The Australian Football League (AFL) owns and manages Australia’s premier sport - Australian Football. In 2018, the AFL continued to grow with record participation of 1,649,178 people. The AFL is committed to ensuring safe, welcoming and inclusive environments for all people involved in Australian Football.
To achieve this, the AFL adopts a specific and consistent approach to a range of social issues, underpinned by education, awareness-raising activities, support services, social responsibilities, research and evaluation and compliance.
The AFL has a history of developing face-to-face, online and paper-based learning and development programs to support a diverse multicultural and indigenous community of players, women’s teams, schools, community groups and accredited coaches.
The pace of growth in the sport, the increasing focus on positive physical and mental health outcomes for players and the annual accreditation requirements for coaches and officials, presented challenges to traditional methods of delivering learning and development programs.
The AFL needed to:
- Increase engagement and participation through the use of motivational and a positive user experience.
- Reduce costs of maintaining in-house software systems by using a cloud-based system accessible 24/7 in different time zones and geographic locations.
- Reduce costs for administering training sessions using an LMS to establish virtual classrooms and e-learning options on desktop and mobile devices.
- Reduce in-person training sessions and create a seamless training process that doesn’t require in-person instruction and take advantage of different learning models.
- Reduce costs and time delays in preparing and delivering new learning initiatives and take advantage of national simultaneous launch timing.
- Increase opportunities for e-commerce and monetization through increasing membership
The AFL worked with Androgogic to design and develop an LMS and information architecture to address the user experience needs of diverse audiences during a pilot that would be adaptable to support change over the mid to long terms for:
The LMS design needed to satisfy key criteria for technical flexibility and cater to a broad range of user experiences:
- Personalized user experience for each audience to allow different collections of resources and other collateral to be presented according to needs
- Provide a platform for the delivery of courses and resources to support annual accreditation
- Enable user friendly site navigation and ease of use
- Provide secure access dependent on user role and
- Allow self-registration and/or bulk user upload from different AFL key systems such as the Coaches, Players and Clubs databases.
Totara Learn and the Androgogic Totara Plus suite of products provided all the features required to support AFL objectives.
In 2017, the AFL tested the LMS design and a blended delivery model with a new learning initiative. The objectives of the initiative were to:
- Improve the level of cultural awareness of community football clubs in Australia
- Increase the number of multicultural individuals participating in Australian Football
- Harmonize AFL branding on the existing AFL Community site influenced by the more modern approach taken in AFL Women’s publications
- Present two courses in the pilot phase:
- Inclusion Cultural Awareness
- Create accounts for approximately 5,000 coaches.
The success of the pilot meant that in late 2017, additional coaching courses were added and the site expanded to include e-commerce and self-registration as well as a foundation architecture to allow other cohorts to be serviced including e.g. Clubs, Officials, and so on.
Building on that success in 2018, two separate services, Coach.AFL and Education.AFL, were migrated onto the new platform providing an integrated management environment to underpin national objectives, enable consistent and innovative learning design and achieve increased cost efficiency.
Data for players, coaches and officials registered on the Player & Personnel Management Database (PPM) is synchronized with two key learning environments:
- Education.AFL - a single point of access for players and officials to all content, and capacity for the individual to:
- Mandatory courses as well as the ability to access the Coaches bank of resources, if applicable.
- History of all ‘learning’ activity that players have completed, regardless of Club movement.
- Coach.AFL - a single point of access for all content including annual compliance training required at the start of each season:
- Includes video, audio, coaching scripts, podcasts, animations
- Dynamic Audiences for access to the right level of coaching: Auskick, Junior, Youth, Senior.
The project delivered key strategic outcomes
- Enabled e-Commerce;
- Automated integration with upstream AFL systems such as the Coaches and Clubs databases;
Caters to a broad range of user experience:
- Management of courses, resources and workflows to support audience-based learning pathways and annual accreditation
- Provide secure access dependent on user role and
- Personalized ‘dashboards’ for each audience
There are now over 86,000 people, including coaches, players and officials, using the platform for learning and professional development;
The platform will support the roll-out of future learning to new audiences:
- 12,000 umpires
- 20,000 State league players;
Supports development of contemporary online learning priorities including:
- Mental Health
The success of the project resulted in a commitment to a 2020 development road map to grow the platform to cater to new user groups including:
- Club program
- Umpire program
- AFL Women
- Courseware refresh
The road map ultimately aims to deliver:
- A consolidated one-stop facility for all AFL educational needs.
- Componentization and high levels of agility in the LMS architecture to support the AFL in adapting to ongoing change
- Confidence in the ability to maintain service within each increase of user capacity and access within ever-increasing high-usage periods.
“The evolution and rollout of the CoachAFL platform in 2018 means that we can now connect with over 30,000 community coaches nationally. As we continue to evolve and adapt CoachAFL overtime, the aim is to ultimately provide coaches with a suite of education, training and resources specific to the age groups and levels they are coaching, using a range of online, face-to-face and self-directed learning modules.
It is expected that with flexible options for learning and development, coaches of all levels will be more motivated to become lifelong, self-sufficient learners. As a result, our coaches will become more connected and the quality of coaching across this great game will improve and so will player retention at all levels of the sport.”