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How can instructional design help tourists need to prepare themselves for travel in a country with some of the largest counterfeit money operations in the world?

We designed Counterfeit Caper in-house in response to a real experience. While vacationing in Peru, one of our team was surreptitiously passed counterfeit money. The embarrassment they experienced from innocently trying to buy food with fake money and the frustration they felt not knowing what to do, motivated us to design this learning experience. We believe that no one deserves to experience frustration, embarrassment or uncertainty while on vacation. The learning experience was created to assist Peruvian tourists in three areas:

  1. Recognize the high probability of receiving counterfeit money; even during a short trip
  2. Understand when and how to check Peruvian money for fakes
  3. React appropriately if they receive counterfeit money

Counterfeit Challenges

The concept presented a major challenge: how do we avoid creating an e-learning information dump and make the learning experience interactive for the learner. Each piece of Peruvian money had several different security features. Some features even differed between denominations. This meant that there was a great deal of technical information tourists needed to know and recall.

Solving Counterfeits

We felt the best learning solution would be an e-learning course along with a downloadable handout. This would allow learners from different parts of the world to prepare for their Peruvian vacation from the comfort of their own homes. The handout would provide all learners with a cheat sheet which they could bring along with them during their journey. Using the cheat sheet during their vacation, learners could recall the security features and the handy method used to check money.

Design & Development: Plenty of Practice

During the design and development process we gave a lot of thought to providing learners with lots of opportunities to practice. For that reason, we designed several quizzes and practice scenarios to include in the course. We actually designed so many that we had to leave some out! But we knew that sufficient spaced repetition along with realistic scenarios would be critical to learner success. We thought at great length about how we could make the course both exploratory and interactive so learners would progressively apply knowledge and skills in order to gain greater confidence.

The course layout and quizzes were designed in Affinity Designer. The narration and sound effects were created using Logic Pro. The script and on screen text were composed in a google sheet and then designed in Affinity Designer. The e-learning course was produced using Articulate Storyline. The handout was designed in Affinity Designer and then composed in Affinity Publisher.

Real Results: Eradicating Info-Dump

Counterfeit Caper was an excellent learning project. For one thing, we learned that bringing our concepts to life requires ingenuity and problem-solving to overcome some of the technical limitations of the Articulate software. More importantly, we learned why an e-learning course does not have to become to an information dump. Transforming any topic into an exploratory, engaging and practical learning experience is achievable with time and critical thinking. We also saw great value in creating learning experiences that put knowledge and skills into realistic settings that are relevant to learners’ needs and desires.

Our hope is to extend this learning experience to future Peruvian travelers at no cost. The goal would be to imbue vacationers with the confidence they need to enjoy their trip without any fear of being taken advantage of. Additionally, we hope to give travelers the skills they need to assist others with whom they travel to avoid counterfeit bills and coins. Feedback or comments from learners expressing greater confidence in their ability to avoid counterfeit money and react appropriately would be a huge success.

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Brian Harris

Brian Harris is the Chief of Design and Development with Brilliant Educational Services. He specializes in producing learning experiences and educational materials that are engaging, entertaining, and effective.