Peacebuilding 101

Experience design for an international NGO

This project demonstrates how I leverage my interaction design skills to increase engagement with content in order to drive impact.

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I worked with an international humanitarian aid organization to transform an in-person peacebuilding training into an online format in order to reach a wider audience than just those that could come to the training in person. At the highest level, the course provides practitioners with information, resources, and interactive exercises regarding how to understand and analyze conflict, envision peace and identify a peacebuilding response, and measure progress.

Given that this course was based on an annual in-person training based in Africa, my team travelled to Foulpointe, Madagascar to film the training in order to integrate relevant aspects of in-person workshops into the online course. For instance, he first day of the in-person training included a series of workshops in which participants learned how to use several methods and frameworks to define and analyze a fictional conflict, including personal reflection, actors mapping, the "conflict tree" model, and the pyramid model.

 
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Participants on the first day of the training. Photo credit: Yohan Perrera.

 

In order to facilitate personal reflection in an online environment, I designed a series of free-response questions within a virtual notebook. As the course progresses, learners receive additional opportunities to reflect on course content. In addition to providing opportunities for personal reflection through free-response questions, I also embedded videos, where appropriate, of how participants in the in-person workshop responded to similar questions.

 
Virtual reflection questions

Virtual reflection questions

Additional reflection opportunities

Additional reflection opportunities

Watching how others responded to similar questions

Watching how others responded to similar questions

After completing reflection questions for themselves, learners have the option of watching how participants in the in-person training responded to similar questions.

 

In order to teach learners in an online context the concept of actors mapping, I designed an exercise in which users learn about a case study from Kenya. After receiving information about the case study and identifying stakeholders, learners may hover over a graphic map of these stakeholders to learn how each stakeholder relates to one another.

 
Actor mapping example

An interactive map visualizing various actors in a conflict and their relationships to one another.

 

To adapt an in-person conflict tree exercise into a virtual format, I designed an interaction in which learners apply aspects of the case study from Kenya to the conflict tree model. To demonstrate learning, users drag and drop aspects of the case study onto the appropriate part of the tree — the branches, trunk, or roots, where the branches represent effects of the conflict, the truck represents the core issues, and the roots represent underlying causes. I also embedded a video of how participants in the in-person workshop used the same model for a fictional case study to provide online learners with other examples of how to use the framework.

 
 

To provide online learners with the experience of applying the pyramid model, I designed an interaction in which learners watch four videos regarding a case study of peacebuilding projects in Bosnia and Herzegovina. After watching each video, the learner drags and drops the images representing the projects onto the correct part of the pyramid model. Based on this action, learners received feedback for why each project may or may not be considered a certain type of approach.

 
 

While several of the exercises in the online course were derived from the in-person workshop, some exercises were unique to the online course. For example, the print materials provided by the client included an individual quiz intended to help practitioners identify their own individual conflict style. As self-awareness of one's own conflict style is important when analyzing how to respond to conflict on a larger scale, I transformed this static quiz into an interactive one. Learners drag a slider for each question of the quiz to indicate the extent to which the statement reflects their own style. At the end of the quiz, learners get scores that help them understand which styles they tend to exhibit more or less of.

 
 

In addition to the individual conflict styles quiz, the online course also features a unique interaction that provides information about challenges practitioners often face when trying to measure the progress of peacebuilding projects. In order to convey this information, I conceptualized a maze that functions both as a metaphor for the challenges presented, as well as an engaging exercise in which learners actively drag a pencil graphic through the maze in order to learn about each challenge.

 
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Learners drag a virtual pencil through the maze in order to learn about each peacebuilding challenge.

 

By presenting content in an interactive way, providing frequent opportunities to reflect and demonstrate learning, including ample case-studies, and embedding videos of other interpretations of material, I aimed to make the experience of completing this course as engaging as the in-person workshop. Even if it falls somewhat short of capturing the spirit and connection when learning with others in person, it has made the material more accessible to a much larger, global audience. 

These same principles of presenting content in an interactive way, providing frequent opportunities to reflect and demonstrate learning, including ample case-studies, and embedding videos all continue to serve me in how I present research and strategy synthesis. By increasing engagement with research and synthesis material, I increase the persuasiveness and, ultimately, impact of the research and strategy content itself.