Imagine this scenario: You sit down to storyboard your eLearning module. This is important for organizations, but it’s something that has been found to blow learners’ socks off. Stare at a blank screen. But maybe, Write content in lecture style, Create a trivia game, Write questions about realistic scenarios that you know your learners will refer to, can be used.
In this case, and many others, we choose scenario-based learning. Scenarios are a highly effective learning strategy that helps engage learners, practice skills, and build confidence in a realistic setting. Plus, everyone loves a good story. Writing training scenarios harnesses the power of storytelling to simplify complex topics and encourage learners to reflect on what they have learned. Scenarios are often the most interesting, relevant, and engaging choices you can make for your learning experience.
But not all scenarios are the same. Creating designs that engage learners and help them achieve their learning goals takes practice. We’ve done much work to learn what makes a plan successful. Here’s an overview of scenario-based learning and some simple steps to create strategies that engage your learners.
What is scenario-based Learning?
Scenario-based learning is an interactive teaching strategy that uses real-life situations and stories to engage learners actively. We’ve learned a lot about how to create our scenarios over the years, and the learning thought leader who wrote one of our favorite books, Map It. Credit must be given to a confident Cathy Moore. She has two strategies to use: standalone systems and branching scenarios.
Standalone scenarios are more straightforward, with the learner only addressing one question per scene. Rather than walking learners through step-by-step tutorials, stand-alone plans prompt learners to consider the implications of their decisions. Stand-alone scenarios can also create “build-up scenarios” where multiple stories and questions pass through the content in succession, referencing previous methods. A build plan provides an intermediate option between a standalone scenario and an actual branching scenario.
This scenario-based learning allows for branching opportunities based on the learner’s choices in a given situation. Branching scenarios typically deal with more complex topics with multiple decision points where the outcome changes depending on the learner’s choice. It’s also a great choice if you want your learners to understand the best possible option among a few good options. Watching it unfold is often the best way to grasp the nuances of a plan.
In both cases, the best-case scenario recreates real-world decision points that learners experience. So why use Scenario Training for learning? Writing strategies puts learners in possible future situations, allowing them to test their decision-making skills (without consequences!) in an appropriate and relevant environment. Scenarios are more enduring learning experiences with high engagement and a strong track record of inducing behavior change. Who can oppose?
It all sounds great on paper, but be aware that poorly executed strategies can seriously affect learning outcomes. If the system doesn’t seem realistic to the learner, you risk losing the learner’s trust, which can lead to discouragement and checkout. Here are some common pitfalls that can derail your course.
- Irrelevant strategies or characters (“That’s not me”)
- Unrealistic Choices (“I would never do that”)
- Bad feedback or results (“It can’t be”)
Now that you know what went wrong in your plan let’s move on to the success factors. Here are his four steps (plus some pro tips from the ID team) for creating designs that resonate with your learners.
How to Write Compelling Scenarios
A lot depends on how you write your plan. Still, it comes down to four basic guidelines: be relevant and challenging, be realistic, pay attention to detail, and write your plan. It’s about breathing life into it. Here’s how to apply each step to your scenario-based learning.
- Don’t waste the learner’s time
Relevance is the key to a practical learning experience. What can learners get out of this scenario? A good guideline is to step back and review the learning objectives. What are the main actions learners need to take to get home? What methods can you create for learners to practice these actions? Stop and think.
Learners welcome good challenges, so don’t make your strategies too easy or obvious. There is no reason to confuse actively, but there is nothing wrong with making the learner stop and think. If the plan is too simplistic, the learner may switch it off.
- Show (Don’t Say) Results
A good plan shows the learner the consequences of their choices by continuing the story. This form of feedback allows learners to infer whether they made the right choice rather than simply telling them whether their choice was right or wrong. After showing the results, you can add descriptive text or forward the job to her aid to provide additional feedback.
- Demand Accuracy
There is nothing worse than creating scenarios that make learners roll their eyes. Learners have often been working in this role or doing similar tasks for years. When thinking about how to write a design, interpersonal skills are a top priority. They use their language to capture everyday life’s nuances and portray the problematic situations they encounter at work. What tempts them to make the wrong choices? Learners notice and appreciate these details.
- Understand the Context
Seek accuracy not only in what you are trying to teach but also in context. Time and place add realism to the strategy, but only if the context feels authentic to the learner. Suppose you’re unfamiliar with the context of decision points and research. Find an in-person account online or, even better, schedule a time to interview the actual learners themselves. 3. Pay attention to details
- Do not add distractions
While it’s essential to include details that help learners visualize and relate to strategies, too much unnecessary information can be distracting. Also, don’t use details to trick the learner or get you off track. All details must be added to the logic of the plan to advance the story. If you get stuck on the details, focus on the decision points. Set up your scene and create a logically complete system with a clear beginning, middle, and end.
- Choose the right POV
While it may seem like a matter of preference, point of view (POV) can affect how learners relate to your story. To decide how to write a design, you have to choose between the 2nd person view (you are in the system) and the 3rd person view (observer of the design).
Consider how learners relate to the plan. Second-person POV is suitable for putting the learner in the system, but only if you can be reasonably confident that the learner will empathize with the design. Otherwise, it can create a dissonance (“I wouldn’t do that!”) that distracts the learner. Third-person POV is safer when learners may not be relevant to the content or when learner groups fill multiple roles.
- Please select a medium
It’s showtime. I’m looking for a suitable modality to realize my scenario. Great scenarios can be created with lighting, audio, video, still images, or any combination above. Follow the design creation guidelines above and keep the learner’s context in mind to maximize engagement.
- Consider branching scenarios
Consider incorporating branching or multipart scenarios into your learning if you can create them. This is the most comprehensive approach to your design. Learners not only see the consequences of their actions but also make new decisions based on previous choices. However, not all scenarios require this. Branching strategies require much time and effort for both the instructional designer and the learner. The standalone Her plan is often sufficient to get the job done.
- Engaging strategies lead to better learning outcomes
There is nothing worse than enduring a boring and irrelevant learning experience. strategies allow learners to take an active role in learning and test their skills in an appropriate, low-risk environment. strategies, when properly crafted, can be a powerful tool for challenging learners and inducing real-world changes that can be applied immediately.
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