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eLearning Scenarios: Digging for content gold

by David Cameron

elearning design

Improve learner engagement by using realistic eLearning scenarios that highlight key decision points in challenging situations.

How to gather the right content for eLearning scenarios

A writer-friend once gave me the extraordinary gift of the 13-volume Oxford English Dictionary from 1933. He gave it along with a caution not to read it in the garden using a magnifying glass, as the sun’s magnified beams might set the page alight. His generous plan to make me a better writer had a flaw: dictionaries have all the right words, but not necessarily in the right order. The right order is that of human speech. Mouths are the rightful owners of the living breath we call ‘words’.

Try enlivening your elearning courses with the living breath of real learners. Gather information by speaking to them about the situations they experience in work, record them speaking, turn their real life situations into scenario based learning.

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Some tips for using scenario based eLearning

  1. Talk directly to the people who do the job and ask searching questions of your Subject Matter Experts.
  2. Run your scenarios by some of your target audience first and then make adjustments.
  3. Reflect the experiences of more of the learners by including a range of scenarios.
  4. Uncover why people are making mistakes in the first place.
  5. Try to capture the way people really speak at work - if they use jargon, be sure to use it too.

 

elearning scenarios

A typical eLearning scenario used in our eLearning content

 

Client objections to eLearning scenarios

The value of true-to-life scenarios in digital learning – in learning of any kind – seems self-evident. Yet clients frequently object to their proposed use. Is there merit in their objections?

"The detail provides a touch of the real, an authentic context for the learning. A direct line to employees is the answer here – they possess the gold you are digging for. "

One plausible objection is that no story based scenario can be sufficiently representative of the near-infinite number of work situations encountered by members of the various job families in an organisation. I counter this by pointing out that what is representative isn’t the specific detail of the scenario but the behaviour that this detail illustrates – for instance, collaborating with others to face a challenge and find a solution. The detail provides a touch of the real, an authentic context for the learning. The devil is in the detail, and it can be a devil of a job getting from a client the detail you need to flesh out a learning point. A direct line to employees is the answer here – they possess the gold you are digging for.

 

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Digging for gold and eLearning scenarios

If you go digging for workplace stories, don’t be dismayed if the gems that turn up are unexpected ones. Which is an argument for, not against, the use of scenarios. Recently I quizzed a learner on how she had used her expertise to arrive at a technical solution. It turned out that the technical solution was the easy bit – the real challenge lay in communicating the value of the solution so that others would adopt it. Technology is geared towards change, but empathy and persuasion are needed to overcome resistance to change. This was the real story, and the learning point.

Reflecting on the word ‘scenario’ itself: I like the original association with music, a scenario being ‘a sketch of the scenes and main points of an opera libretto’. Pay attention less to the words that an organisation utters and more to the music of that organisation – the effects it is trying to achieve, how these influence the way it structures itself, and how skillfully its various elements combine to achieve those effects. That’s the key to understanding its workings.

Now set fire to your dictionary.

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You deserve excellent digital learning

For scenario based eLearning examples, have a look at our  Compliance training courses. And explore our Content Development services to see how scenarios and other digital learning techniques can boost the quality of training and create more engaging learning experiences.

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