The goal of any eLearning course is to help learners create long-lasting knowledge. While eLearning can captivate the learner’s attention, studies also suggest that on average 50% of the information learners consume is forgotten within an hour. So how do we design a course that both boosts employee engagement and helps learners retain information?

The answer may lie in scenario-based learning. Through this inventive instructional strategy, your company or business can share information and encourage your learners to play an active role in their education. Let’s examine what scenario-based learning is, when it’s useful and how it can be incorporated into your online curriculum development.

What is Scenario-Based Learning?

Scenario-based training combines good storytelling with interactive learning. It can be particularly useful when you need to provide a dialogue and imitate a real-life situation.

For example, a scenario-based template for a social worker might provide a list of different communication styles with a patient or client, each of which leads to a different outcome. When you provide branching scenarios it encourages learners to interact with the content as opposed to passively consume it.

While it is important to eventually reach the desired goal of the course, walking your learner through different scenarios exercises their decision-making and critical thinking skills. Engaging them through a narrative and allowing them to apply their knowledge will help them retain information in the long run.

The Instructional Strategies That Work

Here are the different types of scenarios your learners might need to navigate:

The Skill Tester: In this scenario, the learner is encouraged to demonstrate skills and knowledge that have been acquired throughout the lesson plan. An example of this would be a tech training situation where the learner has to determine which editing software will yield the best results.

The Problem Solver: This kind of scenario is perfect for situations where learners have to apply both their theoretical and practical knowledge to solve a problem. These scenarios test the learner’s decision-making skills, ability to reason and critical reasoning capacity. For example, a call-center operator could be involved in a situation where they deal with sensitive personal data and they have to choose the best response to this problem.

The Issue Navigator: In this type of scenario, learners are encouraged to take a stand on humanitarian and moral issues in the workplace. For example, the learner could be confronted with an example of microaggression in the office and then encouraged to work through the problem.

Telling A Story With eLearning Design Development

Creating a believable script is one of the most important parts of scenario-based eLearning design. Providing information through a context can help learners commit information both to their working and long-term memory. But where do we begin?

To start, it’s important to identify the objective of your story. Do you want to increase empathy in the learner? Do you want to teach them a new technical skill? Once you define the purpose of the course, it will help you create more realistic, believable scenarios.

The crucial things your audience needs to know about a scenario are:

  • When and where it took place.
  • Who was there.
  • What actions led to the event.

Having this context will help your audience become more emotionally invested in the characters and situations you provide.

Show Don’t Tell: The most obvious way to relay a situation is to use adjectives and describe what it looks like. This approach can sound unnatural and leave the learner bored. Instead, try revealing the situation through direct speech.

Have your characters relay the events to your learners in a real dialogue. To create an emotional connection with the characters, consider giving them names as opposed to labeling them as “a customer” or “a manager.”

For example, instead of saying “Sarah, a newly hired call center agent, is struggling with an angry customer” consider having Sarah speak directly to the audience.

By having her say something along the lines of “I just had such a terrible call! The customer was giving me a hard time!” the character of Sarah comes across as a real person and the learner can relate to the situation.

A Learning Strategy For The Future of Work

If learners are not engaged during their training, they will not retain information. Luckily, you can combat boredom with scenario-based eLearning. When you immerse learners in real-life simulations, it allows them to solidify information, see themselves in the situation and refer to the training in the future.