Using the ‘wrap-around’ principle in compliance training

Presenters group photo
We are currently working on an interesting e-learning development project for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). It is a course to ensure IFRC staff and partners apply the IFRC Principles and Rules in their day-to-day work.

Legal compliance courses are some of the most boring e-learning you will find out there. It’s a great challenge to make compliance training interesting and to get the learner hooked.

What’s so hard? The mistake most often made is to list and explain all the rules followed by a recall quiz. No need to do this. No-one will ever ask the staff to recall a rule literally. Anyway, the rules document is available in the organisation and often in people’s offices – they can consult it whenever they need to.

We need to have a much closer look at the root causes of the problem. People happily shelve rules documents after browsing through them during induction. They are boring documents. Just like any other legalese, the language goes over their heads (well, most people’s heads).

Application is an even bigger problem. Reading the rules wouldn’t usually give you much clue as to what they mean in real life.

If there are just a couple of rules to comply with, it’s easy. Develop a few mini-scenarios and invite people to make decisions based on the rules. Make it all visual. You can even list the rules in that case.

But what do you do with over one hundred rules?

We use the ‘wrap around’ principle – a term borrowed from traditional distance learning design. The IFRC Principles and Rules document is fully used during the training. People are asked to keep the document handy as they are going through the training. The focus of the training is then to bring this to life through story telling while continuously asking the learners to consult the Rules document when they are stuck – just as they should do in real life.

We applied the same ‘wrap around’ design approach for the development of an e-learning module on the Code of Conduct for the Australian Council for International Development (ACFID). You can read more about this approach in the case study on our web site.

This is some of the feedback we got from people who took the ACFID Code of Conduct course:

The training was easy to follow and gave, rather than a boring review of the Code of Conduct, the core points within the Code. The relevant examples enabled me to know where in the Code I should seek further information and in principle how to use the Code. I do not feel frightened of the Code now.

Not frightened anymore? This wasn’t in the learning outcomes, but it sounds great to me!

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4 Comments. Leave new

  • […] has a similar approach, using the way our brain works for better learning design.  I also liked Using the ‘wrap-around’ principle in compliance training…it’s short and simple but if everyone who designs compliance training courses took the […]

  • Miranda Verswijvelen
    May 20, 2014 8:32 am

    Really good to read this – we recently applied the same approach to a course about the new Code of Conduct for nurses in our District Health Board. We presented them with day-to-day situations and did not ask them to decide on specific actions, but instead consult the code to view which parts of the document were protecting and guiding them in that situation.
    Most people instinctively know whether a situation is a grey area or even ‘on screen’ the decision is always easier to take. Providing them with the notion that the rules are not an enemy but a helping hand in their day to day working life works so much better.

    • Thanks for sharing this Miranda. In the examples I’m sharing here, the learners do both: they do decide on specific actions AND they use the Code. So it’s still action-packed, but we also promote the use of the Code and ‘de-intellectualise’ it.

  • […] Have you ever taken a course because you had to…not because you wanted to?  How much of it do you recall now? [chuckles]  In 5 Ways to Make Your Compliance Elearning Go Beyond the Screen, they ask (and attempt to answer) the question “How can compliance courses engage employees with material that will enable them to practice and use what they have learned outside e-learning?” There are some interesting trends happening with compliance training, and these are listed in 9 trends in compliance learning, training and assessment….although I notice that they don’t include gamification which is moving forward quickly i.e. Gamification Of Compliance Training Through A Serious Game Concept. One good way of ‘bringing your training to life is by Using the ‘wrap-around’ principle in compliance training. […]


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