Some courses merely transfer information. Others provide a stimulating and thought-provoking experience. Stories and scenarios belong to the second category and are excellent means to enhance learning experiences. Scenarios do help retain new information in an easy manner. When you use real life scenarios or examples, learners are able to relate it to an existing or familiar situation or fact. This helps build on their current knowledge, giving scope for knowledge transfer that has better chances of retention.
However, it is not easy for an instructional designer to build scenarios. More often than not, instructional designers are given material containing examples or scenarios inadequate to impart effective learning. It is therefore challenging to design a course that ensures knowledge transfer in the most user-friendly format.
So what should IDs do when they need to use scenarios in an eLearning course? Here are some guidelines that will motivate your learners to extract knowledge from the course rather than have it pushed on to them.
Understand the objective of the course: What is the objective of the course? Is it to understand compliance procedures or safety mechanisms at workplace? It is important to understand what the learner is expected to learn at the end of the course as it is based on that very objective that scenarios need to be prepared.
Understand the learner: What is the learner expecting from the course? How do you think he will apply the knowledge acquired from the course to his job? Asking questions such as these helps in creating scenarios that are relevant to the learner’s job.
Learn the context and subject matter: To design scenarios, it is important to understand the context of the subject matter. Discuss scenarios closely with the subject matter experts to arrive at a plausible storyline. Validate the same with the SMEs to ensure it is relevant and realistic in the given context.
Use questions: to engage the learner in the process. If the scenario is a dialogue between individuals, you could stop and ask questions such as, ‘What do you think Jane should do in such a situation?”. Suggest a few options and allow the learner to choose one of them. You can also use questions where you expect learners to know the specific Dos and Don’ts in their job. Relate a scenario that they are likely to face in their jobs and suggest possible answers. Based on the answer that they have chosen, they can be given feedback. This enables them to use the information gained and test their understanding of the given subject matter.
Scenarios should be simple and easily understood: They should focus on one issue at a time. They should be simple so that it is easy to communicate the intended message to the learner. They should also include potential problems learners might have and try and encourage the learners to find solutions for these.
There are a few guidelines for Instructional Designers to include scenarios in an eLearning course. If you have other suggestions, please do share your views.