Infectious disease outbreaks are not as rare an occurrence as Hollywood might imply. In fact, foodborne illness outbreaks are relatively common. Determining the cause and appropriate control measures for such outbreaks often involves multiple agencies within a state system, and can even attract national attention. In order to promote standardization and improve multiagency coordination, my client for this project developed a collection of protocols, templates, and references culminating in the ultimate resource: a Foodborne Illness Investigation Manual.
The issue: how could they get all participating agencies familiarized with the manual? And what about new hires; how would they get up-to-speed on protocols quickly? We decided that a web-based course was the best approach.
Incorporating branching scenarios allowed the learners to practice using the manual in response to realistic situations. Because much of disease investigation requires gathering information and deciding when to act (e.g., quarantine that contact!, shut down that restaurant!) branching scenarios allowed users to experiment and make mistakes. There are many subtleties associated with investigation and each case is different, so achieving a "perfect" outcome is less important than recognizing where to go for guidance and how to utilize team members.
Custom Graphics, engaging interactions, and realistic knowledge checks
Creating an online learning space that feels fresh and engaging is a real challenge. Especially when it comes to compliance training, where designers walk a line between keeping our learners' eyes from closing sleepily or rolling sardonically.
When I am in this situation I always hold two things paramount.
- Who is my audience and what is it they truly need to know? All 'good-to-knows' and 'cool-but-not-necessarys' are left out. This is compliance, remember? Brevity is key!
- Given the constraints imposed in #1, what would I like to experience if I was the audience? There's nothing wrong with a little zest and panache as long as it supports the content.
"This training was informative, easy to follow, and even entertaining. It provides a simple outline of the foodborne illness investigative process that anyone, expert or otherwise, can understand."
"Good overall training on various aspects of foodborne illness and investigation"
For this training I chose a bright color palette on a white background and tried to keep each frame as clear as possible. Adult learners like to explore for themselves, so I included plenty of opportunities to click for more information, visit relevant websites, or informally test knowledge.