This project came to me as I was instructing Portuguese and Spanish in Houston, Texas three years into the COVID-19 pandemic. Although the classroom had returned to a relatively normal state, at least compared to the spring of 2020, the pandemic left a mark on my students mental health. Abscences increased, homework was submitted late, and physical signs of exhaustion and depression were evident on their faces and gestures —I was concerned. According to a study conducted by the National Library of Medicine, the COVID -19 pandemic brought negative impacts on higher education, and preventative measures need to be taken to address the mental health of college students.  

I needed to help, but I didn't have formal training in mangaing mental health. I also knew I had to maintain boundaries to protect my students and myself. With limited resources at my own institution, I investigated what other universities provided to support faculty to address students facing issues related to mental health. What emerged is this scenrio-based eLearning concept project designed to assist university faculty to recognize, respond, and refer students in distress. Throughout the experience, faculty, engage in a series of real-life, low risk scenarios that will prepare them to help their students in the future.  

Audience: Univeristy faculty 

Tools used: Articulate Storyline, Adobe XD, Adobe Illustrator, Mindmeister

Responsibilities: Instructional Design, Action Mapping, visual design, eLearning development, storyboard

Learning goals: After completing the experience, the learner will be able to recognize whether a student is experiencing distress and how serious the situation is. They will learn how to respond to the situation, and refer the student to the appropraite place or person on campus. 

The information obtained for this project comes from the Harvard Business School:

 The process

Action Map 

The first step in this project was to create an action map utilizing Cathy Moore's action mapping process. I served the role as the Subject Matter Expert (SME) relying on my experience in the classroom and the research I conducted. Considering my goal was to aid faculty as they help students in a professional and safe environment, I set out to create a series of actions for the learner to complete. This brainstorming activity using the program, Mindmeister, helped me decide what actions the learner will need to take, and which ones to avoid to aquire the learning goal and meet the client's needs. Including avoidable actions was important given the sensitivity of the subject. For example, some might asume — and with completely good intentions — that diagnosing students with depression and telling them to chear up is an acceptable action. However, this is a very problematic approach and one I want to ensure faculty never make. 

The action map process is an essential part of my design process because it allows me to determine what actions the learner needs to take to accomplish the learning goal in a low-risk, and stress free environment. This is particularly important in the case of working with students with their mental health issues because it is a difficult topic to discuss. Action mapping is helpful in its ability to lay out the essential information, and only the essential information, without overwhelming the learner. 

 Text-based storyboard 

Once I knew which actions I wanted my learner to take and which to avoid, I set out to create my text-based storyboard. When I created the storyboard, I wanted to make it as a organized as possible to avoid future problems. It was also the moment that I decided what type of on screen text (OST), images, and programming would be part of the project. 

Before continuing with the next step of my project, I asked for feeback from my peers, and just as if I were working with a client, I incorporated the feedback before continuing with the next step. 

I've provided a few images of my storyboard below for reference. 

 Visual mockups 

When I completed my storyboard, I began the visual mockup process.  I began the process by looking at color schemes that appeared on websites related to mental health and used them as an inspiration. I found that blue was a color that frequently appeared, and given its calming effect, I decided it would be one of my primary colors. Minimalism was also important to me, and I ensured that the layout of each slide appeared clean and consitent to create a calming effect as the learner tackles some sensitive issues with my character, Sofia. 

I also knew that it was important my images enhanced the story throughout the experience. For example, when the learner gets an answer wrong, my character appears sad. When the answer is correct, she seems happy. The emotion that comes from the chosen actions helps the learner become more immersed in the story. It prepares them to act appropriately and in a considerate manner that protects them and their future students. 

Interactive prototype and project completion

With my visual prototypes complete, it was time to finally create my project in Articulate Storyline 360. This was a really exciting moment for me because I couldn't wait to see my project come to life. However, before I devloped the entire experience in Aritculate, I decided to first create an interactive prototype to collect feedback on funcionality. 

With the prototype complete and the feedback taken into consideration, I completed my project. I added triggers and a success meter in the final version. Although this project is completed according to my original plan, it is something I would like to continue to improve and develop with time.