How To Design Effective eLearning Scenarios
Instructional Design

How To Design Effective eLearning Scenarios

, Founder of eLearning Industry Inc

eLearning scenarios help your employees not only develop useful skill sets and improve their weak points, but also apply training knowledge to their work environment.

In this article, I will further explain why designing effective eLearning scenarios is important, what are the elements you should focus on while developing them, and 7 tips on how to create fully engaging and immersive scenarios for eLearning.

Your organization’s goal is to increase productivity of both your employees and your company, and most of the training methods you implement have this exact goal: To help your workforce develop their skills and apply new knowledge. Scenario based learning is a great training means to achieve this, as it is ideal for:

  • Identifying issues.
  • Stimulating action.
  • Improving analytical thinking skills.
  • Encouraging problem-solving.
  • Formulating eLearning strategies.
  • Generating sensitivity to change.
  • Improving soft skills such as selling and communication.
  • Practicing newly acquired skills in a safe context.

Creating a good eLearning scenario is not an easy task. For this learning tool to be truly effective, you need to ensure that:

  • It is relevant to your audience.
  • It has clear learning goals and objectives.
  • It presents a realistic situation.
  • Its characters are modeled after real people.
  • It is well constructed, accurate, logical, focused, sequenced and so on.

But there is a lot more to building an effective scenario learning strategy. In this article, I’ll share 7 valuable tips that will help you create great eLearning scenarios and make absolutely sure that your employees not only acquire and retain the knowledge you are offering, but also know exactly how to apply it in their real work environments to increase your company’s productivity.

1) Identify your audience’s needs.

Analyzing your audience is a great starting point for developing your eLearning scenario. Who are they? What are their educational and professional backgrounds? What motivates them to do their work? What problems do they face on a daily basis in their work environment? What skills do they need to develop? What are their learning preferences? The more you know about your corporate learners, the easier it will be to create an eLearning scenario that engages them and relates to them.

2) Make use of your learning goals.

Building around your learning objectives is essential for every online training method, but there is a key reason for using them in your eLearning scenario: To create the situation around these learning objectives, that is to create your eLearning scenario’s storyline. Identifying what you want your online learners to achieve will help you identify the challenging situation or event and build around it and towards the learning outcome.

For instance, if you want to develop your employees’ communication skills, a scene portraying the negative consequences of miscommunication mishaps in a humorous context can be a great idea.

3) Keep it real.

Simply put, an unrealistic eLearning scenario is completely useless. It might be entertaining, sure, but it wouldn’t help your employees learn. An eLearning scenario tied to real world situations will fully engage your employees, as they will be able to relate it to the real issues they face in their work environment. Irrelevant situations will just distract them, whereas eLearning scenario events that resemble reality will help them focus on learning how to overcome their problems and explore alternative solutions.

Furthermore, a realistic situation makes the training process less formal; therefore it becomes easier for your employees to emotionally connect with the eLearning content, which, of course, enhances the whole eLearning experience.

4) Create appropriate characters.

In addition to the previous tip, for your eLearning scenarios to be as realistic as possible you need to include relatable characters. Your employees will lose interest if the “heroes” of the story look nothing like their real colleagues, managers, and bosses. So make sure that your eLearning scenario characters, whether professional actors or avatars, resemble people who could actually work in your company.

Extra tip: Pay special attention to your characters’ facial expressions, as appropriate facial expressions can enhance a realistic effect. Consider even changing the facial expressions of you character everytime your employees make a decision!

5) Focus on interactivity.

As you already know, interactivity in eLearning increases your audience’s engagement levels, as it is the exact opposite of a passive learning experience. Most importantly, it helps turn theory into action; interactions allow your learners to choose alternative paths, make decisions, and see the impact of those decisions.

Consider creating a series of questions the answers of which lead the eLearning scenario characters to different choices; this way, you will create a dialogue between your audience and the situation and the eLearning experience will become more engaging and immersive.

6) Challenge your audience.

Challenging your learners is not as easy as it sounds; you need to find the balance between making the eLearning experience neither too easy as to insult the intelligence of your audience and nor as complicated as to frustrate them. As long as you know for whom you are creating the eLearning scenario, you will be able to determine whether the situations you have created are too boring or too complex. Consider presenting the situation and not giving the solution right away; instead, provide useful clues that will trigger your employees’ interest and inspire them to work to solve the problem.

Furthermore, create a challenging context in which every action your audience makes will have different consequences; this way, they will be able to learn from their mistakes in a safe environment while developing their critical thinking skills.

7) Offer feedback.

Finally, as in every learning method you follow, you should never forget to give feedback. A great way to do this is by integrating a game into your eLearning scenario and using a rewards system as a discrete but effective feedback mechanism. Having scores and levels of achievement have been proven effective techniques to increase both motivation and engagement.

Keep in mind that your learners need to know why they failed so that they won’t repeat the same mistakes in the future; so perhaps you will need to gather all failing points of the eLearning scenario as an interesting material for an online discussion later on.

Now that you know how to create effective eLearning scenario experiences, you may be interested in learning more about a specific kind of eLearning scenarios: Branching scenarios. Read the article Effective Branching Scenarios In eLearning: 5 Tips For eLearning Professionals and find 5 tips for eLearning branching scenarios that you can use to provide your learners with the critical thinking and problem solving skills they need to achieve their goals in their personal and professional lives.

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Christopher Pappas - Founder of eLearning Industry Inc

Christopher Pappas is the Founder of eLearning Industry Inc, which is the leading publishing platform that delivers inspiring, industry-specific content to eLearning professionals.

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