Scenario-based e-Learning

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The Challenge

Scenario-based e-Learning is becoming more popular as a method for delivering skill training and reinforcing knowledge that is relevant, timely and engaging by bringing real life situations to the learner.  In researching the use of scenarios for e-Learning, I came across some useful resources and articles and collected these on a Pinterest board.

I recently came across the guide Ben Pitman wrote on Designing Scenario-based e-Learning, which is aimed at instructional designers who have never written a scenario or who would like to write better ones.  This step-by-step guide covers the whole scenario creation process and includes forms or “memory joggers” to help you along the way in the process. So, this is the first scenario I have created since I got my hands on Ben’s guide. Thanks to the e-Learning Heroes community discussion forum and Liz Armstrong for providing feedback – the original scenario has now been modified slightly.

My research highlighted the key elements for scenario-based e-learning – these include:

  • realism – the scenario must be as realistic as possible in order to fully engage learners
  • learner-centric – the task should allow learners to use skill sets they are developing and at the same time improve upon their weaker points
  • involve applied learning strategies – by involving a learner’s prior skills or knowledge that they can apply to the current task, they learn by doing rather than just reading or hearing the information
  • interactive – to enhance the realism of the learning, the scenario should be based on real world experience and have a high level of interactivity

The inspiration for this scenario was the Articulate e-Learning Heroes challenge #99 How Are You Using Branching Scenarios in e-Learning and of course the Storyline character – Atsumi : A Look Back at E-Learning’s Most Iconic Character #101 !

The Design and The Process

I chose to keep the design quite generic, with the focus on the characters.  The colour palette was based on the characters (you can’t go past including Atsumi as a character!) and I purposely chose to use only the one font throughout the whole course.  I customised the player options in Articulate Storyline 2 to remove all borders and retained the white background, similar to the Branching Scenario course I designed on Atsumi – the babysitter.   Once you’ve customised this in Articulate Storyline 2, you can save the customised player and re-use it for other projects – I’m finding this is a real time-saver.

I defined the characters, their background, profiles and relationships to one another which set the scene for the scenario, then identified the points of interaction – that is, where the learner is presented with a choice, needs to make a decision and then faces the consequences of that decision.

Starting with the end in mind (the relevant points behind the learning) – in this case some alternative endings – I worked on the branching, making sure that each choice allowed the learner to go back and make an alternative choice so they could experience the consequences of choosing another path through the scenario.


The Result

I played around a little with the navigation and made some decisions on this that I may revisit at some point – but overall I think the navigation is intuitive and allows the learner to explore and make choices, gives them the opportunity to go back and make alternative choices, but doesn’t force them to view all the options to navigate to the conclusion.

By asking questions of the learner at crucial points throughout the scenario, with plausible options offered for the learner to choose from, I think the learning is more engaging.  This approach also helps to reinforce their choices through the presentation of consequences.

Finally, feedback on both suboptimal and optimal choices rounds off the simulation and helps to confirm the learner’s understanding and forge a memorable connection.

I’m still contemplating the worst case scenario if Atsumi doesn’t try to sort things out with Pam – at the moment I’ve just left it up to the learner’s imagination – suggestions here are most welcome!!

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