One of the best ways to communicate new ideas and concepts is by demonstrating those concepts at work in a scenario that a learner can relate to.

First, it provides a “safe” place for a learner to fail in the event that they don’t quite yet understand the new concept. It also is a great way for learners to understand how to apply the new information they are learning.

The way  you set up a scenario is important. Without getting too much into the granular details, your course flow should be something similar to:

  1. Explain the lesson objective(s)
  2. Describe how it works today
  3. Describe what is changing/new
  4. Explain why this change is necessary and good
  5. Provide a mini-example of how to use the new information
  6. Introduce a role based scenario
  7. Ask questions based on the scenario
  8. Summarize the scenario
  9. Re-state the objective(s) of the lesson

Depending on your audience there may be more steps than this but this is a good rough outline of how you can eventually get to your scenario.

Naturally it doesn’t make much sense to start off a lesson with a scenario. Start slow. Explain your objectives and then get into the new information. Once you have a knowledge foundation you can introduce the scenario.

Some important things to remember when using scenarios:

  • They must be specific to the role of the learner
  • If multiple roles will take your training, you need multiple scenarios (let the learner choose their ‘path’)
  • Real learning comes with your questions after the scenario – make sure you’re asking good questions

The last point is where I see most people fall short. Their questions are too easy. Avoid the temptation of asking the obvious questions. Really challenge the learner to answer your scenario-based questions by leveraging the new information you just gave them.

Here’s a tip: form your questions as if they were for someone who already knows the course information. It’s a small distinction but many course creators fall into the trap of asking questions for people who just learned the content. You will find that your questions become more challenging when approaching it this way.

Demonstrating real-life application of new ideas by leveraging scenarios is a tool that anyone creating an a course can leverage. Learners will appreciate seeing exactly how to apply this new information in a meaningful way.

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About Justin Ferriman

Justin Ferriman started LearnDash, the WordPress LMS trusted by Fortune 500 companies, major universities, training organizations, and entrepreneurs worldwide for creating (and selling) their online courses. Justin's Homepage | Twitter


2 responses

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Thanks Justin, this is great info that I will be able to put into practice right away. I especially appreciate the tips on asking challenging questions. I’m not sure I would’ve done that without this guidance. Thanks!

Thanks Mark, I’m happy that you found this article helpful!

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