Optimism wins triple business awards crown
Photo: Optimism CEO Sussan Ockwell
New Zealand corporate learning and development company Optimism has won four business eLearning Awards in the past three months – one in Australia, two in New York, and then most recently, overall winner in New Zealand. The business works at the leading edge of online learning best practice and put forward two of its client projects to LearnX Awards, the International E-Learning Awards and eLearnz Awards.
Optimism Chief Executive Sussan Ockwell says “it’s the first time we’ve submitted entries for any awards and we won in every category we entered. It’s amazing to be recognised as world-class, as well as being acknowledged right here in New Zealand.”
One of the internationally accoladed client projects was for NZ Coastguard Boating Education (CBE). Their flagship programme is the Day Skipper course which prepares recreational boaties for safe boating. Until recently the course was taught as a 2-day (or 6-week) classroom course, led by marine instructors. Working with CBE, Optimism’s team, led by Learning Partner Nicola Macdonald, translated the course into an online modular programme which can be completed in just 2-3 hours - when and where it suits.    
The resulting online course stunned the international awards judges. It uses interaction, animation, audio and video to facilitate learning, and provides for accurate assessment of skills and comprehension as endorsed by NZQA.  
“We want to create learning that is fun, accessible and works,” explains Macdonald. “It’s about creating a simulating learning context and making it relevant so that the learning sticks.”  
NZ Coastguard Boating Education Market Development Manager, Sue West, says “There are 600 people who have passed the course and thousands more are in the process. The programme launched in early 2015 and students are allowed 12 months to complete it and be assessed. Day Skipper is one of our most popular courses. It wasn’t reaching all the people who need it because it was face-to-face. By moving online it gets a much wider reach nationally, as well as attracting a large number of schools who are enrolling students as it counts towards NZQA unit standards.”