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Effective Branching Scenarios In eLearning: 5 Tips For eLearning Professionals

Branching scenarios in eLearning can give your learners the opportunity to engage in the decision making process without being exposed to real world risks. In this article, I'll be sharing a variety of tips that can help you to successfully integrate eLearning branching scenarios into your eLearning course.
Effective Branching Scenarios In eLearning: 5 Tips For eLearning Professionals

How To Create Effective Branching Scenarios In eLearning

eLearning courses that offer learners the most benefit are those that explore real world challenges and give learners insight into how their choices lead to real life consequences minus the real life risks. However, achieving this within your eLearning course can be a challenge, in-and-of-itself. That is, unless you know how to effectively integrate branching scenarios in eLearning. In this article, I'll offer you tips for eLearning branching scenarios that you can use to provide learners with the critical thinking and problem solving skills they need to achieve their goals in their personal and professional lives.

  1. Focus on the behaviors rather than the ideas.
    Rather than concentrating on the key ideas when creating your eLearning branching scenario, focus on the behaviors that you want to enforce or change. For example, if you are trying to give your learners the skills and knowledge they need to enhance your organization's customer service, then you may want to create eLearning branching scenarios that delve into the nuances of customer behavior and social skills that will boost customer satisfaction ratings. Also, you'll need to insure that you can  track the progress of each learner, so as to know whether your eLearning branching scenario is really effective. For example,  you may plan an assessment  on the sales floor, or you may ask your customers to take an online survey to rate the service they received.
  2. Create an outline that features the challenges and outcomes.
    Before you dive into the design process of your eLearning branching scenarios, you'll first want to develop an outline that features all of the decisions, challenges, and outcomes that you would like to integrate. Essentially, you'll want to decide what kind of challenges to include, what choices you will be offering your learners to overcome these challenges, and the consequences or outcomes of each individual decision. Also, decide how long you want your path to be. For instance, you can have certain paths that lead to unfavorable outcomes, as they might in the real world, while others may be more lengthy in order to impart more knowledge. Plot out each path and include the ideal solution, as well as other paths that include mistakes that a learner might make in the real world. To do all this, you should consider assessing the performance goals of your eLearning course and your eLearning branching scenarios.
  3. The characters should be relatable and relevant.
    For your eLearning branching scenarios to be truly effective, your learners must be able to relate to the challenges and to the characters that you are featuring. The problem that exists within the eLearning branching scenarios is that they should be realistic and should present  an issue that the learner will probably find outside of the virtual learning environment. As for the characters, make sure that they foster an emotional connection with the learners. Will your learners feel for the character and can they relate to them on some level? If at all possible, do some research to learn more about your audience, so that you can develop a character that reflects some aspect of their cultural, educational, or professional backgrounds. Use images that feature their common attire (you won't want to include a man in jeans and a t-shirt in an eLearning course designed for corporate executives), and use jargon that they might encounter on a daily basis.
  4. Don't go overboard when developing decision points.
    You might assume that adding in an abundance of decision points would only help to make the eLearning branching scenarios more interactive and immersive. However, this is usually not the case. In fact, when creating your eLearning branching scenarios, you should keep it to under 10 decisions. That means that there will only be less than 10 points throughout the scenario in which the learner will be asked to make a choice based upon the information they've absorbed. For example, if a learner answers the first question he/she will be lead down a specific path that features several additional questions. However, if you are dealing with a subject matter that may be more complex or you want to change a behavior that may be more ingrained, you can always opt for more decision points- just don't go overboard if you want to steer clear of cognitive overload.
  5. Remember that branching scenarios are all about the “domino effect”.
    When creating your eLearning branching scenario, keep in mind that every decision a learner makes has a direct impact upon later choices. Decisions that they make in the first screen of the scenario will lead them on a particular path, and they won't be able to access another path that may have led to an entirely different outcome. This helps learners to challenge their own opinions and assumptions, to understand that it's perfectly okay to make mistakes as long as they learn from them, and to navigate through situations that may have unknown outcomes with a sense of self confidence. So, when you are developing your eLearning branching scenario, remember that each path should be distinct and fit into the eLearning puzzle in such a way that offers the most benefit to your audience.

Use these eLearning branching scenario tips in your eLearning course design to create immersive and powerful eLearning experiences for your learners . Give them confidence in their decision making abilities and the knowledge they need to make meaningful choices by integrating carefully crafted scenarios into your eLearning course.

Learners not retaining information? How can you help your learners truly experience a situation when they’re sitting at their desks? Check the article Top 10 Branching Scenario Techniques to enter the magic of branching scenarios.

Do you want to create effective eLearning course scenario questions that engage the learners and tie into real world challenges? Read the article 6 Tips To Write Effective eLearning Course Scenario Questions where I offer nsight into how you can develop eLearning course scenario questions that give your audience a first-hand look at the real world benefits they can expect to receive.

In addition, read the article 6 Tips to Create an Effective eLearning Scenario where you will find 6 tips on how to create effective eLearning scenarios, so that you can design motivational and informative eLearning courses.

 
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