Advocates for Children – CASA is a nonprofit organization based in Parker, CO that serves to speak up for abused and neglected children through court appointed special advocates. Advocates for Children is a chapter of the National Court Appointed Special Advocate Association.
CASA recruits, trains, and supports community volunteers who advocate for children who have open dependency & neglect cases, truancy cases, need additional education advocacy, or are an adolescent that may need some additional support.
Do to Covid-19, CASA needs to pivot their New Volunteer Training program from in-person to an online format. We were tasked with helping CASA make a smoother transition to an online training environment that is intuitive so they can easily use and manage it right away.
Sifting through CASA's current online training platform, we discovered that it was in much need of improvement. It wasn’t intuitive or well organized. For a trainee to find all the required materials, syllabus, and lessons they had to go to 3 separate pages and even then there was missing or incorrect information.
The original training platform was a series of pages and links on CASA’s existing website. The hierarchy changed from week-to-week and as a volunteer, once you learned where the training pieces were for week one, they would be in a different place for week two and week three.
One thing you not see from the website is that CASA’s volunteer coordinator was also sending out weekly emails with all the details and links. These emails took hours to craft and sometimes confused the volunteers even more.
Looking at the original site map, one can see the back-and-forth the volunteers had to navigate on a daily basis as they were trying to find their lessons and deliverables.
Most of these platforms were extremely expensive and catered towards larger universities and school districts.
Before our work began, CASA had just completed their first, 3-week online training course for 26 new volunteers. We were given access to 3 weeks worth of SurveyMonkey results that CASA implemented throughout their first course.
We also created our own survey which aimed at digging deeper into what would help make the online training experience better for the volunteers.
"My only complaint is that between the syllabus and what was listed for training online, it was often confusing to figure out what was due for the next webinar."
"The syllabi were very helpful, but sometimes it was hard to navigate the volunteer training page on CASA’s website. I got confused on what was expected to be completed.”
We found Google Classroom, an existing online platform, that helps students and teachers organize assignments, boost collaboration, and foster better communication. Since CASA operates without their own dedicated Dev Team, we wanted our final deliverable to be a quick, simple, and seamless solution so our client can continue training their selfless volunteers during the pandemic.
By organizing all of the necessary lessons, webinars, and legal documents & forms, we alleviated the confusion for the volunteers and created a strong information hierarchy. Now being able to include due dates and a submission portal, volunteers are now able to focus solely on learning.
We introduced this free, easy-to-use platform to our client and transferred every lesson to CASA's new Google Classroom and walked them through the new platform.
We included a How-To video explaining the ins and outs of Google Classroom to help future CASA instructors (see below).
We provided training manuals that will help CASA volunteers and employees run and manage their currentWordPress Website.
Next steps included keeping up with CASA to make sure there was a seamless transition for the next group of volunteers. Also, in the future, we'd like to continue creating their simple e-commerce site where CASA can sell branded merchandise which would help fund their programs.