Do you need to put your online learners’ decision-making abilities to the test? Are you looking for ways to facilitate a real-world experience in your online training program? In this article, we’ll explore 8 tips to facilitate the branching scenario development process.
How to create amazing branching scenarios for online training
Branching scenarios lead corporate learners down different paths. Every choice unlocks new possibilities or brings them one step closer to an undesirable outcome.
As a result, they are able to build experiential knowledge and hone practical skills. But how do you create an effective branching scenario that aligns with your organization’s objectives? Here is a step-by-step guide to creating engaging, entertaining, and interactive branching scenarios.
1. Identify the gaps, goals, and desired behaviors
Which skills do your corporate learners need to develop? What information do they need to absorb by the end of the branching scenario? Which performance behaviors are you trying to evaluate? The branching scenario design process begins with the gaps and goals.
Specifically, the performance, skill, and knowledge gaps corporate learners must fill in order to achieve the goals. These essential elements guide every aspect of your branching scenario, from the decision-making paths to the storyline.
2. determine the best and worst-case scenarios
The beauty of branching scenarios is that they mimic real-world situations. Corporate learners must use all of their resources to solve the problem or overcome the obstacle. But as is the case in real life, their actions and behaviors can lead to unfavorable consequences.
The good news is that they are able to learn from these mistakes and not repeat them. For this reason, you must determine the best and worst outcomes for two separate decision paths, then brainstorm other possible outcomes that fall into the middle of the spectrum. For example, a “mixed” result that indicates room for improvement.
3. Map out each branch
One of the most challenging things about developing branching scenarios is staying organized. There are so many decisions and consequences to consider that it’s easy to lose sight of the structure. This is why you should create a map that outlines every problem or obstacle.
Then branch off into different decision paths that each lead to secondary paths, and so on. All of this culminates in a specific outcome that is based on the corporate learners’ previous choices.
Meet with your team to outline every detail. Especially with your Subject Matter Expert, who can help you create realistic repercussions based on corporate learners’ behavior. For instance, one minor mistake probably wouldn’t result in a catastrophic outcome.
4. Choose the ideal eLearning authoring tool
The right eLearning authoring tool can help you transform your map into a full-fledged branching scenario, complete with attention-grabbing graphics and characters. Ideally, the eLearning authoring tool should feature eLearning templates, themes, and other media that you can use for your branching scenario.
You may want to test out a few different platforms to find the one that’s right for your online training budget and needs. For example, some eLearning authoring tools offer more advanced features that enhance the benefits, such as drag-and-drop interactions that provide a more tactile experience for your corporate learners.
5. Create the layout
Many eLearning authoring tools feature pre-built branching scenario layouts you can use for your eLearning course design. Alternatively, you can develop your own eLearning template from scratch in order to customize every element.
This also allows you to reuse your branded eLearning template time after time, therefore saving time and resources on future branching scenario projects. You can always use placeholders to accommodate extra pages or decision paths. In addition, don’t forget to make space for localized versions of your branching scenario.
Especially if you plan on translating the online training content or including subtitles. For instance, certain languages occupy more room in the layout.
6. Develop the script and eLearning storyboard
Most branching scenarios involve character dialogue. At the very least, you should frame the activity with a story that puts the decisions into context. Otherwise, the branching scenario is nothing more than a series of choices that lack relevance or emotional connectivity.
Corporate learners must be able to step into the branching scenario and see how it ties into real-world applications and benefits. eLearning storyboards can also help you visualize every branch.
Not to mention, make life easier for your collaborators. For example, your graphic designer can see which images, character cut-outs, and borders they need to create the branching scenario.
7. Add interesting online training characters
Corporate learners need to feel like they are immersed in a real-world environment. This gives them the chance to experience similar emotions and gauge their own reactions. For example, the branching scenario features an unhappy customer who wants to return an item.
Employees feel the same pressure they would in the workplace, as they must calm the customer and address their concerns in a timely manner. One of the best ways to create that emotional connection is to add interesting online training characters. Give them unique personality traits and appearances so that corporate learners can relate. However, avoid going into lengthy back stories that distract employees from the learning objectives.
8. Test it out
The only way to ensure that every branch fits seamlessly into the puzzle is to try it out for yourself. Test out each decision path to ensure that it flows to the next and leads to the appropriate outcome. This is also the time to check for grammatical errors, glitches, and elements that seem out of place.
For example, a piece of dialogue that doesn’t seem to mesh with the rest of the script or an image that is too distracting for corporate learners. In addition, invite a group of corporate learners to try it out for themselves and provide feedback. They may be able to catch mistakes you overlooked or highlight areas for improvement.
Use these 8 tips to create a branching scenario that imparts real-world experience and reinforces the key takeaways from your online training course. You can also use branching scenarios to test employees’ knowledge and performance behaviors, which makes them the ideal activity for compliance and task-based online training.