The project presented many challenges; the development team was tasked with creating a meaningful interactive learning experience for remote rural communities, amongst whom literacy levels (both digital and non-digital) are extremely low. Content was to be delivered visually and verbally, without text. The development of adventurous plots in comics draws the attention of youth and accelerates processes of awareness, reflection and analysis (Fedotova, Kotliarenko, & Latun, 2015). We had to promote best practice for community infection control, whilst portraying an authentic storyline respecting cultural norms of local communities, to avoid undermining the project’s credibility and reception.
Additional constraints included a 30-minute time limit for the end-user experience, requiring key messages to be reinforced without undermining the storytelling experience, regardless of user decision outcomes. Analytics had to be incorporated allowing researchers to assess users’ decision-making while working with restricted internet access and the limited availabilities of key healthcare staff. The development team employed Agile project management methodologies, maintaining regular contact with healthcare colleagues based in Sierra Leone and the UK to ensure the product was fit for purpose. User analytics and pre-post knowledge questionnaires measured participants’ knowledge and awareness about infection prevention. A questionnaire-based behaviour change survey measured behavioural intention and focus groups collected qualitative feedback.
The module was well received, with 46 different communities reached and participation by 900+ community members, each taking healthcare messages back into their communities. Findings so far demonstrate this approach is effective in improving knowledge and awareness while acting as an important source of data for health authorities. Data from training sessions indicates an overwhelmingly positive response and enormous potential to deliver quality cost-effective education in rural locations.
The session will include an overview of the application’s functionality. We will share the experiences and challenges of developing this exciting project, including the design decisions made, project management processes used, logistical and communication challenges overcome, lessons learnt and measurable outcomes so far. We will explain how others can access the open source project for their own purposes and make recommendations for anyone undertaking similar projects.
Gordon, A. M. van Lent, M. Van Velsen, P. Carpenter, A. Jhala (2004) Branching storylines in virtual reality environments for leadership development. Proceedings of the National Conference on Artificial Intelligence, vol. 1999, AAAI Press, MIT Press, Menlo Park, CA; Cambridge, MA; London (2004), pp. 844–851
Fedotova, O., Kotliarenko, I., & Latun, V. (2015). Comics Projects of the International Cultural and Educational Organizations in Youth Forums Devoted to Anti-Terrorism’s Issues. Procedia – Social and Behavioral Sciences, 186, 192–196. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.sbspro.2015.04.038