Case Study: Vitamin Angels Delivers Remote Elearning with Pocket Sized LMS
Vitamin Angels, a 501c3 public charity, helps at-risk populations in need—specifically pregnant women, new mothers, and children under five—gain access to lifesaving and life changing vitamins and minerals. In 2016, Vitamin Angels provided vitamin A and deworming to 52 million beneficiaries through its network of 1,000 NGOs in nearly 60 countries around the world.
“Vitamin Angels’ challenge is to provide more opportunities to more health care providers each year to learn how to implement nutrition services consistent with best practice,” stated Dr. Clayton Ajello, Senior Technical Advisor to Vitamin Angels.
Providing live instructor-led training to the network of public health service providers to administer a range of nutrition interventions simply wasn’t viable at the scale that Vitamin Angels needs to operate. This would seem to be a clear use case for elearning – it’s consistent, repeatable, trackable and scalable – except that Vitamin Angels’ NGO partners often operate in the most remote areas of a country, far from internet access or modern computers. While mobile phones are becoming more and more commonplace around the world, they are less available in remote communities, especially among field-level service providers.
Until now, the organization has relied on in-person instructor-led trainings, reaching approximately 1,000 health care providers per year. With the introduction of this new elearning solution, the organization anticipates reaching at least 6,000 health care providers in just the first year. Read more >
In developed countries, elearning providers can specify that learners access training via the internet and log into a learning management system (LMS) using only modern supported browsers. This enables content providers to build interactive learning experiences and collect data needed for analytics later on. However for this project, Vitamin Angels needed their elearning to reach almost any personal computer, regardless of age, with or without a stable internet connection.
TorranceLearning assembled a dream team of partners and got to work.
The TorranceLearning team designed an elearning course to be accessible by people who likely have low literacy and limited computer skills. Graphics and animations are supported by voiceover and on-screen text in an effort to meet the learners wherever they are. We chose dominKnow’s Claro as our development tool because its cloud-based SaaS system allows for easy collaboration and sharing of media across multiple languages and modules. The dominKnow suite of tools also supports the Experience API (xAPI), a new technology standard in the elearning industry that allows for the lightweight tracking of offline activity like this.
The Vitamin Angels team and larger NGO partners will use the full-featured LMS from UL Compliance to Performance. This LMS allows centralized reporting and course management. We chose the UL system because it is one of the few enterprise scale LMS systems with fully integrated xAPI support, global content delivery network and easy translation support. The UL LMS also offers customizable portal pages to allow Vitamin Angels to keep a pulse on their global training activities.
The unique aspect of this project is the USB flash drive delivery. The vast majority of health service providers will need to access the training from a computer that is not reliably connected to the internet, and may be running very old browsers. We needed a way to get the entire learning experience delivered out into the field, and then get the data about the experience back to the main LMS. The USB drive contains a Chromium web browser and web server, allowing the elearning course to play from the USB no matter what computer it’s plugged into, all the way back to Windows XP and Mac OS Snow Leopard. The USB also contains an “LMS-lite” that performs slimmed down versions of many of the same functions the full-featured corporate LMS handles:
- Enter user and user group information
- Play video
- Print job aids and reference materials
- Play the elearning course
- Store course completion and course evaluation data
- Print a receipt of course completion
The USB then stores all the course records for all the learners who take the course. Each time the USB is inserted into a computer, it checks for an internet connection. If a connection is present, the USB quickly uploads the records to the UL LMS and confirms they reached the target. Health providers’ course completion receipts each have a unique alpha-numeric code and a scannable QR code that can alternately be used to load the results to the LMS, or validate them in the future. The QR code contains data including the user’s name, field partner organization, the course that was taken and in what language, and the date of completion. Each USB will support several languages that will support the region into which it is deployed.
All of this fits on an 8GB USB drive you can buy at any office supplies store. Vitamin Angels will custom print credit-card sized USB drives with instructions for running the program so that each drive is completely self-contained. Each USB will support several languages that will support the region into which it is deployed.
“What we’re doing here – elearning, video, learning management — is pretty standard fare for our corporate America clients with solid internet connections, modern internet browsers and access to cloud-based tools. The challenge was to deliver modern elearning to any computer in the world, and then get the usage data back to Vitamin Angels. We often talk about the challenge of BYOD – Bring Your Own Device – and delivering across a range of desktop, tablet and smartphone devices. In this case, we’re meeting a Bring Your Old Device type of need by putting the entire platform on a lowly USB drive.”
The real proof of the entire system will be validated in the field. Recall that Vitamin Angels’ goal was to replace the instructor-led training with elearning, without diminishing effectiveness. Based on preliminary results of field testing, it appears, according to Vitamin Angels, that elearning with post-course practice, results in learners’ acquisition of knowledge that is comparable to those taking the instructor led course. Further, the service providers’ ability to perform key steps of the service they are learning to deliver is high. A more formal evaluation is underway to document whether service provider ability to deliver the service as learned using elearning can be comparable to those learning via an instructor led course.
Throughout 2017 and beyond, Vitamin Angels and TorranceLearning will work together to expand the content and translate it into additional languages. Additional tools will enable service providers to record their practice sessions and to document observed performance, and include this data in the LMS. Plans are being developed to create performance supports delivered to service providers with mobile phones as a way to begin to test the utility of mobile phone reach and effectiveness in the learning process.
TorranceLearning was recognized for this innovation with the “Best of Show” award at Demofest, part of the eLearning Guild’s Learning Solutions Conference in Orlando, Florida in March 2017. This exceptional achievement represents back to back “Best of Show” awards for the digital learning company.