Examples of Highly Effective Use of eLearning Scenario-based Training

Scenario-Based Learning (SBL) is a powerful eLearning strategy that many L&D teams use to create highly engaging and effective learning content. Not only does SBL enable exploring of common work-related situations, but scenarios can also prepare learners for unexpected, rare circumstances that are highly unlikely to occur, yet devastating to the organizations if they do transpire. 

Best of all, eLearning scenarios are a low-cost, low-risk approach to equip learners with skills required to deal with real-life problems, through an interactive, immersive and safe environment. 

eLearning Scenario Use Cases

So, what are some specific examples where scenarios might be a great way to deliver eLearning course objectives? Well, here are some use cases of the successful application of SBL:

Skills development

One of the most prolific uses of eLearning scenarios is in the development of new skills, or upgrading of existing ones. A great example of the application of SBL is in the healthcare sector, where medical staff (nurses, doctors, ER technicians) seek to continually stay abreast of the latest developments in their fields or aim to enhance their abilities to deliver better and more effective patient care.

For instance, trainee nurses may learn to accurately diagnose and effectively treat a variety of symptoms. Each patient might exhibit the same symptom, different symptoms, or a combination thereof, yet all might suffer from the same underlying condition. Learners may encounter scenarios that help them diagnose single patients with multiple conditions, or multiple patients with several complications, each requiring detailed root cause exploration for a successful diagnosis.

The use of branching scenarios, corrective feedback, and helpful commentary throughout the scenario helps trainees learn from their mistakes.  While years of live internships might serve the same purpose – that of exposing learners to a variety of healthcare situations over time – scenario-based training can effectively shorten that span to a few days or weeks. 

The added benefit to SBL in this context is that learners aren’t exposed to potentially dangerous/contagious environments, nor do they expose the hospital/healthcare facility to potentially costly litigation (in the event that a patient dies or is misdiagnosed in a scenario).


Periodically, typically annually, or once every few years, professionals must recertify to maintain good standing with their professional bodies. It is incumbent upon employers, who hire such professionals, that they not use the services of those employees until they re-certify. And that’s where the challenge lays!

  • Most re-certification is “routine”, and doesn’t really cover breakthrough materials (in many professions not many changes in a matter of one year). Learners find re-certification boring, and often procrastinate 
  • Re-certification is not a choice – it is mandatory. And, like most humans, professionals hate doing things that someone enforces upon them  

As a result, faced with the prospect of reading 10,000 pages of notes, guidelines, and Info Bulletins (either paper-based or online), and then taking a test, it’s clear why professionals shun traditional re-certification training. eLearning SBL changes that!

By using varied real-life scenarios, professionals immediately relate to the training. Because the scenarios mimic their perceptions of the work environment, they’re more likely to engage with and benefit from the training. Goodbye, 10,000 pages of notes!


Like the challenges of individual certification training, organizations face similar challenges when dealing with compliance training. For instance, data security and information privacy aren’t just an individual mandate, the entire organization is accountable for complying with those mandates. 

From data privacy and protection and infectious disease protocols to good manufacturing processes and handling and disposal of hazardous materials, scenario-based eLearning is a great way to engage learners and entice them to complete their training courses. Using multiple scenarios, for example when handling health-related private information, or how to report financial data breaches, trainers can prepare learners to deal with various facets of the broader compliance-related mandate. 

Soft skills

Often, organizations find it easier to teach an employee how to disassemble and re-assemble a complex piece of machinery, than training them on the soft skills – listening, engaging in a professional setting, presentation skills, dealing with change – required for personal and organizational success. Scenario-based training is a great way to bridge that gap.


In today’s work-from-home digital economy, many employees struggle to find support to communicate remotely or to deal with the reality of a changing work environment. They need help adapting their old skills to this changed reality. eLearning scenarios can walk employees through expectations of their new environment, and give them the ability to make decisions on how to deal with specific workplace occurrences.

The scenarios may be tailored to individual characters so that each employee gets a personalized “dose” of the soft skills needed to function effectively in his/her role. For instance, use scenarios about dealing with an irate customer or someone with limited communications ability, to train a Customer Service Representative (CSR). On the other hand, change management scenarios might be well suited to leadership roles. 

Using the right containers and wrappers

These examples demonstrate how eLearning scenarios may be adapted to fill the training needs of any profession, industry, or work-related situation. Other use cases for eLearning scenarios may include:

  • Employee onboarding
  • New product launches
  • Software training
  • IT troubleshooting

However, to be effective, the scenario must contain an appropriate measure of the right elements, such as:

  • Audio and video components, imagery, infographics, and background
  • Accurate depiction of the roles and responsibilities featured in the scenarios
  • Relevant branching, off-ramp, jump-off, and exit points so learners may control their interaction with the scenario

Finally, to make them effective in delivering eLearning objectives, the scenarios must be wrapped around compelling story-lines, plots, and events. Ideally, these use cases are built around real-life situations that either played out in the past (and therefore have well-documented lessons learned to share with the learner) or follow known protocols (such as Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) or Health Information Protection & Privacy (HIPP)) that lend themselves well to underpinning the scenarios.

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