Online learning can – to quote the founding principles of the BBC – inform, educate and entertain, but it doesn’t often attain such heights as helping create the conditions for young people to feel welcome, celebrated, safe, and supported. Yet this was the task set for Logicearth by BeLonG To, Ireland’s leading authority on LGBTI+ youth issues.
We were to take its existing online training for schools and youth services and transform this from a rather under-designed course, with a fragmented learning journey, to something that would not only be coherent but that would also, well, sparkle.
That original course had an accompanying handbook, so it was clear to us that one way of simplifying the learning journey would be to integrate the essential information from the handbook into a freshly designed and crisply written new course. A striking feature of the original content was a series of nicely shot and edited videos featuring young LGBTI+ people sharing their views and experiences on such topics as coming out. These videos were the pearls that a consistent narrative would string together.
While our instructional design team wrestled with meaning and content, our lead designer on the project, Erin Doherty, set about the task of creating a dynamic visual style for the course. Unlike the big corporate clients we are used to working with, BeLonG To didn’t have a clear set of brand guidelines to follow. This was less a drawback than an opportunity, however: casting her eye over the resources that BeLonG To had already created, Erin remarked that, ‘At first glance they look fantastic and the colours are great.’ There was enough there to inspire a fresh look and feel, which first became apparent in the brilliant colours and the slightly distressed font of the prototype’s page headings, such as this one:
This look was replicated in the landing pages of the videos. Key messages were also extracted from the videos, with the design helping to give them prominence on the page:
We sought to make the experience of taking the course memorable for the learner rather than merely passive. Yes, this course was about raising awareness, but it was also about changing behaviour – by, for example, shining a light on the kind of unconscious bias that we are all prone to and that can do so much unintended harm.
Whose awareness and behaviour were we targeting? Teachers and youth workers in the Republic of Ireland. Did we succeed? BeLonG To launched the course in 2020 and – with our assistance – its own Learning Management System in 2021, with over 2000 participating in a single year. But it wasn’t only the numbers we were satisfied with: the feedback passed on to us by BeLonG To revealed a deep appreciation of the training, with many stating that it was the best online learning they had experienced.
Spurred on by the project’s success, BeLonG To applied successfully for the funding of a series of sports-oriented courses, with the aim of promoting the safe inclusion of LGBTI+ young people in sports activities within school and club settings. Currently we are developing a core sports version, as well as specific versions related to football, rugby and Gaelic games. The venture has won the endorsement of the Football Association of Ireland (FAI), the Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU) and the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA). New videos are due to be shot, featuring young people, coaches and even high-profile sports personalities. This series of sports courses aims to tackle homophobia and promote inclusion. When you consider, for instance, how few openly gay professional football players there have ever been, anywhere in the world, you’ll appreciate just how needed this and similar training is, if attitudes are to change. As BeLonG To points out in relation to schools – if you teach young people, you are teaching LGBTI+ young people: they are an integral part of the population.
There is also a corporate version in development, looking at how to create LBGTI-inclusive workplaces, plus a version for the volunteer sector. While we take pride in this expanding project’s success, we know that we are primarily serving an important charitable organisation and, through this, the young people that it reaches.
Interested in a learning strategy that works? Talk to us today.