Learning & Development, Technology

What Is Scenario-Based Learning?

Now that virtual reality and augmented reality are getting a lot of attention in the learning and development (L&D) space—and are projected to be worth around $2.8 billion by 2023—you’ve probably started hearing more about scenario-based learning, too.


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But what exactly is scenario-based learning? Why is it beneficial and effective? And how is it implemented?
In a nutshell, scenario-based learning immerses learners in real-life or situational simulations, or it offers contextualized learning experiences that allow learners to gather skills or information that they can recall for future use. Scenario-based learning is also highly interactive and often requires learners to work their way through a storyline that has a complex problem to solve.

Benefits of Scenario-Based Learning

It’s realistic. Scenario-based learning usually only includes situations and experiences that learners might encounter in real life at work, which makes it realistic. For example, law enforcement professionals and emergency professionals train for their everyday jobs via contextualized learning environments that help them determine when there is a threat or emergency and how to respond to either situation immediately.
Simulated environments can also help employees learn how to interact with customers who are upset in real time or provide remote employees with a tour of an important facility that’s challenging to travel to.
It’s centered on the learner. Learners are immersed in environments and experiences that are tailored to them when they engage in scenario-based learning. The environments and experiences they encounter will be centered on things they need to learn about but will also allow them to execute their own strengths as they continue to learn new things.
For example, an employee who is great at everyday communication but not so great at conflict resolution could be immersed in a scenario-based learning environment where he or she learns how to handle conflicts in everyday simulated environments.
It’s interactive. Instead of simply reading manuals or taking multiple-choice quizzes, learners are required to navigate situations and simulations in real time and make real-time decisions as they learn, as scenario-based learning environments are highly interactive.
This makes scenario-based learning ideal for learners who need to demonstrate critical thinking skills. And due to its interactive nature, scenario-based learning tends to lead to high knowledge retention rates and highly motivated learners.

How to Implement Scenario-Based Learning

Here are a few ways to implement scenario-based learning.

  • Rely on virtual reality and augmented reality environments, technology, and software.
  • Ask learners to solve hypothetical problems.
  • Integrate narrative and storytelling into your e-learning courses and materials.
  • Design interactive courses that require learners to navigate simulated environments or experiences.

If you’re interested in implementing scenario-based learning, be sure to keep the above information and tips in mind. In tomorrow’s post, we’ll offer six best practices for offering this training at your organization.

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