Have you ever sat through a dull lecture but had no recollection of it afterwards?
Or wondered why it’s so difficult to find training sessions that are useful but also interesting?
Creating a relevant and engaging learning experience can be challenging, but it’s by no means impossible!
Scenario-based learning is a method of instruction that promotes active learning by simulating real-life situations for the learner to interact. It immerses the learner in a relevant, relatable story instead of passively receiving information. It also allows them to learn how to make decisions without any real risk or danger.
This form of learning is an incredibly effective learning tool in these situations:
- Low learner engagement.
Plain and straightforward, learners become more engaged when placed into a real, practical and familiar scenario. Further paired with compelling characters and a good storyline will further engage the learner, resulting in higher levels of learning retention.
- Risky and sensitive topics.
Topics such as mental health or difficult HR conversations and careers such as firefighting or surgery have one thing in common: they are high-stakes situations where making mistakes can have a considerable impact. In these cases, trying different approaches, taking remedial action, and exploring in a safe environment can build a learner’s confidence to tackle real-life, high-pressure situations.
- Complex decision-making.
When problem-solving in most modern jobs, there is often no one correct answer. Instead, there are multiple possible pathways, each with pros and cons. Scenario-based learning helps learners reflect on these diverse perspectives, make decisions, and analyse how each decision affects their outcomes. As more and more simple fact-based jobs get replaced by computers, mastering this complex skill becomes increasingly important.
A Simple Framework to Create Good Scenarios
Though scenario-based learning has many benefits, not all scenarios are created equal. To build good ones, we need to get three basic steps right:
The learner must understand your scenario, including where it takes place, who’s there, and what’s happening. Relatability is key. What exact words would learners use? What situations will they encounter? Is this logical in their day-to-day life? All of these need to be believable and relevant to the learner.
The learner must then apply their knowledge of the scenario by taking action. The scenario in play must present the right level of difficulty – enough to get their brains ticking but not overwhelming to the point where the learner gives up.
The learner is then provided feedback on the consequence of their activities, so they can reflect on their decision and how they might improve. Show your learners the result of their actions instead of simply ‘correct’ or ‘incorrect’. Make sure it is convincing enough to encourage the learners to want to continue to the next stage of your scenario.
Get these three steps right, and you’re on your way to engaging and effective learning!
5 Engaging Examples of Scenarios in eLearning
1. Immersive Storytelling for Complex or Dry Topics
For dry or complex topics such as accounting, legal, or compliance, it can be challenging for learners to understand how it relates to their everyday lives. Storytelling creates characters with plot points that draw the learners in and is more effective than merely stating facts.
For example, a bank conducting anti-bribery compliance training for employees can use this story to help employees visualise a dilemma: “Bob, a businessman and long-term client of Michelle, a bank manager, sends Michelle an expensive gift basket for Christmas. Bob says it’s simply to thank Michelle for her excellent service. What should Michelle do?” This scenario helps employees vividly imagine how they would act in reality to keep in compliance with the law.
2. Sales Simulation for Product Training
You could give salespeople a fact sheet with product information to train salespeople about a product. However, to teach them to apply the information on the fact sheet to close a sale successfully, you can utilise customer scenarios and real customer videos combined with multiple choice quizzes.
Simulating a challenging customer environment will enable learners to retain practical product sales knowledge and apply it successfully in real life. After making decisions, feedback on their choices will help them reinforce their learning and increase their confidence to tackle real-life customer situations.
3. Virtual Reality for Risky Environments
Imagine if you are a firefighter or a lab technician. Safety is a top priority for these environments. From how you interact with tools to how you deal with hazards to what protocols you take to ensure safety, using virtual reality to create scenarios mimicking these environments is a safe and cost-effective way to simulate dangerous or expensive environments.
Using scenarios in virtual reality helps learners inhabit their actual environment, face real issues, and make mistakes without compromising their safety.
4. Gamified Scenarios for Motivating People
It’s already well-known that games are great for motivating people to learn. One of the vital benefits of gamification is that businesses of all industries can apply it effectively. Gamification elements such as characters, narratives, points, and rewards to create scenarios to incentivise learning has proven to be very useful.
For example, gamification scenarios with points and rewards can imitate a real sense of urgency and competition when simulating a fast-paced, target-driven sales floor. Meanwhile, “choose your adventure” games will get the learner invested in the character’s future and explore options for growth and development, making it ideal for learning about career pathways.
5. Branching Scenarios for Sensitive Conversations
Sensitive topics around mental health, negotiations or HR have unique challenges. They must be handled carefully, have no one correct answer and require high emotional engagement; this is where immersive branching scenarios come in. Branching scenarios provide different routes learners can take, with each decision opening up different paths in the story.
For example, in client negotiation conversations, branching scenarios can help learners test assumptions and encourage them to consider different perspectives. Social polling can also be helpful to see what others would choose in similar situations and prompt further reflection. Pairing branching scenarios with videos and dialogue for mental health conversations can also create an emotionally-charged environment for learners to understand how their actions can impact others.
“ENGAGEMENT” is the key
Nothing is worse than forcing learners to endure a dull training session that they will neither remember nor apply.
With scenario-based learning, learners take an active role in their knowledge acquisition and apply their skills in relatable and relevant contexts. When done right, scenario-based learning can supercharge learning and put new skills to use immediately.
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