Do your online learners need more real-world experience? Can they benefit from interactive eLearning activities that bridge gaps and identify areas of improvement? In this article, I’ll highlight 9 golden rules to follow when creating eLearning branching scenarios.
Decision-making branching scenarios expose online learners to challenges and situations they encounter in their everyday lives. Thus, they’re able to determine which online resources and skills they need to solve common problems and achieve their goals. How do you create effective branching scenarios that facilitate real-world application and assess online learners’ knowledge? Here are 9 guidelines to keep in mind when developing branching scenarios for your eLearning course.
1. Don’t Skip The eLearning Storyboard
You may be tempted to skip the eLearning storyboard altogether for the sake of time. However, creating an eLearning storyboard can actually help you speed up the course development process and produce more effective branching scenarios. Use placeholders for elements that are still being developed, and use a map to plot out each branching path. For example, it all starts with an opening scene that introduces the main eLearning characters and their problem or challenge. Then the scenario branches off into two distinct paths based on the learner’s response. Ideally, the outcomes should cover the entire spectrum, from the most to least favorable result, and some outcomes in between.
2. Write A Detailed eLearning Script With Realistic Dialogue
In addition to an eLearning storyboard, it’s also wise to create a detailed eLearning script to help structure your branching scenario. Specifically, an eLearning script that features realistic and relatable dialogue to enhance the realism of your eLearning content. Create a brief bio for each eLearning character that includes their personality traits and primary motivators. Then use this to write genuine dialogue that resonates with online learners. It’s also important to research your audience’s backgrounds and experience levels beforehand. For example, novices may be unfamiliar with more advanced jargon. Thus, you should use approachable dialogue that features more basic terminology.
3. Align Outcomes With Desired Behaviors
Ultimately, branching scenarios are supposed to reinforce or encourage specific behaviors. For instance, your online learners need to be able to troubleshoot a technical issue when a customer calls in, or negotiate a sale in order to improve their monthly figures. Thus, the branching scenario paths and outcomes must align with the desired behaviors. Unfavorable decisions or actions lead to unfavorable results, while those who utilize their skills and knowledge effectively achieve the best outcomes.
4. Include Relatable eLearning Characters And Situations
The primary purpose of using branching scenarios in your eLearning course is to provide practical experience and test real-world reactions. As such, your branching scenario must include relatable eLearning characters, challenges, and situations that put everything into context. Online learners should be able to empathize with the personas and form an emotional connection. For example, experience the same frustration or pressure that the protagonist feels when dealing with a rude customer. Try to frame each branching scenario with a single problem or challenge so that online learners can handle one task at a time. This also enhances immersion, as they’re able to emotionally invest in the eLearning experience and familiarize themselves with the cast of eLearning characters.
5. Mimic Real-World Consequences
A notable benefit of using branching scenarios is that they don’t involve any real-world risks. Online learners can build experience and learn from their mistakes without having to worry about negative repercussions. However, the branching scenario should still feature real-life consequences to emphasize the importance of ongoing training. For example, an online learner who achieves an unfavorable outcome may want to enroll in additional eLearning courses, or use the microlearning online training library to bridge skill and performance gaps on their own.
6. Use A Rapid eLearning Authoring Tool To Reduce Development Time
Many rapid eLearning authoring tools feature built-in assets to save time and maximize resources. They also include branching scenario templates so that you don’t have to start from scratch. If your authoring software is lacking these assets, look for royalty free media online. Some rapid eLearning authoring tools even feature storyboard templates that you can use to structure your branching scenario.
7. Conduct User Testing Before Launching Your Branching Scenario
There may be some errors or inconsistencies that slipped through the cracks. This is why it’s essential to conduct user testing before your branching scenario goes live. Invite a select group of online learners to participate in the branching scenario and provide feedback. You can gather their input using online surveys, focus groups, or one-on-one interviews. Then use the data to identify areas for improvement. This also helps to ensure that your dialogue, eLearning characters, and multimedia align with online learners’ preferences and needs.
8. Avoid Learner Overwhelm
Online learners must be able to connect with the branching scenario on an emotional level. However, there is a limit to how much pressure a person can take, even if it’s in a virtual environment that doesn’t involve any real-world repercussions. Include an online guide or tip pop-ups to help online learners who are struggling. You can also allow them to complete the branching scenario in groups so that they can work together to achieve the best outcome. Most importantly, gauge their stress levels after the branching scenario and adjust your strategy accordingly.
9. Provide Timely eLearning Feedback
Provide online learners with immediate feedback that highlights their strengths and areas for improvement. You should also include a list of relevant online training resources to help them bridge the gaps and improve comprehension. For instance, links to articles or online guides that help them develop the skills they need to achieve the desired outcomes.
Branching scenarios tap into the power of mistake-driven learning and real-world experience. Online learners can explore every aspect of the task or challenge to find the best approach, as well as venture down different decision-making paths to discover the consequences of their actions. Follow these 9 golden rules to create memorable branching scenarios for your audience.
Developing a branching scenario doesn’t have to break the bank. Read the article 8 Top Tips For Creating Branching Scenarios On A Budget to discover top tips to create cost-effective branching scenarios.
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