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Autism Swim achieve a different global stroke with Catalyst and Totara Learning

Autism Swim (AS) supports around 1200 learners across 15 countries worldwide. The learners are from a range of different aquatic disciplines, including occupational therapists, swimming teachers and surfing teachers.

Autism Swim is an award-winning international charity with a mission to change the hugely under-reported drowning statistics for those with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and to make aquatics inclusive. By certifying aquatic professionals around the world as Autism Swim Approved, they mitigate the risks associated with drowning for those with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). They aim to have a significant impact on lowering the alarming statistics. For children with ASD, any aquatic based recreation will enrich their health, well-being and quality of daily life.

Children with autism are often naturally inquisitive and nearly half of all children with autism wander into dangerous water situations. There are many reasons why they find joining in normal lessons difficult and challenging. For those children living close to the coast, swimming is an important part of their country's outdoor culture. It is important for many parents to help their children embrace aquatic recreation, and enjoy the restorative and calming values of water, whilst balancing their responsibility of care and assessing risk.

The Challenge

When Autism Swim made the decision to digitise their content in October 2018, it was paramount that there were specific certification requirements each learner had to undertake. This included training modules and the distribution of monthly resources, in addition to three-monthly quizzes.

The goal was to develop an easy to navigate and engaging learning experience which encompassed all certification elements, catered to different learning styles, and would ‘drip feed’ new content on a regular basis; keeping in mind that many of their learners had very little, or no online learning experience.

Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) are 160 times more likely to drown than their developing peers.

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The Solution

Catalyst helped AS customise their Totara LMS platform to meet certification requirements and specific customer needs. Catalyst advised AS that in order to reach maximum engagement from learners, the dashboard needed to be streamlined. The feedback on this change was very positive.

Autism Swim applied HR import and manual method to create accounts on the LMS platform. Learners receive an automated email when their account is created. They log-in to review a customised dashboard, where they access the currently available course modules.

AS takes advantage of Totara’s dynamic audiences to enroll learners onto their respective courses (audiences use course completion data, positional and organisational framework for assignment submission).

There are two types of courses on the platform, Training Modules and Resources and Quizzes (the structure is repeated yearly). Training modules include a set of SCORM package activities, when all are completed the learner can print out the completion certificate and advance to the resources and quizzes course. In the Resources & Quizzes course we use Catalyst’s re-engagement plugin to release content monthly (after a delay of x weeks and therefore releasing content every month). The content comprises of a set of different resources (PDFs, images, videos) which users interact with. Learners have three monthly mandatory quizzes to complete.

To assess knowledge retention AS uses a set of quiz activities (either embedded within the SCORM modules, or as an individual Quiz activity within a course). An 80% correct answer result is required to successfully complete a quiz.

Totara also delivers certificates for trainers based on the level they achieve.

Catalyst and AS also collaborated to built a custom report, helping to track users who do not yet satisfy all of the certification criteria. These reports pull data from different sources, and allow users and AS team members the best view of where people are at in their certification journey.

AS is using scheduled course completion reports, which are sent to relevant stakeholders (generally leaders or managers of the organisations that sign up with them).

Being open source, the Totara platform has great community support resource. We interact regularly with the different forums online. Catalyst’s support has been rapid and responsive during the continuous version upgrade process of our LMS. We have reliable on-going LMS support giving assurance and peace of mind, as all security and functionality improvements are added quickly to our instance. – Marko Kovacevic, LMS Manager

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The Results

AS always wanted to expand and grow and now more than ever, they can do this on a global scale with the power of online learning toolsets. Catalyst and the Totara LMS platform has ensured a truly scalable solution. Within a few months of launching, Autism Swim expanded into Malaysia and are now operating in 15 countries. AS learners can access consistent content anywhere, anytime.   

The online learning programme has many measurable benefits. It has removed time and logistic constraints imposed by traditional classroom training. AS no longer faces the challenges of instructor availability, and trying to manage inflexible schedules. It has significantly increased the accessibility of their certification courses. A centralised LMS training programme is a powerful analytical tool. It means they can create and modify courses for all their learners globally. In addition, they can collate and analyse data from their users to improve or modify courses.

AS now has the capability to cater to different learning styles, and due to the nature of the organisation, the amount of impact they have worldwide.

Autism Swim is now delivering courses for 1,200 learners, teaching groups of 12 participants each week – that’s over 14,000 children learning to enjoy the water safely, giving peace of mind to thousands of families and an improved quality of life for all.

Autism Swim is the only certification body in the world specific to autism and aquatics, and our Totara platform has been the catalyst to our expansion over the last 2-3 years. We are beyond grateful to Georgina and the Catalyst crew for creating such a solid and scalable solution to our needs. – Erika Gleeson, Founder/CEO of Autism Swim