What’s the point of scenario-based e-Learning? Somebody might think creating complex and engaging courses is a no-brainer, and it’s probably true up to a point – as long as you have a solid plan. With a wide range of modules, tasks and objectives to address, you’d better follow a predefined protocol that will help arrange items in a logical sequence. This protocol could be a screenplay if you are in video production, or an e-Learning script if you happen to be an instructional designer. In this blog posting, I’ll share some steps of successful script writing and course design. Let’s start right away!
Step 1. Do your research
Not surprisingly, even before actual planning starts you have a number of concepts in your mind. They might include the target audience and their technical means, complexity and length of the course, and interactivity and compatibility with destination user platforms or interfaces.
Long story short, you need to verify that your concepts are not, in fact, misconceptions, and act accordingly. Consult fellow subject matter experts and selected learners, brainstorm ideas, learn how to bridge planning with delivery results. After all, your ultimate goal is to provide a lasting impression and encourage knowledge retention – so double-check to be sure.
Step 2. Crystallize instructional goals
Now, that your idea seems valid for scripting, move on to step 2 and define the scope of your course. Keep the superfluous at bay – you are in the planning phase, so eliminate distractions and concentrate on the fundamentals. Try to benchmark your script against popular project management and marketing concepts with the traditional challenge, solution and results scheme.
Sounds like a case study where a long project is framed into succinct formulas. That’s the right way of visualizing your future work. Coffee breaks, vacation time, sabbaticals and extracurricular activities don’t matter for now, it’s your hours and results that need sketching out.
You may always keep a generic course script up your sleeve that covers a few tasks or conjectures resolved with specific approaches, and fill it with new content to see if they make a good match.
Step 3. Translate concepts into context and characters
All scenarios are essentially stories that involve their own settings, protagonists, issues and solutions. Since scenario-based training deals with real situations, try to establish authentic cases that will appeal to your audience. Make sure you base content around specific activities and right and wrong choices, and link these situations with preferable results.
Be creative and try it comic-style, with lively dialogues, speech bubbles and basic personal traits for your most emblematic characters. Mind mappers and storytelling software will be of great help if you choose to put the pencil and paper aside and make it on-screen from square one.
Step 4. Take a break and put together some sticky notes
Now that you have a few story and character options, it’s time to do some storyboarding. Stick a couple dozen notes on a physical surface or make a few clicks in your scenario planning software. Does this stuff make a logical sequence? Shuffle, remove and swap the cards until it does. Okay, does this split into modules with individual objectives? Not yet? Move on to the next step!
Step 5. Divide the script into sections
It’s time to shape up thematic units derived from initial research and the pre-course background of your audience. Each piece should deliver a clear, unified message and address a problem. Your logical fragmentation must be right if you can come up with a one-sentence assessment question and expect a one-sentence answer that captures the core idea. Otherwise, you might be overinflating some of the modules, or juxtaposing two or more complicated topics.
Step 6. Deliver a prototype
Create a quick mockup using a graphic tool like Visio. Try to get some volunteers for your proof of concept, play the characters, record audio narration, produce basic images and effects – give your partial script some flesh. Invite a sample group of learners and hear their feedback, then start yet another iteration to incorporate the changes. That’s when it all just begins… Go break a leg!
All in all, scenario-based e-Learning is a safe and entertaining knowledge sharing environment that allows for hassle-free practice and learning from one’s mistakes. Scenario-focused training builds on stories that highlight real-life cases or pertinent examples that help learners emulate the context. In order to capture the attention of your audience from the very start, it’s key to get a script handy. The backbone of an effective course, the structure should sketch out the pivotal points, interactions and intended emotional response. Make your cases and characters true-to-life and challenges relevant – and start building a rapport with your learners.