AFL increases monetisation opportunities
The Australian Football League (AFL), which owns and manages Australian football, has traditionally adopted a specific and consistent approach to a range of social issues. This is underpinned by education, awareness-raising activities, support services, social responsibilities, research and evaluation and compliance.
These include developing face-to-face, online and paper-based learning and development programmes to support a diverse multicultural and indigenous community of players, women’s 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.
Among its requirements, the AFL wanted to increase engagement and participation through a positive user experience. The AFL also wanted to reduce the costs of maintaining in-house software systems by using a cloud-based system that is available 24/7 in different time zones and geographic locations.
Further cost reduction was sought through administering training sessions using a Learning Management System (LMS) to establish virtual classrooms and e-learning options on desktop and mobile devices.
The AFL also wanted to reduce in-person training sessions and creating a seamless training process that can take advantage of different learning models. They also wanted to reduce costs and time delays associated with preparing and delivering new learning initiatives, while increasing opportunities for e-commerce and monetisation through increased memberships.
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 mid- to long-term.
The LMS design needed to satisfy key criteria for technical flexibility and cater to a broad range of user experiences. These include providing a personalised user experience for users to collect resources and collaterals to be presented according to each user’s needs.
It also needed to provide a platform for the delivery of courses and resources to support annual accreditation, enable user-friendly site navigation, provide secure access dependent on the user role, and allow self-registration and/or bulk user upload from different AFL key systems.
With Totara Learn and Androgogic Totara Plus suite of products providing all the features required to support AFL objective, Alexander Roche, CEO and founder of Androgogic, and Principal Educational Technologist, said, “Androgogic is proud to be a key partner with the AFL and we are committed to achieving the best possible business, technology and learning outcomes.
“We have developed a sophisticated enterprise scale Totara LMS for the AFL with advanced levels of automation to support current and planned national and international requirements.”
In 2017, the AFL tested the LMS design and a blended delivery model with a new learning initiative, which aimed to improve the level of cultural awareness of community football clubs in Australia, and increase the number of multicultural individuals participating in Australian football.
The initiative also harmonised AFL branding on the existing AFL Community site, which was influenced by the more modern approach taken in AFL Women’s publications. Two new courses were also presented in the pilot phase, while accounts were created 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 e-commerce and self-registration, as well as a foundation architecture to allow other cohorts to be serviced.
Building on that success, two separate services, Coach.AFL and Education.AFL, were migrated onto the new platform in 2018. This provided an integrated management environment to underpin national objectives, enable consistent and innovative learning design and achieve increased cost efficiency.
Data for players, coaches and officials registered on the Player and Personnel Management (PPM) database is synchronised with two key learning environments, Education.AFL and Coach.AFL.
Education.AFL provides a single point of access for players and officials to all content, while Coach.AFL provides a single point of access for all content, including annual compliance training required at the start of each session.
Joshua Attwood, Coaching Membership Coordinator, AFL, said, “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.”
The project delivered key strategic outcomes, such as enabling e-commerce and automated integration with upstream AFL systems.
It caters to a broad range of user experience, including management of courses, resources and workflows to support audience-based learning pathways and annual accreditation. It also provides secure access that is dependent on user role, as well as personalised ‘dashboards’ for each user.
There are now over 86,000 people, including coaches, players and officials, using the platform for learning and professional development. The platform will also support the roll-out of future learning to new audiences, including 12,000 umpires and 20,000 state league players, and the development of contemporary online learning priorities, including mental health.
The success of the project resulted in a commitment to a 2020 development road map to grow the platform to cater to new user groups and to ultimately deliver a consolidated one-stop facility for all AFL educational needs.
The LMS architecture will also provide componentisation and high levels of agility to support the AFL in adapting to on-going change, and provide the ability to maintain service within each increase of user capacity and access within ever-increasing high-usage periods.
“It is expected that with flexible options for learning and development, coaches of all levels will be more motivated 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 will player retention at all levels of the sport,” Attwood concluded.