The triple-threat scenario

There’s no shortage of theories as to why a scenario works so well as an educational device. But for me, it boils down to context.

An authentic and relevant context facilitates two important processes.

1. Sense making

The authenticity and relevance of the scenario contextualises the content so that it becomes more meaningful for the learner. It approximates a real life situation with which she is familiar so that she can make better sense of it.

2. Transfer

When the learner finds herself in a similar situation in real life, she will associate the current context with the scenario and thus apply her experience from it more readily.

When we combine these two affordances with the engagement power of video, we create a triple threat which dramatically increases our probability of success.

6 thoughts on “The triple-threat scenario

  1. Hi Ryan,

    I think you’ve hit the nail on the head here with the concept of “context”.

    As a learner, if the scenario is relevant to me, and it represents an authentic situation I’m likely to encounter, then I’m open to exploring what the trainer has to say about the topic….if you deliver the message to me with an engaging video-based storyline, well, I couldn’t ask for more….triple threat indeed.

    Oh and btw, I love how you’ve repurposed a familiar entertainment industry concept and given it a learning context :-)

    Thanks for helping us to connect the dots here.


  2. Your post underscores the value of constructivism. Learners need to make sense of what they are being taught and context is the best way. If the scenario is “real” enough to me I’m able to link it to prior knowledge and better retain new information. I like the use of video here to further cement the transfer of knowledge. Thanks!

  3. Love this post. (Loving this whole blog actually, my first time here & what a find!)

    Sense-making > Transfer > Engagement strikes me as a crisp and effective formulation of how good learning design aligns today with good tech & good content.

    I definitely don’t have the psychology degree necessary to back up this assertion (or assumption), but my instinct is that scenario-based learning’s strength comes from the way it allows the learner to process new information holistically. By placing learning in a ‘real world’ context, critical aspects of the learner’s personality – their social and interpersonal ‘selves’ – come into play, rather than just their intellectual, cognitive-processing skills. They start to apprehend the learning as a complete person, and not a thinking-machine.

    Thanks for this post Ryan, (and apologies for the unscientific language!) – great stuff.

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