Faced with the restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic, many organizations are having to pivot quickly to educate their employees in many previously unaddressed domains. The need for enhanced communication and education is heightened, as is the need for speed. As a learning and development organization, Obsidian Learning is uniquely positioned to help businesses quickly transform their messaging and learning assets into high-impact deliverables. To demonstrate our capability in this regard – and also to contribute to disseminating important information about best practices and proper hygiene as many businesses prepare for a return to work – we’ve created an on-line, freely available course based on OSHA guidelines, COVID–19 Workplace Preparedness: Steps Employers Can Take to Reduce Worker Exposure Risk.

Taking things a step further, we’d like to provide you with a window into the possibilities, evolution, levels of impact, and turnaround time associated with this particular learning deliverable and its various iterations.


Our first step was to zero in on reliable source material. We really wanted to focus on how organizations could inform their employees about safe workplace practices and mitigation measures, so OSHA was an obvious choice. Our free course is based on the official OSHA publication Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19.

When raising the issue of possibility, we’re addressing the various means of how the important information found in the OSHA documentation could be disseminated for greatest effect.

  • Possibility #1: Blast the OSHA documentation as-is in a company-wide e-mail and call it a day. No way is this going to be an effective strategy. Your employees are worried, anxious, and trying to balance work/home responsibilities as never before. You’ll be lucky if they read the cover page, much less the entire 35-page document.
  • Possibility #2: Develop a rapid conversion, user-friendly course based on solid source material. That’s our free course. It doesn’t have a lot of bells and whistles, but the essential information is there, and in a much more easily digestible format that the original document.
  • Possibility #3: Develop a custom, blended learning solution. While we haven’t completely converted our free course to a blended learning model, we are developing bits and pieces of it to show how the learning impact increases from possibility to possibility. To demonstrate this, let’s take a look at the evolution of the course from source content to some of the blended learning elements that we’ve created.


Step by step, the course was transformed from a functional – though dry and text-heavy – document to an intuitive, more visually engaging course with simple learning interactions. All of the important information is still there, but the potential for employee retention has increased dramatically. Better, but…let’s take a look at Lesson 3, Steps to Reduce Workers’ Risk of Exposure to SARS-CoV-2. The presentation is simple, clear, and text-based:

Obsidian Learning - Adapting Learning to the New Normal Steps

It’s fine, right? But look at what happens when this same list is transformed into an infographic:

Obsidian Learning - Adapting Learning to the New Normal Infographic

In terms of evolution, this is pretty high at the top of the food chain.

Levels of Impact

In my mind, there’s no question that the impact increases as the course evolved. Basic information is important, but not everyone will take the time to read the information if it seems laborious to do so, especially in light of today’s reduced attention spans. Our free course is a much-improved version of the basic information, with enhanced visual appeal and an intuitive user interface. It’s a good bet that completion rates will be higher, and retention will likely be much improved. Now look once again at our infographic, and imagine it as part of a cohesive, targeted learning program. The messaging is clear, the visual appeal is through the roof. In terms of impact, I’d say we have a clear winner.

Turnaround Time

From start to finish, Obsidian Learning’s free COVID-19 course was complete in a week. Our learning strategist examined the source material and developed the course using Rise. Our developers assisted with some of the technical aspects, we performed our usual rigorous in-house QC, and we posted the offering on our website a few days after course completion. It’s functional and meets an immediate need. Since our initial posting, we’ve been developing additional graphic elements. Two weeks later, we now have a variety of high-impact pieces that complement the initial, urgent message.

Many of our clients are currently confronted with a wide range of what must surely seem to be insurmountable problems. Developing effective learning solutions and impactful messaging should not be among them. Solutions exist for all budgets, learning needs, and across all industries. Our free COVID19 Workplace Preparedness course was developed with a two-pronged strategy: to put our skills to use to produce something that we hope will be truly useful as we navigate our “new normal,” but also to show how an urgent learning need can be met swiftly, and then built upon for optimum effect. At Obsidian Learning, that’s what we do.

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