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The Australian Football League increase monetisation opportunities with ecommerce-enhanced LMS

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 Challenge

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, female 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 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 cost for administering training sessions using an LMS to establish virtual classrooms and e-learning options on the 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 cost and time delays in preparing and delivering new learning initiatives and take advantage of national simultaneous launch timing.
  • Increase opportunities for ecommerce and monetisation through increasing membership

The Solution

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 medium to long term for:

  • Coaches
  • Clubs
  • Officials
  • Administrators
  • Umpires
  • Players

The LMS design needed to satisfy key criteria for technical flexibility and cater for a broad range of user experience:

  • Personalised user experience for each audience to allow different collections of resources and other collateral to be presented according to need
  • 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 the 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 cultural awareness level of community football clubs in Australia
  • Increase number of multicultural individuals participating in Australian Football
  • Harmonise 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:
    • Concussion
    • 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 ecommerce 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 further cost efficiency.

Data for players, coaches and officials registered on the Player & Personnel Management Database (PPM) is synchronised 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 Results

The project delivered key strategic outcomes

  • Enabled eCommerce;
  • Automated integration with upstream AFL systems such as the Coaches and Clubs databases;

Caters for a broad range of user experience:

  • Management of courses, resources and workflows to support audience-based learning pathways and annual accreditation
  • Secure access dependent on user role
  • Personalised ‘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 roadmap to grow the platform to cater for new user groups including:

  • Club program
  • Umpire program
  • AFL Women
  • Courseware refresh

The roadmap ultimately aims to deliver:

  • A consolidated one-stop facility for all of the AFL educational needs.
  • Componentisation 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 anticipated that with flexible options for learning and development, coaches of all levels will be more incentivised 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 to player retention at all levels of the sport.”

Joshua Attwood, Coaching Membership Coordinator, AFL
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