5 inspiring scenario-based elearning examples

Scenarios can be an effective way to engage your learners and really change their behavior. Here are five scenario-based training examples to inspire your next project.

Scenario based featured image

There are lots of ways to include scenarios in your elearning design, from quick and simple to longer-form and intricately designed. Whichever approach you choose, adding some kind of story to your content makes it:

  • More engaging, emotionally impactful and memorable (humans respond well to stories!)
  • More likely to be transferred to the workplace, because it’s real, relevant and practical

Here are five scenario-based elearning examples, each with a different approach.

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1. Scenario-based learning at scale

When working with a high volume of learners, small tweaks can make all the difference. By giving learners a range of choices to explore, this investigative scenario feels more relevant and personal to each individual. By allowing them to ‘work’ a case and draw their own conclusions they are drawn through the story and have autonomy in how they approach their learning.

Scenario-based elearning example:

scenario based elearning example

A great learning approach for:

  • Large organizations with multiple or diverse audiences in different environments
  • Addressing nuanced topics where learners need to see several viewpoints. Think ethics training, discrimination or health and safety.

Giftable  | See this scale-friendly elearning example

2. Story as a way into the substance

A scenario can be a great way into a topic that is complex, dry or otherwise tricky. In this example, the story draws the learner in and primes them for the core content about ethical dilemmas and decision making.

Interactive storytelling screen shot

Why it works:

  • The (true) story has suspense and drama without being contrived or unbelievable, and music clips and engaging visuals bring it to life
  • Decision points with immediate feedback in the narrator’s voice maintain immersion and the momentum of the story
  • At the end, those low-stakes decisions are played back with commentary on what they might suggest about the learner’s responses in higher-stakes situations
  • There is no judgment given – the scenario is all about drawing the learner in, prompting some self-reflection and priming them for the true learning content to come
  • A low-tech interactive scenario makes a big, potentially daunting, topic accessible and engaging

Giftable | Click here to go to this example

3. Product training using a sales simulation

When you need to train staff up on a new product, you could just give them the product information. But this example shows how taking a scenario-based approach to test that knowledge can be more engaging and more effective.

Product knowledge training screenshot

Why it works:

  • Applying a simple scenario turns a basic multiple choice quiz into a more challenging simulation
  • The quiz module tests the learner’s sales skills and ability to apply the learning in context, rather than simple recall of facts
  • Using a customer scenario brings the content to life and helps to embed the product knowledge
  • Feedback directs the learner back to the product information if the learner choose incorrectly, reinforcing the learning rather than just giving the correct answer

Click here to go to this example

4. Immersive branching scenarios to explore consequences

Sometimes it pays to develop a more immersive, branching scenario – like this Open University example. This works really well when you want to offer experiential learning online and need the learner to engage emotionally with a subject.

Immersive branching screenshot

Why it works:

  • It combines Elucidat’s video players, rules, branching, social polls and layout designer to immerse the user in each emotionally-charged scenario
  • The user learns by doing: their choices control the story and they see and feel the impact of their decisions on other people
  • Feedback is offered at the end rather than incrementally after each decision point, so the branching is seamless and the story more realistic and engaging
  • The use of scenarios makes the topic of mental health much more real, impactful and high stakes than simply reading about it
  • As this is a topic where there isn’t a single right answer, social polling adds an extra dimension to the scenario by showing how other people acted at various points

Click here to go to this example


5. An audio-driven scenario with game elements

This demo shows how gaming mechanics such as points and timers can be added to a scenario to create a realistic simulated environment for salespeople to practice their skills.

Gamified scenario screenshot

Why it works:

  • This scenario is audio-driven, which balances low cost and engagement and – more importantly – simulates the environment the learners work in
  • The whole scenario is in the first-person: the learner isn’t controlling a character or reacting to an observed scenario; they are the character and it’s their scenario
  • Game elements add a sense of competition and urgency to the scenario, bringing it closer to the reality of a fast-paced, target-driven sales floor

Giftable | Click here to go to the demo

Five examples of scenarios in elearning, each used in a different way. If you need to make your content more engaging, more impactful, more relevant and relatable, elearning scenarios could be the way to go. See how you can implement scenario examples with this best practice guide.

When and why should you use scenarios in your elearning?

In a nutshell, incorporating storytelling into your elearning content makes it more engaging, emotionally impactful and memorable. Crucially, it also makes it more effective: real, relevant and practical scenarios mean the knowledge and skills learnt are more likely to be transferred to the workplace.

Here are some examples of situations in which scenarios could really add value to the learning experience, and the potential benefits:

  1. When learner motivation is low. When learners simply don’t care, a well-designed scenario plays on their natural curiosity and that human tendency to want to know what happens next and where the story goes. A good scenario also encourages intrinsic motivation by striking a balance between challenging learners (to use existing skills and knowledge) without overwhelming them: success (and new skills or knowledge) has to feel within reach. 
  2. When the core content is dry or complex: legal topics, compliance and so on. It can be hard for learners to envisage how this content relates to their everyday life. Opening with a story illustrating the relevance and why it matters is so much more effective than just stating the facts. It means the core content, when it comes, is more likely to stick, and it provides a memorable hook for that core content. This helps with the transfer from short-term to long-term memory. 
  3. When you’re tackling a risky or sensitive topic – like mental health, diversity and difficult conversations. When the stakes are high in real life, safe exploration before the fact is key. Learners can have as many attempts as they need, making mistakes and playing through the consequences, without any real-life risks. These topics often lend themselves well to branching scenarios with multiple paths so learners can try out a number of approaches in a safe environment.
  4. When there isn’t a single right answer. Scenarios, again particularly branching scenarios, can be a great choice when you want to encourage reflection and discovery, test learners’ assumptions and encourage them to consider different perspectives. This is often the case with soft skills like leadership or negotiation. Social polling can add a useful extra dimension here too, showing learners how other people responded in the same situation and prompting further thought and reflection.
  5. When you need to test learners’ ability to apply the learning in context. Sales skills, product knowledge and customer service skills are good examples of this. A traditional multiple-choice quiz tests recall of facts but does nothing to indicate what learners can do with those facts. Adding a scenario into the mix turns a quiz into a more challenging situation, giving you confidence that – if they perform well here – they’ll perform well where it counts. It also makes it easier for learners to transfer the concepts to their real-life context.

Feeling inspired? Ask us for a free trial of Elucidat and see what you can do. And, while you play around with your free version, don’t forget to compare us with other software out there. Just check out our best elearning authoring tools blog and get the low down on what’s out there.

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