Developing, delivering and iterating a new learning product

Image credit: Marina Vitale via Unsplash

​Clear Horizon Academy: Building skills in collaborative design and evaluation.

On Monday 22 July, 2019, we launched the Clear Horizon Academy. The Clear Horizon Academy is a learning initiative of Clear Horizon and it was borne out of a larger strategic direction to move further ahead with the aid of digital transformation.

Fundamentally, our aim is to empower learners to build their practical skills in collaborative design and evaluation. By doing this, we build sector capability. The potential impact of this is better outcomes in projects, programs and systems. We also increase the visibility and importance of evaluation. For me, these pieces are all important as meaningful work, work that really matters (and this is subjective) is inherently important to me – it’s the intrinsic value of contributing your piece to something much greater – to building a better world.

A few months ago, I completed a great short course in Product Management with RMIT online. In the last four months, I’ve integrated product management theories, tools and processes to articulate, clarify and sharpen what the Clear Horizon Academy has to offer. I thought it would be timely to start documenting some of the steps of this experience, to work out loud and to share my own learning experiences.

The Clear Horizon Academy is a new learning product of Clear Horizon and we work under the umbrella of Digital Transformation. We’re a lean team and operate like a start-up. In practice, we work with the Clear Horizon executive team, collaborative design and evaluation consultants across the Clear Horizon business, a developer, a video coordinator, graphic design and we collaborate with marketing. I’m also closely supported and guided by the Clear Horizon Chief Innovation Officer.

In the first few months we have completed our business plan, worked on our product strategy, learning system and product development.

The Clear Horizon Academy offers:

We have also launched and delivered our first wholly online course – the Most Significant Change.

The design approach to this online course at a high level included:

  • 3-4 hours of learning per week to fit around the learner’s schedule – this includes a mix of text, image, video and interactivities
  • 13 Videos
  • Real world assignments to expand learning and practical application
  • Access to in-course discussions with peers and mentors
  • A mix of activity-based and free-form group virtual sessions (we used Microsoft Teams) with a mentor – for this one it was with Zazie Tolmer (Copenhagen, Denmark) 
  • A group virtual Q&A session with Dr Jess Dart (Melbourne, Australia)

This online learning model has worked well and weekly pulse checks have revealed very high levels of learners thinking about things in different/new ways as a result of the course and the identification that course was informative and practical – all rated above 95% across learner responses. Initial feedback indicates a healthy course, but numbers will tell on the economy of it – iteration at all levels is key and we can move fast. Our next online course, commencing on Monday 4 November, is on ‘Evaluating place-based approaches‘.

As Björk puts it, “I find it so amazing when people tell me that electronic music [learning] has no soul. You can’t blame the computer. If there’s no soul in the music [learning], it’s because nobody put it there”. So I put soul into my work. I like to make my work speak. Covering everything from high level strategy right through to gritty editing in online learning. I think big, but I’m also fanatical about the detail.

Have a look at what we have coming up over the next few months. A healthy mix of face-to-face and online learning courses. Plus, we’re working on a learning framework, a diagnostic tool to support learners (new and experienced) to identify what learning is most relevant to them, and we’re cooking up some other learning product provisions such as masterclasses and a podcast 🎧. Last, but in no way least, we’ll be reviewing our Learning Management System (LMS) (we’ve inherited an LMS that is suitable for proof of concept purposes, but it may not be sustainable at scale), learning system architecture, LRS and xAPI.

Watch this space as I continue to work out loud 🎤.

And, learning community, look at this Clear Horizon ‘Magic Wall’ – it’s a wonderful, physical way to play – much better than using sticky post-it notes! It’s a piece of fabric that’s sticky enough to have pieces of paper hold!

Feel free to comment and ask questions 📝

Aliki 👍

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The Clear Horizon Academy is a learning initiative of Clear Horizon.

We acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the lands on which Clear Horizon is located and where we conduct our business. We pay our respects to Elders, past, present and emerging. Clear Horizon is deeply committed to honouring Indigenous peoples’ unique cultural and spiritual relationships to the land, waters and seas; and to transforming evaluation practice to uphold and reflect Indigenous values.
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Dr Jess Dart 3

Dr Jess Dart

CEO & Founder

Inventor of practical methodologies and highly demanded facilitator, Jess navigates complexity with comfort and helps her clients to become clear about their desired outcomes and how to get there.

Recipient of the 2018 AES Award for outstanding contribution to evaluation, Jess has over 25 years experience in evaluating and designing social change initiatives and strategies in Australia and overseas.

In October 2005, Jess founded Clear Horizon Consulting and is now CEO. She is also a board member of the Australasian Evaluation society.

Jess is passionate about developing and designing real world evaluation and strategy for social justice and sustainability. She particularly works with systems change interventions, large scale strategy and social innovation. After completing her PhD she co-authored the Most Significant Change (MSC) guide alongside Dr Rick Davies, which is now translated into 12 different languages.

MSC is well suited to evaluation in the complex emergent context. The latest innovation by Jess, Collaborative Outcomes Reporting (COR), is a collaborative form of impact evaluation.

Jess is also an active mum and has two teenage boys. In a quiet moment, she loves reading far-future science fiction and enjoys long distance running.