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Powerful security awareness training through video branching scenarios

Note: due to the sensitive nature of the course subject matter, names have been anonymised and images are for illustrative purposes only.

In June 2017, a long-standing LEO Learning client decided they wanted to use the power of immersive video drama to deliver critical learning points in a new piece of training.

A photo of a person in an airport checking passportsAs part of their responsibility for a number of key transport sites, the organisation needed to design and produce impactful, highly realistic anti-terrorism training.

This was learning that would literally save lives.

Security training exists to address very real threats. Shortcomings in training programmes can be exploited by increasingly sophisticated threats, with critical consequences for businesses and people.

It was vital that this new training approach fitted seamlessly with the organisation’s existing learning programmes and was engaging for a broad range of staff at different levels.

This wasn’t just about helping frontline personnel to stop dangerous people from boarding aeroplanes. All site employees, from management and ticketing staff to taxi drivers and coffee baristas, needed to be:

  • engaged with the learning
  • made fully aware of their part in protecting people from acts of terrorism and other criminal acts

Terrorist attacks can be sudden, violent and unconventional. This means constant vigilance and up-to-date knowledge is essential for the broad audience potentially involved in spotting and deterring threats.

A photo of a suitcase in an airport

Staff need to fully understand their individual roles and the collective responsibility for implementing the measures required to tackle terrorism and keep everyone safe.

Using high-quality drama to engage learners in critical training

For L&D teams, learner engagement is key in any subject. But it’s acutely important that learners feel emotionally engaged with anti-terrorism training, given the severe consequences of failure.

LEO Learning’s consultants and the organisation’s L&D team recognised that the complex and highly sensitive issues involved in the training would only resonate with learners if they were explored in an authentic, credible way.

This goes far beyond theoretical pieces of learning. Deterring terrorism by identifying the warning signs requires high-quality behavioural training.

A photo of a person in an airport wearing an apron

Having agreed this fundamental philosophy, LEO Learning’s team combined imaginative thinking, creativity and technical skill in their approach. Hiring a large public site that could be transformed to represent indoor and outdoor scenarios, we carried out a series of video shoots to create several scenarios over five days of filming.

Turning the space into a site closely matching a transport hub, a cast of 15 actors and 40 extras created a variety of security-based scenarios. These ranged from the relatively straightforward and everyday, such as locking a building correctly, to a complex and dangerous weapons attack.

Gripping, realistic scenarios that build real-life understanding

LEO Learning’s learning designers and video and animation team took care of every aspect of the shoot in intricate detail. These included:

  • Creating treatments and drama scripts
  • Casting and crewing
  • Scenes shot on multiple cameras
  • Choreography of set-piece scenes with large numbers of people
  • Production design including appropriate signage, furniture and fittings
  • Interwoven narratives that functioned as ‘branching’ stories
  • Localisation for the target audience, such as dialect and accent
  • All post-production work (including edits, grading and sound design)

LEO Learning already had a high level of trust with the organisation, having taken responsibility for maintaining their existing elearning courses.

A photo of a technician checking a plane at an airport

Building on this relationship, we worked collaboratively to design three branching scenarios that could educate anyone who regularly worked at the sites.

Built in gomo, our sister company’s cloud-based, fully responsive authoring tool, these strands were based around:

  • Identifying suspicious behaviour
  • An active shooter situation with procedures to follow
  • Insider threats, such as being asked to smuggle goods

The suspicious behaviour challenge called upon learners to identify people and objects that looked out of place or odd at their workplace in a video split into multiple short snippets.

Learners needed to identify the threat in each scene. The total learning time for all of the videos in the module was around 15 minutes.

A photo of a child running around in an airport

Insider threats comprehensively introduced learners to internal dangers that they may not have been aware of. These were outlined in a series of talking-head style interviews across the course of the five-minute standalone piece.

For example, these could include a driver delivering goods to a site asking to be given the same route each time without a clear reason for the request.

In the active shooter scenario, learners were given a high level of detail about the people in the films.

Their stories included a couple who had accidentally been split up, a family going on holiday with an elderly grandparent and an individual running late.

Knowing more about the people in each scene elicited a much greater level of connection among learners.

Helping employees to make the right decisions

If learners can’t relate to characters or situations in a scenario, they’re unlikely to form a connection with it. When learners become emotionally invested in a story, with relatable characters and believable situations, then they’re far more likely to remember the key learning points.

Choices had consequences in the active shooter scenario, with learners challenged to determine the correct course of action. That could mean running towards a loved one, hiding behind a door to another hallway or fighting the attacker.

In these simulations of high-pressure situations, making the right decisions, such as hiding rather than moving towards the danger, led to the best outcomes.

If they made the wrong decision, learners were shown the results of those decisions and given the opportunity to try again – a safe space to learn from mistakes.

Innovative video learning and drama can have a broad variety of uses beyond this example. While this approach proved a highly original way for the organisation to address a critical challenge, drama videos also allow us to explore different points of view, convey complex behaviours and truly engage learners.

For learners, the opportunity to practice taking the right actions in difficult situations is an invaluable chance to fully prepare themselves for rare and challenging events.

This kind of training is also an excellent way to engage a disparate range of employees, some of whom may be time-poor or more likely to watch and benefit from gripping branching scenarios.

Creating realistic, emotionally-affecting stories also provokes discussion, giving L&D teams the chance to facilitate an important exchange of knowledge and conversations.

At LEO Learning, we know how to deploy storytelling to create an engaging long-term experience for learners across difficult and complex subjects. As trusted partners on a critical learning programme, we can bring key messages to life and make sure your learning has real impact.

To find out how LEO Learning can help you revolutionise learning and development in your organisation, contact us today.

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Meet our expert

I joined LEO Learning in September 2017 as an Account Manager. I was previously working as a Senior Customer Success Manager for a company specialised in collecting UGC (user-generated content) and working closely with global automotive companies and their marketing and CRM departments. I have over 10 years’ experience in marketing and I have always been working directly with clients, which is something I really enjoy doing.

What still makes my day even after all these years working with customers is being able to connect with people and to make my customers' lives easier. There is nothing more rewarding for me in my job than delivering a project that is well thought through and seeing how it helps a client be successful at what they do.

We can say I am fairly new to L&D but I love learning new things myself, especially languages. I find it very gratifying being able to interact with people in their own language. It is challenging and awkward sometimes but makes for great memories. I am currently working on my Spanish and using blended learning at its best by mixing classroom courses, one to one Skype sessions, reading magazines, listening to the radio and interacting with native Spanish speakers on a regular basis.