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6 Smart Approaches to Bring in Real-world Experiences in Online Training with Scenario Based Learning

July 29, 2020 | By Asha Pandey


6 Smart Approaches to Bring in Real-world Experiences in Online Training with Scenario Based Learning


Scenario Based Learning is an absolute staple in online training. In this article, I share 6 approaches you can leverage real-world experiences to put the learner at the center stage, amp-up knowledge retention, and jumpstart engagement dramatically.

How Does Bringing in Real-world Experiences Increase the Effectiveness of Scenario Based Learning (SBL) Even Further?

Powerful scenarios are more than interactive and engaging. When executed properly, they can influence thinking, add tremendous value to online trainings, and even drive behavioral change.

For Scenario Based Learning to be effective however, especially in corporate trainings, they must help your audience mesh the virtual world with on-the-job applications. There is no better way to do this than to bring in real-world experiences to the online learning world you create.

The result is a carefully crafted scenario that parallels the learning objectives necessitated in your online trainings, whether they be for Compliance, Sales, Leadership, or any other corporate trainings that could value from increased engagement and comprehension.

How Can We Bring Real-world Experiences to Online Training Using Scenario Based Learning?

Here are 6 approaches to bring in real-world experiences to online training using Scenario Based Learning:

  1. Make it realistic and specific to the learner

If you’re trying to bring the real world into the learning world, it has to be designed with complete specificity to the audience.

Do a little research first, to get a firm grasp on who your learners are. For example, creating a scenario to train C-level executives in leadership principles is going to have very different characters than a compliance training explaining the importance of fall prevention.

Your characters must be relatable to the learner!


Also, ensure the learning environment matches the work environment closely. Include real-world experiences, such as actual on-the-job photos, paste win/fail instances they may be familiar with, or utilize industry jargon they’d hear in everyday life.

  1. Rely on Branching Scenarios

By placing the learner in the driver’s seat and allowing them to take control of the scenario, you’re mimicking the same decisions that must be performed on-the-job.

Progressively build the problem by starting with a few slow pitches, where the learner can gain confidence in making the right decisions before throwing them fast curve balls that are hard to figure out.


Focus on actions. The Scenario Based Learning should be centered on the cause and effect of the learner’s decisions. Lean your online training content heavily toward the if/then relationship with a best/worst/neutral case outcome.

  1. Explicitly state the real-world value to the learner

This is an absolute must if you want the learner to care about the content. If there’s not a clear value that can be applied from the “fake” world you’re presenting to the real world, then the engagement will immediately drop to nil.

What problem is going to be solved? State the problem and explain that at the end of the learner’s scenario, he or she will have the tools to solve that problem.


If the core value of your topic isn’t immediately apparent, use compelling statistics to demonstrate relevancy.

  1. Incorporate work-related tools

By bringing in the tools of the trade, you’re placing on-the-job elements right in your learner’s hands. This is only a good fit, however, if the tool can be simulated accurately enough.

For example, if you’ve created a scenario for a Wilderness First Aid Course with an outcome of splinting, compression wrapping, or simply elevating an injury – inform the learner that a finger splint and roll of bandaging are required in the preface of the course.


Try bringing in real-life tools as relevant job aids in the learning design. Highlight the do’s and don’ts, and through practice sessions, help them gain proficiency. Also, help them understand the implications of the errors or omissions through formative feedback. This will ensure an effective application on the job.

  1. Create conflict/problem-solving simulations

Creating a simulation of a well-defined problem or task is a great way to duplicate a resolution on the job.

Solving problems in real life can be hard! You should duplicate these difficulties in your simulations, but make sure to gradually increase the level of difficulty. To mimic the stressors of a real-life conflict, try adding a sense of urgency with a time limit.

Finally, allow for lots of failures. It is a crucial part of memory retention that should be built into your simulations. Just make sure to provide the necessary corrective feedback along the way.


If you’re using avatars, give them names, uniforms, and personalities that match the audience in question. This is much more convincing than cartoon characters.

  1. Include personal anecdotes

Strike the right balance of enough personal touch and emotion without being so specific or dramatic that your audience can no longer relate.


Try adding videos, images, screen captures of emails, recorded dialogues of customer service interactions, and whatever you can bring to the story that makes it closer to the real-world experience.

I hope my article demonstrates just how valuable real-world experiences are to Scenario Based Learning and gives you several ideas on how to take them to a whole new level in your online trainings!

Meanwhile, if you have any specific queries, do contact me or leave a comment below.


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