The most important tip in writing elearning scenarios – show don’t tell!
A scenario is a story, right? If it’s going well, you as the learner have entered the story. If it’s pitched right, you can identify with the character who has to make a decision. It could be you. You make a choice. When the next screen comes it says something like:
Sorry, that’s not the best choice.
Incorrect, try again.
That’s not the best thing to do, you will totally mess it up if you do that. Have you not learned anything in the years you’ve been alive?
The difference between a scenario and a hypothetical question
Well maybe not the last one, but you get my drift. Suddenly you’re out of the story. Someone else – the elearning Voice of God is talking to you. That’s when it stops being a scenario and becomes just a hypothetical question, a ‘what would you do?’
Clearly some choices are better than others. So how do you give that feedback? By showing in the story, what is likely to happen.
The customer with the quiff is offended that you called him Elvis. He is walking out of the branch. He has now left the building.
This article Show Don’t Tell by Christy Tucker shows how you can use different facial expressions or ‘mind-reader’ scales to show what effect your decision has had.
But I need to make the learning points!
Of course you have learning points to make. You have to show the underlying principles not just one decision in one situation. That’s what the debrief stage is for. You review the main decisions after the story and explain – or ask questions to elicit – the principles behind the decisions.
So – IN the scenario, show;AFTER the scenario, tell.