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As a learner, which eLearning module would YOU rather be doing?

Develop more engaging eLearning with scenario-based learning. Talk to Optimism about how to get real results using this approach.

July 28, 2023

Scenario-based learning

So let’s look at why you should be using scenario-based learning, and why it makes such a difference

Scenario-based learning aims to replicate performance on the job as far as possible.So instead of telling people what they should do, or getting them to read about how it should be done, we guide them through actually doing it with all the tools and support they need available to them.  

Yes, you may already use scenarios or examples to illustrate a point or to ask questions, but scenario-based learning works by taking one scenario or story from its beginning to its end. And along the way, all aspects of the learning are incorporated naturally. Using this approach, the learning is:

  • More engaging
  • More transferable to the job
  • More focused on performance
  • More memorable

Let’s take a closer look at each of these benefits.

The learning experience is engaging because it truly is a visual-auditory-kinaesthetic (VAK) experience. The photographs and video make it more visually stimulating than text and image, especially when real people are involved. And when photos and videos are presented full-screen (rather than placed within a screen border) the learning experience becomes immersive and more involving. The auditory aspect is provided by video, character speech, sound effects or narration. And kinaesthetically, the learners must interact through mouse, keyboard or gesture in order to explore, progress or respond.

Scenario-based learning is more easily transferred to the job because it uses real-life situations which learners can relate to, and which they perceive as relevant and realistic. Further by following through with one story or role-based scenario, a whole of job or end to end approach is used, and this learning is much more easily applied on the job as it replicates what actually happens.

Even if the learning starts off with them working with or resolving simple uncomplicated scenarios, layers of complexity can be added as they build their skill and knowledge.Complexity may be added using various techniques, such as new information coming to light, the customer returning the next day, another call during a shift, or a colleague requesting help with a case.

To maintain realism and keep them in the story, consequences are incorporated just as they would appear in real life when an inappropriate action is taken or a wrong decision is made. So rather than receive feedback such as “Incorrect – try again”, they may get a stern warning from their manager, a customer may complain, a patient may deteriorate, or they may lose the sale.

With scenario-based eLearning, the focus is on performance or what you want them to DO back on the job – not what they need to know. It’s all about getting them to take the correct actions or make the right decisions to perform well. Of course this comes from the effective setting of performance outcomes and objectives (a whole different topic), and not on what information you need to give them.

Because it’s about performing on the job, the learning will provide access to the tools and resources that are typically available to them in the workplace. The better the job resources (performance support tools) they have, the less time they will need to spend in training in order to perform to the desired standard. This may mean that, during the design process, new tools and resources are identified to help them perform as if they were an expert.

Scenario-based learning is more memorable, because it engages head, heart and hand. Learners need to think through (head) their actions and decisions; their emotive responses (heart) are activated as the story unfolds through elements such as time pressure, achievements or unintended consequences; and as mentioned previously they are interacting with the content through mouse, keyboard or gesture (hand) to explore, progress or respond. Together head, heart, hand makes the experience memorable, and when it’s memorable, the learning will stick.

In a nutshell, scenario-based learning is more engaging, more transferable to the job, more focused on performance and more memorable. It’s a completely different way of thinking about corporate learning, and it can be challenging to design – but the results are worth it.

So talk to us about how you can get real and get results using scenario-based learning.