The design of eLearning is crucial to its success. Creating something that automatically adjusts according to the users’ response is one of the best ways to ensure engagement and successful learning. Complex branching scenarios do exactly this.
Most eLearning courses have a main path. With a linear eLearning course, staying on the main path is easy as the user naturally progresses from one page to the next.
With branching the user is taken off the main path as they make decisions. The branches themselves resolve on different paths. There can be multiple different correct paths or the path can just end which forces the user to restart.
Branching vs Reality
Branching is something we do every day without even realising it. Take for example a typical day. You wake up, have a wash, get changed, have breakfast and then go to work. But life as we know it isn’t always as linear as this.
So perhaps rather than waking up at your usual time your alarm doesn’t go off causing you to wake up 30 minutes later, you then decide to skip breakfast to buy some time and speed off to work. Consequently you get stopped by the Police for speeding, so rather than arriving at work 30 minutes later you end up arriving 2 hours later with 3 points on your license!
This is an extreme example but it’s probably something that many of us have experienced or can relate to at some degree.
So, how does this fit into eLearning?
As previously mentioned, eLearning is typically linear. Users progress from start to finish on a main path. The moment you start giving users choices and decisions is the moment you start to branch. Branching leads itself well to scenario based eLearning where the decisions the user makes will have an ultimate decision on the outcome. Even in traditional eLearning, branching gives the user more freedom to decide what they want to learn and when.
You can see from the diagram above that there are two possible outcomes, making it to the meeting and missing the meeting. This is a simple example of branching but with branching you can have multiple outcomes - the more outcomes you have, the more engaging and realistic your scenario will become.
One thing to note is that the development time for branching is typically longer than traditional eLearning, so it is important to consider this when working to tight deadlines.
Why use Branching?
Incorporating branching in eLearning enriches the user experience. They will naturally feel more immersed and essentially in control of their learning. Studies have shown that user satisfaction and learning objectives are achieved quicker and more positively using the method, which makes it a great solution to get the most out of your eLearning.
Want to know more about branching and how to incorporate it into your eLearning? Chat to us today for some examples on how it can benefit your people.
Phil Eagles, Senior eLearning Developer, Bray Leino Learning
In my series of blogs I’ll talk about the components of eLearning design and development.
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