Increase the impact of your learning content with branching scenarios

Girl climbs tree, decides next branch to climb

Chris takes a look at branching scenarios: what they are, why and when to use them and how they can increase the impact of your learning content.

What are branching scenarios?

Even if you’re not familiar with the term “branching scenarios”, you could probably hazard a guess at its meaning.

Imagine climbing a tree. As you ascend, there are branches off to either side. You can decide which to choose in your quest to reach the top. Choose the right one and you’ll have a platform to continue your climb. Choose the wrong one and it might mean returning to earth with a bump. Two very different scenarios.

This example is obviously painfully literal, as well as literally painful. Hopefully, though, it’s easy enough to transpose into an immersive learning context. Put simply, branching scenarios offer a way for users to navigate interactive content proactively.

Why use branching scenarios

Branching scenarios give the learner the chance to make decisions themselves, rather than having the correct option spoon fed to them. There are clear, usually immediate, consequences to these decisions. This is a crucial part of immersive learning.

Man considers two branching options

In many organisations, replicating real-life situations would prove difficult with traditional learning methods. A textbook can’t give someone ten seconds to decide on a lifesaving medical intervention. A classroom lecture can’t recreate the pressures of a hostage situation. These different experiences can now be replicated much more closely, yet in a risk-free environment.

There are myriad examples in which learning can be made more immediate using branching scenarios. More recently, the advent of virtual reality branching scenarios has taken interactive video for learning to new levels.

Increased motivation in learners, through gamification, storytelling and realistic decision making, leads to accelerated expertise.

When to use branching scenarios

Branching scenarios can be adapted to virtually any situation. Near-Life’s own state of the art software has been used to facilitate learning in all kinds of organisations.

Cardiac Arrest Branching Scenario Learner Options

We’ve mentioned medical and hostile environment learning examples already. These are just two arenas we’ve been involved with recently.

For example, as part of wider immersive learning initiatives, our software has been used to assist medical students. In highly stressful arenas, such as a resuscitation room, it’s vital that the right decisions are made, and made quickly. Choosing between options A, B and C with seconds to decide certainly focusses the mind.

How to use them effectively

But it’s important to use any branching aspect of interactive learning in the right way. As with anything else, overuse can diminish their effectiveness. Used sparingly, in a targeted way, they can really hit home.

And, of course, decisions aren’t made only in high-pressure environments. Sometimes it might be a case of using branching scenarios simply to deliver the right type of information, as opposed to a right or wrong answer.

Take a look at our project with the recruitment team at global property consultancy, Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL). They use branching scenarios to provide the most accurate information to potential employees. For example, identifying a future applicant’s educational status by giving them three options. This allows an active engagement with the business and feels like a more personalised approach for the user. Check it out here

Interactive content is undoubtedly enhanced by the presence of branching videos. Their application, alongside other immersive learning initiatives, means we’re closer than ever to replicating real life. In fact, you might even say we’re…Near-Life.

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