Project Type: Induction Module
Organisation overview: Fire and Emergency New Zealand
On July 1 2017, Fire and Emergency New Zealand (Fire and Emergency) was established under the Fire and Emergency New Zealand Act 2017 (the Act) to bring together New Zealand’s 40-plus urban and rural firefighting organisations and around 14,000 people. In addition to Fire and Emergency’s purpose of protecting and preserving lives, property, and the environment, the organisation gained an extended mandate to provide a wide range of services to communities.
To meet this new mandate and ensure a strong community voice is maintained, the Act required Fire and Emergency to establish two new functions. One of these functions was to establish Local Advisory Committees (LACs), and the other was local planning (also referred to as district planning).
To ensure LAC members receive a high-quality onboarding experience, their induction process must reflect the nature of their role and be consistent and accurate with the work they undertake.
Discovering the Gap: Challenges and Opportunities
In July 2022, Fire and Emergency sought to collaborate with Wavelength Learning to design a blended national induction programme tailored to LACs.
LACs play a critical role by undertaking local engagement and providing community-focused advice to Fire and Emergency on local values, needs, opportunities, issues and risks. Currently, seven of 16 LACs have been established across New Zealand in Northland, Tairāwhiti, Hawke’s Bay, Marlborough, West Coast, Otago and Chatham Islands. Previously, LAC training consisted of lengthy in-person workshops. Feedback from LAC members highlighted issues such as time inefficiency, repetition, and an opportunity to deliver content in a more engaging way.
During the initial Discovery phase, Wavelength gathered essential information about the learners’ needs. This was followed by in-depth user interviews with LAC members, which were then analysed for common themes and insights.
The four main themes were:
- Clarity was needed around the LAC role and where it fits into Fire and Emergency’s strategic landscape.
- The current induction content was not entirely relevant, and more practical aspects of the role needed to be covered.
- There was a need for more information on how the LAC should be engaging with the community.
- LAC members were unsure of what they could do to make a real difference and how this difference would be measured.
Designing for Impact: A Comprehensive Learning Experience
Wavelength initiated an internal innovation design lab, convening a team of creative minds to brainstorm captivating and dynamic approaches for onboarding new LAC members.
The learning design principles that underpin the learning experience were:
- Making the learning simple, engaging, and memorable.
- Connecting to a human-centric purpose through elements like storytelling and scenarios.
- Visual design principles focused on a clear user interface design with consistent visual language.
- The tone of the learning experience is a balance between professional and fun.
Delivering Results: Immersive Induction Learning
The blended onboarding experience that was developed is comprised of three online modules, each lasting 15–20 minutes, to provide foundational knowledge for a face-to-face workshop. At the start of each module, a 2-minute video conveys key messages about the module’s content and emphasises the value LACs bring. The videos feature key personnel, including the Chair of the Fire and Emergency Board and a current LAC Member. LAC members were expected to complete the online modules before attending their workshop.
The modules played a pivotal role in guiding how the workshop sessions were facilitated by Fire and Emergency. To support their learning, newly appointed LAC members also received a workbook, which served as a point of reference to help navigate through the online modules, and a reference document for the workshop. These resources were easily accessible online and could be downloaded to an LAC member’s device.
There were two phases to the development process: an Alpha (wireframe developed in Adobe XD) and a Beta stage (developed in Articulate Storyline). Articulate Storyline was used as the authoring tool because of the bespoke nature of the modules and the flexibility to build an experience that allowed the learner to freely navigate through each topic. Rounds of feedback ensured the content was accurate and meaningful. Feedback was then collected from a user test group (that included LAC members and Fire and Emergency personnel).
Innovation is at the heart of our learning experience. We’ve designed our modules to immerse LAC members in different ‘fictional’ towns, each representing diverse landscapes found throughout Aotearoa, New Zealand, from rural settings to urban environments and bustling cityscapes. These towns bear names inspired by quintessential Kiwi values, carefully integrated to resonate with the core purpose of LACs. It was also important to weave Fire and Emergency’s commitment to working with Māori as tangata whenua (people of the land) throughout the modules, which is reflected in both the content and visual design.
Our first town, ‘Maunga Kotahitanga’, translates to ‘unity mountain’, symbolising the strength and connection that unity brings. The second, ‘Riu Hapori’, or ‘community valley’, embodies the sense of shelter and protection that comes from belonging to a community. Lastly, ‘Te Awa Tuakiri’, or ‘identity river’, represents the nourishment, support, and heritage integral to one’s identity journey.
To ensure our content is not just informative but practical, real-life LAC examples were incorporated into each of the fictional towns, ensuring the learning experience for new LAC members was both relevant and easily applicable to their roles.
Our Impact: Transformative Learning Experiences
As of May 2023, 19 LAC members were asked to complete the pilot of the new induction modules. In 2024, Fire and Emergency will establish four more LACs in Waikato, Taranaki, Nelson-Tasman, and Southland, where newly appointed LAC members will complete these induction modules.
Fire and Emergency ran an evaluation following the first LAC induction in the refreshed format. The responses were anonymous and provided the National LAC team with insights that can be used to plan future inductions for new members.
Here are the key findings:
- The new online modules received an overall rating of 8/10
- The LAC Induction Workbook received an overall rating of 8/10
- The Face-to-Face Workshop received an overall rating of 7.18/10.
One key impact metric Fire and Emergency used to evaluate the efficacy of the modules was whether or not respondents felt prepared to step into their role as a LAC member following their induction. The survey found that the average score was 8.27/10. (Scale: 0 being not at all prepared and 10 being fully prepared).
The modules are an effective guide for induction, and new members feel well prepared.
Feedback from the National LAC team demonstrates the successful implementation of the new induction module.
Here are the key findings:
- Overall, Wavelength’s deliverables met our expectations – 9/10
- Management and suitability of personnel – superior
- Quality of deliverables – superior
- Communication – superior
- Cooperative relationships – superior.
The project had gone well. The modules produced are fit for purpose, well received by new LAC members, and are good value. We enjoyed the process – it was collaborative and there were lots of check-in points. The team was very responsive and worked to tight timeframes.
From the National LAC team’s perspective, being able to offer a consistent, self-led approach for new members to understand the role and function of their LAC was essential. Effective modules ensured that when new members were appointed to their committees, they were able to undertake self-paced learning, and build momentum ahead of attending their first LAC meetings and meeting with their local Fire and Emergency stakeholders.
Not only did Wavelength Learning exceed the expectations of Fire and Emergency, but it also left a lasting impression on new LAC members now and over the next few critical years.
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