Why You Should Use Scenario-based E-learning – and Tips for Doing So

Scenario-based e-learning is an instructional design method that uses the ‘active learning’ approach. It builds on real-life situations to help learners relate to the content. This usually takes the form of a learning experience built around a story, often with characters and settings.

A new starter in a call centre, for example, who undertakes passive, topic-based learning, such as clicking through slides, will not be doing training that reflects their work environment – and they will have to fill the gaps themselves.

However, well-designed scenario-based learning walks the learner through the exact scenarios they’ll encounter when working, closing the gap between training and work.

In scenario-based e-learning, learners actively participate in the scenario from beginning to end rather than passively progressing through the content.

3 reasons to use scenario-based e-learning

1. Retention

Making learning content ‘sticky’ is one of the most challenging aspects of e-learning.

Scenario-based e-learning provides a solution by creating and using context, immersing the learner in an environment that mirrors the situation they are learning for. The result is knowledge that is contextualised for the learner, and therefore better retained.

According to Harvard Business Publishing Corporate Learning, organisational psychologist Peg Neuhauser found that “learning which stems from a well-told story is remembered more accurately, and for far longer, than learning derived from facts and figures”.

2. Return on investment

Scenario-based e-learning is perfect for training in roles that have dangerous or expensive elements. Instead of trying to cover these large logistical and insurance costs, as well as taking greater risks, scenarios can be used instead.

This results in huge cost savings without heavily compromising on training quality, resulting in significant return on investment.

3. Learners like it

The context of an e-learning scenario can be significantly more engaging and motivating for learners when compared to more traditional, passive learning methods, such as sifting through slides.

Learners who are engaged with and enjoy the story of scenario-based learning content are more likely to retain the knowledge. This is because happiness is positively correlated with motivation and academic achievement.

Tips for using scenario-based e-learning

1. Use dialogue in scenarios

Including dialogue in your scenarios can further invest learners in the story. Characters who speak to one another ground the scenario in reality, increasing learner engagement.

It’s no surprise that popular e-learning authoring tools like Rise 360 have built-in dialogue and character features.

2. Give learners autonomy in the scenario

Giving learners choices and paths to explore and investigate provides a sense of autonomy, and the content feels more personal.

Learners become immersed, and both engagement and retention increase.

3. Follow the Redundancy Principle

While it might be tempting to add as many elements as you can to your scenario-based e-learning to make it feel more real and engaging, try to follow Richard Mayer’s Multimedia Redundancy Principle:

‘‘People learn better from graphics and narration than from graphics, narration, and on-screen text. And when words are presented as narration, rather than narration and on-screen text.’’

So, if you include dialogue boxes, avoid overwhelming your learners with narration, and vice versa.

Scenario-based learning and GRC eLearning

At GRC eLearning, we fully understand and capitalise on the benefits of effective scenario-based learning. It’s why all our courses use this approach where appropriate.

Our expert instructional designers use the most effective learning design techniques to ensure your staff gain the knowledge and understanding they need.

Whether you’re looking to improve your staff awareness of cyber security risks, health and safety, modern slavery or bribery in the workplace, we have you covered.

One course that you might be particularly interested in is our GRC Complete Staff Awareness Suite.

This package contains more than a dozen training courses designed by industry experts, so you can be sure that content is accurate and up to date.

Your staff will receive guidance on everything they need to protect your organisation’s sensitive assets and meet their regulatory requirements.

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  • Aidan Thornton

    Aidan Thornton is a Learning Designer and Product Evangelist with GRC eLearning. Mad about all things digital learning and compliance training!