Challenge, Choices, Consequence

Creative design ideas for e-Learning scenarios

A branching scenario about…branching scenarios!

branching scenario elearning design
Click on the image to view the demo

This design was created using Storyline 360 and inspired by the Articulate e-Learning Heroes weekly challenge #211 to share an example of a branching scenario based on the 3C scenario model.

It was obvious to me that when I began to look at how to build branching scenarios, I needed to put this information into a tangible form – so here it is.

Whilst it’s not a complete and final design as far as the content goes, I have attempted to incorporate the elements of the 3C scenario model as introduced by Tom Kuhlmann.

Here’s how my branching works:

branching scenario design elearning

What does this look like in Storyline 360? Well, I started off with individual slides – but this got way too messy! So I used layers for the consequences. I ended up with just a few slides and this was much more manageable.

branching scenario storyline scene elearning

One thing I made sure of was that the navigation was intuitive, without being restrictive. You’ll notice there’s no menu or previous/next buttons. I never really understood why you would need a menu for a scenario…

The learner progresses through the scenario screens, reading each challenge, making a choice, and facing the consequences of their choice. If they want to go back and choose again to see what the consequence would have been if they made a different choice, I’ve made sure this is possible – although once they’ve viewed all consequences, this option is removed and they’re moved on to the next challenge question. Choosing the “best” option takes them to a screen where they receive affirmative feedback on their choice, with this slide leading straight into the next challenge question. Of course, they need to choose the “best” option and read the feedback that explains why this is the best option before they will be able to move on to the next challenge question.

My takeaways from this design exercise on branching scenarios in e-Learning are many, but here are the key ones:

  • scenarios provide a framework for learners to practice in a safe environment and learn from mistakes by drawing on stories contextualised in the real world
  • scenarios must be as realistic as possible and ideally be based on authentic workplace problems or real-world situations, not theoretical information. By having a thorough understanding of the learning needs and current skills of learners you will be more able to create a scenario course that engages your learners on a fundamental level and keeps them motivated to learn
  • when writing the script for a scenario, begin by identifying the gaps, goals and desired behaviours as these essential elements guide every aspect of your branching scenario from the decision-making paths to the storyline
  • scenarios are more engaging if they are emotive and have some conflict. Create emotional connection within the scenario by adding interesting characters that learners can relate to
  • challenges in a scenario should draw upon learners’ core strengths and allow them to use skills that they are developing, while at the same time improving upon their weak points
  • each scenario should involve skills or knowledge that learners have already gathered and which they can apply to the current challenge – so they learn by doing, rather than reading or hearing about information
  • a well-designed scenario works with branching logic (feedback loops, second attempts or remedial practice) that allow the learner to get back on track and reach a successful resolution
  • test out your decision paths – ideally every decision path should flow to the next and lead to the appropriate outcome

Oh, one last thing – the opening slide in my design was “just for fun” – I wanted to design something visually engaging!

Here it is on it’s own – click on the image below to view it again, or click on the image at the top of the page to view the branching scenario demo.

branching scenarios design elearning
Click on the image to view the demo

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