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.

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