Elearning Scenarios: It’s Not as Difficult as You Think

Do you find creating scenario based e-learning a bit of a ‘black art’ or simply want to become better at it? Here’s some tips to help. Just click ‘play’ – we really hope they help.

As always please leave any thoughts or feedback in the comments section below – we’d love to hear them.

Read the transcription here:

Hi, this is Patrick Dunn for the Elucidat blog.

Now, e-learning scenarios are sometimes regarded as a bit of a black art. It’s something that really only the best, most specialist e-learning designer should have a go at and they’ll need some kind of specialist technology as well.

And I disagree. I think we’re long past that time.

I think with the advances in authoring technology and a lot of accumulated experience around the industry pretty much any e-learning designer can have a go at doing really good, effective e-learning scenarios.

So, in this video, I’m going to talk about 4 things:

·Firstly, what are e-learning scenarios?

·Secondly, why do they work so well?

·Thirdly, the narrative elements of e-learning scenarios.

·And finally, the learning elements of e-learning scenarios.

What are e-learning scenarios?

Put very simply, scenario-based learning is where you take your learner, and you put them in a situation or context and you tell them a story. And you require them to make decisions. And they learn by thinking about these decisions, making them, and then experiencing or seeing the consequences of those decisions.

They’ll also learn because there’s usually support information of some sort provided. But this support information is secondary. It’s the story and the decisions that are primary.

The vast majority of e-learning scenarios are linear. They’re not complex.

You simply take a story. You line up chunks of a story and you intersperse them with multiple choice questions, with other forms of interactions, and you run the learner through in a linear form.

So, it’s really quite simple.

We’re not talking here about complex gaming or console games. In fact we’re not talking about simulations or games at all.

We’re just taking familiar components of e-learning courses and re-assembling them in a slightly different way.

Why are they effective?

I would emphasise 3 particular reasons why scenario-based learning can be so effective.

Firstly, we know that adults, particularly adult learners, are driven by goals. They want to achieve things. So you should try to set a goal at the start of your scenario. You know, make a sale or operate a piece of equipment really successfully. So, set a goal.

Secondly, we know that stories are a great way of tying information together. Children often learn very well from stories and it’s something that we perhaps forget during adult life. Stories, they tie information together and scenarios should have stories.

Thirdly, taking action, in this case by making decisions and seeing consequences. Taking action is obviously a much better way of learning than being passive.

So, that’s the third reason scenarios can be such a great form of e-learning.

The narrative ingredients

So, when I’m talking about scenarios I often think of two different types of ingredients – narrative ingredient, learning ingredient.

I’ll talk about narrative ingredient first.

So clearly, you need a story. Scenarios are all about telling little simple stories. You need not just a plot but characters in that plot. You need some kind of goal to start with and you need some kind of conclusion. And then you intersperse the plot elements, the story elements with interactions and you demonstrate consequences of decisions. Those are broadly the ingredients, the narrative ingredients of your scenario.

Authenticity of the story is incredibly important and it really helps if you can work simultaneously with subject matter experts, with end users to help you tell your stories. So an online, cloud-based tool like Elucidat can really help you get to an authentic, believable story which is very important.

So, those are the narrative ingredients.

The learning ingredients

And there are also what you might call learning ingredients, and of course they overlap with the narrative ones as well.

The kind of thing I’m talking about when I say learning ingredient is some kind of defined learning goal. You need to be able to set the learner a challenge so that they feel some kind of satisfaction when they achieve it and so there’s some focus for their learning.

Repetition is important and that’s quite different from many other forms of e-learning.

We tend not to repeat so much in most e-learning whereas repetitive rehearsal is quite an important learning ingredient of many good scenarios.

You might also need coaching. So, you might invent a character that provides extra information to the learner in order to coach them through either before or after making decisions.

And finally, you need support information, that grounding context, resources that the learner can call upon in order to resolve the challenges and decisions that they are being asked to make.


So, that’s it.

I’ve been talking about e-learning scenarios. I’ve discussed what they are. I’ve talked about why they can be so effective. I’ve described what I call the narrative elements and I’ve talked about the learning elements.

And as usual, as you’ll find in a lot of these videos, I’m saying, d’you know it is all pretty simple if you’ve got the right authoring tool, and you’ve got a certain amount of determination and common sense, you can do really great e-learning scenarios and produce enjoyable, engaging learning for your people.

So, thanks very much and I’ll be seeing you next time.