Stories are not just a medium for entertainment. In fact, they serve a much bigger purpose: learning. Humans have always learned through storytelling, and it’s something that stands true today.

That’s because theoretical knowledge is necessary to understand a topic, but only by practice can you acquire a new skill. It’s like solving a puzzle, I might tell you how to solve it, but in the end, you’ll learn much faster and better if you actually do it yourself.

And it works for any kind of skill, from soft skills such as time management to hard skills such as coding and design. Especially if you design courses for adults, you know that they integrate their life experience in everything they do, and especially when they learn something new. They’re also much better at solving practical problems than teens and young adults.


Read more: 4 Awesome ways to incorporate stories in your online course


4 Tips on how to create scenario-based learning

Scenario-based learning takes the power of storytelling to create rich learning environments in which your platform’s users will learn by doing. It has been widely used in corporate training, for compliance courses in which employees need to practice — and fail — safely, but it works just as well and even better in self-paced courses because:

  • Scenarios help learners learn by doing
  • They make your courses more dynamic and interactive
  • You can create scenarios using your learning platform such as a learning management system (LMS)

The last point is very important since many instructors might see a barrier where in fact there are many opportunities. You can create learning scenarios directly in your platform, without investing in an external content authoring tool.

Here are a few suggestions on using your existing platform to enrich courses through scenario-based learning:

  1. Make the most out of images and video

    When you create a scenario, you want to describe the situation as well as possible. If you rely too much on text, however, your learners might get tired after a while. Instead, if you make the most out of images such as infographics to make your point and introduce a story, it’s much easier for them to visualize a situation. If you want them to try a new yoga pose, you wouldn’t describe it to them, right?

    The same goes for videos, where you can make animations or just regular videos in which you insert examples and scenarios. Even better, you can choose to lead them on many different paths. For example, in an introductory video, you might create two characters. If they choose character two, you can link to another video that takes the learner to that character’s story. Sure, the two plotlines should be personalized to fit your learners’ goals, with the added benefit that they interact more with the story, which is, after all, your course content altered for more interactivity.


    Read more: Things to keep in mind if you want to make your online course more interactive


  2. Use scenario-based assessments

    Scenarios help you create better and richer assessments. As we’ve seen before, quizzes help learners retain information. Essentially, you are still making sure that learners are meeting their learning goals, with a fun twist. Humans are wired to learn with the help of storytelling and retain what is important for them by integrating new information into stories.

    For example, you can give them a specific problem that they can solve by choosing between multiple answers. However, scenarios work best with freeform surveys, in which they get to immerse themselves in a story even more and have to give their opinion on a certain topic or explain what they would do to effectively solve a problem.


    Read more: How to create awesome quizzes for your online courses


  3. Put gamification to work

    Gamification is another way for them to see their progress without looking at charts or progress bars, for example. Games and scenarios go hand in hand since the dynamic is similar. Through games, you can tell a different story or integrate one as part of your overall theme.

    For example, you can create a game in which they get to solve different tasks (see quizzes) and receive points based on what they do. Add in thematic badges and give special names to game levels so they get a boost of motivation for leveling up.

    In a scenario-infused course, games should be a little harder to solve — meaning that they should accumulate more points or do more small tasks in order to get to the top of the leaderboard. If it’s not challenging them enough, they won’t even notice that they’re part of a game.


    Read more: How to include gamification in your course design


  4. Automate tasks to take learners on a journey

    Who said that learners have to complete the course in a linear way? Well, probably most advice tells you how to structure your course in a logical way, that starts easy and progressively gets into harder topics. However, if you want to create a sprawling and amazing scenario-based course, you can deviate a little from the norm.

    For example, the learner might start at module 1, complete a survey, then based on their answer, you can send them to module 3 instead of 2. Alternatively, if they score more than 85% on a quiz, they can unlock a “hidden” module that continues a story. The latter example can be used to enrich courses with smaller lessons and Easter eggs that are normally hidden from the initial course flow. In this way, you are encouraging them to read more about a topic that they’re interested in (and it won’t seem to them like tedious work!).

Let’s tell a story!

Scenarios are exciting and full of surprises, which keeps learners engaged with the content for a longer period of time. More than that, there’s no need to invest in a platform to create scenarios (if you don’t want to), as your LMS’s content creation tool already has what you need.

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