E-Learning Insider Blog

10 Tips for Writing Better E-Learning Scenarios


If you are writing a scenario-based eLearning curriculum or including scenarios in your content, you will want to create one that fits your employees’ needs. This can be a challenging task, but there are tips that will help you create the right scenario.

What is Scenario-Based Learning?

If you are looking to better engage your employees, then scenario-based learning might be the right method for presenting your content. This kind of learning is used to immerse your learners in real life or theoretical situations, providing educational experiences to help them gather information they can later recall in similar settings. By offering your content in a contextual setting, learners are better able to commit information to their working memory, as well as their long-term memory.

Important Characteristics for Scenario-Based Segments

Each business, industry and learning strategy may require a different kind of scenario, but they will all have certain characteristics in common:

  • Realism: Make your learning scenarios as realistic as possible to fully engage learners. You will want to make your situations feel like a real-life situation, while still providing your learners with any necessary information.

  • Learner-Focused: Your course should work with the core strengths of your learners to improve on weak points by allowing them to draw on the skills they are developing.

  • Applied Learning: Scenarios should build on the skills or knowledge that your
    learners already have. Learners can gather information and then practice doing, as opposed to simply reading or listening to the content.

  • Interactivity: Learners must become fully immersed in the content and task at hand with situations they are very likely to come across in the field. The learner should always feel the relevance of the situation being presented.

Improving Your Learning Scenarios

It is often easier to build an information-based course that to build a scenario. Scenarios take thought and scripting, which is not easy for everyone to do. However, there are some important tips that will push your scenarios to a different (and better) level:

  • Think about results. You won’t get the right results out of the learners if you haven’t defined them yourself. What do you expect from your learners and how will you know when they’ve met your expectations? Be clear in performance requirements for after the course and use these as a guide for building relevant scenarios.

  • Consider motivation. Figure out what is driving your learners and tap into that. By treating the main focus as the carrot at the end of your stick, you can guide the learner happily through the content to gain the desired reward. A good scenario will tap into the motivation of the employee and consider what they will gain or lose. What happens if the learner succeeds? What if they fail?

  • Drive results with decisions. Don’t talk at your learners or push them along, make them strive to grasp the content and apply it. Scenario-based learning is effective because it helps the learner interact with the content and places them in the context where they must apply their new skills or knowledge. Help your learners transfer information in a meaningful way by building situations where they must make active decisions. This will also help you better understand their take-away and provide feedback to supplement their course activity.

  • Challenge assumptions. Build scenarios that push the learner from the nest, forcing them to fly. Start out with statements that force learners to discover the following information for themselves. Tell them the why followed by the what to avoid misunderstandings based on assumptions:

A client is in a rage about a previous order. You answer the phone and have to diffuse the situation professionally, building trust with the frustrated customer.

Here, you are not giving information at the front, but allowing your learner to discover it as they go. They will need a way to research what they need as they go and then you can provide feedback on the choices they make.

  • Avoid waterlogged content. Don’t bog your learners down with details that aren’t absolutely necessary to your scenario or their decision-making process. Too many words or lengthy sentences can reduce interest and lessen engagement.

  • Work with key stake holders. You want your content to be accurate and scenarios to be realistic. Ensure your course is reliable by working with those who know the ropes. Talk to managers and experienced employees about realistic scenarios and company policy. Review content material, goals and standards with the administration who have the knowledge and experience to proof them for errors or misunderstandings.
Topics: E-Learning