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CENTER FOR COURT INNOVATION

An Alternative Option in New York City's Criminal Justice System

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PROJECT

In 2017 the Criminal Justic Reform Act shifted many low-level violations from criminal to civil court. With this shift of more users into the civil courts, the Center for Court Innovation sought to create an e-learning course, as alternative to in-person classes, as one of the community service-based ways for folks to resolve their summons.

The resulting 1 and 2 hour-long interactive learning modules are a much more flexible solution both for the city of New York and for court users. The courses engage respondents around common quality of life offenses, their consequences on communities, and ways to prevent making similar decisions in the future.  

In 2017 the Criminal Justic Reform Act shifted many low-level violations from criminal to civil court. With this shift of more users into the civil courts, the Center for Court Innovation sought to create an e-learning course, as alternative to in-person classes, as one of the community service-based ways for folks to resolve their summons.

The resulting 1 and 2 hour-long interactive learning module are a much more flexible solution both for the city of New York and for court users. The courses engage respondents around common quality of life offenses, their consequences on communities, and ways to prevent making similar decisions in the future.  

ROLE

Design Director & Illustrator

AGENCY

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SEE IT LIVE

Modules are only available to court users.

Modules are only available to court users.

Content Strategy

Though our human-centered design process, we began this project by attending a day in court, participating in the existing Quality of Life in-person course, interviewing real participants both before and after actual sessions, and hosting several workshops with subject-matter experts. This allowed us to fully understand the learning goals (and obstacles) that this unique project presented, identify key metrics to track, define our audience, and get clarity on areas where additional research on our part was still needed.

During this part of the learning process we also familarized ourselves with the four tenets of procedural justice that would be underscoring the work throughout this project: treating court users with dignity and respect, ensuring that they understand the process they are involved in, providing them a voice, and communicating that court decisions are made neutrally.

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Technology and Pedagogy

This process allowed us to combine our creative energy with our knowledge of pedagogy and best practices for instructional design. We followed Moreno and Mayer's primary learning styles, which focus on visual, auditory, reading/writing, and kinesthetic learning, and we paired the identified learning objectives with a variety of interactive features that are central to progressing through the course.

Developing an appropriate consistent tone for the course was also important for creating a dynamic experience that didn't feel like a didactic government interaction.   

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Engaged Learning

Conversational interfaces, motion graphics, videos, narrative arcs, games, and quizzes all structure the learning moments within the course. At the center of the experience are scenerio-based learning games, centered around common quality of life offenses. The games feature dozens of illustrated characters and objects, as well as settings and environments that reflect the city that court users are familiar with.

As a whole, the course outlines the summons process (educating participants on how to avoid receiving them), promotes civic engagement, and communicates the impact that court users' actions can have on their community.

Authoring Tool

We used Articulate Storyline 360 to produce the SCORM compliant e-learning experience, and then translated the entire English language course into an additional 7 languages to serve the broad variety of New York's court users.  

As a final step in the process we also designed and built a remote hosting portal for the courses on OATH's website, that allows court users to securely enter their unique summons information and access the course from anywhere. The portal tracks progress through the course and once finished, automatically issues successful completion notifications to both the court user and on their summons record in OATH's LMS. 

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Impact

Offerings like these e-learning modules are a crucial component of a larger effort to decriminalize many low-level quality of life offenses, and are a meaningful step towards democratizing the accessibility of alternatives to fines and fees in New York City.

If you're interested in learning more about this project, you can check out the Center for Court Innovation's article on their blog Re-thinking Tech.

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