My role:
E-learning producer
(design; development; content, including copy, illustration, and 2D animation)

Project Director, 3D Artist, Illustrator

Background /
The early days of digital distributed learning

In the late 90s, digitization of manuals and training opened up new opportunities to better support Navy sailors. Previously, sailors had to go ashore for training. Now they could train continuously while on-board. Also, rich media and digital search made just-in-time training more feasible.

Challenge /
A navy ship is not a classroom

To design human-centered e-learning, I visited sailors on their ships. I got a sense of the environment in which they operated. I interviewed sailors to understand their needs first-hand. These were mostly kids, many in their late teens and early twenties. They were the video game generation. But, on the ship, they worked in high pressure situations. The sailors expressed a need for a more usable approach to training, an approach that centered on their unique context.

Solution /
Solve for how sailors need to use the knowledge

E-learning provided an opportunity to do more than simply digitize a manual or text book. I discovered two key principles which drove successful e-learning for this audience:

  1. The knowledge presented must be easy to apply
  2. Discovery of specific knowledge items must be easy and quick

For easy knowledge absorption, I used short animations and visual storytelling as often as the content would allow. This meant a sailor could learn and execute a key process in a few minutes. There was also the option to dive deeper into a topic, if they wanted.

To facilitate knowledge discovery, I made sure navigation was intuitive, transparent, and based on well-indexed content.

Outcome /
Just-in-time training used across the fleet

Over four years, I designed and developed seven e-learning modules. The subject matter included engineering, IT, and fire-safety systems on Naval vessels. The modules were used on ships of various classes across the fleet.