Scenarios don’t have to be difficult!

So what’s new in the scenarios world?

A couple of good posts from Christy Tucker, that’s what!

If you think ‘we should have a scenario here’, don’t assume that you’re now looking into an abyss where tangled plotlines writhe into knots that you’ll never undo, and exhausted designers stay up all night trying to test every possible path through the choices. (Can you tell I’ve been there?)

In A range of options for scenarios and storytelling, Christy offers five alternatives to a branching scenario:

  1. stories and case studies  ” It’s one thing to talk about customizing footers in Word; it’s another to tell the story of a past student who manually typed in page numbers for a 400+ page document because she didn’t know how to make it work.”
  2. a mini scenario, in other words one multiple choice question but based in a real situation and showing feedback in terms of consequences in a story, not the Voice of God; you can make them more interesting by using ‘phone a friend’ characters to give advice, which may not always be the best advice (based on common learner misunderstandings)
  3. two narrators – instead of the Voice of God delivering the content, have two narrators discussing it, perhaps disagreeing or at least one clarifying things for the other
  4. case study followed by discussion or practice activities based on it
  5. role-plays and simulations – at the complex and expensive end but may be justified by the need.

Another thing Christy’s been talking about is Twine.

Branching scenario prototype in Twine

Here Christy shows how she’s used Twine for a scenario prototype as I’ve done with my clients.

Why do this?  Because a Word script or, worse, ‘programmer-ready’ script for a scenario is useless!

It’s become standard purely for the benefit of the ‘signing-off’ bureaucracy and not for any insight it gives the client into the kind of product they’re going to get. It encourages nitpicking about language but gives no feel for the actual experience. And it’s always aimed at a subject expert because you’re never going to give a Word script to potential learners to review, are you?

But you’ll learn much more about whether the scenario works for your learning purpose by getting a few people – it doesn’t have to be many – to try it and watch their faces. It’s not a huge addition to your development time as it would be in Storyline or Captivate or whatever. A working Twine scenario can be knocked out in an hour or so.

Want to know more about Twine? Here are my articles:


On a personal level, I came back recently from a trip round New Zealand. A couple of people have expressed an interest in how it went so here are a couple of travelogues from my other site:


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