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Lab Safety: How to Respond in Cases of Emergency? 

This is a sample project designed for newly hired lab technicians to practice and learn how to respond appropriately in cases of lab emergency.

      Audience: Newly hired lab technicians

      Responsibilities: Instructional Design, eLearning Development, and Visual Design

      Tools Used: Articulate Storyline 360, Vyond, Adobe Illustrator, Adobe XD, Canva

      Time Spent: 130 hours

The Problem

The client is a lab center that reached out to me to help their onboarding lab technicians who will conduct experiments in laboratories during the upcoming year. These novice lab technicians have limited or no experience in responding appropriately in case of an emergency while working. Failure to respond correctly or implement adequate protection measures could jeopardize the safety of both them and their surroundings. 

My Solution

After interviewing the SME (Lab Safety Manager) and target learners, we defined the learning goals and learning needs. Then, I helped identify the necessary actions that should be performed while working and facing with an emergency. 

I proposed to use the branching scenario-based approach to create story-driven exercises for those novice lab workers. This demo piece included two stories and five scenario-based questions, each of which has two to three options that lead to separate routes depending on what actions the learners take. This approach challenges the learners to make real-world decisions regarding how to take correct reactions in case of emergencies. 

Process

To create a human-centric and user-specific learning experience, I chose to follow Design Thinking to clarify the learning needs and develop this demo course. I created an action map in MindMeister, wrote a text-based storyboard in Google Docs., created visual mockups in Adobe XD, built the prototype, and developed the end product in Articulate Storyline.

Empathize

I began to process by interviewing the Subject Matter Expert (SME), the lab safety manager, to identify the common safety rules while doing lab-related projects. Furthermore, I helped the lab safety manager recognize the actions that should be taken in a specific situation to protect these novice lab technicians and surrounding co-workers from getting injured or losing their lives. This helped me define the problem and come up with a feasible training solution.

I also interviewed a target learner, a newly hired lab technician, to learn about her backgrounds and general understanding about lab safety issues. We also discussed about her struggles, challenges, and concerns while working in lab environment. These interviews made me understand this topic from the perspective of the target learner and be able to design a training course that is learner-centered and meets the learning needs. 

Define

After organizing all of the information from those interviews with the SME and target learners, I defined the problem as: Novice lab technician, with limited or no experience in safeguarding responding people appropriately in emergency cases, thus could jeopardize the safety of others.

The problem led me to ask: How might I design a learning experience to help novice lab technicans practice what to do in certain situations? How might I provide a series of scenarios to help them practice on how to respond? 

Ideate

I proposed scenario-based eLearning to provide real-world context for novice lab technicians to practice responding to cases of emergency and safeguarding co-workers. Based on the information shared by the SME, I created an action map to identify the actions that the learner should perform to complete the goal. 

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Based on the action map, I created a text-based storyboard that has two stories. Each one includes two to three scenario-based questions, each of which has two to three options. Based on the option the learner chooses, they can learn whether it is a satisfying option and its impact from each option they choose. The storyboard, upon its completion, was sent to stakeholders for review and feedback

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Furthermore, to make the scenario authentic, I used Vyond to design and create animated characters with gestures and facial emotions, and modern labs with contemporary-style props. To better present the story, I also added background music and sound effects for videos. 

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For the visual mockup, I used Adobe XD to create a slide for each changing scene in my learning experience.I imported gifs created from Vyond into Adobe XD and created custom vector graphics (play icons, pause icons, replay icons, tokens) in Adobe Illustrator. I chose to use light gray, blue, and white as primary color. Then I moved everything into Storyline to refine the details.  

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Prototype

Using Articulate Storyline, I developed an interactive prototype to get feedback on functionality and development. This prototype consisted of slides for the title, intro, two scenarios, and outro, and I added triggers, states, animations, videos, and background sounds. 

Some of the feedback noted that to reduce the time that learners spent on reading texts. Therefore I chose to use animated video to present each story and used GIFs to present the results of each option, I also added audio narration to help learners understand. As assistance, I still put text on the slides, however, it can only be viewed when you click the "Ask Mark" icon. I also adjusted the color contrast of the question textbox and button and added button hover effects according to some other feedback. There is also a token reward system keeps track of learners' progress and engagement. 

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Test

I shared the demo course with instructional designers, the safety manager, and the target learners to test functionality. I fixed all broken buttons and non-working audios. In addition, I adjusted line spacing and video speed to better the learner experience. 

Results & Takeaways

The final product has been delivered, and I've collected verbal feedback from learners. On average, they spent 15 minutes completing this demo course. They expressed that the instructional design effectively guides them toward the final result. They particularly appreciated the authenticity of the scenario-based exercises, noting that they help build knowledge unconsciously. Some students even suggested replacing the animated videos and GIFs with AI-generated videos. I share their sentiment and believe that leveraging a text-to-video model like Sora by OpenAI holds great promise for instructional designers in the future!

This project has been instrumental in broadening my understanding of scenario-based learning design while allowing me to refine my skills in video editing and graphic design. I'm excited about the prospect of applying the knowledge and techniques gained from this experience to future projects and endeavors.

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