooks, tools, resources, and other materials that would support the behaviour change that was targeted. If our learners’ were going to do things differently, what tools could we provide that would enable that?
Working with the Raffi Foundation on the product aspect we showed them
- how to price the course
- how to position it
- what the key messages should be
- how to market the course
- how to increase sales for the course
From our experience we knew that we needed to launch a product, not just a course. We knew that the course should evolve with new features and functionality, with new versions targeting a different audiences, some with more in-depth learning. The product approach allowed us to work within the constraints and to generate feedback on the course to shape future products.
The completed elearning course was designed using Articulate Storyline 360 using LearnDash LMS, and consists of 12 modules. Within each module, there are
- Narrated slides
- Music clips
- Suggested activities
“Holly McDonald of Spark and Co. on Salt Spring was the course’s online architect and another key project partner.
‘She was wonderful to work with and as she went along in it she got excited about the breadth and she brought a lot to the course. Her supportive work was tremendous.
As you get going with a team of people, what you’re working on becomes far more than what you envisioned at the beginning.’
Raffi would ideally like to see the course become mandatory for all teachers in B.C. or in other jurisdictions, in the same way that all parents of youth enrolled in hockey in B.C. must take an online Respect in Sport course.”
Raffi – Child Honouring Founder. EXCERPT FROM MEDIA REPORT.
The elearning course was recently launched and the initial sign-ups are encouraging. As desired, the Raffi Foundation are generating revenue from the course. The Foundation is sparking conversations on social media, using the #ChildHonouring hashtag and supporting conversations across the country around mission-critical issues.