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Case Studies

BC Ferries & Vancouver Port Authority

Whales in Our Waters eLearning Course

The Client

Knowledge Solutions (KS), a PathWise partner, approached us to work together on an eLearning project for BC Ferries and the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority to create a tutorial for mariners and vessel operators.

Key Project Features

Port of Vancouver and BC Ferries on a photographic whale background

The Need for Change

In the face of growing commercialization of coastal waterways, BC Ferries and the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority saw the need to convey the urgency of whale safety to mariners and vessel operators.

The goal of this project was to produce a self-study eLearning course that would focus on identification of whales in the waters by BC Ferries vessels and on

  • Understanding the characteristics of these whales
  • Understanding best practices when whales are in proximity of vessels and actions to take when encountering them
  • Specific areas of voyages for situational awareness of whales
  • Policy and procedures to follow, including legal obligations
  • Reporting best practices

A challenge for many mariners and vessel operators is online access; therefore, the tutorial also needed to be accessible while travelling at sea.

The Path for Change

After analysis and consultation, Knowledge Solutions, PathWise, and BC Ferries decided on the following strategy:

  • Engage the learner’s sense of responsibility and deepen their desire to improve the situation for whales by using a variety of photos, graphics, video, and sound clips
  • Imbue the course with a variety of interactive visual features to keep learners of all backgrounds engaged
  • Make the course downloadable, so it could be taken offline
  • Build in mechanisms to track learners’ progress so they meet the required passing score for completion, even if taking the course offline

PathWise was asked by KS to execute the visual design for the course. This partnership resulted in the highly successful Whales in Our Waters tutorial.

The Approach

PathWise worked in close collaboration with KS to create an approximately 1 hour course with 5 modules and built a Learning Management System for the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority to host the tutorial.


The Whales in Our Waters tutorial is filled with clean, clear, customized charts and graphics that PathWise designed specifically to help learners absorb large amounts of information in an easy and appealing way.

Other graphics and design elements, including animations, help build the learner’s knowledge of whale behaviour and habitats, understand the impact of vessel noise on whales, how to report whale sightings, and more.

A whale-themed progress bar, in keeping with the overall look and feel, was created to keep track of learner progress, and we chose a colour palette that reflected the aquatic theme of the tutorial.


The tutorial is enhanced with many audio and visual features that help the learner connect and identify with whales, including:

  • Custom-built animations that illustrate how to navigate when whales are in close proximity
  • High-resolution, professional photos that give learners an up-close look at a variety of whales
  • Sound clips to help learners understand how noise pollution from ships can interfere with whale navigation

PathWise and KS worked together to ensure all materials were appropriate to the tutorial and its audience.


PathWise implemented a series of interactive activities to enhance key content points. This includes clickable charts and maps; clickable terms and resources; clickable video and audio clips; quizzes that test understanding; and enlargeable, high-quality photos.

A variety of links related to the topic are included to enhance learning and expand the learner’s connection to like-minded, whale-related organizations. Learners can also access key information via downloadable PDFs.

PathWise also built a Learning Management System (LMS) for the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority in order to host the tutorial.


PathWise’s contribution to the visual design and functionality of this tutorial was key to its success. The images, graphics, narration, audio clips, video, and interactive elements all help learners deepen their knowledge about whales and enhance their ability to protect them. The course is now being used widely by all BC Ferries employees as well as Washington State Ferries and has received significant press coverage.

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