The Basics of Scenario-Based e-Learning

Scenario-Based eLearning to Improve Learners' Engagement Scenario-Based eLearning to Improve Learners' Engagement Image courtesy of Ambro /
Published in Concepts
Friday, 14 February 2014 18:15
In this post, I will walk you through the various aspects of scenario-based eLearning, so that you can design eLearning courses which not only keep the learners motivated and engaged, but provide them with the best possible educational experience that effectively enhances their skill sets and/or knowledge base.

Scenario-Based e-Learning to Improve Learners' Engagement

There are a myriad of instructional design theories and models to choose from when creating eLearning courses. In fact, selecting the one that fits your students’ or employees’ needs can often be a challenging task. However, if you are looking for a model that is ideally suited to improve learner engagement, then scenario-based eLearning may be the solution.

Scenario-Based eLearning, essentially, immerses the learners in real life or situational simulations or learning experiences that allow them to gather skills or information that they will recall for future use. Information offered within a contextual setting enables learners not only to easily manage it within their working memory, but also to commit it to their long-term memory. There are a number of core characteristics for scenario-based learning, including:


  • Realism
    In order to fully engage learners, the scenarios must be as realistic as possible, while still providing students or employees with the required information. 

  • Learner-centric
    The task should draw upon learners’ core strengths and allow them to use skill sets that they are developing, while at the same time improve upon their weak points. 

  • Involve applied learning strategies
    Each scenario should involve skills or knowledge that learners have already gathered and which can be applied to the current task. Under this method, learners learn by doing, rather than just merely reading or hearing about the information. 

  • Interactive
    Learners become fully immersed in the task and scenario, thanks to a high level of interactivity (even in virtual classroom settings). The interactive modules should rely upon real world experience rather than theoretical information.


How Scenario-Based eLearning Improves Engagement and Understanding

There are a variety of reasons for why scenario-based eLearning helps to improve learners’ engagement and understanding of core concepts. Here are just a few of the most convincing arguments for using scenario-based eLearning:

  • Motivates the learner
    Students or employees are motivated to learn thanks to the fact that they know they possess the skills needed to accomplish the task and are being given the opportunity to build upon these particular skills. In essence, they understand that they are going to be challenged, but they are aware that they have the tools to meet the challenge and successfully overcome it.

  • Allows the learners to directly see the eLearning rewards
    When learners can see the benefits of the eLearning course; they are more likely to get the most out of it. Rather than teaching the materials from a book or through a lecture, learners participate within a scenario in which they can directly see how the skills and knowledge will benefit them in the long term. 

  • Challenges the learner without overwhelming their mental capacity
    A good scenario-based eLearning activity or task will challenge learners to the degree in which they can expand their knowledge base without overwhelming them. If they feel that they cannot successfully navigate the scenario, then they will not give the effort that is required. As such, scenario-based eLearning can provide them with real world obstacles and problems that they will face in order to expand their skill sets and knowledge base, while keeping them engaged in the eLearning process. 

How Scenario-Based Learning Can Be Applied in eLearning Environments

In a traditional learning setting, learners would typically engage in-group activities or role-plays whereby they would be immersed in scenarios they might encounter in the world or in the work place. However, in an eLearning environment, there are multiple applications for scenario-based techniques. Here are just a few handful tips to keep in mind when designing scenarios for your eLearning course:

  • Design the eLearning course with a thorough understanding of your learners’ needs
    In order to provide the best possible eLearning experience, you will need to have a thorough understanding of the learning needs to get out of the eLearning experience and the current skill sets of your learners. For example, what kind of problems do learners face on a daily basis in their work environment? What are the core skills that they want to develop? What motivates them in both their personal and professional life? This will help you create an eLearning course that engages them on a fundamental level and keeps them motivated to learn. 

  • Include as much interactivity as possible
    When designing the eLearning course, include as many interactive elements as possible (as long as they are relevant, of course). Include characters that learners can relate to, and allow them to choose the path that the character takes through questions and answers. Include dialogue that can draw in the learner and make the experience more realistic and immersive. 

  • Ensure that the context of the scenario is realistic and manageable
    It is essential that the scenarios are both realistic and informative, but still remains simple and straightforward enough to avoid information overload. Include elements that are going to provide learners with the most benefit and develop the necessary skill sets, but try to avoid adding in extraneous information or multimedia that will distract from the overall goal: helping them to gather information and retain it. 

Scenario-based eLearning can offer you the opportunity to create eLearning courses that are fully engaging for the learners and provide them with the resources to enhance their performance and their overall knowledge base. These eLearning scenarios can enable them to tap into already established skills and draw upon real life experience to achieve a truly beneficial eLearning experience in any environment.


Scenario Based Learning Kern Learning Solution
Read 6501 times Last modified on Friday, 21 February 2014 23:20
Christopher Pappas

Christopher Pappas is founder of The eLearning Industry's NetworkCurrently, the eLearning Industry has a network of more than 75,000 professionals involved in the eLearning Industry and runs the following sites:

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He is also the Founder and Owner of the Instructional Design and eLearning Professionals’ Group (64K+) (, which is the largest online community of professionals involved in the eLearning Industry at LinkedIn.

Christopher holds an MBA, and an M.Ed. (Learning Design) from BGSU.

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