eLearning to the rescue at CRI

by | Jan 25, 2016 | Case Studies

Big compliance project, tight deadlines and no budget? Check out this award-winning story from the Charity sector for great tips!

CRI, The Crime Reduction Initiative faced a seemingly impossible task. They had to prove that 3,000 staff were compliant in information security – but they had no budget and a tight, two month deadline.

With no experience in instructional design, but practical help from staff at Virgin Media and support from the wider eLearning community, The CRI information security eLearning module was declared the winner of the Best eLearning programme in the Charity Learning Awards 2015. 

Read on to find out how.

The Organisational Need:

CRI wanted to improve its culture of information security, to protect staff and clients. Workers also have to evidence their understanding of how information security is managed within their job roles, to meet Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) requirements. Staff not only had to evidence completing training, they had to demonstrate compliance to ICO auditors.

Overcoming barriers of no time, experience or budget:

Although she had no hands on practical experience in instructional design herself, Stella O’Neill, L&D Project Manager at CRI, did have Articulate Studio 09 software to create eLearning, so she turned to the Charity Learning Consortium for support. The Consortium connected Stella with Virgin Media, a friend and supporter of GivebackUK.

Virgin Media staff were invaluable in providing hands on practical training and troubleshooting.  Paul Brennan, Instructional Designer at Virgin Media, ran a webinar with Stella, to go over the basics of creating eLearning, and mentored her through the production process. Both the Charity Learning Consortium community and Articulate’s e-Learning Heroes online network also provided invaluable knowledge and support.

Paul Brennan commented: “Stella and the team at CRI did a fantastic job in very challenging circumstances. They were eager to create the best possible learning experience for their people and it was this enthusiasm that made them great to work with.  Well done to everyone involved  – their award is thoroughly deserved.”


The course gave very practical examples, with the focus on ‘why’ and ‘how’ rather than law. Learners were taken through real life scenarios provided by staff and asked to make choices, they explored a virtual office to discover the possible dangers and they even had a go at cracking a password! All scenes were personalised to CRI with things like posters of CRI’s values on the walls and CRI mugs on desks.

Managers can track their team’s completions, and drill down into more detail, on the charity’s learning management system (LMS).


A marketing campaign was planned to not only drive staff engagement with the eLearning but embed it within their practice. This ensured that people knew that it was coming, and explained why the eLearning and the audit were important to CRI. An email campaign, together with banners on the CRI intranet, helped to push these messages. Weekly reminders and tips about information security also featured on the charity’s LMS welcome page.


The Information Commissioner’s Office carried out an audit, and CRI passed. Stella also carried out feedback with learners: 88% agreed or strongly agreed that they were more confident in recognising and dealing with security breaches.


As a result of the marketing campaign, with noticeable support from senior management, staff engagement was high and 2,500 out of 3,000 staff completed the eLearning within 60 days. Staff commented in feedback that they really liked the way the course felt like it was targeted at them. They appreciated the pictures of CRI posters and branded mugs in the eLearning scenes and said they could recognise real life scenarios from experience. They were also surprised to recognise their own passwords used as examples!

Impact at CRI:

  • Reported incidents involving service user information was down 29% on the previous year
  • Security incidents were down 50% on previous year
  • There was a huge increase in reporting of data security breaches – up 258% on the previous year from 52 to 134

Staff say they have a better understanding of what constitutes a data breach and how to report it, with many reporting possible breaches ‘just in case’. This demonstrates the way the organisational culture has shifted.

CRI’s top tips for creating eLearning:

  • Marketing is vital
  • Make use of support networks both online and face to face – the Charity Learning Consortium community was invaluable.
  • Keep it simple and don’t tell people what they already know
  • Find out how the subject relates to staff’s everyday experiences
  • Let people know why it’s important to them/ the organisation
  • Involve users in content creation and testing
  • Relate it back to scenarios they recognise

“Marketing the eLearning took more time than anything else, so don’t underestimate this. A steady campaign before the course was even created, with visual teasers, helped to raise awareness of why the learning was important – not just for the organisation but for all staff and service users. We tried to use humour to create memorable posters, which were in key places to ensure the subject was in everyone’s minds” said Stella O’Neill
“I’ve learnt so much about design from the experience, and if I was starting again I would also:

  • Have less text on a page to make it easier for people with dyslexia
  • Make the next and back buttons in scenarios more glaringly obvious
  • Test in multiple browsers and devices

“With an update to our data protection policy, we’re relaunching the course so luckily I’ve been able to try and address these points.”

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