E-learning Design Challenge Series – Designing a Web Based Course on Water Conservation

I found this case study on the web. Please read go through this carefully.

There is a severe drought. Strict domestic water usage restrictions are in place. Your water utility company has invited you to design something for its website or a public-access kiosk to convince people to conserve water and abide by the restrictions.

Fines are imposed on people who are caught watering their lawns, cars and footpaths. Everyone is encouraged to take short showers and water gardens with laundry rinse water.

Many property owners feel it is their right to use water as they feel fit. Assuming that they or their families can gain access to your product, what would you design to turn people around? Please do not suggest that the water utility should implement new policies such as increasing or tiering the water rates. Just focus on the sort of message you would deliver and the manner (interaction?) in which you would do it for maximum impact.

Let’s assume that we are going to design a web based learning program to convince people to conserve water.

Before I actually set out to think on a suitable strategy for the proposed website, I did a Google Search on the material available on water conservation. I came across an interesting site : http://www.ecokids.ca/pub/index.cfm

I found an interactive exercise on water conservation on this site.

Design Strategy of the Interactive Exercise (Water Conservation Around the House)

The aim of this exercise is to give tips on water conservation.

The activity is set in a house.


The user has to simply click on each area of the house to learn tips on water conservation.

For example I clicked on Kitchen and the following screen appeared.


I clicked on each highlighted area and the tips got displayed on the right hand side.

Likewise I clicked on Yard and Garden and the following screen opened.


I clicked on each highlighted are and the tips appeared on the right.


Without doubt, the strategy is interactive and appealing. There is learner participation but is there learner involvement?

I loved exploring the rooms and clicking, but did I really read the tips? Did I get the message the activity was trying to tell me?

There is just so much text on screen that the essence of this activity is getting missed out. Once you start reading you miss out the joy of playing the game.

Let me know if you disagree with me on this.

Design Strategy for the Case Study on Water Conservation

Coming to the case study I mentioned at the outset of this post, let’s design a similar strategy for the web based learning program. In fact lets tweak this existing strategy ( the strategy used in Water Conservation Around the House) a bit to make it more entertaining.

Note: The images have been randomly picked from various sources just to give a visual idea of the strategy.

The setting of the course on Water Conservation would be an apartment complex or a housing board.


There would be a panel on the bottom of the screen labeled Repository. The learner would store things in the repository during the game.

There would be a panel on the top of the screen which would have provision for instruction texts for the learner.

On the top of the apartment building there would be a storage tank indicating water level.


The learner will have to keep any eye on this tank throughout the course.

The course would begin with a story. The story would go on like this… There is severe water scarcity in this apartment complex. The learner’s objective is to save people from water scarcity. For this to happen, the learner has to direct the residents towards taking the right decision when it comes to using water.

As the course starts morning activities would begin. The learner will be allowed to explore each apartment. Each apartment will have residents involved in some activity or the other.

Some would water their garden, some would wash thier cars, others would take bath, wash vessels and so on. The learner will have to direct the residents to do the right thing to save water. The learner will have to click on each resident and make a decision.

For example if someone is washing clothes, an animation or image would be shown as follows:


The learner would have three options : Store soap water, Throw Soap Water, Ignore

The learner would choose an option. For example, the learner chooses Store Soap water. The soap water bucket would appear in the Repository panel. A message saying “Good! That was a perfect decision: would appear If the learner clicks on any other button, tips on how to store soap water to use it for some other purpose would appear.

Next animation or image would be someone in the same apartment washing the car.


Immediately the learner would click on the soap water bucket in the Repository and use it to wash the car.

Likewise the learner would perform series of actions to store water.

When the learner explores the garden and the sidewalk, an image or animation of a person watering the sidewalk will be shown. When the learner clicks on the activity, three options would appear : Restrict, Give Broom, Ignore. The learner will have to choose Give Broom.

The more right decisions the learner makes, the water in the storage tank would increase. Wrong decisions would increase the water level. The learner has to make right decisions and increase the water level in the storage tank.

As the learner plays the game, he/she would learn the importance of conserving water.

If there is sufficient time to develop this course, a high level design would work. A high level design includes animations and good visual effects. Even a 3D model would make a great impact.

If the development time is less, even then this strategy would work with just cartoon strips. Just static images can be used.

Here is a small game on Water Conservation for you to play:


After you play this game, compare and contrast the strategies used in Water Busters and Water Conservation Around the House. I am sure you will be able to judge which is a better strategy.

Hope the design ideas were useful. Please send in your comments/views.

Also read:E-learning Design Challenge Series – Designing a Web Based Course on Water Conservation


One Response

  1. I agree with your comment on learner engagement verus sole learner participation. I think one of the ways to engage the learner is to add an e-assessment element where you would have to answer questions or complete an activity before continuing. At present we just have paper behind glass.

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