ABN-ARO MeesPierson requested our help with making the e-learning platform for their Generation Next Academy more user friendly. We created a user interface that allows admins to easily add a separate learning environment for every new group of students. This proved to be a huge time saver. Connecting content to the monthly themes is a breeze now too, and so is creating reusable content blocks. We got to give the user interface for participants an overhaul as well: content now smoothly adjusts to whatever device they use, allowing them to study whenever and wherever they want.
And showing participants a visual overview of their progress helps them to keep track and keeps them motivated.
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ABN-AMRO MeesPiersons’ Generation Next Academy had already been successful for several years. Many parents, affluent or not, have trouble discussing money matters with their kids. This, among others, inspired ABN-AMRO MeesPierson to create a curriculum for adolescent children of their private banking clients.
This program helps equip affluent-adults-in-training so that they’ll be prepared to manage their wealth sensibly. The curriculum offers a mix of informal meetings, events and an e-learning environment.
ABN-AMRO MeesPierson was able to take a huge concern off the shoulders of their clients with this program. The increased customer satisfaction and customer loyalty was a bonus.
The program’s content had proven itself already. Since the program had started, however, several practical challenges had arisen. Sebastiaan, project manager for Generation Next, set out to improve the usability of the e-learning environment, both for the administrators and for the students. He approached us with a crystal clear assignment:
- Make sure that my administrators can publish content faster and easier.
- Structure content in such a way that participants know at first glance what they need to complete and when and where events will take place.
- Assure that participants get a pleasant user experience, no matter the device they use;
- And we need to go live within three months. You can make that happen, right?
At Level Level, we love a good challenge. Therefore, we were excited to team up with Sebastian and help him make the online learning experience more efficient, more fun and easier accessible.
We started creating an overview of:
- monthly themes: during the year, a specific theme is addressed each month;
- educational building blocks needed to achieve the learning objectives (such as online magazines, videos, registration forms for live webinars and workshops);
- Assessments, such as self assessments and polls (to help both participants and coaches keep track of progress).
Subsequently, we have grouped these elements and turned them into flowcharts and screen designs. In this phase, we recommended to show participants a visual overview of their progress right after logging in. As this is known to help motivate students.
When a team gets started on a project with a tight deadline, it’s essential to agree on priorities. We quickly concluded it would be smart to put the main focus on usability, both for the participants and for the administrators. This would offer the biggest and quickest benefits. After all, the current design still had a contemporary look and feel. Moreover, our modular approach to web development allows us to easily add catchy design elements at any given time down the road.
"Polls allow participants to compare their knowledge to those of their fellows. At times, polls may even get students to adjust their opinion. Also, they may help spark conversations and kindle mutual communication."
For the ABN-AMRO MeesPierson Generation Next e-learning environment, we recommended a multisite approach. This is a platform with several independent websites. Each website is linked to each other within a network. This allows administrators to easily add a separate e-learning environment for each new group of participants. Every e-learning environment is a separate website, and all sites together form the multisite network. The most recent e-learning environment is duplicated (to a new website) and customized to be relevant for the new group of attendees. This way, former groups of students continue to have access to their particular learning environment, including test results and answers.
We have recommended and implemented a methodology that allows admins to select and insert just the elements they need to a page. The administrators can decide per page what elements, also known as blocks, they’ll need, and only add those. Moreover, once an element has been created, it can be reused on other pages. Imagine, for instance, a content block with an invitation to register for a webinar. A block like that could be added to any page where that would make sense, such as all pages related to the monthly theme.
Additionally, administrators can use content blocks to announce upcoming content, while keeping access locked temporarily.
"Content blocks allow administrators a versatile and flexible way to offer educational content in creative ways. Without complicating matters, or impairing customer experience."
Students get a view of their overall progress on each monthly overview page. This requires to pull data from several sources. When using the standard WordPress workflow, which means subtracting data from the database on a level by level basis, that requires a lot of CPU power. Subsequently translating that data into visual elements can slow a platform down substantially. Unfortunately, issues like these usually don’t surface until the testing phase. This is one of those moments you’re extra thankful for having a larger team. We continued throwing ideas back and forth until we found a decent solutions. In this case rebuilding several database connections. And brought the platform speed back to the response times we initially aimed for. We wouldn’t have it any other way.
You could hear sighs of relief when, exactly three months after the kick-off, we introduced the administrators to their new workflows. Creating a learning environment for a new group has become much more straightforward. Also, creating a new monthly theme takes up much less time. The new interface is more pleasant for students as well. The site smoothly adjusts to the device used, and loads rapidly, even when using a mobile connection.
“Our participants find the Generation Next Academy platform clearly structured and easy to use, and consider it a delightful experience.”
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