Human beings are attracted to compelling stories. We flock to movie theatres to watch Marvel characters defeat evil, wish to know how who infiltrated a British spy ring, and even like stories within our learning. No, not every learning unit can be as compelling as last Summer’s blockbuster, but scenario-based learning can help freshen up more dry material. Read on to find out what scenario-based learning is and how it can be integrated into your learner’s lives. 

So, What is Scenario-Based Learning?

Scenario-based learning, also shortened to SBL, is an interactive form of learning that involves immersive environments. For example, if you need to train employees on a new product launch, you might create a customer interaction scenario to relay the information and showcase how they need the information in a real-world situation. 

Karen has shared some information about her skincare needs. What product would you recommend to her? 

a) L’Image Indigo Plumping Potion

b) L’Image Supreme Sheep Anti-Age Cream

c) L’Image Hydrating Hydra Serum

d) All of the above. 

If the learner chooses incorrectly, the system can redirect to more product information rather than simply giving the correct answer and moving on. 


Scenario-based learning is:

  • Realistic, this is not the place to put your learners on the moon unless you’re NASA. If you are NASA, might I suggest Mars? It is much more hip at the moment. 
  • Learner-centric, draw upon what the learners needs, where their strength and weaknesses lie. This includes evaluating their learning styles to influence engagement further. 
  • Applying previously learned skills is how teachers can combine them with more straight-forward information-based learning.
  • Very interactive thanks to its immersive nature and relying on learners to choose and click reactions and answers. 
  • Highly motivating due to simple gamification and realistic situations. 
  • Challenging misconceptions around existing workplace attitudes and interactions. If you have been struggling with certain business behaviors, this might be a good way to showcase alternative working ways. 

What Makes Scenario-Based Learning Different?

In traditional learning environments, learners absorb information by passively being fed information via a teacher or reading a text. Then they are tested, they fail or pass, and move on. In scenario-based learning, the learner has the ability to engage in the unit from start to end. Many adult learners have bad experiences with learning at school. Scenario-based learning and other edTech advances better serve learners’ needs by being learner-centered in their approaches. 

Branching Scenarios

Video Games have been a couple of steps ahead on just how much further scenario-based learning can be taken by expanding on classic “choose your own adventure” books. 

When it comes to learning complex situations branching, a system in which decisions made early on will affect the rest of the story can be very useful. It highlights how several different decisions can affect outcomes, including how mistakes are not necessarily the end of the world and can be recovered through later decisions. 

Branching is a scenario-based learning technique that creates engagement due to gamification. Also, it can just be fun! Mr. Taylor, my math teacher in the 8th grade, wasn’t lying when he said learning could be fun. (Except learning about fractions, that’s never been fun in my book.) 

Benefits of Scenario-Based Learning

Challenges of Scenario-Based Learning


In summary, companies and institutions can use scenario-based learning in eLearning (and edTech) to better engage their learners in contextualized education. It has an excellent effect on information retention and both customer and learner satisfaction! None the less, it is always important to keep in mind what the purpose of each unit and scenario-based learning activity should be for successful edTech design and roll-out. 

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