Simulation E-Learning: Getting the Message Across

So, you've been asked to create some simulation e-learning that will teach users the 'button-pushing' side of how to use a piece of software, e.g. Word 2010.  You probably have some on-screen text so that you can provide the learners with some context.  That might be some text describing the ribbon, Mail Merge, or whatever.  Then you probably want your learners to go through the steps involved in completing a Mail Merge task, or creating a new style, or whatever it is that your e-learning is simulating.

The way I see it, there are two pieces of textual information you want to include:

  1. The context
  2. The instruction

Given that simulation e-learning has limited screen real estate to put text on, due to the fact that the simulated software should be prominent, what do other people do when creating simulation e-learning?

Examples I've seen have a sort of info box splashed across the front of the screen, and then a caption will point to a command (such as the Word save button) and say "Now click Save".

Is that what everyone else does, or do they present simulation training differently?  Let's assume there's no audio for the purpose of this discussion!

2 Replies
Patti Bryant


Generally, if I'm going to provide context, I'll do it via voiceover. Then, instructions will go on-screen. I'm not sure how clean the screen would look once you add them both to it. Another way to do it could be to do the "See It" and then "Try It" approach. In the "See It" section, you could walk the learners through how to properly navigate the software. Then, in the "Try It" section, you could let learners work their way through the software and only stopping to ask for help when they need it. This approach gets the learner thinking about what they're doing instead of clicking buttons without remembering anything.

I really like the direction of this Sales Orientation Course from the Storyline showcase. Apply for the Software Training to check it out. It clearly lays out objectives and allows the learner to ask for different levels of help (give me a hint or just show me the step).

I hope this helps!

Keepin' the joy,


Bruce Graham


Agree with Patti - use the (built-in) See/Try/Test modes, and provide context with voiceover.

You can even "plant" emotions using voiceover - "I guess you've been wondering why we use Times New Roman at Company X? Well - it's just because people don't know how to change it! Here's how......".

A phrase I often use is "Lots of people at Company X believe that....." -  because you are never asked to quantify or qualify it, (check first!)

Tell a story...I know it sounds a bit naff sometimes, but you have to do this.

Create a scenario that resonates - you want each learner to say (to themselves) "Ah! - THAT's how you do that - that's REALLY useful!", or (better still) - "OK - I now get WHY we have to use Times New Roman..."  (or whatever).

Take a FACTUAL journey and find ways to make it EMOTIONAL.