Where I Am Going With This Chosen Topic?

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If There Is a Fork In The Road, Can I Help The Hungry?

“Fork In The Road” by Ian Sane is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The technology chosen by my team is H5P branching scenarios. At the heart of this technology, we see scenario-based learning (SBL). On her blog, Kokoulina (2019) defines SBL as, “… an immersive training environment where learners meet realistic work challenges and get realistic feedback as they progress since everything that happens reflects the learner’s choices”. I would venture to add, that the word ‘work’ could be replaced with other verbs such as life, worldly or personal and cover a broader range of learning parameters.

For me, branching scenarios and at a deeper level, SBL offer a tool to explore a digital technology to reach online learners. My focus is to bring a realistic, empathy-based, digitally embedded tool into online courses for secondary students who struggle with anxiety and depression. Can branching scenarios be that tool? Is there a place for scenario-based learning in mental health literacy for youth?

The literature is heavily weighted in healthcare usage of simulation teaching (Al-Elq, A. H.,2010). However, it was becoming clear as our team navigated the research, more and more work is being done with branching scenario technology outside of healthcare. Not just in terms of how to make it cheaper and easier to use (Bell et al., 2008), but how it works within learning frameworks (Battista, 2017) and how the brain responds to learning through simulations (Cardoza, 2011). Scenario-based learning is a fascinating field; I can already see the myriad of potentials and pitfalls and look forward to exploring them in greater detail in the coming weeks.

Useful links






Al-Elq, A. H. (2010). Simulation-based medical teaching and learning. Journal of family & community medicine, 17(1), 35-40. doi:10.4103/1319-1683.68787

Battista, A. (2017). An activity theory perspective of how scenario-based simulations support learning: a descriptive analysis. Advances in Simulation, 2(1), 23. doi:10.1186/s41077-017-0055-0

Bell, B. S., Kanar, A. M., & Kozlowski, S. W. J. (2008). Current issues and future directions in simulation-based training in North America. International Journal of Human Resource Management19(8), 1416–1434. https://doi.org/10.1080/09585190802200173

Cardoza, M. P. (2011). Neuroscience and Simulation: An Evolving Theory of Brain-Based Education. Clinical Simulation in Nursing, 7(6), e205-e208. doi:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ecns.2011.08.004

Kokoulina, O. (2019). Beginner’s guide to scenario-based learning, eLearning blog; Retrieved on April 15, 2021, from: https://www.ispringsolutions.com/blog/scenario-based-learning


6 thoughts on “Where I Am Going With This Chosen Topic?”

  1. Hi Sandra,

    You have chosen a very interesting, yet challenging topic for your critical inquiry. I commend your bravery to explore whether technology can positively impact depression and anxiety in adolescence.
    I’ve worked with tens, if not hundreds of youth throughout my career, many of whom suffer(ed) from anxiety and depression to a certain degree. After reading your post, my attention immediately shifts to one question: “can technology really get a depressed teenager out of bed?”. Motivation, leadership, inspiration, education, challenges, etc., all play a pivotal role in helping teens through depression, stress, and anxiety, so I wonder what specific characteristics of SBL will enable effective intervention? The field of therapeutic recreation and leisure may be a good place to poke around for ideas.

    I remember one instance where I mentored a terrifically gifted, yet socially angst young lady who could barely get out of bed to face the world most days. She was able to attend my classes not just because she felt safe and welcome in the learning community but also felt motivated by the appropriate level of the challenge my course presented. For students who suffer from anxiety and depression, there is a fine line between a healthy challenge and an overwhelming burden – it’s all in the learning design; therefore, I wonder what the literature says about pedagogical best practices for SBL? What scenarios might be helpful for such developmental issues? And how do you find a balance between engaging/motivating and overwhelming?

    Good luck with your lit review!

  2. Thank you for your comment, Jonathan.

    I do know that the online world is a complex trigger for anxiety and depression in youth. I am hoping in the years to come, folks like us can find a way through that. With scenario-based learning and technology like branching scenarios, I think the tools of therapy like role-playing through difficult situations, and anxiety-provoking thought patterns may hold some light at the end of the tunnel for some youth. For the present, I am interested in learned, branching scenarios for calming the body and mind that could be embedded into coursework that these youth are already enrolled in as a part of completing their dogwood diplomas. So far, not a lot of research out there!

    1. Excellent research theme, Sandra. I wonder if the dearth of research is due to limited forward-looking researchers in this field of study, or if there are other reasons limiting this investigation? Nonetheless, I eagerly await your applied research project findings!

  3. Sandra, this is moving into interesting and complex territory, and I’m glad to see you’re making an effort to explore it. I had never thought of branching scenarios as something that could be used to include an affective domain but now I’m intrigued not only on how one might design it, but also on how it can be placed within a larger setting of care.

    1. Irwin,
      I agree, it is complex. Hearing Christy Boyce the other evening speaking about using simulations for skills practice with nurses, which in turn negated the overwhelming self-doubt before re-certifying was a promising look into how simulations can work toward not only practical skill-building, but emotional skills as well.

  4. Hi Sandra, just came across your blog through Google! I’m a learning designer specialised in scenario-based learning and have done quite a bit of work for healthcare. I’m currently doing PhD research into game writing techniques to improve the engagement of scenario-based learning approaches in healthcare. You will find that serious games venture more and more into mental health (both in representation and in help). Happy to discuss this further if you want, but here are already some links to look into: https://ithrivegames.org/ and https://kognito.com/

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