How To Immerse Learners With Realistic Scenarios

Studies have shown the amount of information and practical knowledge retained by adult learners who undertake training that includes life or role specific scenarios to re-enforce key points, show significantly better knowledge retention than learners who completed the same training using a purely linear, read some information and remember it style of course.

The simple fact is that we retain knowledge far better when it is presented to us in a context that fits the subject and in a form we can directly relate to physically or emotionally. We learn by doing.

A scenario provides us with a direct part to play and shows us how to decide on a course of action typically from a number of options.  By playing the scenario out to the end, we learn if our choice or choices provide a positive, negative or indifferent outcome. This correlation between our actions and real world consequence is what cements the knowledge.

Here’s a quick outline of the theory behind designing a great scenario.

What you will need:

  1. Content – refers to the actual learning outcomes and knowledge to be transferred. The content must be clearly defined and understood.
  2. Context – is the real world overlay, how the content will be presented to the audience, what characters will be used and what situations will those characters find themselves in. The more relevant the context to the learners life/work the more engaged they will be with the scenario.
  3. Coaching – is the feedback on choices made in the scenario and for every choice there should be some form of feedback. This feedback could come in many forms, as a score, as a subtle hint or observation or even as a sledgehammer knockdown.

What you will build:

  1. Challenges – A scenario is where the learner assumes the persona of a defined character. This character needs to be presented with challenges that relate to the learning concept being addressed.
  2. Choices – From these challenges the character then needs to be given a set of multiple choices with each of the choices providing a relevant method of dealing with the challenge that has been posed.
  3. Consequences – Behind each of the choices provided will be a consequence, a tangible outcome for having made that particular decision.

How to build it:

  1. Create a detailed plan of how the scenario is going to operate, what choices go with which learning outcomes and what all of the possible outcomes from each choice might be.
  2. Use Articulate Storyline 360 or Rise 360 to create your scenario based learning.

The Plan

The plan should include:

  • An outline of the key concepts the learner should take away
  • A break down of these concepts into individual actions where the learner will need to make a choice between a number of options
  • A break down of the consequences that might arise directly from each of the possible choices. (This will form the basis of the feedback to the learner)
  • As in real life, the consequences of our actions are sometimes immediately apparent and sometimes they are not realised until some point in the future. When designing the feedback for your scenario you should consider when and how this feedback is given. Should it be immediate? Like an angry customer leaving the shop following poor service. Or should it be delayed? Like receiving a performance evaluation at month’s end.
  • Determine whether the actions (learning outcomes) will work as:
    • a complete continuum where one action leads directly to the next and the choices made will affect subsequent actions and choices
    • a grouping of linked actions where some learning outcomes share or build consequences  but others will not
    • distinct actions and outcomes that encapsulate an entire concept in one set of choices
  • Now overlay a real world context onto the actions/choices map you have produced.

Using Articulate 360

Now that you have your plan you can go ahead and build your scenario.

If you want to immerse learners in a realistic scenario and be able to design the look and feel to whatever you want then we suggest Articulate Storyline. There are no limitations on the number of choices or how the results of each choice resonate with the learner.  The built in quiz features and templates allow you to build a branching scenarios easily.  Take a look at these workplace bullying examples we built.

If you are looking for a fast and responsive design then Articulate Rise now has a scenario block that allows you to easily create branched scenarios. Here are the examples of our workplace bulling scenarios in Rise.

For more tips on when to use Rise or Storyline from the Articulate community.

Finally, for more help on building scenarios then you may be interested in our Certified Articulate training delivered online and in capital cities.

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