Bookmark Reading provides literacy support for children in need at their schools. The charity started out in three schools with 25 volunteers at the end of 2018, and in less than two years they’ve hit over 400 volunteers. When they started, training was delivered 100% face-to-face (F2F), although they always knew they’d have to move to elearning and an online platform eventually.
That process of moving from F2F training to online was sped up with Covid.
We recently caught up with Sacha Hamed, Training Manager at Bookmark Reading Charity. We chatted about the way the charity pivoted the business to an online model during the pandemic, their training programmes for volunteers and employees, and what it took to go from F2F to online so quickly.
“I could never onboard 100 volunteers per month — we had hit that number before the pandemic. I couldn’t train them all F2F, there were issues with scheduling and lack of time.” – Sacha Hamed, Training Manager at Bookmark Reading Charity
The key challenges Bookmark faced before deciding on a platform was firstly, elearning itself (overcoming its bad reputation!), secondly, UX, and thirdly — being a charity — cost. They also wanted to be able to scale the business. Sacha and his team looked at 20 different LMSs on the market, and had their volunteers and employees test those on the shortlist. Users didn’t need any help at all navigating the Looop platform from the get go. The team at Bookmark weighed up cost vis-a-vis quality and Looop came out a clear winner — it was simple, easy to use, volunteers wanted to use the system, and they were comfortable using it as well.
“We made the decision to use Looop as it gave us the opportunity to develop our idea of creating our very own library – full of great knowledge, advice and resources. When we initially started to look at the different systems, the challenge we saw was how to provide volunteers and employees with both the core knowledge they need and the optional additional training too. However, Looop solved this problem with the use of campaigns, banners and the ability to organise training into workspaces – we can also have different ‘groups’ for volunteers and employees so that both can share the system, but only showing people what they really need.”
Bookmark kickstarted the project by migrating their existing SCORM volunteer onboarding materials onto Looop, they then worked closely with Customer Success to create a frictionless experience for new volunteers — putting together a smooth, user-friendly first impression of the charity’s volunteer training by streamlining the process, from getting a welcome email all the way to completing the training.
“Using the ‘pathway’ system on Looop means we can ensure that all of our volunteers arrive on their first day with the information they need to have a fantastic training session. Safeguarding is at the heart of what we do and is a key part of our training and Looop makes it easy to check and manage progress. We’ve even created an additional safeguarding section to allow volunteers to find out more about this incredibly important subject.”
In the next phase, Bookmark’s needs were further unpacked to ease the pain of digital onboarding. ‘Getting Started’ was the first workspace that was created and then developed into a pathway so they could link resources together and ensure that the users had no navigation issues on the platform, as well as providing more analytic insights.
There’s a lot of love for Looop’s workspaces, campaigns, banners, and grouping. All of these features were actively used to support Bookmark’s approach, and to give people a feeling that someone is talking to them (rather than it being a broadcast):
With campaigns you can implement targeted automation – for Bookmark that means:
Banners can run across the top of the user’s screen. Bookmark uses this feature to draw attention to certain things, messages or docs in the library. They also use it for campaigning to fundraise.
The ability to group people is useful for targeting volunteers and employees. It means there’s a singular platform and that people only see what is relevant to them. So when you add someone to the right group, campaigns get them the right training at the right time, and they can receive reminders and nudges to complete that training.
“My favourite feature on Looop is the campaign schedules – giving you the ability to set emails and banner campaigns to the right people. We use this to remind them to complete their training and to celebrate when it’s done. The campaign banners are incredibly useful as they run across the top of the screen a bit like an advert pointing people to the right section of our ‘Library’. By considering what people need to know along their journey, we are able to draw their attention to what it is they might need. For example, a week after they have completed the core training, we use it to direct them to their community team. However, when they get to week six, it switches to showing them the games and activities they can take into their session.”
Sacha commonly compares Looop to a library — a place where you can find answers, search by asking questions, and create workspaces that break it up in a similar way. And that’s the way people are using it — as a resource.
“75% of our volunteers were actively going back to the library, in their own time, to review certain sections of the training.”
Sacha Hamed offers the following advice to save time and make elearning great:
“Creating elearning takes time. If someone is looking to go down the route we did to create interactive elearning you have to give yourself a week to create 20 to 30 minutes of training. So my suggestion is to dip your toe in the water with a resource – gather that information via YouTube or get links from online, design it as a quick resource, get people to test it, get their feedback, and perhaps go into something that’s interactive. You might find that a quick resource like this will take you half an hour, answers all the questions, people love it, and it doesn’t need to be more than that.”
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