Wanted: an IT development partner for a new e-learning tool to support reconstruction in natural disaster zones

We are looking for an app developer or website developer to join a co-design team for a new e-learning tool to support reconstruction of people’s homes in areas hit by natural disaster. If you are interested in getting involved then drop us an email on info@thinkup.org or tweet us. If possible it would be great to have an initial conversation with you by Friday 18th August. Thanks for reading!


This project has its origins in the work we did to create Engineering Mastermind. The idea of the tool is to help undergraduate engineers develop their engineering general knowledge to help them become more informed designers of buildings. This tool helps students develop their ‘declarative knowledge’, the basic building blocks of understanding that help them to make more advanced design decisions. Play it yourself here.

In recent months we have been talking to a development charity about how such an e-learning tool could help rebuild their homes following a natural disaster. The aim is to give them the knowledge and understanding that will enable them to reconstruct their home in a such a way as to be less at risk from collapse.

An objective for the project is to develop and deliver this concept in a co-designed way, and so we are inviting developers to help co-design the brief. Ideally we’d like to invite two to three developers to an initial briefing session where we will describe the project in more depth, and explore possibilties. If they are interested, we will then pay two to three developers to do two to three days’ work doing some initial development work around the brief, either working in parallel to or together with the other developers. Our aim at the end of the first phase is to have a co-designed brief that all parties will be able to bid for delivering in the next phase. By setting up the project in this way, we are hoping to create a lower-risk brief for everyone which has a greater chance of success in the long-run.

This project is a collaboration between Think Up, Thomas Matthews and Expedition, working with development charity and the sponsor.

The outline proposal

Our proposal is to create an e-learning tool that helps people develop their construction knowledge and skills so that they can rebuild their homes effectively following a natural disaster, such as an earthquake, storm or flood. We see the knowledge broken down into two categories: declarative knowledge (knowing of, knowing that); and procedural knowledge (knowing how, knowing when).

Our initial concept is to develop declarative knowledge through a multiple-choice game akin to Engineering Mastermind. As players successfully complete rounds of learning they win digital badges, which opens up simulation levels. These simulation levels test procedural knowledge, for example knowing the right order in which to assemble something.

The simulations would be based on a decision tree. For example, the floor layout that a player chooses dictates which set of questions they get asked about position of windows, the answer to which in turn dictates what questions they get asked about roof design. In the end, players are told that, based on their combination of answers they chose, whether in an earthquake or a flood their building would have fallen down.

As players progress through different levels of quiz and simulation, they build up a record of their achievements, and they can be awarded a physical certificate of their level of competency.

Alongside this interactive component, we want to be able to offer players access to resources (e.g. videos, PDFs) that will help them answer the questions or navigate the simulations correctly.

We don’t yet know what the appropriate tech strategy for the tool should be, and we expect to work this out as part of the design of the brief.

Reference projects/previous work

To us this feels like a natural progression from Engineering Mastermind, with some of the support resources akin to the Bare Essentials of Concrete series.

Engineering Mastermind

This is a multiple-choice quiz that we developed to help engineers develop their understanding of general engineering knowledge. Check out engineeringmastermind.org For this project we expect to use some of the features of Engineering Mastermind: multiple choice functionality; the ability for users to register their details, and save their scores on the multiple choice quizes.

Bare Essentials of Concrete

This is a series of films we created two years ago to help people who work with concrete to undersatnd the theory which governs its behaviour on site. There are in fact three series:

Outline spec for this project

At this stage in the project, we do not yet know whether the digital tool should be a mobile-optimised website or an app. Either way, the following requirements apply:


The site needs to be designed for people who don’t speak English and may not have high levels of literacy.

Userability objectives

It is hard specify exact userability objectives at this stage but we will use an agile project development process to regularly test the tool during development with an on-the-ground testing group. We expect to have one in-country site visit as part of the brief development phase in order to meet potential users and assess viable technology on-site, and we will continue to work with this testing group during the development phase.

Section overview

Learner-facing section

This is the part of the tool that the learner sees. It has the following key sections


This is where the site operative sees the available training and where they are up to.


This walks through how the trainign works: learn from resources, answer quiz questions, complete simulations and collect a certificate.

Support resources

This is where the learners access support resources (videos, PDFs) to help them find the answers to quiz/simulation questions.

Multiple-choice quiz

Having accessed the support reources, this is where the learners test their declarative knowledge. If they need a clue they can go back to access a certain resource, and then return to the same place in the quiz. NB, players are given a score on the basis of how few attempts they take to answer the question.


Having completed the relevant quiz quetsions, the players go into simulator mode where they have to answer a series of questions based on a certain scenario. Like the mutiplle-choice quiz, they are given the chance to go back and get clues.

Trophy cabinet

This is where learners can see what badges they have won, representing training that they have completed, and how long ago they did it. In due course we might want to build in functionality in which these badges disolve over time and they need to resit the badge.

Development charity operative area

This area is a web page that provides an overview of the progress that different learners are making.

It is a table that shows individual learner profiles and which badges they have won They also see the score, which is an indication of how few guesses each learner is using to win the badge.

Landing pages

This page explains what the web app/ app looks is about.

User journeys


  • Learner comes to charity’s operations area in the disaster zone and finds out about training that will help them rebuild their house.
  • A member of the charity staff sets up the learner with a user account.
  • They are given a URL to access that takes them to the relevant training.
  • They access a quiz that tests their knowledge, say of construction materials.
  • When they get a question wrong they click on a link to access a video resource in which the right answer can be found.
  • They return to the quiz, get the question right, and move on, completing the quiz.
  • With a quiz completed, a badge gets added to their trophy cabinet.
  • When the learner has completed two or three introductory quizes, they get access to a simulator level, which puts the knowledge from the previous quiz rounds into practice.
  • The simulator tests their decision-making as they design an element of their new home.
  • When they have chosen how they want their home laid out, they ‘test’ their design, and based on the answers provided, the simulator tells the learner whether or not their home is likely to have survived.
  • If they have failed the simulation then they are guided back to the relevant quiz questions or resources to review.
  • When they successfully complete the simulation, they win another badge and they can move on to complete another set of questions and simulations.
  • When they have completed a certain number of badges they can return to the operations centre of the charity and sit a test which assesses their knowlege under exam conditions. If they are successful they are issued with a certificate.

Charity operative

  • Charity staff member logs on to find out details of who is registered and their progress.
  • They see in front of them who is using the tool, which quizzes they have completed and who is ready to sit the final exam/test.
  • They also have the opportunity to add extra resources to the resource bank.

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