Branching Scenarios and Case-based learning in eLearning
Scenarios use real life situations in order to focus on application, rather than theory. They can be highly engaging and interactive as a situation is presented to the learners and then they are prompted to respond to it by selecting a choice of action. This provides a safe learning environment since there are no consequences for mistakes, which in turn, allows the learners to gain an understanding of the lessons and then apply their skills.
Scenarios normally have three parts:
- A description of a given situation
- A question with options (three options seem to be the norm)
- may be immediate for nonbranching scenarios
- may be delayed if the scenario is branching
Description with Question and Options
Slide 1 has the description of the problem in the upper, left-hand corner, followed by the question. Shown on the bottom are three possible solutions, of which the learner needs to select the correct one.
Note: The slide was developed in PowerPoint. For each option a feedback slide was built (two are shown below - an incorrect and a correct response). When the learner selects his or her response by clicking on the option, a hyperlink takes the learner to the respective feedback slide. The hyperlink is inserted into each option by:
- Right clicking the object and selecting insert Hyperlink.
- Going to the Insert menu in PowerPoint, selecting the option that you want to insert the hyperlink into, clicking on the Hyperlink option, selecting the Place in This Document option, and then selecting the respective slide that you want to hyperlink to.
Note: If you are using PowerPoint to build you elearning scenario, then you should select the Slide Show menu, select the Set Up Slide Show option, and then select the Browsed at Kiosk option. This will prevent the learner from being able to click any where on the slide to advance forward, thus the learner must select one of the hyperlink options that will advance him or her towards the correct slide.
Slide 2 shows a feedback slide that appears if the learner chooses an incorrect response. This slide only allows one option — Return to the previous slide so that the learner can select a different option.
Slide 3 shows a feedback slide that appears if the learner chooses a correct response. This slide allows the learner to advance forward in the lesson or return to the previous slide. Being allowed to return to the previous slide allows the learner to see what would happen if he or she choose a different option that they might not of been sure about. The Information button, (second from the left) explains this opportunity to them.
Scenario Equal Interactive
This makes the scenario similar to an interactive case study in that the elearning program presents a short and specific real life problem or perspective of an issue so that the learners can demonstrate their problem solving ability using theories that have been previous taught.
Cathy Moore has a good example on her blog of a branched scenario-based elearning, Connect with Haji Kamal, that was developed for the US Army. When viewing the example, notice how the series of scenarios uses multiple-choice questions in each scenario to propose a sequence of events, which gives the learners a possible course of action in order to simulate a conversation.
These stories or scenarios should normally be based on real-life situations the performer will encounter. This can be accomplished by interviewing expert performers, not only on the correct way to perform a task, but also on realistic options that may be less than ideal.
Shown below is an outline of a branching scenario. Note that the correct path is shown by the blue arrows and incorrect paths are shown with red arrows. If a learner chooses an incorrect path, then she is given feedback and directed back to the beginning of that particular scenario so she can reselect her choice. Thus, the learning environment is a safe haven for mistakes, which allows the learners to reflect on their mistakes and then apply their “Lesson Learned” by being given the opportunity to try again.
Note that a branching scenario does not have to resemble the above chart. For example, you might have a case in which there is more than one option that is correct:
An example of this might be the Four Framework Approach, which suggests that leaders normally display leadership behaviors in one of four types of frameworks: Structural, Human Resource, Political, or Symbolic. Neither option is wrong; however, depending upon the situation, one or more options might be better than another. In this type of scenario, you want to encourage the learners to go through several options so that they learn about the various frameworks and which ones might work better in certain situations.
Case Base Learning
Case-based learning is similar in that it challenges the learners to gather information from multiple sources, such as video, audio, and text, in order to gather multiple perspectives that will aid in their decision making abilities. It can be combined with a branching scenario platform by first presenting the case study and then having the learners complete a branching scenario in order to reinforce their skills.