Two players collide at full speed, and yours crumples to the turf. Slowly, he gets up and heads to the sideline. Determined to continue playing, he brushes aside his blurry vision and headache. “Coach, I’m fine,” he insists. Do you let him go back in?
Coaches face dilemmas like this all too often in youth, recreational, and professional sports. They need help making choices that will keep players safe, especially with evidence linking concussions with long-term brain damage.
In early 2012, the Coaching Association of Canada (CAC) got funding from the Public Health Agency of Canada to train coaches on player safety issues affecting youth sports. Despite having never created e-learning before, the CAC produced a mammoth five-sport, dual-language concussion safety and prevention series in Articulate Storyline in less than six months.
“We had incredible connections through our partners Hockey Canada, Parachute, and the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport,” says project coordinator Anthony Bhagwandin. “Dr. Emma Stodel, who’d worked with the CAC before, laid out the methodology and content requirements for this huge initiative.”
When their existing e-learning software buckled under the design requirements, developer Michael Hinze steered the team to Storyline and tested the program against the CAC’s requirements. It was an easy sell, Anthony recalls. “We knew we needed a powerful tool, yet didn’t have much time or budget to spare on programming or reworking the design. When we saw what we could do with Storyline in so little time, we knew we had a winner.”
The CAC team quickly fell in love with Storyline’s powerful features and easy learning curve as they created the general module, “Making Head Way in Sport.” In it, learners move seamlessly between mini-assessments and educational material on concussion prevention, identification, and management. Compelling video testimonials feature young athletes who describe their own experience with concussions, and animations, developed by CAC partner Field Day Inc., show the physical impact on the brain during concussion simulations.
Drawing on Storyline’s robust features for building interactivity—such as variables, triggers, slide layers, branching, and free-form questions—the course challenges coaches to apply the material to real-life sports scenarios. In fact, coaches must earn a passing score on these exercises: they earn points to successfully complete a section, and those who don’t make the grade can’t advance until they reach a passing score.
“It was a challenge to present this complex information in a way that was clear, succinct, and engaging,” recalls Michael. But with Storyline’s lightbox feature, Michael focuses learners on directions, scenarios, and key resources without cluttering the screen. If they want to explore more, learners can click the “Ask the Doctor” link on Storyline’s player to get more videos, coach resources and tools, and notes about the course.
Thanks to Storyline, the CAC team was able to complete the project before the funding window from the Public Health Agency of Canada expired. “Storyline gave us the functionality we needed to implement the design,” says Michael. Anthony agrees, “We simply could not have done this in the time we had without the powerful tools in Storyline.”
Feedback about the course from coaches and critics across Canada has been overwhelmingly positive. Of the 1,400+ coaches who’ve completed the Articulate Storyline course, a whopping 98.7 percent feel better able to prevent, suspect, and implement safe return-to-play protocols for players with concussions. And the International E-Learning Association’s judging panel recently recognized “Making Head Way in Sport” with an Honorable Mention award.
Cyndie Flett, Vice President of Research and Development at CAC and project manager for the initiative, marvels at the reach of their sports e-learning project: “Coaches play a key role in injury prevention for children and youth. With this Articulate Storyline series, many coaches now have access to the latest and greatest information on brain injuries and prevention.”