CASE STUDY – Introduction to the ACFID Code of Conduct

(Australia Council for International Development)

This e-learning module is an example of “wrap around” compliance training. The aim is for development professionals to learn to use the existing Code and the Guidance document in their day-to-day work.

The Code is a self-regulatory sector code of good practice used by hundreds of NGOs in Australia, including their internationally based staff. A Guidance document helps people get their heads around the Code and how it is used in practice. ACFID also runs one-day face-to-face training sessions to help organisations implement the principles and obligations in their own context.

What was the training issue?

Everyone who works in international development sector needs to know the Code that regulates this work. Yet, lots of people find it daunting and overwhelming. It is completely text-based and a lot of people glance at the pages without really paying attention to what the Code says. The language is important. The details are as well.

The Guidance document provides a considerable number of examples on how to apply the Code, but it remained hard for people to see the relevance to their own work. What they needed were recognizable stories and opportunities to practice the application of the Code in recognisable contexts.

With a geographically spread target group and a need to offer support more flexibly, an e-learning module about the Code was considered a great way to complement the various ways in which ACFID assists its members. People who are unable to (or prefer not to) attend the face-to-face workshops and need extra support could do the e-learning module instead.

What approach did we use?

We didn’t cover all the content in the e-learning module, far from it! Why would we? The 50-page Code contains all the principles and obligations. The existing 100-page Guidance is well written, nicely structured, and full of examples. Covering it all in an e-learning module would be useless duplication and would require a big budget – which wasn’t available and wasn’t necessary either.

Instead, we focused on developing an inspiring “taster” – convincing the users that the Code is in fact full of really useful advice. We brought the Code to life with real-life scenarios which showed the application of a few of the key principles and obligations. The ultimate aim is that people keep the Code and Guidance document on their desk and use them in the same way in their day-to-day work.

The conversations with the subject matter expert evolved around the following questions:

  • What are the most critical principles and obligations?
  • What do people typically find hard to understand and apply?
  • What are the principles that are most often overlooked?
  • What do people DO when applying the principles and obligations?

We listed all important issues that needed to be addressed as well as the main types of organisations who use the Code. We listed a number of themes for projects and programmes to ensure that most users would identify strongly with at least one of the stories. We worked out a number of mini-scenarios ensuring that all issues were covered using a different type of organisation every time.

Together with the ACFID subject matter expert we fine-tuned the real-life stories and developed scenarios for the e-learning module. It is interesting to note that these scenarios are now being used in the face-to-face training as well.

We decided to use narration (two voices) and graphics to soften the ‘legalese’ language typical of compliance training.

What does the end product look like?

The ACFID Code e-learning module is  a 2 hour self-paced training package that uses a mix of narration, instant feedback activities and scenarios to create an engaging learning environment. When learners work through the module they need to keep the Code and the Guidance document handy as they are being asked to consult these continuously – just as they do in real life.

CASE STUDY – eWorkshop and eLearning modules on Aid Effectiveness from a Gender Perspective
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