Training with Branching Scenarios

How do you use branching scenarios in instructor-led training, rather than self-paced elearning? I think there are a couple of possibilities for doing live training with branching scenarios. These could work for either classroom-based training or vILT (virtual instructor-led training). For example, you can use branching scenarios in training as a full group with discussion or polls, in small groups, or outside of class as a discussion prompt.

Full group discussions

One way to use a branching scenario in live training is to post the scenario and facilitate a discussion with the entire class. Let the full group of participants discuss the pros and cons of different decisions. Working together, help them come to a consensus about which choice to select for each decision point. This would be effective with smaller training classes and with topics where one of the goals of training is to share and reflect on different approaches to situations.


Another option is to use polls to ask your audience what choice to select. This would be especially effective for very large training audiences, where a discussion would be too unwieldy.

In virtual training, most platforms like Zoom, Teams, and Adobe Connect have polling features built in.

For classroom training, you can use a live poll tool like Mentimeter or Slido. These tools let participants respond to a poll using their phones or other devices. Then, you can show the results to the class. They work well for virtual training as well, especially if the built-in tools have limitations.

If I were using polling for a branching scenario, my process would look like this:

  1. Share the scenario and choices, giving people enough time to read and briefly reflect.
  2. Post the poll and ask participants to make a choice.
  3. Review the results.
  4. If there’s a strong consensus, probably continue the scenario with that choice without further discussion.
  5. If there’s a split in which choice to make, ask a few people to share why they made each choice.
  6. Choose one option and continue with the scenario.
  7. Repeat the process for each decision point.

Small group discussions

Another option is to divide participants into small groups. Have each group work through the scenario together. Groups should come to a consensus on decisions. Then, after each group finishes the scenario, ask them to share with the entire class what choices they made, what outcome they reached, and what they learned.

You could give participants enough time to play the entire scenario more than once to allow them to see the effects of different choices, either before or after the whole group discussion.

Outside of class assignments

Branching scenarios would also be a good choice for assignments completed outside of class. While it can be challenging to get people to complete prework before a training session, a branching scenario would make an interesting assignment. People could complete the scenario before class, and then spend class time discussing.

Branching scenarios could also be individual assignments for between sessions.

In a blended learning program, you could try using branching scenarios as individual self-paced assignments, and then use the live time (classroom or virtual) to reflect and discuss the scenarios.

Your experience training with branching scenarios?

Have you done any live training with branching scenarios, either in a classroom or virtual environment? How have you incorporated branching scenarios in your training?

More on scenarios

Looking for more reading? Check out all of my posts on scenarios and storytelling.

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