ASTD Meeting Summary: Scenario Based eLearning on a Shoestring


Meeting Date September 10th, 2013
SIG Technology Based Learning
Topic Scenario-based e-Learning on a Shoestring
Guest Speaker Ben Pitman
THD Attendees Imani Mance

Presentation Summary

Ben Pitman, author and ID professional, was the presenter for Scenario-based eLearning on a Shoestring.  Scenario-based e-learning, also known as problem-based learning, is interactive course design that requires learners to respond to realistic problems or situations. The presentation was very informative and covered several topics including course structure, basic development process, myths, and lessons learned.  The handout from the presentation (see end of this pdf) provides a high-level overview of each of these areas; however, some of my key takeaways from the presentation were:

Tell learners what you expect of them
Instead of writing objectives in the context of what learners should be able to do, tell learners what they’re expected to do.

Storylines don’t have to be Oscar worthy
Designers should not focus solely on developing the storyline and characters. Instead designers should focus on identifying the setting or situation and the problem that learners actually encounter in the “real world.” The goal of scenario based eLearning is to get learners to leverage new information as they apply it in a “real world” context. This means that designers also need to identify the impact if the learner does not solve the problem.  Then the designer can craft a simple storyline that presents the learner with a challenge in the context of what would happen in the “real-world.”

It’s okay to have more than one right answer
Just as in life, often times there is more than one way to achieve a goal.  One way to have multiple correct answers or solutions is to create a scoring system that awards different points based on the learner’s responses or actions. In addition, designing a course that branches based on the learner’s response also helps with handling situations that can have more than one solution.

Feedback is golden

Detailed feedback is very important in scenario-based learning. It can provide context to the learner and explain which responses are good, better, or best.  Feedback should explain if the learner took the appropriate action and it should also explain the impact of the action. Feedback should also be in context of the situation. This helps learners understand the consequences of their actions and decisions in the “real world.”

For more information and examples of scenario-based e-learning see the resources listed on the next page.  Also, during the presentation Ben Pitman said he’s happy to answer questions by email or even phone.  His contact information is on the handout.

About the Presenter

Ben Pitman is a training and instructional design professional with over 20 years experience in the field. He is a Certified Internet Webmaster and holds a Ph.D. in Human Resource Development. He is the author of several e-books including Lectora 101: The Basics Step by Step, Lectora 301: Interesting Courses Using Variables & More, High-Impact Scenario-based Design, and the paperbacks Business Process Reengineering Plain and Simple and Designing Effective eLearning: A Step-by-Step Guide.


Creating Powerful Scenario-based Courses (Free eBook)

Overview of eLearning Scenarios (Blog)

Scenario-based e-Learning: Evidence-Based Guidelines for Online Workforce Learning

eLearning Scenario Examples