The Scenario-based Learning Series: #3 How to implement Scenario-based Learning

In our last two posts, we defined Scenario-based Learning (SBL) and its key components and after that explained when to use SBL. Let us now discuss how to develop SBL.

Being an ardent reader, I know how a story works.

A typical SBL is more than a three-act story. Despite the story, characters and profound situations, there are two essential parameters that we need to factor while developing the SBL:

  1. The need to align the story to the performance required

Okay, where do I start?

Here is a blueprint of the steps involved.

1. Begin with the end in mind

Define the learning objectives based on the end goal of the training. For example, if we need to develop web-based training for System Diagnosis and Repairs, the learning objectives must be as follows:

  • Access and interpret the relevant system data

2. Decide the delivery media

Once the learning objectives are defined, we must then proceed to develop the delivery media. In our example of the web-based training for System Diagnosis, the training will be delivered with on-screen instructions through interactions such as clicking on the on-screen objects, dragging the objects to correct locations and text input. The key criterion is to involve the learner and keep them engaged.

3. Develop the Narrative

Narrative: A spoken or written account of connected events; a story.

– Oxford Dictionary

A narrative doesn’t have to be in detail. A set of images recounted as a story is an effective way to depict a scenario. In our example of system diagnosis and repair, a collection of images showing a series of system crashes is enough to establish the narrative.

4. Put the learner in control

The objective of the SBL is to train the learner for real-life situations through simulated triggers. The goal of the trigger is to prompt the user to be action ready. This can be a situation where the narrative is disaster ready. Everything that can possibly go wrong has gone wrong. At the end of the trigger scene, the learner becomes the decision maker who intervenes just in time to make correct decisions and avert the disaster.

5. Support the situation with data

Every scenario needs some data which the learner needs to process to execute the assigned tasks. In our example, the learner needs to handle all the system crash data, and the events leading to the issues. The instructional approach must be not just to identify the correct answer, but to let the learner follow an efficient process to find the right answer.

6. Never lose your learner

A typical SBL must provide Guidance and Instruction to navigate through the scenario. It is essential that you feed the training content to the learner in an orderly fashion rather than leaving it for discovery. This progressive disclosure acts as a scaffold to the SBL and saves the frustration of trial and error. In our scenario of Systems Diagnostics, you may display a message “Click here to see what our experts suggest to do in this situation.”

So, instead of forcing the learner to perform a set of procedures, we provide guidance and freedom to learn from mistakes.

7. Provide Feedback

This is probably the most important, yet most overlooked aspect of an SBL. Instead of just giving a bland correct/incorrect response along with an obvious explanation, the ideal approach involves letting the scenario give visual cues/ gestures to reflect negative feedback. In our example, if the learner selects an incorrect process, the problem persists or even worsens (such as sparks flying out of the system). This prompts the learner to work towards getting a positive outcome.

8. Bonus Step: End of the scenario review

By the time I finished writing about the steps mentioned above, I have completed the Batman Telltale series video game. At the end of the game, it gave me an opportunity to reflect upon all the choices I have made, how it impacted my final outcome, and how I fared against others.

Although I did not care about the feedback during the game, I keenly reviewed my choices at the end to compare my achievements against others.

Moral of the story: It is always a good idea to give the learner a summary of all the choices and their impact on the outcome of the scenario.

What Next?

Now that we have a basic understanding of the SBL and its overall mechanics, why not implement it in our training programs? Practice, practice, and practice…

I am Interested in developing Scenario-based e-Learning with you! Let’s Discuss.

Originally published at Scenario-Based Learning Blog

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