The Secret to Scenario-Based Learning

eLearning Applications for Interactive Video

Earlier this year, Viddler commissioned an intensive research survey of learning and development (L&D) professionals. Our goal was to better understand their views and priorities on the subject of interactive video in workforce development. The first hurdle we discovered is that many in the L&D world do not have a clear idea of what “interactive video” means! Some felt that simply pushing play on a video constituted interactivity—an idea discussed in my previous blog.

Once respondents were shown some examples of in-video interactivity—such as timeline comments or links, questions, etc.—they had definite opinions on what eLearning applications would benefit most:


About 83% of respondents rated interactive video as either extremely effective or very effective for new hire orientation. However, when considering only the “extremely effective” rating, scenario-based learning (SBL) topped the list, according to 42% of L&D respondents.

In future blogs, we’ll take a look at other categories, but scenario-based learning deserves special attention.

Video: the Best Medium for Scenario-Based Learning

Chris Pappas noted in a 2014 eLearning Industry blog that the essence of scenario-based learning is its realism. Scenario-based learning presents not just the dry information, but a real-life or situational simulation of a situation with which the learner can emotionally identify. Video is most often identified as the best medium for this, since it is potentially rich in nonverbal emotional cues. The other essential element is interactivity. “Learners become fully immersed in the task and scenario,” Pappas noted, “thanks to a high level of interactivity (even in virtual classroom settings).”

Real-time scenario-based learning is notoriously difficult, despite the advances in webinar and live-stream communications technology. Even if all the bandwidth bottlenecks are resolved (they seldom are), creating a realistic simulation and asking learners to respond—in real time—is unsustainable at best. There’s also the issue of time zones. With an increasingly distributed, global workforce, the only practical approach to scenario-based learning—especially SBL involving video—is to use an asynchronous, on-demand approach.

Get the Learner Involved: Record the Response

The emerging standard for video-based scenario-based learning is to start with a “challenge” video, depicting a real-world situation faced by the learner. A good example is sales role playing. After the sales trainee watches a simulation of, let’s say, a customer complaining about the price, he or she records a response:


For the camera-shy, the choice of audio or video may be essential, as is the ability to rehearse (i.e., record multiple times and save/upload the best take). Limiting recording time may also help learners perfect their approach. Above all, the process must be simple, using existing technologies like computer webcams, letting the learner focus on his or her response, not distracted with multiple devices and procedures.

Making Feedback Specific and Meaningful

Recorded responses are only the beginning, of course. If instructor feedback is too general, the learning value is diminished. Ideally, the instructor should be able to address specific moments in the response video timeline:


These review sessions could be private (between instructor and learner only) or open to peer review—still restricted to authorized users, but allowing others in the group to add timeline-specific comments. Others could also vote for the best response, and each participant could be rated—not just by how many videos they watched or for how long, but by their level of group participation. Besides responses from individual learners, videos from top sales performers could be featured—and discussed on the timeline level—to the benefit of the entire sales team.

Scenario-Based Learning is Good for Business

Once video has lowered the barrier to entry, scenario-based learning is only limited by the imagination of the instructor. Most learning simulations can easily be simulated with the use of a simple video recording device (actors and scripts optional). By enabling the learner to record a response and view timely, event-specific feedback, each virtual scenario becomes a positive and lasting training opportunity.

Companies of all sizes can realize the benefits of this approach—especially in their respective sales organizations. Starting the conversation with your Viddler representative is a good first step.