The dreaded Code of Conduct training

Feb 26, 2014

I've been tasked with creating online Code of Conduct training. I've done quite a bit of searching on the forums here, YouTube, SlideShare and Google trying to find some ideas on how to make this type of training interesting, memorable, not dumb'd down (like painfully obvious scenarios/questions) and most importantly FUN!

I'm coming up mostly empty handed...

Has anyone had any success in creating Code of Conduct training that isn't dead boring?

18 Replies
Jerson  Campos

Hi Wendy,

Never had the pleasure of creating a code of conduct training course. I have had a few ideas for some similar courses. One was set in a prehistoric settings, with a bunch of cavemen (or cavewoman) getting into some mishaps and whatnot.  As for inspiration, maybe you should search somewhere else other than elearning course. Whenever I get stuck for ideas, I usually take a break and look for ideas in other mediums. Ads, art, comic books, photos. Anything to get the mind working in a new direction.

Bob S

Hi Wendy,

Have you considered the mentor/guide character approach?  You know that little voice in your head you hear when you have to make a decision on how to behave.... for some of us it's a parent, or a childhood idol, or favorite boss you learned so  much from. 

Maybe tap into that concept and create a character that offers sage advice then disappears, leaving the learner to make a choice/consequence decision on their own.

Lots of variant possible from there, like letting them choose their own mentor character, having thought bubbles appear at key moments with mentor's advice, etc.

Good luck!

Bob S

Absolutely Bruce!

Something I think we both posted about before from days in the Financial / Banking world of training...   We used to use the panel  approach and the learner would have to decide who to listen to. Pretty soon they learn that taking advice from the "hey rules aren't really a big deal as long as you have good intentions, dude" character usually results in bad consequences (like jail! lol).

Cary Glenn

I suggest you go with some scenarios. Don't make them too easy. Try and find a real-life scenario where it does seem that other solutions are correct. Once they have decided on a solution pose another question where they have to justify there answer. This might promote deeper thinking about the subject. If they choose the wrong answer show the consequences of their decision, jail, fines, loss of job.

One thing I have found when developing Code of Conduct training is that who ever is approving the course wants the code written out word-for-word. This may be a time to stand up for the learner and explain that this is a better way of making sure the people know what the proper action is. I would put the actual code in the Resources section so that people can refer to it if needed.

Jerson  Campos

When I was a suicide intervention officer in the military, I  had to teach with some very bad eLearning courses.  Everyone already had the idea that suicide is bad and usually went through the same choices every year. So I decided to do something different. I actually made them as a group choose the wrong answers so we can see what happens (it was a branching scenario course). So we had a chance to see one of the characters spiral down to self destruction. After every bad choice, we would view the consequence and open the floor up to discussion for a few minutes. After the class, some of the students told me that this was much more engaging and realistic than just going through the motions of choosing the "best" answer.

Joshua Roberts

The best Code of Conduct training I've worked on contained samples of video mixed in with scenario based interactions. Through throwing in chunks of video into the learning process I found that the learner stayed much more engaged and it actually help to elevate the module to an engaging level.

I would use small amounts of animation mixed in with interactive scenarios. Through physically watching the short animation pieces the user finds it easier to visualise the content. One idea I played with was having a large, powerful character holding the CoC, who, upon successfully answering scenario questions is slowly brought down to a tiny size, indicating that the code of conduct really is nothing to fear and is actually quite manageable!

Jan Ollis-Gillies

Like everyone else, I've used lots and lots of scenarios.  Lawyers tend to flip if you have anything too dramatic in the training like simulating losing your job or going to jail.  One of the most popular exercises I've used has been dropping in Fact or Fiction cards throughout the training, e.g., "Susie receives an email from the company lawyer with "Client Attorney Privilege" in the subject line.  Susie's brother is a lawyer and she always relies on his advice.  It's OK for her to forward this email to her brother for review, as she knows he won't disclose its contents."  Then the feedback allows you to further elaborate on what is the correct thing to do or delve into some grey areas.

Also, Sprint rolled out an iComply curriculum a while ago:  I don't see any of my lawyer-SME's going for the "fun" aspect, but maybe you can.  Best of luck!

Laura Rogers

Wendy - I'm also working on a Code course right now. Like everyone mentioned, I went with a lot of small scenarios that are relevant to our Company, roles and culture. I'm intentionally trying to stay away from regurgitating the policy, so I only have about 5 pages of intro/closing content and then the rest of the development is example scenarios.

In our initial reviews, people seem to like that-- the format continually directs the learner to reference the policy for scenario answers (mimicking what they would do in real life if they had an issue) and it means our course can focus on applying the content of our policy, not just re-stating the policy itself.

Good luck!


Jackie Van Nice

Boy does this hit home! I have a client who has me do TWO new versions of their Code of Conduct training each and every year - one for their US-based employees and one for international - and they want each version to clearly be different, appealing, and involving so people won't get bored since they're required to take it each year. So I've stumbled across a small Code of Conduct cottage industry.

I generally (though not every year) like to use one focused character for the learner to relate to, then plunge them into whatever scenarios the client requires. I take a great deal of license in creating my more questionable characters, presenting intruiging scenes, and making it as funny as possible. If I'm thoroughly entertained by it as I work with it over and over and over again throughout the design and development phases, I've found the client will be pretty thrilled, too. Don't underestimate humor. I can't remember a single time that a client's legal department - or any department! - has had me change a thing, other than if they've had a Code wording change or something. Those poor reviewers are as desperate for fun as anyone else.

I also try to make the scenario options less than obvious so it's not a no-brainer.

The biggest challenge I face isn't the stem-to-stern redesign each year, but, as Cary mentioned - their insistence that the whole Code be spelled out word for word. I've presented it in a variety of ways, but it's always a challenge to make it engaging.

I'm just about to extract a sample from the most recent one I did to add to my portfolio, so I'll post that when I do.

Best of luck, Wendy!

Jennifer St. George

Hi Wendy,

I've been creating code of conduct training (online and live formats) for about four years for an audience that demands everything be short, simple and to the point. Below are some thoughts based on my learnings - take em or toss them.  A friend of mine says "Eat the fish, spit out the bones".

Here's my fish:

  • Instead of chomping through section after section, how about turning it around and have your main menu be a series of FAQs which the learner can free click through to get the information they need / want?  I used this approach and had a slide with 8 silhouettes with buttons that revealed their question as the learner clicked around.  This creates an atmosphere that others are asking the questions and the narrator is answering questions instead of doing a straight download of the policy.
  • Do you have to do 1 course for the whole thing?  Our code of ethics has so many topics in it with so many SMEs that one course would be overwhelming.  Can you do them in segments and push out training on a periodic basis so there are touchpoints all year long instead of one push for the year?
  • If you use scenarios - keep them as real to life (with names changed of course) as you can.  Ask your extended teams to provide you with the questions that were asked via email or at any live training sessions.  I find people are very literal and, when it comes to the code of conduct, they want literal examples and answers without a lot of grey area.
  • Since this is a yearly certification, is there an option to test out of certain sections or the whole thing?
  • If you are creating for a global audience, I would shy away from video unless you can't get around using it because translation subtitles on videos looks well ... like bad Kung Fu movies from the 70's.  Also same for audio, translating audio is very expensive especially for a yearly certification course.
  • Also remember, love your learners!  The lawyers may want to have the course spelled out in detail every year but I would look to see if the lawyers have all sat through the course and completed their training!  If not, maybe they haven't experienced the painpoints of a yearly certification.  Also, does time in a seat = knowledge?  We all the answer to that is NO, so why not let the learners have some free navigation, respect their time and keep the course short and sweet.
  • Oh, one last thing and I'll get off my soapbox - if you have to to recite a download of a policy tell the learners why, why, why.  I've found many of my teammates respond more positively to 'why' a policy was written.  Anyone can fire and forget a policy on a test but if someone understands 'why' a policy is in place they will remember the policy.  i.e. "This policy is in our code of conduct because we are required by US law to report on ...."  Make it real for them so they don't feel like they are doing the training to check a box so that the company doesn't get into trouble.  Sometimes people don't know that now only can the company get into trouble but they, personally, can get into trouble as well (and I don't mean just getting fired).  I especially find this to be true for my non-US based teammates.
  • Ok, last last thing.  Give the learner a place to give feedback about the course and a place to ask questions about the policy.  You might be able to setup a survey link at the end of the course and ask them to click over and complete the survey.  Make it short (5 questions or less) but enough to capture meaningful information for your next design

Good luck and welcome to the wonderful cottage industry of code of conduct courses.

Wendy LaPlaca

Wow, thank you everyone! I think my spam filter got overactive (again) and I didn't realize so many of you had responded!

GREAT suggestions!

I'm looking forward to seeing your work Jackie. If anyone else has a snippet of their work they'd like to share, I'd love to see it too.

It probably would have helped to tell you a little about my audience - I work for a 100% ESOP employee owned construction company. We only do work (currently) in the U.S. so I don't need to worry about translations.

For those of you who do videos... do you use co-workers as your actors?

Thank you all for your input! I really appreciate it.

Dave Fairfax

I am serving as Training Officer for the Tennessee Department of Correction and my first E-Learning Project is the Code of Conduct Policy to be converted to an On-line course launched within our Intranet. I am "Begging" (Ray Jiminez term) for any Code of Conduct E-learning examples any of you may offer for me to learn from and modify if you include template (along with your permission). I completed Scenario Based Learning certificate course (Ray Jiminez)  last week and I am using Storyline 2 for the development software.



Efrat Maor

Personal consequences can also be scary. So it is a fine line you need to make sure not to cross. 
On a BCM eLearning were had to come up with a scenario of something real enough, but that isn't too scary to the employee. 
Like a small fire, early int he morning, in the kitchen, so it harms the building and the servers-farm next tot he kitchen, but no employees where severly injured... 

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