Case-based learning (CBL) is a teaching method that uses real-life scenarios to teach skill-based tasks. At the same time, it enhances learners’ awareness of the various contextual factors that affect problem-solving in complicated cases.
CBL now uses interactive, branched scenarios that present learners with a problem and offer multiple avenues for exploration. Branched case scenarios challenge learners, require them to make decisions, and then present consequences. Each consequence produces new challenges and more choices. As learners make decisions, the story unfolds in unpredictable ways, thereby making such learning interactive, engaging, and fun.
Thus, at a fundamental level, branching scenarios
According to their purpose and complexity, we can classify the following four types of scenarios that impart real-world experience within an academic environment. The scenario types and levels of learning are adapted from work done by Eric J. Roberts (2014) and CommLab India Rapid eLearning Solutions (2021).
|Types||Purpose||When to use|
|Descriptive||To identify a set of conceivable alternatives or choices to present a complete description of a problem within its context||Suits well for alternative analyses when comparing a solution against a set of criteria or determining likely or possible solutions |
Key question: What are the alternative solutions?
|Exploratory||To examine many possible outcomes with more than one correct answer||Works best for behavioral and exploratory training |
Key question: What might happen?
|Normative||To develop strategies to achieve a specific intended result||Suits well for synthesizing information to reach a given or asserted outcome |
Key question: How to reach a specific outcome?
|Predictive||To predict different types of outcomes, especially in the case of what-if scenarios or what happens as the next step in a given situation||Works well in predicting the long-term effectsof a given situation, behavior, or action |
Key question: What will happen?
To create a robust branched case scenario, we need to be familiar with the core elements that enable us to create a well-defined scenario structure. The following key components of branched case scenarios are adapted from the model defined by Tom Kuhlmann’s 3C model (challenge, choices, consequence), and Christy Tucker’s 4C model (characters, context, challenge, and consequences).
Examining each key element for building branched case scenarios will provide a strong foundation for a storyboarding process to help us think through the scenario design and layouts.
How to design effective branching scenarios
Start with a plan to design effective branching scenarios. The following steps will help you develop sophisticated branching scenarios that impart real-world experience and reinforce knowledge and skills acquired via an interactive digital learning environment.
|Select the most suitable content for branching scenarios||Analyze the learning content and context by asking yourself:
|Identify the goals and learning objectives||Identify the goals and learning objectives by asking the following questions:
|Create a visual structure||Developing branching scenarios requires keeping everything organized with using a preplanned technique. If we do not create a visual structure, it is easy to misplace multiple decision options and consequences with their feedback. You can develop your own branched case template from scratch to customize every element that you need in your design. |
|Write the script for your case||Most branching scenarios use character dialogue. Composing a script involves creating the initial idea, planning a scenario, and structuring your story within a context to help you visualize every branch. In branching, each decision point should follow from the previous one and show learners the consequences of making mistakes rather than just telling them. A well-written script enables us to check the complexity of the case and how learners may react as they imitate real-world situations. This script will serve as a blueprint to make production of a branched case scenario as smooth as possible.|
|Choose the ideal technology tool or an e-learning authoring tool||It is critical to select the right technology tools or an e-learning authoring tool that can assist you in converting your visual map into a sophisticated branching scenario with attention-grabbing graphics and characters. Using the wrong tools will increase both the time, cost, and overall complexity of the development process. To determine the appropriate technology tools, you can test a few different platforms to find the right one for your purpose and needs. Some authoring tools may offer templates, themes, specific interactive elements, and other media that you can use for your branching scenario. |
Here are some potential technology tools for creating branched cased scenarios:
|Test it||You can test the full functionality of the final product to find out whether each decision path seamlessly flows to the next and leads to the appropriate outcome. As a tester, you put yourself in the end user’s shoes and eliminate any flaws or glitches, including grammatical errors and anything out of place. You can also invite a group of learners or your team members to try it out for themselves and provide feedback. This process will help you catch any mistakes you may have overlooked or highlight areas for improvement.|
Branching is a way to increase motivation for learning and helps learners practice scenarios in a more engaged manner by answering all the subsequent questions that depend on the response to the prior question given by the learner. In this way, leaners contribute to their own learning as well as improve their retention.
CommLab India Rapid eLearning Solutions. (2021, April 15). Scenario-based eLearning: Using the power of imagination to help learners learn. https://resources.commlabindia.com/webinar/scenario-based-elearning
Roberts, E. J. (2014). Exploratory scenario planning: Lessons learned in the field. Lincoln Institute of Land Policy. https://www.lincolninst.edu/sites/default/files/pubfiles/roberts_wp14er1.pdf
Kadriye O. Lewis, EdD, is a professor of pediatrics at the University of Missouri–Kansas City School of Medicine.