Bloom’s taxonomy sometimes creates unclear verb categorization and connection to assessments. This framework is focused on performance objectives and ties the type of knowledge to verbs, instructional strategies, and types of practice or assessment. This is partially drawn from Merrill’s work. Procedural knowledge and declarative knowledge are handled differently.
When I create scenarios for learning, I keep these four elements in mind: characters, context, challenge, and consequences.
The main character of your scenario who drives the action should generally be someone similar to your learners. Even if the main character isn’t named and the scenario is in second person (What do you do next?), the role of that character should be familiar to your learners. Give your main character a goal that aligns to the learning objectives and that your learners share.
The other people your main character interacts with should be typical and mostly realistic, with perhaps a little exaggeration. If you’re doing customer service training, think about the different types of customers employees interact with. If you’re creating manager training, the other characters might be employees and coworkers.
The context is the background for the situation. This is often implied by the training, especially if the scenario is part of a larger course. The context isn’t just shared with words. When you add a photo background for a scenario, you show learners the context rather than telling them. Your learners’ work environment should match this context. It’s easier to transfer learning to a similar situation than one that’s radically different.
Your characters face challenges in the scenario. Those are the points where learners have to make a decision or take an action. The challenges are where the learning happens. Think about the frequent obstacles: faulty technology, impatient customers, or a limited budget. Common mistakes are good challenges to include. If sales associates often forget to provide a recommendation at a specific point in the sales process, include that point in the scenario. Give learners a choice to make a recommendation or not. You might also include challenges that happen less often but are critical to address correctly. Sales associates won’t often have to deal with a customer so angry that they threaten violence, but it’s important to know how to handle that volatile situation.
Especially in branching scenarios, the feedback should be part of the scenario rather than something you just tell them. A customer gets angry, a patient refuses to follow your recommendations, the technology continues to malfunction, or you run out of budget two months before your project is finished. Show learners the consequences of their mistakes rather than just telling them. You might also provide coaching or instructional feedback, especially for novice learners, but don’t neglect the consequences of their actions.
While this isn’t a complete list of everything you need for scenarios, these are elements I see people omit or downplay. Which of these four elements do you find most challenging to incorporate into your scenarios?
Why are scenarios effective for learning? They provide realistic context and emotional engagement. They can increase motivation and accelerate expertise. Here’s a selection of quotes explaining the benefits.
As you consider incorporating scenario-based e-Learning into your instructional mix, consider whether the acceleration of expertise will give you a return on investment. For example, interviews with subject matter experts indicated that automotive technicians must complete about 100 work orders to reach a reasonable competency level in any given troubleshooting domain. Comparing delivery alternatives, OJT would require around 200+ hours, instructor-led training would require around 100 hours, and scenario-based e-Learning simulations require approximately 33–66 hours.
Finally, many learners find scenario-based e-Learning more motivating than traditional instructional formats. Solving a work-related problem makes the instruction immediately relevant.
There is no linear path into what they are subjected. The situations are complex. They often fail and they learn by reflection, becoming much better at the judgements they make next time, even though next time the environment and the scenarios presented are different.
After completing a few exercises, they build their own view of the patterns that are evident and are able to move into a new scenario with confidence even if the environment and scenario is radically different.
Learning on reflection before plunging into the next scenario helps to build the patterns in the participants’ minds that are the evidence that they have learnt.
Quizzes based on scenarios with a, “What would you do next?”, question builds quick and fun repetition into the training programme, helping transfer from short term memory to long term memory.
Scenario-based learning is based on the principles of situated learning theory (Lave & Wenger, 1991), which argues that
learning best takes place in the context in which it is going to be used, and situated cognition, the idea that knowledge is
best acquired and more fully understood when situated within its context (Kindley, 2002).
SBL usually works best when applied to tasks requiring decision-making and critical thinking in complex situations. Tasks
that are routine to the students will require little critical thinking or decision-making, and may be better assessed using
Checklist: Is SBL the right option? (Clark, 2009)
* Are the outcomes based on skills development or problem-solving?
* Is it difficult or unsafe to provide real-world experience of the skills?
* Do your students already have some relevant knowledge to aid decision-making?
* Do you have time and resources to design, develop, and test an SBL approach?
* Will the content and skills remain relevant for long enough to justify the development of SBL?
Whether male or female voices are better for elearning narration may depend on what tone you’re trying to achieve, although the research results are a bit weak. Breaking tradition and stereotypes can sometimes be effective.
“Men’s voices are associated with neutrality, with authoritative, factual information,” explains Arthur Chu, a Cleveland-based artist who’s done voice over work for brands like Safeway and Intel. “The voiceover you want for some kind of authoritative instructional video, or something asserting dry historical fact, is going to be that baritone, somewhat monotone, slightly stern voice.”
“Because females tend to be the more nurturing gender by nature, their voices are often perceived as a helper, more compassionate, understanding, and non-threatening,” says Debbie Grattan, a veteran voice over artist for brands like Apple, Samsung, and Wal-Mart. “This can be important in instructional videos, (sense of patience and compassion in teaching a new skill), corporate/web narration, as well as commercial spots (conveying a less aggressive, more persuasive approach.)”
There was a marginal difference in percentage of extrinsic words recalled in female vs. male narrator. There was no difference in number of extrinsic words recalled in male-visual, male-no visual, female-visual, female-no visual.
However, when percentage of extrinsic words recalled was analyzed between male and female voice conditions, there was marginal significance, where subjects in the male voice condition recalled a greater percentage of extrinsic words than subjects in the female voice condition. This marginal significance is not enough to definitively conclude that there is a relationship between gender of narrator and recall of extrinsic words.
But most studies that I have seen indicate no statistically significant difference between retention by an audience of one gender of content delivered by a voice of another, or the same, gender.
In my experience there are characteristics other than gender that play a much bigger role in engaging a learner audience. Things like dynamism, clarity, ’emotional bonding’ with the content, enthusiasm, and perceived subject matter expertise are more important than whether it is a male or a female voice.
This survey is about advertising, not elearning, but the results might be applicable in some situations. A male voice is viewed as more forceful, and a female voice is perceived as more soothing. Half of those surveyed said it made no difference though, and other results were mixed.