How to create a scenario for learning

Creating a simple scenario 2In this second instalment of scenario based learning, we take a closer look at the steps involved in creating a simple scenario.

Need to catch up on the first part of our first instalment of scenario based learning? Read it here.

Step 1 – Define learning outcomes

Decide on the learning outcomes for the scenario.  Use instructional design tools such as DIF (Difficulty, Interesting, Frequent) or KISS (Keep, Improve, Stop, Start) to identify the behaviour you want to change and what you want learners to do differently. At this point it is also worth capturing competent and incompetent behaviour and slightly grey, risky behaviour.

Step 2 – Set the scene

Almost every good story begins with setting the scene in which the story will play out. This of course should be directly related to the subject matter and the location in which the target audience will most likely encounter such decisions.

Step 3 – Introduce your characters

Now that you have set the scene and familiarised the learner with the location it is time to introduce the characters in the story. Again, realism is important and also consider drawing out traits or a backstory that are relevant to the scenes and decisions that are to come.

Step 4 – Describe decision points

The scenario is structured into a number of scenes which each offer a decision to the main character. These decision points are the moments within the scenario when the learner is offered competent, incompetent and risky options to choose from. These can be presented as multiple choice or true/false questions.  A simple linear scenario follows builds the same narrative scene by scene regardless of the answer chosen by the learner.

Step 5 –  Feedback and resources

As with all forms of learning, providing feedback is a key component in getting the learner to reflect on the problem that has been presented and the possible consequences of their decisions. The more realistic and dramatic these are the better to reinforce the impact of behaviour and choices. Scenario based learning lends itself very well to illustrating consequences as it can present tangible evidence of what can happen as a result of the learner’s decision in real life.  In a teaching scenario key learning points can also be reinforced in the feedback before the scenario progresses to the next scene.

And finally

So what’s not to like about them? Developing realistic and authentic scenarios involves a lot of effort from instructional design team and a close collaboration with the SME.

Consider, if you need a developing linear scenario that follows, a situation which unfolds over time with numerous stages and decision points.  Or maybe a simple stand-alone single scene scenario or vignette might be sufficient.

If you are interested in developing your scenario based learning skills, we’ve recently developed a new 1 day training course on Instructional Scenarios where you will learn how to structure and storyboard engaging, instructional scenarios with characters, settings and decision points. So if you’re interested designing your own scenario with support by our trainer, get in touch! 

So there you have it. An easy step by step method for creating engaging simple scenarios.

Please let us know your comments or share with others who you think may benefit from this. Follow us on twitter @aurionlearning for our latest blog articles and updates.

Using scenario based learning

Scenario based learning

As the trend to use online learning for skill training increases soo too does the demand for scenario based-learning (SBL). Indeed, more and more of our customers are requesting this type of e E-Learning. In this article, we take a closer look at SBL and how it can be effective.

What are scenarios?

Scenarios are stories which place the learner into an online narrative to make decisions, judgement calls, and choices.  They are virtual role-playing activities where the learners play a certain role in a simulated real world situation.

Scenarios are a very flexible and adaptable instructional model and can be used for teaching or assessment purposes and to support a wide range of learning outcomes both knowledge and attitudes.

Why include scenarios in an e-learning programme design?

There are lots of good reasons to consider including scenarios in your programme design.  Here are a few:

  • Scenarios are engaging.  They take the learner on a journey with characters, obstacles, challenges and choices.  It is ‘pull’ content and makes the learner an active participant.
  • They make the learning very relevant for the learner by weaving it into real life work surroundings and situations.
  • Scenarios are useful for modelling higher level critical skills and reinforcing the nuances of professional judgement in complex situations.
  • They can also be used to reinforce more straight forward competent behaviour.
  • When it’s too dangerous, expensive or difficult to set up a work based activities, scenarios offer learning activities that are safe and cost effective, without negative consequences.
  • They are highly motivational as show the consequences of poor judgement, wrong behaviour.

Basic ingredients of a Scenario

For those of you who are new to creating scenario based learning solutions it is recommended you begin small before thinking big, and simple scenarios present an ideal entry point to focus the learner on individual decisions that they may find difficult in real-life situations.

Here’s a simple structure for a scenario:

  1. Outline a singular situation or problem to the learner.
  2. Present the learner with options to overcome that problem.
  3. Feed back to the learner the consequences of the decision they have just made.

For example:

Situation: Dennis has just begun a new job as team leader in a call centre, but on day one he walks into the kitchen to find 2 of his staff making offensive jokes about a fellow team member who is sitting at the next table.

Decision: What should Dennis do?

  1. Make his tea and pretend he never heard anything. After all he doesn’t want to make enemies on the first day of his new job.
  2. Verbally reprimand the 2 staff members telling them that if he hears such distasteful jokes again he will implement formal disciplinary action.
  3. Immediately implement disciplinary action.

Feedback: The correct answer in this case would be option 3. The teaching here is that the company have a zero tolerance policy against racism of any form, and a verbal warning is a compromise that also constitutes an unacceptable answer.

As you can see with this mini-scenario we are presenting to the learner not only a possible real-life situation, but also the finer rationale that may create conflict in the learner’s mind when faced with such a problem. As a result, the learner should now have very clear choice as to what action they should take if ever faced with this situation.

In our next instalment, we’ll take a closer look at the steps involved in creating a simple scenario. 

Please let us know your comments or share with others who you think may benefit from this. Follow us on twitter @aurionlearning for our latest blog articles and updates.