Here’s the Scenario: Tenets for Scenario Based Learning

Posted on : December 20th, 2013
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E-learning is moving away from a didactic approach to more engaging approaches that do much more than just transfer knowledge. With a regular page-turner, the learners may well understand pre-set rules to approach a problem. But active learning environments, learners can be equipped to apply the knowledge acquired in different real-life situations that reinforce the practical utility of learning. There are many ways of building such active learning environments and Scenario-Based Learning is one that is as popular as it is effective.

Scenario-based learning presents an accurate context for the learner to place a situation and invites him or her to reach an outcome through a series of choices. The scenario presented has many uncovered aspects that the learner discovers and utilizes them to build competencies that aid him or her to excel. This spirit of discovery drives scenario-based learning and accounts for its success as an experiential way of learning.

There are many ways of building a scenario into an e-course. Here are a few popular and easy ways:

  • Through conversation: Building conversations is a great way to create scenarios. It creates an atmosphere of informality and the development is gradual to mimic real life. conversation-based scenarioThis way also ensures that topics that are sensitive or controversial can be broached with care and ease. It is a powerful way to make the learner at ease with the topic and successfully ‘humanizes’ the learning activity.

For instance, we developed a conversation-based scenario for an e-course on health. The conversation broached different health topics and listed some quick tips on each.  It reflected real life conversations that are not too detailed but provide crisp information that is easily retained. For more detailed information, the learners could click on various topics listed on the bottom of the page.

  • Through popular themes: Themes create a background for learning. theme-based scenario The scenario presented through the theme may not strictly confine itself to the nature of the work that the learner does. Themes work because of their global appeal, a successful strategy when the audience profile is varied – geographically or socially.

We created a theme-based scenario in an induction course for a leading multinational bank. We chose the theme of ‘travel’ which is familiar to most corporate learners. Through the theme, we introduced different site-offices, the teams and people within the organization.

Within the theme, we also introduced an element of interactivity through a series of maze-like games which allowed the learner to ‘travel’ further in the course. This element was immensely successful in engaging the learner as well as providing regular learner-assessments.

  • Through timed activities: Timed activities in scenario-based learning bring the angle of competition and stress. The learners have to complete the task at hand within the time limit to be able to achieve the end-gaol. This makes the learners apply more within a certain time, which is often the case in real work-life.

Timed activities in scenario-based learningAn apt example of this would be a ‘treasure-map’ we created for the sales team of a leading multi-national bank. The map had a series of clues, in the form of questions related to selling techniques. The learner had to get them right within an allotted time of 7 minutes to get to the treasure. This was a very successful exercise in training the learners to think on their toes – as they would have to do when pitching to actual customers.

  • Through feedback-support: We do learn from our mistakes. Successful scenario-based learning always has room for the learners to make mistakes and learn from them. This provides the leaner positive re-enforcements, in a make-believe scenario where the consequences of making a mistake are not monumental as it is often in real life.

We created an e-course for the customer-service personnel of a leading bank. Through a series of interactions with customers, we created scenarios that the learners were familiar with, in their line of work. The interactions demanded that the learner replied correctly to the customer’s query. A right answer would give them a point while a wrong answer would be explained and the correct answer shared. This provided re-enforcements for learners who were proficient as well as learning opportunities for learners who had not yet mastered customer-interactions.

  • Through people-centric examples: People in scenarios also ‘humanize’ learning and learners can relate to such scenarios very well. people-centric learningThey recognize the people, their roles and the way that they conduct themselves in different situations at the workplace. This connect forms the base of learning.

For instance, we created a course on the importance of employee surveys for a leading manufacturing company. In addition to encouraging employees to take the survey, the course also aimed at highlighting the ways that the results of the survey can be utilized for the betterment of the organization. We gave a series of real life examples of managers utilizing the survey in different ways and how each way affected employee satisfaction within the group.

The different outcomes – good as well as bad, explained of how different approaches can increase or decrease the utility of the survey.

Scenarios are a quick and easy fix when you want to introduce the element of ‘experience’ in learning. Scenarios transport to the learners to real or imaginary situations and equip them to deal with problems by applying cognitive skills. This ‘constructive’ way of learning is very successful in corporate trainings of different kinds. To know more about our vast and varied experiences in creating scenario-based learning, write to [email protected]

Suggested further reading: http://www.csupomona.edu/~jmariappan/pdf/teaching%20statics%20using%20scenario-final-1.pdf

Arunima Majumdar

Arunima is the Marketing Head at G-Cube. She loves exploring and blogging about innovations in training & learning for the new-age corporate sector.

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