Case Study: How Samaritan’s Purse Pivoted In-Person Training for 9k Learners to DigitalChalk Almost Overnight

During our recent DigitalChalk user forum, the Sciolytix team checked in with some of our long-time users to discover how they are using our LMS for online learning. While most are focused on monetizing content or delivering staff development to their workforce, Samaritan’s Purse is using it to support their mission of aiding families in crisis.

Gabe Willison is the Volunteer Relations Multimedia Training Manager for Operation Christmas Child, a project of Samaritan’s Purse International Relief. As both the LMS administrator and instructional designer for the organization, Gabe has found DigitalChalk to be a flexible tool that has helped the non-profit focus more on their mission of helping the less fortunate, and less on tedious administrative tasks.

With more than 9k year-round volunteers serving across the United States supported by just 80 field staff members, in-person training would be logistically impossible for Samaritan’s Purse without online training — even before the COVID-19 pandemic hit. At a critical moment, DigitalChalk allowed the non-profit to deliver volunteer training on-demand. 

How Samaritan’s Purse Transitioned to Online Learning in Just Weeks

While Samaritan’s Purse has used DigitalChalk for five years, the events of 2020 made the platform even more vital. The charitable organization had big plans for the week of March 16, 2020, with 14 in-person volunteer and staff conferences planned. But, as we all know, that was the week everything changed. With COVID-19 lockdowns suddenly in effect, the Samaritan’s Purse team had to transform 14 live learning events into virtual learning experiences — fast.

“Naturally, we turned to DigitalChalk,” said Operation Christmas Child’s Gabe Willison. “All we had to do was design and develop all of the content that would have made up the conferences in an online format. Being able to utilize DigitalChalk to deliver the content, see reporting, and see how users were engaging and interacting with the content was great. We were able to take our events from completely in-person to 100% virtual in about 8 weeks.”

Using DigitalChalk’s video feature, Samaritan’s Purse trainers created training tutorials from their homes. Once the content was added to DigitalChalk’s LMS, the team’s next concern was shared by many trainers: Would learners actually participate and engage in online training? And for that matter — would anyone show up?

The answer was yes and YES!

“After opening the virtual conference, we directed attendees to go into their DigitalChalk accounts and complete the training,” Gabe continued. “Our goal was to get everyone through the training over the conference weekend so people could then engage in live discussion sessions based on what they had learned. We surpassed our largest in-person conference by nearly 2k people. We were impressed that so many people were still willing to be engaged and involved.”

What’s the Samaritan’s Purse team’s favorite DigitalChalk feature? 


Registering thousands of volunteers and staff for the courses each person is required to complete would take days (or weeks!) if done manually. That’s time the Samaritan’s Purse team didn’t have, and one reason why DigitalChalk’s Registration feature is a staff favorite. 

“We’ve been able to use the Registration feature to automate course registration from start to finish. Once our learners complete one module, that user is automatically enrolled in the next module. That saves us hours, days, even weeks of administrative work.”

The Course Catalog is another DigitalChalk feature that the charitable organization finds invaluable. For the first four or five years of offering courses online, Samaritan’s Purse was focused solely on delivering required training. After the success of online learning this past year — and seeing solid learner engagement metrics within DigitalChalk — Samaritan’s Purse decided to offer their learners the opportunity to take a deeper dive into topics that interest them. 

“We utilize DigitalChalk’s Course Catalog feature to offer a selection of 20 different courses for our users. Learners can review the available courses, choose those that reflect the needs of their community or region, and enroll themselves. The Course Catalog has enabled us to do this easily.”

Interested to hear how other DigitalChalk users are leveraging the platform to monetize content, educate staff, and more? Watch our recent User Forum featuring a variety of DigitalChalk users. 

Gabe Willison from Samaritan’s Purse talks about how his organization uses DigitalChalk.

Troy Tolle
Author: Troy Tolle

Troy Tolle is the Chief Technology Officer for Sciolytix.