Relevancy is the key to online training success. If employees can’t assign meaning to the online training content, even the most interactive online training tools will miss their mark. In this article, I’ll share 8 tips to create branching scenarios that resonate with your geographically dispersed workforce.
Branching scenarios give employees the ability to practice their skills and apply the knowledge they’ve acquired. However, they are only truly effective if corporate learners can relate to the challenges and situations. Not to mention, the online training characters that serve as an emotional stand-in for your remote staff. Here are 8 tips to develop branching scenarios that connect with employees on a personal level.
Ultimately, branching scenarios must target specific gaps that prevent on-the-job productivity. For example, a skill that employees need to complete a task. Corporate learners simply won’t connect with the online training content if it doesn’t address an immediate need. They don’t have the time to sit through a branching scenario that merely explores theoretical knowledge. Instead, it must target common problems that employees deal with on a regular basis. Online surveys, focus groups, and assessments are great ways to disclose these issues and create more personalized branching scenarios.
Everyone loves a good story that immerses them in a fantasy world and allows them to take a mental break. However, there’s no place for far-fetched fiction in branching scenarios. Especially if you want them to resonate with your employees. Use practical situations and challenges to facilitate real-world application and enhance employee engagement. This is yet another reason why it’s essential to research your corporate learners’ needs. It allows you to get to the root of their performance gaps and figure out which obstacles hinder their professional growth.
No branching scenario is complete without online training characters. There are two character types to consider. The first is the individual employees must interact with, such as a customer persona who wants to return an item or file a complaint. The second is a stand-in for the employee themselves. For example, the protagonist who must satisfy the unhappy customer. In this case, the employee dictates how the main online training character will interact with the customer persona in order to achieve the desired outcome. Both types must be relevant and relatable. Employees should be able to sympathize with the protagonist and form a connection between the customer persona and their real-world counterparts.
Online training characters must be in a familiar setting that mimics the real world, such as the sales floor or boardroom. The trick is to use realistic images, tools, and sound effects to immerse employees in the environment. This allows them to apply their skills and know-how just as they would in the workplace instead of trying to imagine how they will use their online training in a real-world context. This also includes true-to-life online training resources and equipment that employees use on a daily basis. For example, a branching scenario that involves troubleshooting a software issue with a client should include screenshots of the platform.
Most branching scenarios include branches that veer off into different decision-making paths. The employee must choose from a series of choices, which usually involve dialogue between the online training characters. For instance, the customer service associate must interact with the customer in order to identify the issue. Unrealistic dialogues force the employees to disconnect from the experience. In fact, it devalues the entire branching scenario. Create a detailed script for each decision path and use jargon that is familiar and organic.
Case studies, real-world examples, and anecdotes can provide you with a framework for branching scenarios. This yields two notable benefits. Firstly, you save yourself the time and trouble of having to create a branching scenario from scratch. The structure of the story is already there, and you simply need to map out the decision paths based on different outcomes. The second advantage is that they are more likely to resonate with employees, as they’re based on real-world elements. The situation actually occurred. Thus, it is less likely to feel forced or fictitious.
Collect input from your employees to further customize your branching scenarios. Invite a select group to participate in a test run. Then conduct online surveys or focus groups to identify areas for improvement. You can also use LMS data to look for weaknesses. For example, only a small fraction of employees complete the branching scenario, or a majority of them takes longer than expected to complete it. These are tell-tale signs that you need to re-evaluate the branching scenario and enhance the realism to boost engagement. You could also provide employees with additional online training resources so that they have the tools they need to achieve the desired outcome.
Experienced employees may be able to create their own branching scenarios for the benefit of their peers. Invite knowledgeable staff members to brainstorm ideas for a branching scenario and then develop a script, as well as a companion storyboard that maps out the branching paths. They can even use a rapid eLearning authoring tool, complete with eLearning templates, to develop the branching scenario. Employees already know what resonates with them and their co-workers. Thus, they are likely to produce content that strikes a chord and fosters a meaningful connection.
Branching scenarios are one of the most interactive and immersive online training tools at your disposal, but only if you know how to connect with your corporate learners and encourage online learner reflection. They must be able to put themselves inside the shoes of the online learner or relate to the situation on an emotional level. Otherwise, they’re merely going through the motions instead of actively engaging in the online training experience.
Are you trying to develop interactive online training activities on a tight budget? Read the article 8 Top Tips For Creating Branching Scenarios On A Budget to discover helpful tips to create branching scenarios with limited resources.