RYA – E-Learning
The Royal Yachting Association (RYA) is the national body for all forms of boating, providing information and advice, as well as courses and training. Their courses are currently conducted face-to-face and usually over a number of days. However, the need to deliver them internationally, while ensuring consistency across how the courses are rolled out, meant that they had to consider a different learning approach.
RYA chose Kineo to create a high quality and engaging e-learning course that they could sell to people wanting to learn the basics of navigation and safety on the water. The course had to appeal to a broad range of people, doing a wide range of water-based activities, from jet skiing to yachting.
This case study explains how Kineo worked with RYA to create an excellent piece of bespoke, highly visual and interactive e-learning.
Our challenge was to convert a two-day face-to-face workshop (16 hours) into an off-the-shelf e-learning package (5.5 hours) to be sold, launched and tracked via the existing RYA Moodle site. The course was due to be launched at the Boat Show on 7th January 2011, which meant working to a schedule that spanned the best part of a year. While this time scale was generous, it was necessary to ensure that we had the best SMEs available to review our work. Our key SMEs were RYA instructors so they were often away at sea teaching courses for weeks at a time.
The target audience is both RYA training centres and members of the public. The instructors at the training centres are experts in their field and are the ones who will be supporting their students through the course. They have a keen eye for detail, so a key challenge was ensuring our content and graphics were technically accurate.
This is complex material. The audience needs to deal with concepts from what causes tides and how to read tide tables, to identifying the best location and technique for anchoring a boat. It’s important not to overwhelm people with the detail – you’ve got to keep the pace and balance right.
The technical nature of the content required an approach that enabled the learner to absorb the material through highly engaging, media-rich screens and then to practice their knowledge in a safe environment before being tested on it. We used a model that had three parts to it: Learn it, Try it and Test it. Here you can see how this appeared on the menu screen.
Learn it: get the picture
Our visually-rich approach meant that the ‘Learn it’s were full of animations, videos and sound bites from real experts. Certain topics lent themselves well to the e-learning format, for example, the video screenshots below show what happens to the boats moored in a harbour as the tide changes.
It shows the tidal movement over a whole day; however, the video is sped up so that it only takes a minute to watch (the screen grabs show the beginning and middle of the video). The use of video allows the learner to observe the impact of changing tides, which has much more impact than simply telling them about it. This is also an example of where we called on the expertise of the RYA to provide practical knowledge. In our scripts we identified areas that lent themselves well to either an audio or an audio-visual approach, then wrote the audio scripts and sketched out the video content before sending them to RYA to approve and record.
Animations like the one below are used to demonstrate key concepts; in this case it shows how the positions of the earth, moon and sun cause tides. When the animation plays, the earth rotates and the moon orbits the earth causing the bulge of water to be drawn towards it, so that when the sun and moon are aligned the bulges of water are at their highest, causing a spring tide. But you knew that...
Try it: don’t get lost at sea...
‘Try it’s provided the learner with an opportunity to practice their knowledge. They could do this through a blend of online and offline activities. The screen below shows an online activity that tests the learner's understanding of a specific area: reading and drawing tidal graphs.
The learner clicks the correct pointers to indicate where a line should be drawn on the graph. They can click the ‘Tide tables’ button on the top toolbar to get the relevant data. If they are stuck (hopefully not at sea) they can click the ‘Guide’ button for an audio hint from an expert.
Test it: charts at the ready
For the learner to pass the face-to-face workshop they were required to pass the assessment; the same is true of the e-learning course, so for this to be a fair test we had to make sure that the questions were as similar as possible. We often asked the learner to complete an exercise on their paper chart and then return to the course to input what they discovered. For example, if we gave them a set of coordinates they would have to plot these on the chart and then return to the e-learning to answer a question asking what object they found at that location.
We used a ‘guide’ character throughout the learning to give the learning a friendly voice and allow us to include tips and anecdotes from experts. The ‘guide’ would offer the learner clues to answering a question correctly in the ‘Try it’ sections and would offer additional insights and the benefit of their experience elsewhere.
The Moodle site
Our approach to developing the Moodle site had to have the commercial aspect of the project at the forefront. The public needed access to the site so they could find out what courses were on offer. People also needed to be able to book themselves on the training courses that appealed to them and once they’d done so they would receive the relevant course pack. The site was designed to track their completion of a course and keep their training centre up to date with their progress.
A key element of our approach was thinking about how the RYA training centres would use the site, so we created an individual area for each centre. We also made sure that RYA could completely monitor the site which meant having the capacity to run reports, see which courses people had enrolled in, monitor how long they took to complete the course and find out how they scored on the assessments.
Feedback so far
Enrolments are rolling in fast for RYA for these modules, and we’ve received some great feedback from the RYA team and learners alike:
“This was not an easy project, but Kineo’s expertise in learning and graphic design, teamed with our instructors’ knowledge of the subject meant that we have ended up with a course to be proud of. The hard work was worth it and the feedback from students and instructors so far has been great.”
- Jane Hall, E-learning and Training Resources Manager, Royal Yachting Association
“It's easy to use, fully interactive and packed with engaging graphics and clear instructions. Learners cover topics such as engine checks, passage planning, rules of the road, tidal awareness, buoyage and much more.”
- Richard Falk, RYA Training Manager
Comments from students:
“I really enjoyed it, and it has prepared me to move on to further courses.”
“Thought it was a great course and can't wait to try it out for real and do another course.”
“Best self-directed sailing course I’ve done to date! An excellent distillation of fundamental boating knowledge you need to get started”
“A well planned course which built step-by-step to provide a good basic grounding in the essentials of seamanship.”
“Very good course. I highly recommend it.”
Ready to get onboard and try the whole course? Find out how by visiting the RYA site.
For more information on how we could potentially help you out with a similar project, contact us.