According to Jean Lave, learning normally functions in terms of “activity, context, and culture”, and it is significantly more effective than passive learning which involves just simple intake of theory without the active involvement of learners. So where does scenario-based eLearning figure?
Today, millennials and Gen Z constitute most of your employees, and they are typically known to resist any passive form of learning. Compared to previous generations, these modern learners have a lot more options to choose from to enhance their skills and knowledge, and are also more open to trying out new things. As a result, they prefer to learn from the best formats available, and scenario-based learning is one of them.
Scenario-based eLearning is a well-known instructional design strategy that is extensively used in online training. It uses interactive scenarios to support active and immersive learning strategies like problem-based or case-based learning, which results in better engagement and more importantly, better learning for learners.
Scenarios in eLearning – Learning Made Personal and Impactful
Where can you use scenarios in eLearning?
- Sales training
- Software training
- Compliance and safety training
Scenario-based eLearning places learners in virtual workplace-like scenarios where they need to make decisions and experience the consequences of their actions in a safe, risk-free environment. That way, learning becomes highly engaging and experiential leading to better retention.
How is it Applied in eLearning?
Step 1: Know Your Learners
You are designing the eLearning course for your learners, and it will only be effective if you can design one that meets their requirements. So, it’s essential to be aware of the struggles they face on a daily basis, in order to identify the gaps in training and create the most relevant and curated content for them.
You may then proceed to design scenarios relevant to their job-tasks which will enable them to participate in a virtual environment and face the consequences of their actions, by practicing and sharpening their decision-making skills. For instance, a scenario that involves technical concepts that learners aren’t aware of might intimidate them and affect their learning experience.
Step 2: Determine Key Learning Objectives
The next step is to identify the performance-based learning objectives and ensure they are aligned with the organizational goals.
Scenario-based online training is widely used to enhance critical thinking skills in:
Sales is a dynamic process involving human touchpoints, where sales reps are required to interact with customers constantly – to negotiate, convince, and address concerns. These skills can only be mastered with frequent interaction with people.
Vague and improper communication with customers may get your sales reps in hot water, or worse, lose the customer. This is where scenarios for sales training come in handy.
Scenario-based eLearning provides a risk-free environment to practice selling skills in virtual and interactive problem-based contexts. Learners can apply subject knowledge and critical thinking and problem-solving skills in a close-to-real-world environment.
For instance, a scenario of sales reps who missed a crucial step in the sales process and the resultant consequence can be shown in the eLearning course. Here, the sales reps can be asked to decide what needs to be done in order to rectify the mistake and proceed to the next steps.
Software End-user Training
An interactive software training course with screen captures, simulations, and real-world scenarios can positively enhance employees’ learning experience. Various learning paths can be created depending on the employees’ roles and responsibilities.
For instance, employees who are low level users of a particular software can be provided with basic courses that will teach just enough for them to do their tasks. Employees who are power users can be provided with more complex learning paths with additional information and decision-making opportunities.
Compliance and Safety Training
Incorporating a scenario-based approach in compliance training enables you to make the dry and ‘legalese’ topic more understandable and engaging. You can show your employees the risks they might face in a variety of situations when they fail to follow a code of conduct, or violate a company policy.
A good example is where an employee accidentally leaks confidential information to competitors by not adhering to data breach and privacy laws.
The same can be applied in safety training. Simple restrictions without consequences can be taken casually and won’t bring the desired change in employee behavior. When they see the effect of their actions/negligence, they will take care to avoid such actions in real life or know how to respond in emergency situations.
Step 3: Design Appropriate Scenarios
The learning objectives should form the basis to design scenarios. Simple scenarios may be preferred to train employees in general, and role-based branching scenarios to create learning paths based on previous knowledge of different employees.
Scenarios may be incorporated in the eLearning course or scenario-based assessments may be used before, during, or after the course. Care should be taken not to make the scenarios overly complex or include irrelevant information, as that may end up confusing your learners and affecting their learning experience.
Step 4: Ensure Your Scenarios are Relatable and Realistic
Designing realistic scenarios using real-world problems and stories can help take the learning closer to home, and not something that the learner may never experience. As far as possible, scenarios should resemble the work environment and the characters used in the scenario should closely reflect the employees – job tasks, challenges, commonly-used terminology, etc.
When learners are put in such a realistic yet risk-free learning environment where they are free to commit mistakes, they can experience, learn, and practice at the same time. This way, learning and retention can be significantly improved, which can in turn enhance employee performance.
Step 5: Ensure Scenarios are Engaging
In scenario-based learning, better engagement results in better learning experiences and ultimate learning outcomes. You can design scenarios to be interesting, interactive, and immersive by:
- Using images, short videos, callouts, nuanced characters and backgrounds
- Creating scenarios that challenge and motivate learners to respond appropriately when such situations arise in the workplace
- Using direct speech, conversational tone, and informal language
- Designing scenarios that require learners to think critically and be creative
Summing it All Up!
Scenario-based eLearning is a very popular ID strategy used in online training as it supports interactive learning and enhances learner engagement. Given the rise in the number of millennials and Gen Z’ers in the corporate workforce who prefer active forms of learning, scenario-based eLearning is finding a diverse range of applications in sales training, compliance and safety training, and software end-user training.
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