Why use branching scenarios?


1.  They are interactive and engage the mind

Rather than passive absorbing of information the learner is engaged in making choices. Branching scenarios focus on action i.e. the learner has to make the choice to do something. This leads to much more powerful learning than having to recall information or facts.

2.  They work well to spice up boring content or dry topics

Branching scenarios are a great way to spice up dry topics. I have found they work well in compliance courses and for training new or existing legislation to staff. When branching scenarios are used in these topics it shifts the focus on to what staff need to do. By having this focus it helps to avoid getting bogged down in heavy content or complicated legislation.

3.  They can be relatively quick to produce

You can design a branching scenario to be as complex or simple as you like to fit within your projects time contraints.  Design and development time will increase with the more branches (decision points) your scenario has,  more choices at each decision point, having more than one correct pathway, and having multiple levels of consequence (not just right and wrong) e.g. a partially right consequence.  Top tip: Get faster by keeping templates of your branching scenarios, then reuse them again and again for multiple projects. When speed is needed a simple branching scenario can provide powerful results.

4.  Endlessly versatile

No branching scenario needs to look the same, your only limitation is your imagination. You can use different branching structures. You can also use mulitmedia in different ways to present the branching scenario e.g. animations, photos, video and audio. Each new branching scenario can look original and innovative.

5.  You don’t need to be technologically saavy to build a great branching scenario

You can design and build a great branching scenario in Powerpoint without needing to code or know any specialist tools. A strong branching scenario is more about learning design than development skills. You will have more options if you’re saavy in tools such as Captivate and Articulate Storyline but they are not pre-requisites for building awesome branching scenarios.

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What is a branching scenario?

Branching scenarios are often one of my ‘go to’ activities in my elearning courses.

What is a branching scenario?

A branching scenario places the learner in a situation where they are presented with a challenge and ‘need to make choice of what to do’. It guides the learner towards achieving the learning outcomes by learning what to do through consequences and feedback. If the learner makes a good choice a desired consequence will occur, if they make a poor choice a negative consequence will occur.

Branching scenarios focus on interactive learning rather than passively absorbing information.

Here’s a short video of a basic branching scenario structure:

Tom Kulmhann suggests one way to build branching scenarios is to use a three Cs approach, Challenge, Choice and Consequence – http://www.articulate.com/rapid-elearning/build-branched-e-learning-scenarios-in-three-simple-steps/. This is a great simple way to start building branching scenarios.

Branching scenarios can be easy to assemble and can even be done with tools such as Powerpoint. All that is required is that you can click on different options that will take you to a new slide with consequences and feedback on your choice.

However, this does not mean that branching scenarios are easy to create! The real skill for creating a branching scenario is in the thinking behind how to translate the learning outcomes into behaviour choices with realistic consequences and feedback. To make a successful branching scenario there needs to be a balance of challenge, where the learner has to actively engage and think about what choice to make, and it is not too easy to select the correct answer. The choices and consequences need to also be realistic so the learner can imagine themselves in the situation in real life making similar choices.

If you liked this post, you might also find these other posts useful:

Why use branching scenarios?

Design better looking branching scenarios

5 ways to design more engaging branching scenarios

What are your thoughts?