Tackling a sensitive subject

In a world where more and more of our lives are shared on social media, there are some subjects that are still hidden behind the curtain because they are a little difficult or uncomfortable to discuss. I loved working as part of the Cursim team at Omniplex; it gave me the privilege to work with a great range of clients across the globe, on a broad range of subjects, including sensitive subjects.

In 2017, I got to work on one of these subjects when Beyond the Pill (a programme of the Bixby Centre at the University of California, San Francisco) teamed up with Omniplex, and the Cursim team. The aim was to take a face to face presentation on contraceptive options, and transform it into a short, punchy digital resource for the college community at all of the UCSF campus.

The Beyond the Pill (BTP) team were great to work with, and really embraced the collaborative approach of the Cursim team. Our work started with a proposal, where the BTP team were considering using gamification in their approach. The graphic Designer, Tanzeel Ayub, came up with a great isometric design for this initial concept.

Meetings with the Client during this proposal phase helped me to truly investigate the key requirements for this project, and to support the BTP team to clarify what was most important for them going forward.

A redesign and rethink on our part was needed to create a concept much more appropriate to the subject and audience. A new concept was created, sized for mobile phones, to work in portrait mode only.

At this stage, we had a design that the client felt would work for them, so this is where my fun started, and I could begin to design the learning content. Working on this subject was an eye opener in many ways. There is so much information to share with our young adults, and I needed to share this information in a way that was simple and straightforward, whilst being easy to work through, and always informative. And who knew that finding appropriate images of contraception would be so tricky, especially when working in an open plan office where everyone can see your screen. Searching for images proved interesting, and i completely forgot that the google searches a carry out will affect adverts etc – so in Google Chrome, make an Incognito search your friend!
Note to Self: do those image searches on your work from home days – avoid some awkward conversations!!! and always make them Incognito!!!

Once the module was planned out and storyboard completed, the BTP team carried out a detailed review, and gave some fantastic clarity to what would and would not work with their audience. The team had a real in-depth knowledge of their audience, and were able to provide targeted feedback on areas that would need tweaks or rework. This knowledge and level of feedback was invaluable in the process of fine tuning the content. Your SMEs are your best resource when designing any piece of learning, and the level of knowledge and experience on the subject they bring to the party is just amazing. So when you have a group of SMEs who are also fully on board with the collaborative design and review process, the whole learning design and development project flows like a dream.

My storyboard was turned into reality by Muhammad Islam using Articulate Storyline. Muhammad has a truly creative mind, and could take my storyboard and really bring it to life with smooth animations and transitions throughout, always adding to and enhancing my content designs.

The BTP team were really proactive with their course implementation plans, and had a course pilot in place, where learners were taken through the module, and detailed feedback captured as they worked through the content. This provided great insights for the team, and gave a list of clear tweaks needed before the course could fully go live.

The project grew and evolved considerably over time, and if you look at our initial concept compared to the final product, the changes are amazing. For me, this project shows that having really informed SMEs really helps the design process

You can see a working demo of this course on the Omniplex website.
Click on the image to go there now.
Omniplex also have a case study for this client if you are interested, and you can give them a call to discuss in more detail.

I loved working on this project, and felt that I had played a great part in developing a resource that would prove invaluable to Beyond the Pill and the UCFS community. I ended the project by providing the team with some detailed guidance on how they could update the course themselves, providing template documents for some PDFs contained in the final section of the course.

Post go live, we know that the Beyond the Pill team made a version of the module for each UCFS campus, updating the course to provide fully customised healthcare data for the campus location.

So this may have been a sensitive subject to work on, providing some interesting challenges, but I found it hugely rewarding. Our work on this mobile learning could provide help to thousands of students by enabling them to make wise choices, and avoiding unwanted pregnancy. My discomfort when researching is short lived, but the impact for these young adults could be immense in the long term. I take pride in that!

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