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5 Steps to Implement Scenario-Based Learning


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Scenario-based learning is an instructional strategy that immerses learners in real-life or situational experiences within e-learning courses. This approach enhances learner engagement by presenting content in contextual settings, enabling students to develop skills and knowledge applicable to future real-life situations. Here's a comprehensive breakdown of scenario-based learning in e-learning, its benefits, and how to implement it effectively.

Understanding Scenario-Based Learning

Scenario-based learning revolves around building lessons around scenarios where learners are prompted to make decisions from multiple options. Feedback is provided to explain the correctness of their choices, allowing students to understand strategic principles through practical application and observation of consequences.

Why Scenario-Based Learning in E-Learning?

Scenario-based learning offers several benefits.

  • Enhanced Learner Engagement. Students are motivated to learn when faced with challenges and confident in their ability to tackle them.
  • Long-term Skill Development. Learners directly see the benefits of their skills and knowledge in real-world situations, fostering continuous growth.
  • Realistic Obstacles. Scenarios present real-world problems, keeping learners engaged while expanding their skills and knowledge.

Applying Scenario-Based Learning

Implementing scenario-based learning involves five key steps:

  1. Analyze Learners. Understand students' demographics, prior knowledge, expectations, goals, and aspirations to create relevant scenarios.
  2. Review Learning Objectives. Ensure scenarios align with course goals and mirror real-life decision-making situations.
  3. Choose a Scenario. Select realistic situations that challenge learners, focusing on critical decision points and necessary information.
  4. Choose a Scenario Structure. Determine the type of scenario (skill-based, problem-based, speculative, or gaming) that best suits the learning objectives.
  5. Design the Scenario. Craft an engaging story with believable characters, immersive dialogue, and instructional feedback to facilitate effective learning.

Scenario-based learning is a powerful instructional strategy for e-learning, offering an immersive and engaging approach to skill and knowledge development. By simulating real-life situations, learners can make decisions, observe consequences, and refine their problem-solving abilities. Through careful analysis, alignment with learning objectives, and thoughtful design, scenario-based learning can significantly enhance the effectiveness of e-learning courses.

Incorporating scenario-based learning into e-learning not only improves learner engagement but also ensures that students develop practical skills and knowledge applicable in real-world scenarios. By following the outlined steps, educators can effectively implement scenario-based learning to create meaningful and impactful learning experiences for their students.




Hello, and welcome to the eLearning and Instructional Design for Beginners podcast, where new and aspiring instructional designers start, grow, and advance their careers in instructional design and online learning development. I'm your host, Crystal Harper. I'm a former school teacher who transitioned to instructional design, all while working full-time as a single mom. Would you like to become a successful instructional designer without the burden of earning another degree? Well then let's get started.

When creating e-learning courses, it can often be difficult selecting activities that fit students realistic needs. Scenario-based learning is an excellent instructional strategy that can help improve learner engagement, immersing the learners in real-life or situational experiences.

Delivering content in contextual settings provides students with opportunities to develop skills or information that they cannot transfer into future real-life situations. In this training, you will learn about what scenario-based learning is in an e-learning context, why you should use scenario-based learning in e-learning, So you might be wondering what scenario-based e-learning actually is.

In this type of instructional strategy, lessons are built around a scenario. Learners are asked to make decisions by choosing among the multiple options. Following the provided information, feedback should be presented to the learners. For each option to explain why they are either correct or incorrect, students are able to learn about strategic principles by applying them to a concrete situation and observing the consequences of their decisions.

This approach is appropriate in a variety of contexts, such as to develop problem-solving or interpersonal skills, to teach strategic principles, or to develop an interactive exercise at the end of a unit. Scenario-based learning lets students learn through a trial-and-error process without having to face the consequences of making a wrong decision when applying their knowledge in a real-life situation.

Scenario-based learning helps improve learner engagement and helps students understand in a variety of ways. For one, it motivates students to learn thanks to the fact to know they have the skills needed to accomplish the task. They understand that they are going to be challenged, but are confident in themselves that they can meet the challenge and build upon their skills.

Scenario-based learning helps students see their skills and knowledge directly benefit them long term. A well-designed e-learning scenario will challenge students to the degree in which they can expand their knowledge without overwhelming them. This type of learning provides students with real-world obstacles and problems that they will face in order to expand their skills and knowledge while keeping them engaged in the e-learning process.

A scenario in an e-learning course is essentially a story. It has a plot, characters, and a problem that the learners need to resolve. To learn more about applying story in eLearning, review the training How to Apply Storytelling in eLearning. When applying scenario-based eLearning, you need to create an engaging and interactive scenario that feels real to your learners. They should be able to relate to the characters as you guide and advise them.

Step 1. Analyze your learners. Before creating this scenario, you need to have a clear understanding of your students. You need to be able to connect to and empathize with them so that you can create a relevant, engaging, and effective scenario.

Ask yourself questions like, Who are the learners? What is their prior knowledge? What do the students expect to get from the course? What are their goals and aspirations? To learn more about how to analyze your learners, review the training How to Analyze Your Learners.

Step 2. Review the learning objectives and course goals.

Remember that this scenario is not effective unless it mirrors the necessary components of the learning objectives. In reviewing the objectives, identify real-life situations where difficult or complex decisions will have to be made. While analyzing these situations, identify the most important or critical considerations the student needs to understand to make the right decision.

Then consider situations that arise frequently and provide opportunities to the students to learn or to apply good practices to those situations where decision-making is likely to be swayed by misunderstandings. Step three, choose a situation for the scenario. The next step is to understand how you should choose a situation and turn it into a scenario.

Here are some suggestions. Scenarios need to be as realistic as possible, while still providing students with the necessary information that they need to accomplish the learning objectives. Include elements that are going to provide your learners with the most benefit and develop the necessary skill sets, but try to avoid adding any extraneous information or multimedia that will distract them from the overall goal.

Make critical or challenging situations the priority. Also, the content should be presented in a way that draws upon the student's core strengths, allowing them to use their developing skills, while at the same time improving their weak points. Think about how involved the student needs to be in the situation.

In real life, the learner might not have to make some of the high-level decisions. Be sure to create decision points for these situations. Also think about how learners will use the information in the lesson and build the scenario around it. Provide your learners only with the information required to make the decisions.

This can be given as part of the scenario description, as part of the feedback to the student's responses, or as part of the information available on demand, such as You need to define possible choice options for each critical decision. Choices should not be obvious. And lastly, each choice generates a consequence.

Provide detailed feedback for each option by showing its consequences.

Step 4. Choose a scenario structure. There are a variety of types of scenarios. Each type is designed to teach a particular type of skill. You need to decide which type will most effectively and effortlessly transfer learning from the course to real life.

Here are the different types. Skill-based scenario. In this type of scenario, the student is told to demonstrate skills and knowledge they have already learned. Problem-Based Scenario In this scenario, learners are asked to integrate theoretical and practical skills to investigate a problem. The use of decision-making, logical, and analytical thinking are all essential components of these types of scenarios.

Speculative Scenario In this type of scenario, students predict future outcomes of an occurrence based on their prior knowledge and using deductive reasoning. Then there's gaming scenario. Integrating gamification and scenario-based learning is simply involving the use of games as learning tools in a situational context.

Step 5. Design your scenario. Lastly, you need to craft your scenario into an engaging story while ensuring it remains instructionally effective. Here are some tips to keep in mind. Determine a trigger that causes the event. The trigger will set the scene of the scenario to unfold the problem to be solved.

The trigger needs to mirror the reality of the students. Also include a believable and relatable main character. The main character or protagonist in the scenario should inspire the students to adjust their behavior. The character should walk, talk, act, and dress in a relatable way to your learners.

Include dialogue that can draw in the learner and make the experience more realistic and immersive. Design the feedback in a way that it is instructional. Explain the mistakes to your learners. Suggest alternative ways to come up with the solutions. Scenario-based learning is an effective instructional strategy.

Delivering content in a scenario-based setting provides students with opportunities to develop skills or information that they cannot transfer into real-life situations. In this training, you learned about what scenario-based learning is in an e-learning context. Next, why you should use scenario-based learning and e-learning, and 5 steps to applying scenario-based e-learning.

Please let me know if you have any questions or comments.


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