Stories and scenarios have been loved by humans since the start of time. So is it any surprise that learners love to see them in e-learning? Stories can be a great way to add interest and captivate your learners’ attention. I recently created an e-learning module about computer security, and these were the opening paragraphs for the training:

“Amir turns on his computer one day, only to realize his work system has been hacked and his data has been compromised. Through his computer, hackers accessed his employer’s servers and took down several company websites. Customer information has been compromised and customer support lines are bombarded with calls.

“Staff have to work overtime to resolve the issue, handle complaints, and minimize the damage to the company’s reputation. This will cost the company hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars. This all happened because Amir clicked a malicious link.

“This costly scenario happens to businesses all the time. The good news is you can minimize the likelihood of it occurring by following the security best practices outlined in this module.”

I’ve used a scary but realistic scenario to let learners know what’s at stake with this training to grab their attention from the get-go. The e-learning becomes more interesting when it’s presented in the format of a short scenario that learners can imagine themselves in. Let’s look at tips you can follow to create your own scenarios for your e-learning.

Use Relatable Characters

Characters are an important part of a story because they act out the situation and are representative of the learners themselves. Using a named character, such as Amir in the story above, makes your scenario feel more human and personal. Think about your audience, and try to choose characters that will resonate with them. You may choose to show images of a character to further personalize the scenario.

Identify Worst-Case Situations

One of the ways you can really speak to your learners is by sharing with them a worst-case scenario that could actually happen if they do their job incorrectly or don’t follow the training. Perhaps that’s lost earnings, wasted time, or maybe, in some serious situations, it could even be injury or death. Identify some of the worst-case situations that are related to the tasks covered in the training and write your stories about those.

Keep It Realistic

Even if you’re looking for worst-case situations to make your stories dramatic, you never want to sacrifice realism. Keep your scenarios and stories realistic: apply the same parameters and contextual info as would apply to the situation in real life. It may be necessary to add certain details to make your stories more authentic and appealing.

Consult with Your SMEs

Your Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) are a valuable tool you can use to help craft your scenarios. They should be able to give you insights into the most realistic worst-case situations related to the tasks covered in the training. They will know your audience and what types of characters to use in your training. Your SME can fact-check your scenario and let you know if it’s plausible or too exaggerated.

Adding simple stories to your e-learning can add a level of interest and intrigue to your content. Follow the tips above to get started writing your first scenario, and let me know how it goes in the comments below.

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