In mental health courses, it can be very easy to select visual design elements from the extremes of the perception of the subject, being either dark or ominous (e.g. using only cooler colours like blues, images utilising silhouettes or lots of shadows, serious or blank expressions on characters) or very bright and up beat (e.g. comic style characters, using only very bright and warm colours, breaking down on screen elements to the point of childlike simplicity).
B Online Learning design and development of the “On-Site Insight” for the Australian Medical Association (WA). The content is primarily a resource for acknowledging and understanding mental health problems in a workplace environment. The Mental Health Awareness course is part of a broader workplace mental health program developed by the AMAWA. Called On-Site/Insight the program provides employers with the training, resources and expertise needed to launch a prevention focused mental health strategy within their organisation.
In this build it was important to be aware of such design pitfalls because, it was specifically part of the client brief and subsequently the content theme, to breakdown and dissolve the pre-conceptions and associated stigma attached to mental health issues in the general public. It would have been counterproductive therefore to use a visual style that evoked the very pre-conceptions we were designing to remove.
The visual design of the course is simple and elegant but so many times visual design can be influenced by pre-conceived notions and/or stigma’s around the subject matter.
Another design feature to help break down pre-conceptions goes beyond the visual and has been blended into the end user experience. This has been achieved making the user sit a quiz at the very start of their content journey. This quiz asks the user 10 questions covering the gambit of mental health information and in particular it focuses on posing questions where statistically facts and public perception are divergent.
As the user completes these quiz questions, they are given no immediate feedback to confirm or challenge their beliefs. But the responses, thanks to Storyline are recorded.
When the user reaches the end of the questions they are given some very high level feedback on how they went (they do not see the scores):
- Scores 0 – 4: Your quiz result indicates that your mental health awareness will be significantly improved by the end of this course.
- Scores 5 – 7: Your quiz result indicates that while your mental health awareness is good it will be improved by doing this course.
- Scores 8 – 10: Your quiz result indicates your mental health awareness is above average and that this course will help fill in a few gaps.
Following this general feedback the user can then access the body of the course which shows them through the different topics that the quiz touched on and provides them with the facts about that topic in a clear and concise manner and using both media elements such as video case studies and interactive elements to further highlight, challenge then correct the misconceptions and stigma attached to mental health and mental illness.
That’s all well and good, but we are not done with the quiz just yet, it really comes into its own at the end of the content. At this point the user is given their scores from the first attempt and if they got anything other than 100% they are asked to go back to review their responses and to change their response in light of what the module has taught them.
This second pass through the quiz now gives the user direct review feedback on why each answer is correct and the user is also kept in the quiz until all the answers are correct.
With the quiz working in this way the user is softly introduced to the focus areas for the course up front and also given some none specific feedback and gentle on their initial perceptions. At the end the quiz more directly outlines areas where the user was incorrect but also empowers them to adjust their answers and in essence re-affirm their new understanding of the facts.
And beyond all of this the capabilities within Articulate Storyline allow for both of the quiz results, both the initial and final result to be passed back to the LMS from which the course is being run. This feature has a twofold function, it firstly confirms completion but more importantly it allows the Australian Medical Association (WA), to report on the initial incorrect responses to the quiz. This in turn allows them to gather more data on mental health perceptions and in doing so target future revisions for this course and also to help develop additional targeted training where it is needed most, directly to that divergent area between fact and perception.
An excellent eLearning example of design and function working together.