The Scenario-based Learning Series: #1 What is Scenario-based Learning?

My Dad was a remarkable story-teller. Whenever I stumbled upon a problem and looked up to my Dad for a suggestion, he would promptly mold his thoughts in the form of an appropriate story. Not only would the characters in his stories feel relatable to me, but his message would also be much apparent.

He understood that sometimes skill outgrows experience. Moreover, what better way to translate the skills to experience than relevant stories that discuss similar scenarios.

In this post, we shall discuss what Scenario-based Learning is and what its key components are.

I am a Nerd. Define Scenario-based Learning for me:

Scenario-based Learning (SBL) is a simulated learning environment where the learner practices on guided challenges with an objective to enhance responses in real-world tasks.

You may have heard some people calling it as problem-based learning as well. But hey, “What’s in a name?….” The overall objective of the learning design remains the same. (Well that sounded like a rhyme).

I have case studies in my e-Learning. Why should I switch to SBL?

Case studies provide highly structured content and then questions designed around the case to build knowledge and skills. Whereas, an SBL provides learning from the experience of consequences that an actor faces due to the decisions made within the scenario.

The case studies dump the complete information at the beginning, thus increasing the probability of Cognitive Overload. Whereas, an SBL runs on the principle of Progressive Disclosure. It presents just enough information to respond effectively to the present task/ question, thus reducing cognitive overload. Based on the response, the next set of information is revealed.

Moreover, an SBL develops a learner-centric instructional environment that enhances the expertise, builds critical thinking, and accelerates the knowledge transfer where on-the-job training involves high risk or requires more time to gain experience. Whereas, case studies are favorable for building skills for procedural tasks, to perform tasks efficiently.

Sold! But where should I start?

It is always better to start with a checklist of components important for a structured SBL-

1. Behind-the-scene Components:

A. The Objectives: The prime objective of an SBL is to accelerate the expertise. By offering a sequence of structured events that develop the expertise in a short time, the learning experience thus compresses the timespan required to gain the relevant experience from months and years to mere hours.

B. The Instructions: The instructions must facilitate the learners with the guided discovery of the content, allowing bi-directional flow of information rather than a linear and unidirectional discourse of the traditional approach. With instructions that allow the learners to take decisions, the learning is significantly better through SBL than a traditional approach.

C. The Learning: The learners are allowed to make mistakes while progressing through the scenario. This helps the learners in gaining experience from the change in the outcome of the scenario based on the decisions made. This type of learner engagement is a stark contrast to the traditional approach that first facilitates the learner with content and then assesses the learning with practice exercises.

2. Evident Components:

A. The Actor(s): Assuming the first-person role by stepping into the actor’s shoes, or a third person role by helping the actor out from a difficult situation, the learner is placed in a realistic role and has to respond to progress and successfully complete the challenge.

B. The Environment: It is the pre-planned connecting story that binds the character to the learning with the help of instructions to achieve the expected outcome. The learner is assigned the role of a decision maker and triggers various events throughout the story to avert the negative outcome.

This pretty much concludes the ‘What’ of a Scenario-based Learning. We will be discussing When to Use Scenario-based Learning, in our Next Post.

This post was originally published on Hornbill FX blog.

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