Center for Justice Innovation
E-Courses as Alternatives to Fines and Fees in NYC
In NYC, the Criminal Justice Reform Act of 2017 shifted many low-level violations from criminal to civil court. With this influx of people into the civil courts, the Center for Justice Innovation, on behalf of NYC's Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings (OATH), sought to create online courses, as an alternative to in-person classes, as one of the community service-based ways for folks to resolve their summons.
Offered in multiple languages, both the one and two hour-long interactive learning modules that we designed engage respondents around common quality of life offenses, the consequences they have on communities, and ways to prevent making similar decisions in the future. As a result, these courses offer a much more flexible, accessible solution to resolving civil summonses, both for the city of New York and for court users.
Our product team began this project by attending a day in court, participating in the existing Quality of Life in-person course, interviewing real participants before and after actual sessions, and hosting several workshops with SMEs.
This enabled us to pair research, creativity, and best practices for instructional design, as we outlined and storyboarded the learning experience.
Importantly, the four tenets of procedural justice also underscored our work throughout this project:
The learning objectives we collectively defined in our research phase are communicated through a variety of interactive features—like games, conversations, motion graphics, videos, narrative arcs, and quizzes—to form the structure of the courses.
The scenario-based learning games at the center of the experience 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 final step, we also designed and built a portal for the courses on OATH's site, allowing court users to access the course from anywhere.
The portal tracks progress and automatically issues successful completion notifications to both the court user and on their summons record in OATH's LMS.
© 2024 Kristina Pedicone