Blog / Employee Experience

Scenario-Based Learning: What It Is, and Why It Works

person speaking with a headset on using her laptop at home

Thinking back, you can probably remember taking a course where instructors spoon-fed students a list of facts. Or, it was a handful of rules, such as dos and don’ts. These bits of information lay flat in our brains if we even manage to recall them at all.

Knowledge leaders commonly abide by the 70-20-10 rule. That is, experiential knowledge comprises 70% of what employees absorb, followed by 20% from interactions with others. That leaves formal education as the source of just 10% of what employees know or retain.

By incorporating real-life experiences into on-the-job learning, companies leverage those percentages as employees practice their newfound skills with allowances for errors and do-overs. Scenario-based learning takes employee education from one-dimensional learning to 3D, rendering the employee handbook so last century.

A brief history of scenario-based learning

In 1991, theorists Lave and Wenger created the term Situated Learning, another term for scenario-based learning. They found that it’s more effective to teach information in the context in which it’s used. For on-the-job learning, creating scenes in which employees apply learned behaviors and principals, is stickier. Employees realize higher knowledge retention. What do you remember more easily: a static list of best practices or a time when you used those tools in a real-life setting?

What is scenario-based learning?

Scenario-based learning immerses the employee in real situations they will encounter on the job. They put their newly acquired skills into practice as they face work-related challenges and receive real-time feedback while they improve, without impacting customer relationships or the company’s bottom line. The employee is actively engaged and it’s a quicker process compared to other teaching methods.

Using scenario-based training, ProcedureFlow, a cloud-based management solution, helps contact centers of all industries and sizes make experts of their employees up to 75% faster. And because it’s in the cloud, there’s no downtime to sharing updates globally, if needed.

What are the principles of scenario-based training?

It’s participatory instead of merely observational. Traditional learning methods include passively sitting through a lecture or presentation. Or clicking through a series of text-heavy slides in an E-Learning course. Or worse, paging through a paper binder that may or may not contain the latest information.

In scenario-based training, it’s up to the learner to solve a problem or troubleshoot a challenge. They’re presented with a simulated situation and offered different choices to make. The employee jumps in and gets their hands dirty by choosing the response and therefore the direction of the outcome. Learning by doing creates a familiarity with situations that an employee simply can’t get from reading a manual. If they get it wrong, they can try repeatedly, if needed.

Scenario-based learning creates a level playing field for staff, as everyone will need to reach an equal competence before completion. It’s also fast, so when things change, as they so often do, this process makes it simpler to get fresh information to employees quickly.

How is scenario-based learning used in online training?

This is where it gets creative. Scenario-based learning online can take endless forms. It can unfold in a story-telling process or integrate as part of an overall theme. It can incorporate simple images, animation, or live-action scenes on video. Adding gamification contributes to course engagement and gives the “player” a sense of achievement and ownership of the outcome.

For remote workers, scenario-based learning is essential for keeping up with new processes. An on-site manager is not available to someone working from home. Running through real-life scenarios gives the employee a type of muscle memory for when that scene replays itself on the job. It is theory put into practice. Employees grasp concepts easier when they’re executing them and recall them quickly when needed.

person using laptop and smiling

What are the benefits of scenario-based learning?

It’s more engaging and motivating than traditional classroom training.

With more than nine thousand lodging properties, Wyndham Hotel Group is the world’s largest hotel chain. Wyndham utilizes ProcedureFlow for scenario-based training in its contact centers, including more than seven hundred employees in St. John, New Brunswick. With about 2,000 standard operating procedures (SOPs), it’s critical that current and inexperienced staff in their contact centers get up to speed quickly and approach their work with a sense of certainty.

“It’s been a huge game-changer for us,” says Jason Peddle, Senior Director MyRequest Support, Wyndham Hotel Group. “ProcedureFlow has helped us expand our business, gain way more efficiency, and provide tools to our team members to allow them to do their job effectively with confidence. Plus, people don’t have to carry around 30 lb. binders.”

Thelma Montyr, Business Process Analyst, Wyndham Hotel Group, says scenario-based learning with ProcedureFlow simply looks better.

“You can use snips from the application, screenshots, to break up the monotony of box after box after box, to make it visually appealing,” states Montyr.

Using ProcedureFlow for training helps save clients as much as 50% onboarding time for new hires.

Amanda Menard, Director of Operations Administration for Assurant, says ProcedureFlow makes their associates experts, faster.

“ProcedureFlow helps launch processes quickly even when unanticipated changes are made on the fly during training,” adds Menard.

And scenario-based learning improves customer satisfaction by putting knowledgeable, confident staff in place. This creates a better, more consistent experience for the customer overall.

The bottom line on scenario-based learning

Whether your company wants to trade up from regular eLearning, or take a leap from paper trails and emails, scenario-based learning will expedite the onboarding process, reduce downtime, and put all employees on the same page.

Experiential learning is sticky. The employee gets over any first-time jitters in a safe environment and acquires the experience to meet the challenge with conviction when the same situation occurs on the job.

ProcedureFlow can help you incorporate scenario-based learning into your training program. Sign up for a personalized demo today.

Written by Lisa Brandt

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