Making community voice central to digital learning at The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award

How impact stories and volunteer insights are transforming the lives of young people.

‘Youth Without Limits’ sums up The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award’s ambition perfectly. The charity, dedicated to transforming the lives of young people, has just had a record-breaking year with more than 323,000 starting their DofE. With the goal of reaching one million participants over the next 5 years, this is a major step towards their target.

Behind each life-changing programme is a dedicated group of adults supporting those young people, who recruit, manage, safeguard, lead expeditions, mentor and more. In fact, there are approximately 39,000 adults actively involved with delivering the DofE in schools, colleges, community organisations and prisons, with a jaw-dropping 10,000 needing to be trained on an annual basis.

This would certainly help address both the need for accessibility and consistency of delivery. However, the previous face-to-face model included an opportunity to share experiences with your peers. Peer-to-peer learning is a really positive component but more control was needed centrally to make sure the right insights were being shared with the right people at the right time. It couldn’t be left to chance.

Therefore, to be successful, any new digital solution also had to enable a powerful community voice. Losing this would kill engagement and the effectiveness of the learning.

So, how could the DofE celebrate volunteer experiences more formally whilst reducing the need for unvetted third-party resources? And how could a digital solution incorporate participants’ voices? Impact stories from young people who benefit from doing their DofE!

User-generated content felt like the right direction but as with most L&D professionals, the DofE team were exceptionally busy and weren’t sure they had the bandwidth to support a UGC campaign.

The quality and depth of stories we captured with StoryTagger exceeded expectations. We’re getting really positive feedback from our new volunteers.
Christina Freeman
Learning Design Practitioner, the DofE


Dialling up community voice to increase impact

The DofE training team selected StoryTagger as a smart way to surface real community stories. Valuable lived experience had previously been shared informally on different independent platforms. However, it was ad hoc, and not available to everyone in a cohesive way. Using StoryTagger enabled the DofE to have more control over the content created.

To dial up the community voice, the team outlined key moments of truth for their learning pathways which could be captured as a series of 1 – 2 mins community video stories.

This approach enabled a focus on different skills and aspects of DofE volunteering from promoting the benefits to celebrating success.

Volunteers and participants involved in the DofE are a diverse population so it was essential to secure strong representation from different communities and parts of the UK. By using StoryTagger, the DofE team were able to capture some incredibly rich and valuable stories without the need of a video production crew or interviewer in a very short timeframe, from anywhere.

Young people doing their DofE were asked to share:

      • Why do your DofE?
      • Section reflections
      • Top tips for other participants

Volunteers were invited to share: 

      • Growing the DofE at your centre
      • Running a successful DofE group
      • Encouraging completion and progression
      • Celebrating success
      • Expedition supervisor and assessor skills


How the DofE curated brilliant stories

They set up two separate campaigns in StoryTagger tailored to each distinct audience and designed a series of prompts, questions and timings to provide deep insights, truths and context for the digital learning. Taking a guided approach like this builds confidence in storytellers and guarantees relevant, high value stories.

See below for two topic examples the DofE used in StoryTagger to capture stories which would equip the next cohort of volunteers to make a difference. One is an example of a volunteer story and one is a participant.

Story topic for volunteers: Expeditions spotlight

Part 1

Tell us about you and your DofE experience

Tell us your name and how long you’ve supported DofE expeditions.

What’s your role and how did you become involved?

Which skills are important when supervising or assessing expeditions, and why?

Part 2

What’s a typical day like planning and supporting an expedition?

How would you make sure participants of all abilities can take part?

Have you come across behaviour issues on expedition? How did you resolve this?

What advice would you give an Expedition Assessor doing their first debrief?

Part 3

What it’s all about?

Tell us about any teams who have gone above and beyond to make their expedition happen.

Share your most memorable participant presentation.

Or, share your favourite expedition moment.

Story topic for participants: Why do the DofE?

Part 1

Tell us about you and your DofE

Tell us your name, the Award you achieved and where you did it.

Who or what inspired you to start your DofE? And why?

What were you aiming to get from doing the DofE?

Part 2

What I got out of doing the DofE

How did the DofE match up to your expectations?

Share a benefit that surprised you

Or, tell us something you discovered about yourself.

Part 3

What I’d tell people about doing the DofE

Achieving my DofE has helped me…

Share your top tip for others thinking of doing the DofE.


The stories

To recruit their advocates, the team used two main channels. For participants, they recruited from the DofE’s Youth Ambassador programme and, for volunteers, the team communicated directly with the DofE regional learning champions for recommendations and registrations of interest.


The insightful stories captured were used in courses, as full stories and also as part of impactful montages, using this influential medium to inspire volunteers for different key topics.

The impact – transforming volunteer training and changing lives

Using StoryTagger enabled the DofE to capture relevant, rich insights in a short timeframe, providing vital community context to the digital learning created. The DofE did a fantastic job at capturing high impact community stories which share the transformative impact each programme has on young people in their own words.

Here’s what Christina told us about her aims and the impact they’re now seeing:

“We wanted to recognise the experience in the Network. StoryTagger was the perfect vehicle for us to easily gather some of that experience and share it with others. Some of the stories were more emotive e.g. why get involved, and others had a more practical basis e.g. hints and tips. It matters to hear directly from people whose lives have been impacted by supporting the DofE programme and from others who are making it happen for young people.

Timing was definitely a factor as we had to create stories alongside developing our digital content offer. Once the campaign was designed, it was a bonus to be able to send it out to our story creators and be reasonably hands off while they recorded which made including UGC achievable for our project timelines. Had the team needed to interview delegates, we would have needed to push including stories to a post launch phase.”

How the video stories are impacting volunteers

Liked hearing about other leaders’ experiences and the difference it makes to the young person who has completed the award


It has made it really inviting and I can't wait to start


I do lots of online learning for my job. This stood out as excellent. Well thought out, stimulating and engaging!


Learning has helped me feel more confident in running and delivering the DofE in my setting


I was able to learn at my own pace, spending as much time as I felt I needed to get to grips with the content. Traditional in-person training would have been less effective for me


In summary

StoryTagger provided a smart and efficient way for the DofE to capture relatable, high value and inspiring experiences from their network.

Embedded as social truths and practical insights in each e-learning module, these stories are already helping the next incredible cohort of volunteers to build confidence, apply the learning in their own setting and transform the lives of young people.

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