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Asylum Guides Academy Online Training Platform

Designing a Learning Management System to facilitate online training of mental health support workers at national refugee organisations

Artefacts
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© 2021 JAYMIE GILL. BUILT IN WEBFLOW.

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Asylum Guides Academy Online Training Platform

Designing a Learning Management System to facilitate online training of mental health support workers at national refugee organisations

Overview

‘budgit’ is a money management app, providing digital banking tools and services that support Barclays customers with everyday banking

ROLE

Product Design (UI/UX), Service Design

CLIENT

Barclays x D&AD

TEAM

Solo project; completed alone, assumed roles of UX Researcher, Information Architect, UI and Interaction Designer

TIMELINE

2020-2021

ADDITIONAL ROLES

Animator & Motion Designer, Art Director, Brand/Product Strategy

Brief

Challenge

How might we help vulnerable customers with mental health issues manage their money better?

Problem

“Mental health issues affect 1 in 4 people. Money and mental health are often intricately linked. One problem can feed off the other, creating a vicious cycle of growing financial problems & worsening mental health that is hard to escape. Across England more than 1.5 million people are experiencing both debt & mental health problems.”

Business Goals


“Barclays recognises the relationship between mental well-being and managing your money and want to make banking a little bit easier by providing tools and support to help people manage their money better and, as a result, improve their mental well-being. Use technology and innovation to develop a new digital experience, service or tool that bridges the gap between money and mental health, and provides support to those who are vulnerable. Your idea should help those in need but also consider how it can benefit the wider Barclays 25 million customer base.

Approach

Discovery Phase


PRELIMINARY RESEARCH

Scoping The Problem

To better understand who I was designing for and why, I conducted research to scope the problem space surrounding the challenge, gathering facts around the relationship between mental health and finances. The goal was to gain insight into the challenges faced by those dealing with mind and money issues, as well as the narrative around banking and mental health. Being equipped with knowledge meant I could better approach user research with due diligence and empathy for the target audience and their problems, avoiding assumptions or personal experiences from influencing the design process.

Key Insight

Mental health and financial issues are often linked and compound each other in a vicious cycle of mind and money problems that is hard to break. This often stems from challenges with money management caused by mental health issues, making it harder to earn money, manage spending, and get support. Full discoveries and insights available in the project deck. Research Source: The Money & Mental Health Policy Institute.

ARTEFACT
USER RESEARCH

User Interviews

I conducted 12 user interviews, gaining individual and collective insights from participants into the relationship between their mental health and money management, as well as their views on Barclays’ current offerings in this domain. Participants shared unique perceptions, interpretations and experiences of their mind and money problems. Collectively, the consensus corroborated with preliminary research findings.

Define Phase


ANALYSIS

Interviews were conducted via video calls. The final questions split between two topics - mental health & money management and Barclay's tools & services. They can be read in my project research repository along with participant responses. Using thematic analysis, I coded the interview data, systematically categorising participant responses from which I identified common patterns & subsequent themes shared amongst the collective.


Quantified Qualitative Interview Data

In the artefact board below, you can see compiled research data. This came from coding the interview data, which I used to extract findings (such as pain points and other relevant discoveries) and derive insights. Quantifying the qualitative user research data helped to highlight relevant information and extract findings needed to reach research goals. From this, I created charts to organise and visualise the compiled interview data into measurable metrics used to interpret user research into findings.

Affinity Map

Creating an affinity map, I synthesised and reframed the raw research data into meaningful knowledge that was important and contextual to the challenge. Summarising  discoveries from preliminary and user research, I extracted key information, first deriving findings (pain points et al), and relevant discoveries from user research through links made between interview data and preliminary research findings; then, clustering extracted insights to make further connections through identified themes, used to define a user need statement. Notable quotes and research finding can found in the deck.

ARTEFACTS
SYNTHESIS

User Personas

To represent the target audience and get further clarity of who I was designing for and why, I created personas. This helped to better understand common frustrations, goals, and needs and acted as a point of reference when making informed design decisions throughout the design process.

Framing The Problem

Using research insights, I defined a user need statement to summarise the needs & goals of the target audience. Condensing my perspective of the problem provided a clear vision of what needed to be solved and helped to generate ideas with rationale (and acted as a metric of success)  in approaching ideation, ensuring I designed a solution for users, by users.

Reframing The Challenge

Having framed the problem with the user need statement, I defined a problem statement to reframe the original question posed by the design challenge. This inspired initial ideas and helped inform design decisions in ideation, ensuring that any potential solutions ideas explored aligned with user needs identified from insights.

ARTEFACT

Develop Phase


FURTHER RESEARCH & ANALYSIS

Before ideation, I revisited the brief and explored Barclays' brand and product ecosystem to dictate the scope for competitive analysis and help guide me towards designing a solution that met user needs and business goals. Further detail for all of the following can be found in the process deck.


Redefining Brief Business Goals

I analysed and redefined Barclays' business goals from the brief to give them more context based on primary research insights. This helped to approach ideation with design ideas that had a rationale, further informing and validating my design decisions. Doing so helped to focus the scope of my research into Barclays’ brand, heritage, and product ecosystem. Their business goals and defined criterion for the redefined goals can be found in the process deck.

Barclays Brand & Product Analysis

To approach ideation with ideas for delivery of potential solutions, I looked to see if and what Barclays currently offered to help customers manage their money. I analysed their Mobile Banking App, probing the UI and UX to extract design opportunities from links found between findings and research insights, expanding on and validating some of the user research discoveries.

ARTEFACT
COMPETITIVE ANALYSIS

I conducted competitive analysis to expand on discoveries and identify design opportunities that could help generate potential ideas for solutions.


Key Discovery

There was a gap in the market and challenger banks were the direct competitors in the scope of this design challenge, not Barclays' direct competitors (traditional banks).

Findings

None of the traditional banks’ apps offered money management features comparable to that of challenger banks. Direct competitor offerings were almost identical to that of Barclays, who didn’t offer many tools and services via their digital channels aside from advice & directing customers to external solutions. Based on this, I focused analysis on challenger bank apps, the goal being to identify their USP’s to see what they offer to help people manage their money that traditional banks didn't. Challenger bank apps offered an unparalleled user experience in comparison to traditional banking apps, providing a plethora of tools and services to help users with money management focused around spending and budgeting. From this, I identified design ideas for solutions that aligned with insights and user needs. Detailed findings can be read in process deck.

IDEATION

To deliver a justified solution based on research, I strategised the ideation process to design with focus, using research discoveries to reframe connections found between findings and insights, and subsequent research synthesis, relevant to ideation.

I created a framework to define a criterion that all facets of the solution design needed to deliver upon and embody in solving the problems of the target audience. Defining the framework informed and validated my ideas, helping to question the rationale of my design decisions to determine if they were justified in the context of the challenge, and aligned with user needs and business goals.

Solution

The solution needed to help vulnerable customers with mental health issues manage their money better to deliver on the design challenge and meet business goals. I revisited why there was a need for a solution to begin with, defining a clear goal of what it would aim to achieve at its core: to reduce the friction between mind and money. Combining this with Barclays' campaign, "make money work for you", I created a tagline for the solution "made for you in mind".

A vicious cycle of mind and money problems was, at scale, the root of the target audience's problem, and the design challenge, that caused the need for a solution, so it needed to embody empathy for users in form and function. The goal of facilitating better money management was to remedy this and the subsequent challenges vulnerable customers faced between mind and money through empowering them to gain control over their finances and encouraging financial moderation to help towards making intentional financial choices. In doing so, facilitating financial stability, through the support of a solution, could lead to proactivity and eventual sustenance, and ultimately compound to improve the mental and financial health of the target audience.

MVP

Collectively, ideas for solutions fell under the umbrella of money management, so I combined them into a single solution where they could co-exist in implementation via a 'money management hub' feature that would house and deliver multiple solutions (tools and services) to solve user problems.

From this came an MVP of the solution; a money management hub with a contextual feature set within the current Barclays' Mobile Banking App. The 'hub' would migrate the existing (and redesigned) tools on offer to make them easier to find and more accessible to vulnerable customers, and add new tools and services based on user needs.

Multiple features within the solution would facilitate a trifecta of spending management activities (control, track and maintain) I'd defined from research to help vulnerable customers manage their money better. Collectively, they’d work in unison to facilitate initiation and sustenance of money management for users through controlling, maintaining, and tracking their money in one place.

Control spending with budgeting, track money with insights, and maintain finances with new and enhanced tools and services, all of which would be abundant in options to give users optimal control over managing their money in ways that work for them individually.

ARTEFACT
FINAL SOLUTION

To implement the MVP within Barclays' current app, the information architecture needed to be restructured. The hub idea, and it’s tools/services, were on the right track, but rationale for the solution was missing without making changes to the surrounding user experience of the Mobile Banking app and redesigning it’s infrastructure to justify implementation of the hub wasn't viable given my constraints.

Instead, I created a new Barclays product; a money management app providing digital banking tools and services, designed from the ground up with user needs in mind. The money management features from the MVP 'hub' were the core foundation upon which it would be built, providing solutions (tools and services) for users, by users, delivered in one package created to remedy their problems.

Revisiting research helped to validate the rationale for creating a new app. Barclays has a heritage, brand and an existing and loyal customer base of millions who trust them with the safety of their money, which is a hurdle for fintech offerings. There is uncertainty around digital banks, given the infancy of the industry, and people have concerns around the safety of their finances and information, some feeling both are more secure with traditional banks. Barclays could provide their array of banking services with a contender product where challenger banks offerings were limited in comparison.

DESIGN SYSTEM

The app design was a derivation of Barclays’ pingit app, which aligned with the design criterion and research, validating the decision for it to be the blueprint and vessel for delivery of the solution.

I emulated and iterated upon it's UI, recreating pingit’s style guide (and anything that may have been a part of its pattern library) using Barclays’ digital channels and recreating assets from app screenshots, so that 'budgit' looked and felt familiar to customers, and could be a viable addition to Barclays’ product offerings.

Accessibility was paramount when designing the UI. Some user needs stemmed from issues around usability impeding those with access needs from independently manage their money. Through Googling, I found Barclays' User-Centered & Inclusive Design Guidelines, using them to adhere to accessible design patterns and principles.

INFORMATION ARCHITECTURE

When defining the infrastructure of budgit, the goal was to simplify the anatomy and optimise user flow to facilitate easy and frictionless access to support and tools, helping users manage their money with as little barrier to entry as possible and facilitating adaptivity in accommodating their needs.

I defined the top-level information architecture, segregating the MVP features out of a single menu which were accessed via forward navigational direction. These were moved and became parent menus, accessed via lateral navigational direction.

I designed the rest of the app infrastructure using MVP & MoScOw notes, creating site maps to establish content hierarchy and navigational structure of, and between, the parent menus.
I mapped out the logic of user journeys by reverse-engineering user flows for each feature. To make the experience user friendly, I organised and structured features into groups, merging related tasks into modals as child pages (rather than separate menus/screens) to minimise the steps it would take for a user to complete a task and avoiding hiding vital tools and services behind unnecessary taps.

ARTEFACTS

FINAL SOLUTION

To implement the MVP within Barclays' current app, the information architecture needed to be restructured. The hub idea, and it’s tools/services, were on the right track, but rationale for the solution was missing without making changes to the surrounding user experience of the Mobile Banking app and redesigning it’s infrastructure to justify implementation of the hub wasn't viable given my constraints.

Instead, I created a new Barclays product; a money management app providing digital banking tools and services, designed from the ground up with user needs in mind. The money management features from the MVP 'hub' were the core foundation upon which it would be built, providing solutions (tools and services) for users, by users, delivered in one package created to remedy their problems.

Revisiting research helped to validate the rationale for creating a new app. Barclays has a heritage, brand and an existing and loyal customer base of millions who trust them with the safety of their money, which is a hurdle for fintech offerings. There is uncertainty around digital banks, given the infancy of the industry, and people have concerns around the safety of their finances and information, some feeling both are more secure with traditional banks. Barclays could provide their array of banking services with a contender product where challenger banks offerings were limited in comparison.

DESIGN SYSTEM

The app design was a derivation of Barclays’ pingit app, which aligned with the design criterion and research, validating the decision for it to be the blueprint and vessel for delivery of the solution.

I emulated and iterated upon it's UI, recreating pingit’s style guide (and anything that may have been a part of its pattern library) using Barclays’ digital channels and recreating assets from app screenshots, so that 'budgit' looked and felt familiar to customers, and could be a viable addition to Barclays’ product offerings.

Accessibility was paramount when designing the UI. Some user needs stemmed from issues around usability impeding those with access needs from independently manage their money. Through Googling, I found Barclays' User-Centered & Inclusive Design Guidelines, using them to adhere to accessible design patterns and principles.

INFORMATION ARCHITECTURE

When defining the infrastructure of budgit, the goal was to simplify the anatomy and optimise user flow to facilitate easy and frictionless access to support and tools, helping users manage their money with as little barrier to entry as possible and facilitating adaptivity in accommodating their needs.

I defined the top-level information architecture, segregating the MVP features out of a single menu which were accessed via forward navigational direction. These were moved and became parent menus, accessed via lateral navigational direction.

I designed the rest of the app infrastructure using MVP & MoScOw notes, creating site maps to establish content hierarchy and navigational structure of, and between, the parent menus.
I mapped out the logic of user journeys by reverse-engineering user flows for each feature. To make the experience user friendly, I organised and structured features into groups, merging related tasks into modals as child pages (rather than separate menus/screens) to minimise the steps it would take for a user to complete a task and avoiding hiding vital tools and services behind unnecessary taps.

ARTEFACTS, DELIVERABLES & PROTOTYPES

Outcome

Introducing 'budgit', a new addition to the Barclays Digital ecosystem

Mental health issues can make it harder to earn, manage and spend money as well as ask for help, often causing unintentional financial difficulties that create a vicious cycle of compounding mind and money issues, making it hard to manage money and mental well-being.

Made with vulnerable customers in mind, and built to be an experience accessible to all, budgit is a money management app that empowers and encourages customers to control, maintain, and track their spending.

Customers can get control of their money with a budget, gain awareness of their spending habits with insights, and access tools that assist them with financial management.

Mental health is often the cause of financial difficulty and can affect anyone at any time. With budgit, Barclays can help millions of customers be financially proactive and support those who are most vulnerable with pre-emptive safeguards that lessen the friction between mind and money.

Offering adaptive & accommodating digital banking tools and services, budgit supports vulnerable customers with everyday banking, helping them manage their money better, and in doing so, improve their mental & financial health.

PRODUCT DEMO

CONTROL

LIMIT
Helping customers limit their everyday spending so they can manage their money better
ALLOCATE
Customers can choose and track where their income goes to help audit their finances

AUDIT
Review where their money goes to help customers with financial goals; saving money, clearing debts and planning for the future

MAINTAIN

ACCESSIBLE
Providing adaptive and accommodating tools and services to support customers who need help managing their money

CENTRALISED
All the tools and services customers need, in one place, to maintain management of their spending and make everyday banking easier

PROACTIVE
Supporting customers with taking the steps they need help with to get some balance back with their finances

TRACK

SIMPLE
Detailed breakdowns of finances made simple, helping customers make informed decisions to manage their money better
CURATED
Holistic knowledge into finances, providing insights and suggestions based on spending habits, budget progress, and account activity

HISTORIC
Track and compare metrics with historic financial data and frequent overviews of weekly and monthly spending, budgeting, and account activity

Find me online

© 2021 JAYMIE GILL. BUILT IN WEBFLOW.

Web

Asylum Guides Academy Online Training Platform

Designing a Learning Management System to facilitate online training of mental health support workers at national refugee organisations

Overview

Asylum Guides Academy is an online learning platform that facilitates digitally training volunteers at refugee organisations into becoming trained support workers who can help provide rapid aid to asylum seekers with their mental wellbeing and healthcare needs throughout their asylum journey


ROLES & RESPONSIBILITIES

Product Design (UI/UX), Service Design

I was involved in every phase of the design process, assuming multiple roles across research and development of the solution. - Facilitating workshops, planning and preparing research, designing discussion guides, conducting stakeholder and user interviews, conducting research during discovery and ideation, analysing and synthesising research data, presenting artefacts to stakeholders, liaising with client and stakeholders, wireframing and prototyping, user interface design, usability testing, assisting client with content strategy, assisting with solution implementation.

CLIENT

Asylum Guides & Refugee Action UK

TEAM (SIDELABS)

Jaymie Gill (UI/UX Designer), Andy Bell (Project Manager), Noam Sohachevsky (UI/UX Designer)

TIMELINE

Nov 2020 - Feb 2021

ADDITIONAL ROLES

Front-End Development

Brief

CHALLENGE

How might we help national refugee organisations meet the increasing demand for rapid mental health support that asylum seekers need?

ABOUT THE CLIENT

The Asylum Guides programme is used by refugee organisations to train volunteers into becoming support workers who can assist in helping asylum seekers with their mental wellbeing, and overall healthcare needs whilst they integrate into society and navigate the asylum system. It is also used by existing staff to continue learning and development in their role.

SIDELABS partnered with Asylum Guides to design and implement a fully-featured online learning platform that delivered their training programme, enabling volunteers from refugee organisations to efficiently and securely train into becoming accredited refugee support workers and facilitating meeting their need for more support capacity during COVID-19.

PROBLEMS

Refugees face many challenges, one of which is their mental wellbeing, due to issues stemming from traumas linked to being forced to leave their country to escape war, persecution, or natural disaster.

The Asylum Guides programme exists as a tool to help refugee organisations gain the ability and capacity to support asylum seekers who need immediate aid with the cause and effect of their mental health problems as they move from their home country and go through the asylum process of finding a place they can call the same in the UK.

CHALLENGE

During COVID-19, national refugee organisations struggled to support the increasing numbers of asylum seekers needing help with their mental wellbeing due to the existing reduced capacity of trained support workers (called 'Guides'), and lack of resources to adapt in meeting heightened demand as a result of the pandemic.

Increasing numbers of volunteers came forward to support the operations of refugee organisations during the pandemic. However, due to the highly sensitive and complex nature of the support that organisations provide to refugees, volunteers needed to complete the Asylum Guides training programme to be recruited as accredited refugee support workers who could steadfastly provide mental wellbeing assistance to asylum seekers; a core need the organisations exist to address. Completion of the programme also proves the competency to be able to deliver adequate and accurate wellbeing support that complies with relevant legal frameworks and national health guidelines.

The problem? Refugee organisations were not able to train volunteers during the pandemic as the format of the Asylum Guides programme was paper-based and built to be dependant on face-to-face one-to-one delivery, and there was no digital infrastructure in place to supplement the lack of ability, and trainer capacity, to facilitate secure and efficient volunteer training during the lockdown.

IMPACT

As a result of already lacking resources, and heightened demand being further impacted by issues caused by COVID, refugee organisations were unable to adapt to additional challenges they faced with reaching and supporting asylum seekers in need during the pandemic. The cause for these challenges came in part from not having enough capacity to support service beneficiaries. Subsequently, not having enough internal stakeholders meant they also couldn't deliver the F2F-dependent Asylum Guides training programme to enough volunteers that could have met the demand for their support services.

The impact of lacking an alternative infrastructure to train volunteers during lockdown caused prolonged delays and contributed to a complete lack, of refugees receiving rapid support. Refugee organisations found this led to adverse consequences to their service users already-fragile state of mental health that often resulted in potentially life-threatening circumstances. This included asylum seekers going missing, remaining or becoming homeless, suffering from addiction, being victim to abuse, self-harming and, potentially, even taking their own life.

Business Need

“We recognise the relationship between training and support is severely impaired, even more so due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We want to help ease the strain on services offered to asylum seekers by the organisations we serve with our programme, in helping them support refugees manage and maintain their mental well-being on their asylum journey. Our core need is development of a digital experience, service or tool that allows for delivery of our programme at a much larger scale so that the refugee organisations we exist to serve are able to support those who are most vulnerable in society."

Proposal

Inability to facilitate remotely and asynchronously training the increasing numbers of volunteers was an immediate cause for reduced support capacity and related challenges faced by all involved stakeholders. We proposed a digital training solution was needed to rapidly close the gap between the ability and time taken to train volunteers. It would help mitigate causing or worsening the problems that asylum seekers faced with their mental wellbeing resulting from the issues refugee organisations are facing with providing them access to support.

Discovery Phase


Kickoff Workshops

We kicked off the project with inquiry workshops, both internally and with Asylum Guides. The goal was to understand the problem as much as possible and gather as much information as we could about the underlying cause so that we would be in the best position to design a solution.

During the workshops, we'd learned that the Asylum Guides team had already articulated a solution internally. They expressed that the need to address the problem was "a way to deliver the training programme digitally". Our goal at SIDELABS was to design the right solution that would achieve this. This meant meeting the needs of all stakeholders in designing an optimal and viable digital learning platform that delivered the Asylum Guides training programme and doing so within the constraints of Asylum Guides' resources.

We, at SIDELABS, and the Asylum Guides team cross-functionally collaborated at the start of (and throughout) the project; to make decisions, understand challenges, communicate goals and motivations they had around solving the problem, define stakeholder roles and responsibilities, meet other involved parties and foster relationships with people at refugee organisations, set expectations and define constraints for the digital training programme.

Hypothesis

From our kickoff workshops, we discussed with the Asylum Guides team what success would look like. Together, we created a hypothesis that helped set a vision and define a mutual positive outcome: "We assume that facilitating digital delivery of the Asylum Guides training programme will increase service capacity available at refugee organisations and, as a result, decrease adversely impacting the mental wellbeing challenges faced by asylum seekers seeking support."

Stakeholder Interviews

To get a deeper understanding of the Asylum Guides organisations goals, needs, and challenges, we conducted stakeholder interviews with their Training Programme Developers to elaborate on our findings from the group kickoff sessions. From this, we gained further insights that helped inform our design process, some of which heavily influenced the overall vision of the solution to be delivered, and our subsequent planning and conducting of user research.

Key Insight

In speaking to key members of the Asylum Guides Programme Development team, we learned that the training programme had multiple use cases and was being used to train a variety of stakeholders who worked in different service user support roles at refugee organisations, not just volunteers.

Therefore, although the immediate need for digital delivery of the training programme stemmed from COVID-19 and a subsequent need to train more volunteers to help refugee organisations provide more support to asylum seekers, in the bigger picture, post-pandemic, Asylum Guides wanted the solution to facilitate changing the overall programme delivery permanently.

The solution wasn't to be temporary, as to supplement face-to-face one-to-one training of only volunteers during the pandemic. It was to replace the programme's existing physical delivery format and facilitate digital learning for all internal stakeholders across different support roles at refugee organisations. In addition to solving the core, it would also demonstrate adopting modern ways of working to set a precedent for the UK social sector which severely lacks the funding and resources to implement much-needed digital infrastructures.

Project Scope

During discovery of the root problem and understanding what Asylum Guides wanted to achieve, several goals and challenges were shared with us around time and budget, as well as relevant sector-wide challenges around lack of capacity and resources, and digital skills and infrastructures. We extracted insights from the findings and framed them in context to help define project and solution constraints that we used to help guide our decision making in meeting Asylum Guides' needs.

Constraints

Asylum Guides had a lack of time and budget. This influenced our approach and decisions throughout the design process. Due to the high stake consequences of the problem, and additional strain caused by COVID response increasing the urgent need for a solution, the initial timescale to launch was very tight. With financial constraints, low capacity, and other commitments adding to the challenges they faced from the core problem, it proved to be difficult to get the project completed within Asylum Guides' initial deadline.

We understood it was critical to facilitate stakeholders being able to train as quickly as possible so they could provide mental health support to asylum seekers, so we worked with Asylum Guides to establish a realistic roadmap. Together, we set flexible sprint deadlines that leveraged an iterative approach to design, development, and delivery of the solution so that we could build it for refugee organisations, and implement it as efficiently as possible.

Collaboration

We also worked together to clearly define ownership, roles, and responsibilities for specific parts of the project. An example of a key decision made during project kickoff was around content strategy. As were we designing a solution to deliver the Asylum Guides programme digitally, it was important to make decisions around who would be involved with content strategy, specifically around the process of digitising the existing analogue-format of the training programme.

Due to the sensitive nature and purpose of the training content, and to ensure it was not altered or edited in transitioning the programme to a digital format, the Asylum Guides Programme Development Team owned content strategy on the project. However, they expressed concerns with a lack of capacity and skills to do this efficiently enough to have it prepared for implementation of the solution. To help them, and ourselves, get the solution to users as soon as we could, we dedicated some of our team to assist with auditing and converting the content of their existing paper-based training materials into a digital-ready and friendly format.

ARTEFACT

RESEARCH

The project kickoff sessions and interviews with stakeholders at Asylum Guides informed our research goals which centred around gathering data from multiple stakeholder perspectives at refugee organisations. We wanted to gain insights that would facilitate holistically approaching exploration of the solution so that we could design a digital programme that served all users and use cases. This included volunteers, support workers and trainers (called 'Guides') and management at refugee organisations. This ensured that our design decisions were informed with all stakeholders and Asylum Guides long-term vision in mind, catering to both user and organisational needs and goals.

Goals

Based on our research plan, we picked research activities and methods that would help us best gather the information we needed to understand and empathise with all prospective users of the digital training solution. Put broadly, we wanted to:
• Understand the goals, needs, behaviours and challenges of stakeholders working at nationwide refugee organisations, specifically in regards to delivering and/or receiving training via the Asylum Guides Programme
• Discover how other types of organisations in the social sector train their internal stakeholders in service of helping vulnerable communities, and explore how organisations in other sectors effectively facilitate digital learning for their stakeholders

User Research

We conducted interviews with a variety of stakeholders, all of whom worked at, or for, refugee organisations supporting asylum seekers with their mental health, and were going to be core users of the solution.

We spoke to all prospective users, including different types of stakeholders and internal SME's, as our goal was to gain as much insight as we could into their role-specific use cases of the Asylum Guides programme. We wanted to understand what about the existing paper-based delivery of the training programme worked well and didn't.

From this, we gained insights into how to best deliver the Asylum Guides Programme digitally, helping us design an optimal solution that met the goals and needs of all stakeholders.

It would have been ideal to have observed the existing delivery format of the programme via contextual inquiry. The ability to see a true-to-nature demonstration of how stakeholders performed one-to-one face-to-face training perhaps would have uncovered insights and opportunities we were not able to acquire as a result of the pandemic limiting our methods of gathering qualitative research data to remote interviews.

User Interviews

We interviewed different types of users within the target audience:
• Refugee Volunteers - stakeholders who offer to assist refugee organisations with helping asylum seekers and are trained using the Asylum Guides programme to become support workers
• Refugee Support Workers - stakeholders ('Guides') who use the programme to train volunteers and assess their learning, and also continue their own development via self-initiated role-relevant training
• Refugee Organisation Management - stakeholders who oversee delivery of training using the programme, track and assess internal stakeholder learning and progression, and liaise with the Asylum Guides organisation to contribute to programme material development and delivery

We asked questions that helped us gain a deep understanding of the different role-specific learning and training experiences with the existing format of the Asylum Guides programme. The findings helped articulate individual and collective training-related goals, needs, and challenges, helping us understand how this impacted their learning and abilities to support organisation service users. The findings also informed the direction of our competitive analysis.
Amongst participants, the SME's we spoke with were able to best communicate the at-scale sector-wide impact of the challenges caused by lack of digital training infrastructure and advocated for internal stakeholders needs' in best supporting service users.

Competitive Analysis

Through our user research discoveries, we identified some initial design opportunities which directed our focus when looking into what other organisations within the social sector were doing around stakeholder training. It also informed our decision to look into digital training at scale, to see how similarly relevant organisations in other sectors facilitated stakeholder learning.

Our analysis focused on training infrastructures - specifically what formats, tools and environments were being used to deliver training, if and how they facilitated optimal ways of learning and the subsequent impact on all stakeholders, both user and business. The goal was to identify what a successful digital training solution looked like and find potential design opportunities that would help us make decisions that met both business and user needs. These findings guided our exploration of digital education when we ideated solutions during the Develop phase.

Key Findings

• The social sector has not adapted to modern ways of working. Organisations do not have any digital resources, specifically for training, due to a sector-wide lack of digital infrastructure caused by lack of funding and resources, and also in part due to intergenerational stakeholders lacking digital skills and general apprehension to change.
• Organisations across different sectors who have successful digital training infrastructures have bespoke learning environments built primarily using learning management systems. These training solutions facilitate optimal use of resources (time, money) and impact (efficiency, effectiveness) for both organisations and their stakeholders.


ARTEFACT

Define Phase


RESEARCH ANALYSIS AND SYNTHESIS

Through thematic analysis, we synthesised our discoveries, distilling our research data into pain points, insights and user needs. Interviewing all involved stakeholders, from Asylum Guides to the end service users of the solution at refugee organisations, gave us a holistic understanding of the core problem and how its challenges impact their ability to support the beneficiaries they all exist and collaborate to serve - asylum seekers.


Pain Points

Here are some of our key findings, highlighting both individual and collective challenges faced by all groups of stakeholders we interviewed:
• Not enough stakeholders available across refugee organisations to deliver training to volunteers
• The limited number of stakeholders who can deliver training are time-poor as well as shared by organisations across the sector, causing further challenges
• Delivery of the same training programme is not standardised across different refugee organisations, making learning inconsistent, unstructured and disorganised, as is the training itself
• Stakeholders find the paper-based format of the training programme makes learning disengaging, time-consuming and out-of-date
• Front-loaded learning causes a disconnect between training and real-world application
• The training programme is built to be delivered face-to-face and one-to-one, ruling out the possibility of group training and collaborating
• Dependence on stakeholders to deliver training has made it hard to ensure that teaching styles and expertise are universally consistent
• Stakeholders have no way of seeing or tracking their learning and development
• Learning materials in the programme are not easily updatable, sometimes not role-specific or relevant and do not cater to different independent learning needs
• Stakeholders cannot independently train when it's convenient for them
• Diverse and intergenerational recruitment that could better support service beneficiaries has been limited by programme delivery and content constraints
• Issues around data and safeguarding, as well as a lack of digital skills and sufficient capacity, didn't allow for using temporary digital solutions to supplement training during COVID (such as remotely via Zoom)

Insights

We framed our key discoveries which helped us identify opportunities for design and clarify the needs of the end user-segment. Some of the insights we uncovered that helped inform our design decisions during ideation included:
• Lack of standardised training content and delivery produces inconsistent learning outcomes
• Absence of independent learning facilities induces and exacerbates the strain on stakeholder and organisational capacity and resources
• Generic training experiences disincentivizes learning development, ownership and engagement
• Individualised training delivery impedes peer-to-peer collaboration and fostering community
• Inability to cater to different learning needs and preferences causes deficits in stakeholder diversity
• Lack of stakeholder involvement and autonomy from inconvenient and non-progressive approaches to learning decreases training effectiveness and efficiency

User Need Statement

We framed the problem with a user need statement to define the core need and goal: Refugee organisations need a digital learning infrastructure that facilitates efficient and effective stakeholder training so that they can gain the capacity required to meet the increasing demand of asylum seekers needing the mental health support services they provide.

Framing The Problem

Using our kickoff insights and user need statement, we reframed our initial 'How Might We' to ensure our exploration of solutions during the Develop phase aligned with user and organisational needs. How might we transform delivery of the Asylum Guides training programme to optimise learning at refugee organisations?

ARTEFACTS

SYNTHESIS


User Personas

Using all our research, we created personas to represent the stakeholders we interviewed. Several personas covered various types of stakeholders at different refugee organisations, two of which amongst the group we identified as the primary users of the solution - volunteers and support workers. This clarified who we were designing for and why and acted as a point of reference to make informed design decisions with the specific target audience of the end-user segment in mind throughout the design process.

User Journey Map

Through our research, we discovered that both personas had different uses cases for the solution and that both user groups had unique and shared core needs and pain points when learning and training. We wanted to understand the differences and similarities across the journeys of both personas. The goal was to gain a holistic perspective of who, why and how the solution would be used.

To help narrow our scope before starting to explore solutions, we created future-state user journey maps for each persona. We mapped out the ideal learning and training experiences of volunteers and support workers respectively, based on assumptions from our research data.

From this, we were able to see at what touch-points their prospective journeys would intersect when using the solution. This helped us gain a deeper understand of their individual and collective goals and challenges, and in doing so, address both by identifying design opportunities that catered to the needs and uses cases of both user groups. This helped guide us towards ideating optimal and viable training solutions that worked for all users and use cases.

ARTEFACTS

Develop Phase


Feature Prioritisation

To kick off ideation, we did a MoScOw exercise to prioritise the features the solution needed to have to deliver a justified solution that met all stakeholders needs. This exercise helped us define what, and how, the solution needed to deliver in solving the problem, and guided our exploration towards researching digital education solutions. It also acted as our guide in questioning the rationale of our design decisions when we began building the solution, helping us validate whether what we were doing aligned with user needs and business goals.

Exploring Digital Education Solutions

Through a series of collaborative design workshops, we explored digital education, looking at different types of online platforms used for eLearning and training environments. Based on our research, learning management systems were the standard solutions for digital education. We did a series of workshops exploring LMS's, weighing up the pros and cons against user and organisational needs to decide which type, platform and vendor would be viable and best serve the needs of all stakeholders involved.

1. Choosing The Solution

LMS's enable building custom educational environments that allow for simplified, accessible, efficient and integrated learning with core functionalities (digital administration, documentation, delivery, and progress tracking) that are made to optimise stakeholder training. Through weighing up our options from exploration, it was evident that a learning management system was the optimal and viable digital training solution for several reasons, benefits including:
• Accessing learning on the go, independent and 24/7
• Makes learning engaging and promotes active learner development
• Flexibility in learning pathways to deliver personalised training
• Providing a variety of adaptable learning materials
• Automating training and learning
• Analysing learning habits and progression
• Catering to individual learner needs
• Cost-effective for all stakeholders
• Incentivised and blended learning
• Equal and consistent training for all stakeholders
• Ongoing and iterative approach to learner development
• Online grading, progression tracking and accreditation
• Compliance of organisational information policies

An LMS provided the flexibility and adaptability to design a custom digital training infrastructure that transformed programme delivery for Asylum Guides and optimised learning at refugee organisations. It allowed for building a bespoke platform that catered to the goals and needs of all involved stakeholders.

ARTEFACTS

2. Comparing LMS Options

We did further workshops where we explored the several types of learning management systems available and compared the distinctions between them. Evaluating the available LMS options took deep analysis of all the features and benefits each one provided. Choosing the right learning management system was key to designing a justified solution.

When weighing up our options, we made informed decisions based on what would be best suited for Asylum Guides' organisational needs and goals and which types of LMS would allow us to build a solution that met them. Core to this decision making was the speed of building and implementation, and cost-effectiveness, due to organisational and sector constraints.

We evaluated each type of LMS by comparing involved costs, pricing models, customisation, scalability, ease of setup, administration and maintenance, ease of user experience and overall usability, feature capabilities, speed of deployment, accessibility, backup and security protocols and more.

3. Choosing A Cloud-Based LMS

Of all the LMS options available, a cloud-based platform proved to be beneficial, where other types were challenges, in meeting Asylum Guides needs and goals; all whilst allowing us to build a custom educational environment that would meet all user needs too, making it the best option for building the solution.

In meeting all stakeholder needs, some of the cloud-based LMS's offerings included:
• Low build and implementation costs
• Ongoing cost predictability
• Accessible any time, from any device, anywhere
• Built-in Enhanced data security and high storage space
• Improved accessibility and user friendly
• Fast deployment
• Easy administration, maintenance and management
• Customisable and scalable environment
• Online and offline access
• Scalability for future-proofing and expansion
• Environment customisation for organisation branding
You can see the analysis behind our rationale in the artefacts below.

Rationale Behind Other Options Explored

We decided against other types of LMS's (e.g. traditional on-site open-source) mainly due to the significant investment of time and money required to design, build and implement, and then maintain, and manage them. We were working with a tight budget, a lack of time given the need to rapidly deploy the solution, as well as a lack of stakeholder digital literacy and other constraints that informed our decision making when comparing types of LMS.

With a lack of organisational resources and capacity (namely people and budget), the other options were not viable or optimal given the administration and maintenance costs required (hosting fees, server setup, ongoing tech support and more). Most other types of LMS's required a dedicated IT team and a host of other protagonists to manage and maintain them. Asylum Guides did not have the resources to facilitate this nor envisioned being able to assemble the in-house capacity needed to facilitate a local LMS solution in the foreseeable future, a sentiment shared across the social sector.

Additionally, an initially small user base for the solution (in the context of the size of the organisation and social sector) meant, in addition to the lack of resources needed to do so, it was not justifiable in the immediate term to build a self-hosted LMS for the digital training platform.

4. Choosing The LMS Platform

We explored and compared recommended cloud-based LMS platforms for nonprofit organisations, narrowing down options by making sure the platforms were both viable and optimal in meeting Asylum Guides' needs and end-user needs.

Below are some of the platform feature criteria we used to make our decision:
• Customisable tools and learning hub for organisation branding, UI language translation etc
• Tools to build custom learning environments
• Collaboration tools to foster community learning (e.g. discussions, forums and chat)
• Built-in tools and resources that help administrators to develop course lessons, materials, activities, and assessments
• Tools to create course content and libraries that are easily updatable and organised based on learning paths and topics
• Low monthly cost, high storage and 24/7 technical support
• Offers dynamic and automated content management
• Reporting and analytics features to evaluate the impact of training and enable content optimisation
• User-friendly UI, mobile-ready and accessibility friendly
• Tools for course and user management, including course information, and learner activities

We picked 'MoodleCloud' by Moodle an open-source cloud-based LMS that proved to be the best option amongst our analysis of platforms that met the above feature criteria, which you can see in the artefacts below.

Content Strategy

As decided during kickoff, Asylum Guides took responsibility for content strategy due to the sensitive nature and purpose of their programme. We helped them audit and convert their existing paper-based training materials into content that was digital-ready and friendly for implementation into the LMS.

The goal was to help them actualise their vision for the programme and make it something that catered to all users in giving them the best learning experience possible. We did this using our research findings to optimise the content, helping Asylum Guides align the relevancy and context of the programme materials and moulding them to fit different formats of delivery for learning within the LMS.

Planning, development and management of content was worked on in phases throughout the project, iterating as we built and tested different versions of the solution to make sure delivery of learning was as best it could be for different use cases and user needs.

ARTEFACTS

USABILITY TESTING

We conducted usability testing with a small group of users to continually iterate and improve the solution whilst we built it. Our focus was to test each version of our design implemented within Moodle to ensure the platform was optimal in meeting the needs of all stakeholders.

As the solution had different use cases, we gave volunteers and Guides different tasks to perform. The user experience within the LMS was dependent on the stakeholder role. This meant user interface elements and content would be relevant to the type of support worker logged in.

We also wanted to continually deliver something tangible to Asylum Guides and refugee organisations so we could use their feedback to build and iterate at speed as to implement the solution as quickly as it was needed.

ARTEFACTS

Approach

Outcome

SIDELABS designed 'Asylum Guides Academy', a flexible, adaptable and custom digital training platform, providing stakeholders with a user-friendly, personalised and accessible learning experience, built and implemented using moodlecloud, an open-source cloud-based learning management system

Asylum Guides' vision is to equip refugee organisations with the tools they need to help support and improve the mental wellbeing and general health of asylum seekers.

Asylum Guides Academy does this by delivering the organisations training programme through a secure, easy to use and accessible digital learning environment that helps stakeholders acquire and develop the skills and behaviours needed to be able to support doing critical social impact work.

STAKEHOLDER COMMENTS
“Having a digital training platform for the first time, in fact, having any digital infrastructure at all, has opened the door for us to help more refugee organisations with training than we ever have in the history of the Asylum Guides programme. Asylum Guides Academy has transformed the way organisations deliver the programme we created for them. It has been an unprecedented shift in the way we can help them meet their need for more capacity of support workers. Already in just a few weeks of launch, they've been able to work towards achieving their collective mission of supporting as many asylum seekers in need as they can and have started turning the tide on the challenges faced by everyone involved due to COVID."

- Ian Bell, Asylum Guides Programme Development Manager

"The platform is incredible. To be able to do something even as simple as writing and creating new training modules that can be launched immediately is magic compared to what we had before. But it's more than just about how amazing Asylum Guides Academy is in helping us train volunteers. For us, and everyone involved, it's about having a better chance at transforming, and in many cases, saving, peoples lives. It's why organisations like ours and Asylum Guides exists. It's why we do what we do."

- Will Evans, Refugee Organisation Manager & Support Worker

RESULTS

(Note: Due to legalities client-side, we were not provided specific metrics for the results below. We also were limited to sharing artefacts and screens of the delivered solution.)

Asylum Guides Academy has been successfully adopted by nationwide refugee organisations and has become a sector-standard for stakeholder training and learning. It has eliminated the need for F2F delivery of the Asylum Guides programme and SIDELABS was informed that the results of this showed an incredible turnaround for all stakeholders and beneficiaries. The impact of the product has involved:
• Reducing the time taken to train volunteers from months to weeks, subsequently increasing recruitment of new support workers and resulted in higher capacity for organisations to provide support
• Heavily decreasing the number of asylum seekers unable, or waiting, to receive support due to lack of support capacity, resulting in more refugees receiving help (and faster) in the programmes history
• Making integrated learning accessible to all, which allowed for recruiting of remote volunteers with accessibility needs, who before could not have become support workers due to F2F programme delivery constraints
• Standardising the Asylum Guides training programme, creating dual benefits of greater efficiency of training and a more effective, consistent learner-centric experiences
• Creating a customisable platform that can scale alongside future development of the Asylum Guides programme and the needs of refugee organisations in reaching more internal and external stakeholders

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© 2021 JAYMIE GILL. BUILT IN WEBFLOW.

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Asylum Guides Academy Online Training Platform

Designing a Learning Management System to facilitate online training of mental health support workers at national refugee organisations

Overview

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Approach

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Outcome

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© 2021 JAYMIE GILL. BUILT IN WEBFLOW.

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© 2021 JAYMIE GILL. BUILT IN WEBFLOW.