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Francesca Reyes

SFU Student Undergraduate
Communication, Art + Technology › Interactive Arts + Technology › Design

This experience significantly enhanced my confidence as a designer within a professional team, notably in transforming educational content into engaging interactive e-learning modules for community workers. My time at VCH highlighted the importance of contributing to projects with practical significance, especially those positively impacting communities.
Experience Details
Introduction + Preparation

During my initial cooperative education placement, I served as a multimedia designer at Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH), where I was part of the Learning Technologies team. My primary responsibility entailed developing immersive e-learning modules tailored for staff and clinicians onboarding the Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) teams. Collaborating with instructional designers on these educational modules significantly honed my design skills, particularly in handling text-intensive content. By the conclusion of my term, I had successfully converted course storyboards into interactive and engaging modules. This experience of crafting resources to aid vital community workers not only refined my design abilities but also underscored the significance of user-centered design and visual communication within the e-learning industry.  

Preparation Tips for Future Students

There are two basic recommendations for those who are considering a similar pathway: 

  1. Learn Effective File Management: Effective file management skills play a critical role in ensuring organization during both your work term and academic years. These skills are crucial not only for managing your immediate workload but also for creating an organized archive of assets. This organized archive facilitates easy access to materials when compiling your portfolio. A well-structured file system streamlines the process of managing multiple feedback cycles and revisions, a reality I experienced firsthand as I navigated through numerous file versions of programs. 

  1. Be Adaptable with New Tools: Learning to efficiently master new tools is a vital skill. In my experience, Articulate Storyline was the primary application used by VCH for developing educational course modules on their LearningHub platform. I was not proficient with this tool at first, but by learning shortcuts and recognizing parallel features with other tools like Figma and PowerPoint, I was able to improve how I used Storyline. Watching instructional tutorials and asking for advice from colleagues proved to be extremely helpful. I strongly recommend this approach as colleagues know that there is a learning curve for applications and are willing to help. 

During my Experience
Day to Day

My workdays included progress check-ins with coworkers, planning with to-do lists, asset creation, and project work. Twice a week, my day began with a 9 AM online meeting with the whole team. This provided a platform to discuss ongoing project updates and important announcements. 

Before engaging in any project work, I referred to a bullet journal that I created on Notion. This helped me organize tasks, set deadlines, and prioritize objectives, ensuring focused and on-track progress. 

Incorporating Figma into my workflow allowed me to rapidly try various text layout ideas and character scenes, and experiment with expanding color schemes. Its flexibility allowed for quick comparisons and adjustments before adapting these concepts into Articulate Storyline, where I fleshed out the final versions. Adobe Illustrator was pivotal for creating intricate assets such as textured characters and environments. It offered creative freedom that was not available in Figma. 

Moving my designs from Figma into Articulate Storyline posed significant challenges and required considerable time, particularly when incorporating interactive elements such as drag-and-drop or matching activities. This task demanded the customization of these activities to ensure they aligned perfectly with the course context, all while navigating the complexities and limitations of Storyline, which represented an ongoing learning process. Upon releasing modules for feedback, I diligently integrated suggestions and modifications to enhance the user experience.  

Video editing was also a significant aspect of my role, enhancing course modules with compelling interviews. I used Adobe Premiere Pro to refine sound and visuals before embedding these videos into Articulate Storyline, enriching the educational experience. 

Weekly meetings with my supervisor and a fellow designer allowed me to obtain feedback and guidance. Monthly sessions with course content designers provided valuable insight and an avenue for presenting my work. 

Lunch breaks were for socializing and stepping away from screens, sometimes spent strolling outside. At the end of the day, I revisited my Notion journal, noting pending tasks and preparing for the following day's requirements, ensuring no loose ends remained. 

Learning and Adaptation

Throughout my experience, I learned to adjust to the traditional 9-5 work structure and commuting routine. Unlike typical school projects, the heavily text-based course content I worked on at VCH necessitated different solutions. Although I engaged in tasks that needed illustration, these were primarily for a single module. Other modules required me to visually reorganize content hierarchies for better slide comprehension. 

Conversations with a colleague highlighted the importance of file management. Backups, both local and on shared drives, became a safeguard against accidental data loss or instances when my office laptop was unavailable.

Utilizing Articulate Storyline as the primary tool for developing e-learning modules introduced a considerable learning curve. However, finding similarities to familiar software like Figma and PowerPoint enabled me to adapt quickly. Mastering shortcuts led to a more efficient workflow, especially in navigating the complex features of Storyline, because transferring designs from Figma to Storyline was challenging due to platform discrepancies, particularly in replicating the exact layout. Implementing complex component states in Storyline was time-consuming, prompting me to opt for simpler yet equally effective designs that were less cumbersome to execute than my original plans. 

Continued practice and thorough exploration of Storyline's features while working on each module significantly aided in overcoming these challenges. With each new module I developed, my proficiency improved. I made it a point to revisit earlier modules to ensure consistent quality across all my work. This approach not only enhanced my skills in using Storyline but also ensured a high level of quality and coherence in the e-learning modules I created. 

The journey involved optimizing layouts, incorporating user feedback iteratively, and refining content design. Each step contributed to a dynamic learning experience, integrating design principles and user-centric enhancements. The result was a comprehensive learning module optimized for accessibility, comprehension, and an engaging user experience. 

This adaptation process, from acclimating to a structured work environment to mastering new tools and design techniques, emphasizes the dynamic learning journey inherent in this co-op experience.

Accomplishments and Challenges

Creating well-received interactive modules was a significant accomplishment, earning praise from stakeholders and educators from the ACT team, and course designers. However, aligning intricate healthcare content with captivating visuals presented constant challenges. Overcoming these obstacles involved seeking clarification through queries and implementing activities to enhance comprehension. The positive feedback highlighted the engaging nature of the design, reinforcing its effectiveness. 

Relating more to design, I encountered challenges with readability and navigation within existing modules. To enhance text visibility and make characters distinct from the environment, I utilized contrasting colors from the established colour palette, using shades to expand the colour palette when needed. When breaking up chunks of text, I learned how to use motion as another way to create hierarchy and create fluid transitions from one slide to the next. These animations helped create a gamified experience in navigating in and out of various modals. Through repeated practice of content organization, colour theory, and interaction design, I learned valuable lessons in user-centered design. Challenges with Articulate Storyline necessitated creative problem-solving and adaptation to platform constraints. For instance, while designing complex scenes involving numerous character dialogues, I learned to strategically position various dialogue boxes, optimizing user experience by minimizing excessive navigational clicks. 

Reflection & Tips

I initially felt intimidated when I landed my first co-op job, a sentiment common among many students. However, as I immersed myself in the role, I recognized my competence with the unwavering support of my colleagues.  

Several factors contributed to my positive co-op experience, leading to a decision to extend my term: 

1. Office Environment: The camaraderie among my office mates created a welcoming atmosphere. Their sociability made office time enjoyable and fostered invaluable career connections. 

2. Growth and Encouragement: Receiving feedback and appreciation from course designers and fellow multimedia colleagues after dedicating weeks to module development was motivating. Witnessing the evolution of my skills—particularly in Articulate Storyline, a previously unfamiliar tool—boosted my confidence. Project requirements allowed creative exploration, empowering me to enhance visual elements and build upon recurring characters.  

Most Valuable Aspects of This Experience

This experience significantly enhanced my confidence as a designer within a professional team, notably in transforming educational content into engaging interactive e-learning modules for community workers. My time at VCH highlighted the importance of contributing to projects with practical significance, especially those positively impacting communities.

Connection to Academic Studies or Career Goals

Looking ahead, I would like to actively seek roles where my design proficiency can tangibly benefit and empower individuals in broader community contexts. My dedication lies in crafting impactful, user-oriented design solutions that transcend aesthetics, focusing on their real-world impact and meaningful contributions to society. 

Advice for Future Students

My term at Vancouver Coastal Health with the Learning Technologies team significantly fortified my design-oriented career aspirations, particularly in Visual Design. To prospective students embarking on a similar journey, I emphasize the importance of seeking guidance when faced with confusion or obstacles. Do not hesitate to seek clarification or advice from supervisors, mentors, or peers. Embrace opportunities to inquire about your assignments, explore diverse perspectives, and gain insights from peers regarding their career journeys. Engaging in such conversations fosters personal and professional growth, cultivating a broader understanding of the field while establishing invaluable connections. 

The willingness to seek guidance and absorb diverse perspectives will aid in your ability to learn and grow as a designer. These key takeaways are what I feel will position any student for success when continuing their professional beyond their initial co-op opportunity. Embrace curiosity, cultivate relationships, and remain receptive to learning—these principles will serve as guiding beacons throughout your career pursuits in Design. 


Francesca Reyes

SFU Student Undergraduate
Communication, Art + Technology › Interactive Arts + Technology › Design
visibility  306
Feb 8, 2024