Five great articles to power up your elearning scenarios

In the immortal words of Ian Dury, ‘There ain’t half been some clever bastards’.

Here I’ve picked five excellent articles I’ve found recently; each  takes one of the ‘pain points’ of elearning scenarios and offers practical and instantly usable suggestions.

1. How long should we let learners go down the wrong path?

Yes you want to give users an immersive experience, the closest thing they can get to the actual job. But if they can make wrong decision after wrong decision – just like real life – how do you stop it becoming too frustrating and wasting their time?

Christy Tucker looks at some different ways to do this:

  • restricting the branching (what I’ve called mini-scenarios)
  • catastrophic failure – start over!
  • allowing just so many wrong answers then taking them aside for a virtual word in their virtual ear

How long should we let learners go down the wrong path?


2. How do we let learners go back in a scenario (rather than restart)?

Another article by Christy Tucker, following on from the previous. Sometimes dropping them back at home and asking them to find their way back to here is unnecessary. In practice how do you best offer a step back to reconsider. (Clue: it isn’t “Incorrect. Try again.”)

  • restart if really necessary
  • going back one step
  • going back to a checkpoint

Don’t Restart Scenario-Based Learning, Go Back


3. How to write consequences and feedback

Anna Sabramowicz will be no stranger to anyone who’s really gone into scenarios. Anna has an excellent YouTube channel, with long and short form videos on all aspects of instructional design and elearning.

Here I’m picking out a couple, but really every one I’ve looked at has been valuable.

In How to write consequences and feedback she references The Broken Co-Worker, which she scripted, and answers the challenge that sometimes just showing the consequences isn’t enough. A novice might not realise these consequences are (a) bad or (b) caused by the decisions s/he took.

Anna puts forward a new technique of a second layer of consequences, after the main consequences are displayed, where we can use the likes of thought balloons to suggest that what has happened isn’t ideal.


4. The Interactive Conversation elearning model

This is a non-speech presentation by Anna Sambramowicz not specifically about scenarios but showing lots of demonstrations of good elearning practice based on the idea of conversation.  If you’re faced with a client who wants a ‘tell and test’ module this may be a more eloquent way to change their mind than just arguing instructional design. But maybe shut off the music?(sorry Anna!)

5. Is it ever okay to be a control freak?

Here’s Cathy Moore again, making her point by getting you to review a scenario she’s created. I won’t say any more about it – try the scenario!

If you’d like any help with any aspect of scenarios please get in touch with me. If you’d like me to explore the whole area with you and your colleagues, I’ll do a workshop for your organisation.

Here’s an up to date list of scenario resources on this site.

Anything to share?

Any articles or videos I should add to this page? Let me know in the comments area below.


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