Scenario-based eLearning is quickly becoming the main focus of eLearning design. This is owing to the fact that eLearning programs are required to emulate the real-world/job context of the learner.
You depict the real world by adding scenarios to your eLearning courses. Here are 5 effective ways to ensure your scenarios are convincing and yield authentic responses from your learners.
If you have sought the services of a SME, hold on to them tight! Offer more coffee and donuts and don’t let them go easily.
While we are not making a stalker out of you, we are trying to explain the power of expert scenarios in developing your eLearning courses. SME’s are out there, in the battlefield, facing real challenges in the real world.
You may have the best content, through extensive research and the best practices knowledge. You may have consolidated all concepts beautifully in your eLearning project, but believe us, it might still not take off!
More and more line managers suffer with frustration over employees not delivering according to the eLearning training they just completed! Why?Because most eLearning programs fail to integrate with the real world.
Each organization has unique performance problems in mundane routine-work. These problems are directly related to performance goals.
When such performance problems persist, the organization faces failure to accomplish its operational and strategic goals. ELearning trainings need to address the organization’s goals in such a way that they are achieved despite all performance hurdles.
When we talk about an organization’s culture-specific problems, and bring them into our eLearning programs, we are actually action-mapping. We tap into a problem, we pull it into the eLearning program through images and dialogues (scenarios) and we give learners a few choices to make to rectify the problem.
So what are we trying to accomplish in our eLearning program through our precious SME?
Ask him/her of their experience in detail regarding a recurring performance problem and also its desirable solution. Now make that part of your eLearning program.
Not only that, ask your SME to talk about several real world problems and their desirable solutions.
Now put them to life in your eLearning courses.
Consider this example:
A member of your team is often an hour late to work on Monday mornings. What should you do?
A. Ask the team member why they’re late.
B. Refer the team member to the human resources for counseling.
C. Dock the team member’s pay for the missed hour of work.
This question, if posed in an eLearning program is a no-brainer! Really! It does not talk about the context of the problem and neither are the characters believable.
How could we improve this question? Let’s add flesh to this question. You will end up with a convincing, real-world scenario for your eLearning program. If you ask yourself:
What is the context of this problem?
The above question is weak. It doesn’t tell us who did what and in which context.
Suppose the strategic goal of the organization is to reduce employee absenteeism by 70% in the first quarter.
With this goal in mind, you need to create an eLearning program for managers, who control employee attendance and performance. The manager will be responsible to modify the behavior of a late-coming employee.
Encourage managers with this slogan “When a team member consistently fails to reach a standard, encourage them to share why they’re struggling.”
Consider this altered question for the scenario:
Jamie has worked on your team for two years. In the last one month, he’s arrived an hour late on each Monday. He doesn’t seem as cheerful as he used to be, and a couple of times you’ve noticed that his eyes appear bloodshot.
Jamie is married, and had a baby three months ago. You chipped in money for his baby shower!
You ask Jamie to come into your office after lunch. When he arrives, his eyes look bloodshot again, and he looks uneasy.
How do you start the conversation?
A. “You’ve been a great member of the team for two years, so I’m surprised that you’ve started coming in late. Is something going on?”
B. “I’ve noticed that you’re coming in late on Mondays, and I’d like to help you get back on track. What can we do to help you get here on time?”
C. “I want you to know that no matter what the situation might be, I’m here to help. Could you help me understand why you’ve been coming in late?”
There you go! Isn’t this a much better way to pose a scenario? You can use an office setting with a character cut out of a young man for Jamie and one of an older guy for the manager. The characters and dialogues are much more believable.
1. We gave people names, which in a way also gives them a face. Your learners will try to place a Jamie in their life. Jamie immediately comes to life. Your learner will be able to empathize with him!
2. We provided cues that may or may not be relevant — the bloodshot eyes, the changed mood, the baby born 3 months ago. Management challenges occur in the real world!
3. We put people’s words in quotation marks, creating a layer of voice and an added dimension of reality. Now your eLearners can hear Jamie talk to his manager.
4. Finally, another cue that we wrote a more challenging question is that it’s not obvious (to me, at least) which answer is correct. We have phrased the correct answer in a way that it seems attractive and “selectable”!
5. Again, we asked the SME to tell us in detail when employees come late and how managers address the issue. Without SME, we could not have crafted such detailing in our scenario!
Scenario building is actually action-mapping. By creating eLearning programs through action-mapping, you create efficient and effective courses that yield better performance.
Your eLearning programs are no good if they fail to make behavior changes in your learners. Find out what is really bothering a team before creating an eLearning program for them!
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