Humanitarian Perspectives: A Needs Assessment Simulation

This January LLST had the privilege of facilitating our new simulation “Humanitarian Perspectives: A Needs Assessment Simulation” alongside Danika Bouchard and Myriam Labrie-Loiselle of Humanitarian Partners / Partenaires Humanitaires for McGill University’s Refugee Research Group. Created by Myriam, Danika, and LLST director Matthew Stevens, Humanitarian Perspectives places participants into the roles of several displaced households and humanitarian NGOs and asks each household unit to complete a needs assessment survey with every NGO team. While the refugee crisis depicted in Humanitarian Perspectives is fictional, it draws upon true experiences and word-for-word questions sourced from real needs assessment surveys to highlight the common disconnect between these surveys and the needs of the people they’re aiming to assist. 

Humanitarian Perspectives was built using Discord, a free-to-use program for voice, text, and video communication as well as Google Drive’s Forms, Docs, Sheets, and Slides programs. These tools enabled the design team to provide an engaging experience that was accessible and free for our participants. Discord’s server system allowed for different chat rooms for each household and NGO office, along with a shared market space and humanitarian coordination forum, a built-in interview timer, and a private channel for facilitators to work behind the scenes. 

Google Docs, meanwhile, offered each participant with easy access to necessary surveys and spreadsheets, as well as an interactive market space where the heads of each household could acquire needed supplies.

Of course, this premiere digital simulation was not without bugs or glitches. Tech problems are always a hurdle for online gatherings (making us miss the days of in-person training). However, Humanitarian Perspectives had only a few hitches and for the most part our participants were able to join in on the simulation easily and efficiently. 

Our experience with Humanitarian Perspectives has inspired us to create a new set of blog posts entitled the Digital Facilitation Tools Series. In the series we will cover a selection of digital tools– including Discord and Google Drive– each of which can be used to help facilitate online trainings, simulations, meetings, and serious games. We will create these posts to run alongside our upcoming simulation development workshops, providing workshop participants with a breakdown of a variety of tools available for their own designs.

Our thanks to all the participants for their time, their patience, and their commitment to the simulation this past weekend. Matthew, Myriam, and Danika are excited to continue to develop Humanitarian Perspectives. Follow us here on our blog, on Twitter and Facebook, or sign up for our mailing list to stay up to date on Humanitarian Perspectives and all of our projects.