There is nothing that sucks the life out of an instructional designer (or a learner!) quite like lengthy, organizational policies. But as Instructional Designers, we all find ourselves at one time or another in a place where we have a lengthy document in our hands and are told, “I need people to know about everything in this document.” And often, the documents are policies, procedures, or compliance related materials. Very important. Not very exciting! Our team recently faced this training challenge and were determined to make sure every learner found value as they were introduced to a litany of policies and procedures.
Recently one of our amazing clients, Pet Partners, was in the midst of launching a new sister organization, AAAIP. As part of AAAIP’s new member training, they needed to familiarize members with three documents: Standards of Practice, Code of Conduct, and Required Competencies for Interaction. One of the amazing things about our partnership with AAAIP, is that they not only care about their content but also about the learner experience. We were both committed to creating an eLearning that their learners would not only find engaging, but also useful and insightful as they learned about these three aspects of compliance.
We knew that we needed to do more than provide some kind of broad, shallow overview of these documents. Instead, we needed to get learners into each document for themselves, using them in a way that would teach them to value all three documents as a tool for future use. We also didn’t want the length of each of these documents to be a barrier for the learner. The ultimate goal was not to have people memorize everything on every page of these policy documents, but rather for the learners to see the value in each of the documents and continue to reference them in their future endeavors with this organization.
We began to think of creative ways that we could get learners into each document, right in the middle of the module, using them in a way that felt intentional and not overwhelming. Gamification seemed like a logical place for us to start.
Gamified Standards of Practice
For the first document, the Standards of Practice, we decided to create a game. A current favorite of my children, tic-tac-toe, came to mind. In Storyline, we created a tic-tac-toe game board (3X3 square) on a slide. Each square pulls up a layer slide with a scenario. On this layer slide, the learner sees a button that opens a lightbox containing the relevant portion of the Standards of Practice document. You read that right: the relevant portion! We don’t want to overwhelm the learner by asking them to search through a gigantic document. Instead, we provide the exact portion of the document where they can find the answer.
The learner’s goal is to find the answer to three scenarios in a row. This activity provides a way for the learners to become familiar with this document while using it in a very intentional way. Another fun aspect of this game is that if the learner is doing well, they get to move on after only a couple of questions—basically, they’re able to “test out”. Learners who struggle to grasp the standards of practice, or who fail to invest in the activity, will ultimately need to answer more questions than their peers in order to demonstrate proficiency in the policies.
Applying the Code of Conduct to Real World Scenarios
For the second document, the Code of Conduct, we created an activity based on the idea of swiping right or left to say “yay” or “nay”. In this game, the learner is presented with a statement from the Code of Conduct. Then, they are given an example from the real world. The learner’s job is to decide if the example aligns with the statement from the Code of Conduct by selecting a thumbs up or a thumbs down.
This game is a fun solution as the “levels” in the game are actually the various sections of the Code of Conduct. Additionally, learners are being exposed to the content from the entire Code of Conduct (in bite-sized portions) while immediately applying the content to a real-life situation.
Required Competencies Self-Assessment
For the third document, the Required Competencies, we created a self-assessment. This self-assessment provides a way for the learner to be exposed to each and every one of the required competencies while considering and assessing themself on areas where they are strong, growing, or needing improvement. At the end of each section of the self-assessment, they are shown their scorecard on that section. At the end of the full self-assessment, they are provided an overall score and shown resources to assist them as they look to grow in each specific competency area.
When we combined essential content, subject matter experts who are open to creative ideas, and a design team willing to try some different approaches, the result is an engaging and fun module exploring what can often be seen as dry and boring content! We feel confident that learners see the value in each of the three documents and will continue to use them as resources moving forward.
Visit Pet Partners to learn more about the invaluable work that they are doing to improve human health and well-being through the human-animal bond. If you are a health professional, therapist, educator, or other professional looking to responsibly integrate therapy animals into your practice, visit AAAIP to learn more.
If you’d like to learn more about something we did in this module or if you think you might be able to use some help turning your organization’s policies and procedures into a more engaging and effective learning experience, feel free to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.