Tag: motivation

Make Learning Immediately Relevant with Scenarios

One way to engage learners is to make content immediately relevant. People naturally pay more attention to information they can use right away than information they “might need someday.”

Create a Sense of Immediacy

In August, I attended a webinar by Julie Dirksen on the Science of Attention and Engagement. One of her tips to promote learner engagement is about making learning immediately relevant.

Create a Sense of Immediacy

It’s easiest to pay attention to content that you can use right away. Use strategies like test-then-tell, scenarios or problem-based learning to create an immediate use for the learning content.

Julie Dirksen

Check out Tracy Parish’s sketch notes from the webinar as well.

Make Learning Immediately Relevant with Scenarios

What Does The Research Say?

If someone offered you $10 today or $11 one year from now, what would you choose? Most people would choose the $10 today. A reward is worth the most in the moment; the perceived value of the reward drops the if you won’t get it until some date in the future. This is known as hyperbolic discounting.

For example, the reward for exercising is generally long term. You have to do a lot of work over weeks or maybe months before you start seeing results. That makes it hard to stay motivated.

However, if you can make exercise immediately rewarding, it’s easier to stay motivated. People with diabetes can test their blood sugar before and after exercise to see an immediate change. If a 20 minute walk drops your blood sugar from 150 to 120, it’s easy to see the value in that activity.

Immediacy in Learning

Similarly, the rewards for learning are often long in the future. We train people on principles which we say will be important, but they might not get to apply that new knowledge for weeks or months.

We can create that sense of immediacy in learning by giving people a scenario where they apply it right away. We can create an immediate reward for learning. That helps learners stay motivated and engaged with our training.

Example Comparison

Before (Traditional Training)

Reasonable Accommodation: What Managers Need to Know

It’s important to remember these 5 factors when an employee requests a reasonable accommodation…

After (Scenario-Based Training)

You’re working with your team to keep everything running smoothly. You have an aggressive schedule for the next month with an upcoming product launch. Rosa just asked if she can take a two-day training on how to use her new assistive technology more effectively. What should you do? Do you approve the request for training, or do you tell Rosa she can’t take the training until after her upcoming deadline?

What feels more important to you, the traditional or scenario-based version? Which version would you find more motivating? Using scenarios to create a sense of immediacy shows how learning is relevant and useful.

Benefits of Scenario-Based Learning

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.

Benefits of Scenario-Based Learning

Accelerating Expertise with Scenario-Based e-Learning – The Watercooler Newsletter : The Watercooler Newsletter: Ruth Clark on how scenario-based elearning accelerates expertise and when to use it

What is Scenario-Based e-Learning?

  1. The learner assumes the role of an actor responding to a job realistic situation.
  2. The learning environment is preplanned.
  3. Learning is inductive rather than instructive.
  4. The instruction is guided.
  5. Scenario lessons incorporate instructional resources.
  6. The goal is to accelerate workplace expertise.

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.

The Benefits of Scenario Based Training: Scenario-based training better reflects real-life decision making

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: PDF explaining theory and how to decide if SBL is the right strategy

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
other methods.

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?

Learning through storytelling | Higher Education Academy: Why storytelling works for learning

Stories are effective tools for learning due to their ability to facilitate the following cognitive processes: i) concretizing, ii) assimilation, and iii) structurizing (Evans and Evans 1989).

Top 7 Benefits You Get From Scenario-Based Training: Infographic on benefits. “Falling forward,” accelerating time, critical thinking, shared context, engaging emotions, retention, trigger memories

Scenarios allow “falling forward”: Providing a safe space to fail helps build the capacity to fix mistakes as you would in real life

ID and E-Learning Links (3/15/15)

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Designing e-Learning for Maximum Motivation

These are my live blogged notes from the Designing e-Learning for Maximum Motivation webinar by Ethan Edwards of Allen Interactions. Any typos, mistakes, incomplete thoughts, etc. are likely mine, not the presenter’s. My side comments in italics.

Motivate banner outside museumQuick Summary of the Motivation Rules

  1. Say less
  2. More challenging
  3. Delay judgment
  4. Content-rich feedback
  5. Levels of difficulty
  6. Learner control


“The goal of e-learning is to create meaningful performance change in the learner.”

Organizations choose e-learning for other reasons (cost, access, etc.), but as an instructional designers, we’re focused on the performance change

Assumptions about Learning

  • Learning is active
  • People learn best in highly particular ways
  • Learners must actively construct meaning

“Learning isn’t a transitive verb; I can’t “learn” you this.”

Why should we care about motivation?

  • Learning process must be initiated actively
  • No one else is present at learning even
  • Cannot rely on social motivators (well, you could blend traditional e-learning with social learning, via social media or traditional forms…)
  • Rewards are indirect or absent

Learner Motivation

Cynical thoughts, but most learners aren’t intrinsically motivated

  • Media/animation isn’t enough. (Avatars are cool, but aren’t enough unless they are doing something instructionally)
  • They want the shortest, least painful way through a course. They look for shortcuts.
    • Traditional path: reading text without purpose, unhelpful feedback, memorize trivia, long unbroken narratives (I think “narrative” here just means long blocks of text)
    • “Expedited” path: Hit next without thinking, multitask, guess without consequence, random actions until give up. Most people will pick this in traditional e-learning.

IDs need to create experiences where learners won’t aim for the expedited path

What we want

  • Read text to satisfy a need
  • Active involvement in meaningful tasks (task-oriented, not content oriented)

What we need

  • Don’t rely on default navigation
  • Tasks require attention
  • Guesses is unproductive
  • Failure leads to a dead end rather than default completion

Question about kinesthetic/tactile learners
Answer: He’s being careful to not totally discount learning styles, but to say we’re not in specific boxes that way. “Auditory” learners still can learn visually. Think about learning through multiple channels, but not focus on specific learning styles

Question on overused Flash features
Answer: Superficial animation, stuff that is visually appealing but meaningless instructionally

Instructional Interactivity

Not all interactivity is instructional. The clicky clicky bling bling concept, although he’s not using those words

  • Context
  • Challenge
  • Activity
  • Feedback

Content is important, but only as far as people will use that content to do something.

Six Rules to Create Motivation

These can be used even without the full CCAF model.

  1. Just say less
    • Formal objectives (we need objectives, but we don’t need to tell learners the full formal objectives)
    • Technical requirements/compliance documents, especially at the beginning of e-learning. Put it at the end if it has to be there. Make content-heavy resources available, but only when users choose
    • Things that matter only to the SME
  2. Make it more challenging
    • Not just making it harder, but something that makes you think
    • “Achievable challenges with appropriate risks”
    • Withhold information until learner asks for it
    • Ambiguity isn’t always bad
  3. Delay judgment
    • Goes contrary to what we usually think about immediate feedback
    • Give time to think and correct yourself
    • Include an “I’m ready” button
    • Increases memory (I wonder if there’s research support for this about moving things to long term memory)
  4. Content-rich feedback
    • Wait until they are engaged and interacting to put content
    • Consequences for actions
    • Naturally chunks content based on actions
    • Interest is high after you make a wrong choice; you want to know where you went wrong
  5. Create levels of difficulty
    • Challenges grow as skills develop
    • Expand content & functionality as levels grow
    • Vary how much help is provided
  6. Give more control to learners
    • Prevents “learner as victim”
    • Give learners responsibility
    • Places you could give choices: pace, sequence, review, construct answers, seek help, choose when to be tested

Question: How do you convince people that interactions aren’t a waste of time?
Answer: You may have to do some work to “sell” the course and convince people

Question: What if you really need lots of text?
Answer: Make a nice resource web page and give them a reason why they should read it. Don’t make it e-learning.

Question: Better to read on-screen text or not
Answer: Literally reading every word on the screen is the worst. Narration can do a good job for emotional content, but highly technical content may be better without narration. Text is easier to read and review. The more complex, the less useful narration.

Image Credit: Motivate 2 by tedeytan