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Featured Project:
Shelter Support Staff Success

Do you know how to handle stressful situations with SwitchPoint Shelter clients? 

This interactive project is a scenario-based e-learning experience designed to help employees learn how to de-escalate altercations with clients at the local city homeless shelter. 

Audience: The audience of this eLearning is new-hire shelter support staff. They are responsible for the clients that stay at the overnight homeless shelter. 

Responsibilities: Instructional Design, Action Mapping, Storyboarding, Graphic Design

Tools Used: Articulate 360 Storyline. Adobe XD, Microsoft Word, Vyond, Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Photoshop, WellSaid Labs, Mindmeister

Business Goal: This eLearning training aims to decrease client disciplinary actions by 50% by June 2024.

The Problem

There has been an increase in Shelter Support Staff filing disciplinary actions against clients who stay overnight at the SwitchPoint Shelter. Shelter Support Staff and clients who follow protocol are feeling stressed and unhappy. This type of environment is causing an increase in disciplinary actions filed against clients and a high turnover among the employed staff. 

The Solution

After sitting down with a subject matter expert and a former support staff employee, I realized this was an issue due to a need for more skills and knowledge among support staff members. Most staff tend to file disciplinary actions when clients lose their temper. This causes clients to get more upset and staff to feel more stressed. To fix this, I created a scenario-based e-learning where support staff members can practice dealing with unruly clients using a no-risk learning environment.

My Process

This e-learning project was a training I created for the non-profit SwitchPoint. I have worked for the non-profit for a year and have volunteered to use my instructional design skills to fix issues I have seen in the work environment. While this training is not officially being used by management, they are looking into incorporating instructional design to improve the common issues the company experiences.

I drew inspiration from Devlin Peck, a prominent freelance ​instructional designer, to create a scenario-based learning experience to showcase the skills necessary to develop engaging and practical training. I used the ADDIE model to work through this project until I felt confident in how it turned out.

Action Map

Cathy Moore's action mapping strategy helped me tremendously in creating a map/list of what actions needed to be prioritized for the business objective to occur. In this case, I did a training on how to decrease disciplinary actions by 50% by June 2024. 

I brainstormed with a subject matter expert to gather information to identify three of the most important actions to reach the business goal. After I consulted with the subject matter expert, I interviewed a former shelter support employee to see if the action map covered enough information. They shared pain points and what they saw in their former work environment that could be improved. 

After finalizing the meetings, I concluded that there was a skill and knowledge gap. The three priority actions that shelter support staff had to focus on were: empathizing with clients, expressing consequences, and walking away from violent situations.

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Text-Based Storyboard

After finalizing the action map and understanding what actions needed to be prioritized, I created a text-based storyboard by dividing each section with its slides and topics. This process was the most helpful tool when creating the e-learning training because it gave me a solid idea of how my training would look and function. The programming notes saved me about five hours once I built the training. 

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Visual Mockup/Prototype

I got SwitchPoint management to send me the company colors and logo for the visual mockup. I then created the buttons and mentor/aid buttons using Adobe Illustrator while implementing the five basic design principles. I worked with the subject matter expert to ensure the icons complied with company standards. I then created this visual with Adobe Photoshop to confirm that the training was ready for the prototype phase.  

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The final step before full development required me to create a visual prototype using ​Adobe XD. I used the visual mockup and the icons created to create a few scenes to get a perspective on how the training would flow. The process was exciting as I started to put all the brainstorming in the storyboard into a full-functioning prototype. I changed a few things during this phase, including each caption's script, colors, and longevity. After a few rounds of feedback, I changed the colors for the mentor slides. I was told there was not enough contrast and too many graphics to look at. The mentor slide was modified only to have a solid yellow background with a character and text box. 

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Full Development

The development phase was a fantastic learning experience. I worked primarily with Articulate Storyline to develop my prototype. I worked with Vyond to create the scenario video for each slide that the learner interacted with. I then added sound effects to reinforce the learner when they got answers correct, but also when answers were incorrect. Since this was scenario-based e-learning, my primary focus was teaching the learner the things "not to do" in the action mapping by portraying the consequences if they answered the quiz wrong. Providing "real-life" examples will stick with the learner longer than if the information was presented through text. Once the learner managed to get the right answer, the training was designed to let them move forward to the next scene. 

 

I did come across some problems in the training. I had an issue where I was adding too many slides to each scene. To remedy this issue, I worked with Articulate Storyline layers to clean up the slides and make the development flow easier. This saved me about two days' worth of slide creation. 

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Results and Takeaways

After completing this project, I presented the course to the subject matter expert and the former shelter support employee, who then passed it along to the regional director for further approval. The immediate response was how engaging and structured the training was. This was the first type of training they had seen for the nonprofit. They felt excited to see what further problems could be fixed with instructional design projects for other issues within the company.

I learned so much about instructional design with this project. The reiteration of this project will take place sometime during the summer of 2023 for further improvement before being used by the non-profit

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