Articulation 2: PPPPPP

November 16, 2016 at 4:16 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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With approval to go ahead with development, the next step was to start preparations in detail. All of these activities proceeded in parallel:

  • Creating the content– writing the text and finding the images for each topic
  • Calculating the data – the energy, water and money savings for each topic.
  • Liaising with businesses – suppliers of hairdressing products and a local salon.
  • Coding prototypes – learning exercises using Storyline to test my ideas.
  • Documentation – a necessary evil.

Creating content

The challenge was to write just two or three sentences about each topic that conveyed its environmental impact and sold its benefits in ordinary, non-technical language. For example, for low-flow aerator taps:

Aerators introduce bubbles into the water and help it feel soft. They also reduce the amount of water used — and save energy as you need less hot water.
They are inexpensive, simple to fit and the payback period is typically just a couple of weeks.

It may be an obvious point, but getting the script right is essential; if it isn’t then no amount of flashy multimedia interaction will compensate for that.

Photos from Shutterstock were chosen to accompany each topic, and a careful record was kept to ensure it was easy and quick to cite them correctly when the credits slide was created much later in the project.

Data calculations

Other researchers on the project had already obtained information about environmental benefits; for example “Low-flow aerators can save money. Fitting a tap aerator at a cost of £5/tap could result in water savings of £13/tap/year (*based on tap being used 20 times a day for 15 seconds  Source: Envirowise info sheet, 2007)”.

aerator-taps

Tap aerator – image © Shutterstock.com/infausto

My idea was to translate the costs and savings for each topic into a standard format that would give the energy, water and money savings each year if adopted by a small four-seat salon. As learners worked their way through the training, a running total could therefore be kept of the savings from all the ideas where they clicked the Like button, so they could easily see the amount saved and scale that up for their own salon if required. I suspected that although the energy and water savings would be seen as a good thing, it would be the substantial money savings that would really gain their attention.

I developed a fairly complex Excel spreadsheet for the calculations; luckily my engineering background meant I wasn’t phased by having to use the specific heat of water to calculate the number of Megajoules used to heat 1000 litres by 20 degrees and then convert that to kWh so that the annual cost savings from a low-flow aerator tap could be calculated. A maths-free version of my calculations is included in the training, hidden behind a ‘How we calculated this’ link. I didn’t think that many learners would chose to view these, but thought that it was important that we were able to justify the savings we claimed; for example:

Assume standard tap flow rate is 5 litres per minute and aerator tap flow rate is 3 litres per minute.
Assume standard tap is used for 20 minutes each day, for a total of 30,000 litres each year.
The aerator tap saves 12,000 litres a year = £60
It also avoids heating that water, saving 420 kWh and £59.
The total saving is £119

Liaison with businesses

We wanted to include images of a few specific products, such as the Gamma Piu energy-saving hairdryer, and Enki one-use towels. I emailed their distributors and made sure we had written permission to use the images they provided.

We also worked with Shine, our on-campus hair salon, who kindly agreed to allow us to use their salon as the basis for the ‘virtual salon’ photo at the heart of the training. We also used it as a location for the introductory video with Dr. Denise Baden. I made sure that we got all the location and personal release forms required, including some from clients who appeared in the photos.

shine

Coding prototypes

I built several rough prototypes to learn about variables and to verify that my ideas were achievable. There were also two key features I needed to develop:

SCORM data: As mentioned in the first article, this work was funded by a research project which wanted to identify topics ‘liked’ by the learners. For example, with modern shampoos there is no need for two applications, and shampooing once saves time, water, energy and money – as well as reducing water pollution. Were the learners persuaded by these arguments?

It was agreed that the training resource would be hosted on SCORM Cloud, which would enable data tracking. I built a prototype to learn about how the system worked and interacted with a resource created using Storyline and published using its SCORM output options.

Scrolling panoramas: I wanted to create a ‘virtual salon’ for learners to explore and find areas of interest. I used my camera to take a 180-degree photo of the salon, and then talked to colleagues and searched the excellent Articulate user forums for advice. I found an article by Glenn Simsek that was exactly what I was looking for, and spent some time experimenting with that to get it right. It may even be the subject of the next article in this series!

salonpano2

Documentation

Painful experience has taught me the value of documenting projects as you go:

  • an accurate timesheet to help me more accurately cost future projects;
  • a record/store of meetings, emails, decisions, sign-offs and so on;
  • a record of all resources used and their source;
  • notes about the coding developed, which makes it easier to understand what you did and why when you return to it months later to make changes.

This account makes it seem like I prepared everything in advance, but of course the reality was messier; the script was amended as the project developed, a few new topics were added, most of the data calculation happened during the development phase, and almost all the images were chosen and edited as the relevant topic was created.

In the next article I’ll start discussing the nitty-gritty as the resource begins to be developed.

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