5 ways to design more engaging branching scenarios

Use these tips to make your branching scenario more engaging, no matter what elearning tool you are using!

1.  Set the learner a challenge

By setting a challenge for the learner you can turn a simple branching scenario into something that is much more fun!! Make it memorable and exciting by turning choices into a mini game.

Imagine practicing customer complaint skills by playing a game. Below is an activity that does that. Can you help a customer with their complaint without exploding the situation? If you choose an aggravating response you will explode the situation. If you choose a not so good response the fuse will shorten bringing the situation closer and closer to exploding!

challenge    The choices   explode

2.  Put the learner in the situation

More powerful learning occurs when we can imagine ourselves in the real world situation making decisions. Some ways you can help the learner imagine themselves in the situation is to design your visuals and media to fit the audience and use “you” language. In the game above there was two types of audiences who dealt with complaints, one took complaints face-to-face and the other over the phone. The speech bubbles going off to the side meant that either audience could imagine themselves in the conversation.

3. Build emotion into the branching scenario

Like a story an essential ingredient in a branching scenario is building emotion. Incorporating emotion changes the elearning from being factual and distant to being personal and engaging. Incorporating emotion can be done in a variety of ways for example; through humor, using multimedia such as audio and video to create mood; developing characters through the branching scenario by giving them dialogue and actions to suit their personality; have characters show relevant (or exaggerated) facial expressions; and having elements of surprise.

4.  Connect with your Subject Matter Expert (SME)

Make the scenario as realistic as possible, that includes building in the mistakes people are likely to make. This is where your SME is invaluable, as they will have insight into potential and/or existing misunderstandings.  You can then build these into your branching scenario. This will give not only give your learners the opportunity to receive feedback and learn from their mistakes in a safe environment, it will also help them avoid making the same mistakes when applying the learning.

5.  Make the choices challenging, include the grey areas

It’s tempting to include responses that are easily identified as being right or wrong. However, if you include the grey areas – where the responses that have a mixture of right and wrong, you then motivate the learner to think more deeply about which action or response to take. Have you ever completed a course where you have just gone through the motions as it’s been too easy to identify the right and wrong responses? By including the grey areas you will not only make the branching scenario much more challenging, it will also engage your learners on a deeper cognitive level.

I’d love to hear what your thoughts are on making more engaging branching scenarios.

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