This client needed a course on the topic of preventing sexual harassment. The existing instructor-led course was all text and bullet points; nothing to keep a learner awake. I decided I would figure out a way to make this course something that would draw learners in and get them interested; a good challenging when it comes to teaching company policy.
Here are some of the features I included in the course design, along with my reasons for including them and the benefits they provide.
1. A Guy You Can Believe In
At the top of the course I introduce our protagonist: Arlo. He’s a guy who would never think of himself as a policy-abusing, coworker-misusing bad guy; he’s just having a good time and trying to get everyone else to have fun, too.
Benefit: Here was my thinking: If I’m an employee, there’s really no point in paying attention to yet another sexual harassment course; I know the rules and I’m not going to violate them.So, as a learner, what would make me relate to someone who was sexually harassing people? If that person was basically good and had no clue he was doing it.
That’s when I created Arlo. I knew if I could present him as a good-willed person who unintentionally made mistakes, he’d be far more interesting to learners than someone painted with the broader and more common brush of “bad guy” in a harassment course.
More importantly, if I showed a person who feels he’s good but is still violating these policies, the learners – all of whom I’m sure see themselves as good people – might stop for a split second to wonder if maybe they could potentially be violating a policy without realizing it, just the way Arlo is. This was the benefit of Arlo.
2. Predictive Presentation
Rather than tell learners whether or not a particular scenario showed Arlo violating the sexual harassment policies, I show them the situations and let them guess whether or not policies are being violated.
Benefit: Since most learners are required to take this course each year, why not adapt it to different levels of understanding? If someone is new to the content, taking a guess lets them get involved and make a decision. If someone knows the policies inside and out, they get the satisfaction of showing what they know up front. Either way, learners get involved and make choices at their own level of understanding.
3. Graphically-Presented Stats
Not many learners are fans of having statistics rattled off at them, but since they need to at least be exposed to them (as opposed to memorize them) I made them graphically pleasing and relevant.
Benefit: Presenting these facts in a visual style consistent with the rest of the course makes them more relevant to learners. By using images of the same people who are getting harassed in our scenarios, it ties it together nicely.
4. Well-Illustrated Concepts and Case Studies
Rather than just give a definition of Quid Pro Quo harassment, for example, I created a scene to illustrate it.I also showed the case studies being played out in a series of scenes, rather than presenting them with just text or narration.
Benefit: By showing learners concepts in action, as opposed to reading about them or hearing a narration about them, the information is conveyed much more quickly and the learner is more likely to retain it.
Here’s a published sample of the course so you can get an idea of the tone, pacing, narration, and overall presentation as the learner sees it.
- Interesting Character and Point of View: It’s easy to get pulled into the content in an enjoyable way once you’re interested in a character and a situation. Our well-meaning sometime-harasser was just the right man for the job.
- Humor: I couldn’t stand the idea of creating a deadly-earnest sexual harassment course. It’s a serious topic, but it’s also fine fodder for carefully-crafted humor. And it works!
- Good Illustrations of Concepts and Scenarios: I illustrated concepts by showing people in real situations rather than just talking about them. Those details and visuals keep learners interested and engaged.
- Results: The client was so happy and excited about this course that they made promotional posters and emails using Arlo’s image, and it went over extremely well with learners.
- Instructional Designer: I designed the entire course. I chose to make it humorous, accessible, and easy for learners to pick up the concepts quickly.
- Course Developer: I developed it in Articulate Studio ’09.
- Writer: I left the wording of the policies and the details of the case studies intact, but I worked the rest of the content to make it flow better, be more conversational, and add interest.
- Visual Designer: I designed and developed all of the graphics.
- Voiceover Artist: That’s me!