October 2012
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TD Magazine

Three Keys to Designing Good Scenarios

Friday, October 12, 2012

Experience is still the best teacher when learning a new process, and even more so when facilitating a change in behavior or skills. A proven approach to experiential learning is using scenario-based simulations, which can be thought of as focused "apprenticeships in a box," says Ken Spero, author of the October Infoline, "Scenario-Based E-Learning."

Scenario development has much overlap with movie scriptwriting, but you don't need to have extraordinary literary skills. Rather, what you need is some insight into the work being done at the learner's organization. Once engaged in the story, participants will fill in any gaps that exist and even some that were not anticipated—so there's no need for perfection. Here are three tips to keep in mind as you begin designing your scenarios.


Focus on building exceptional performers. Give learners a foundation they can build on for continuously improving performance.

Avoid information overload. Focus on first engaging the learners with a simple activity, and then gradually employing other forms and modalities.

Understand that everyone learns differently. We do not know when the light bulb is going to go on for any particular student—for some students, it may not be during the training exercise at all. Space out the learning experiences to set up an environment so when students are ready to learn, we can be there to help them.


These tips were adapted from the October Infoline, "Scenario-Based E-Learning." For more information, visit www.astd.org/Infoline.

If you’re interested in learning how to implement these tips, register now for ATD's Scenario-Based E-Learning Certificate.

About the Author

The Association for Talent Development (ATD) is a professional membership organization supporting those who develop the knowledge and skills of employees in organizations around the world. The ATD Staff, along with a worldwide network of volunteers work to empower professionals to develop talent in the workplace.

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