Association for Learning Technology Online Newsletter
Issue 1   Friday, August 5, 2005

ISSN 1748-3603

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Scenario-based learning using PowerPoint
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Editorial Team

ALT Website
Scenario-based learning using PowerPoint
by Penny Everett

Many people do not realise that they can already use software that will enable them to offer scenario-based learning to their students. This is because not only can tools such as Microsoft PowerPoint be used as a presentation tool, they can also be used as interactive learning tools by students.

View an example of scenario-based learning
An example of scenario-based learning using Microsoft PowerPoint can be found at:

Firstly, what is Scenario-Based Learning (SBL)?
Scenario-based learning occurs by following a series of success and failure paths through a realistic situation based on achieving the main learning objective.

It is important to establish the boundaries of the scenarios. These are done using behaviour-based learning objectives as opposed to knowledge-based learning objectives.

  • Scenarios are most effective when they have a game-like appearance.
  • It accords with a performance improvement and behaviour change philosophy of the learning function.
  • Remediation (learner feedback) is essential to successful SBL.
  • SBL can:
    • Reinforce learning
    • Establish gaps in learning
    • Overcome learning blocks
    • Change behaviour
    • Prepare students for panel observation
    • Save time and/or money by replicating complex or expensive experiments.

Secondly, how can Microsoft PowerPoint be used to create Scenario-Based Learning activities?
PowerPoint can be used to create directional navigation with branching functionality by adding hyperlinked text, images or Action buttons which can link to slides, documents and URLs. In order to progress through an activity the user must click on a hyperlink or Action button. What is not included in this method is the functionality to enable automatic scoring, or the capability to see the path taken by a particular student.
Watch points:
For best results do not create more than one Master Title template or one Master Slide template for the presentation and ALWAYS work from the Master Slide when designing your presentation including selection of fonts, bullets etc.

Always use the Slide Title text box to name the slide. You can re-size it, re-position it, add background colour etc. By using the title text box the slide can be readily identified when hyperlinking to it as the title text will appear within the list of slides.

Setting up the presentation
In order for the presentation to be navigated using Action buttons and hyperlinks only, the following settings need to be made on the presentation.

Kiosk View
In order to make the PowerPoint Show take up the entire screen and to disable the [Page Up] and [Page Down] functions, the presentation needs to be browsed as a kiosk. To set this option, go to the Slide Show menu and select Set Up Show: Browsed at a Kiosk (full screen)

Note: The Kiosk view is not activated if the presentation is embedded within another presentation.

This means that the PgUp and PgDn buttons are enabled.

However, the unchecked ‘Advance Slide on mouse click’ detailed below is retained.

De-activate Mouse Click for Slide Transition

You will also need to disable the ability to move to the next slide by clicking the mouse button.
To do this, go to the Slide Show menu and choose Slide Transition.
In PowerPoint 97 and 2000 the Slide Transition window will pop-up, in later versions the Slide Transition Task Pane will appear.
Under the Advance slide heading, uncheck the box marked ‘on mouse click’.
Click the Apply to All Slides button.

Adding Hyperlinks to Text or Images
Highlight the text or image to be used to navigate to another slide, right click and select Hyperlink.

Select: Place in this Document and select relevant link.

Option: Click on Screen Tip and key-in relevant text.
This is the same as using the alternative text tag within an HTML page and will be displayed when viewed through a browser should the presentation be converted for the web. It also means that you are complying with SENDA (Special Educational Needs Disability Act) in that you are applying “reasonable adjustment” to your learning object. Unfortunately the alternative text function within PowerPoint is not displayed if you convert the presentation using Impatica (compression software to convert PowerPoint for the web).

Click on: [OK]

Adding Action Buttons
Action buttons are pre-programmed hyperlinked icons. Go to the Slide Show dropdown menu and select Action Buttons.
Note: You cannot add a Screen Tip to an Action button

Select the relevant Action button

Use the custom action button for selecting the option “End Show” if the presentation is not being saved in HTML format or being ‘Impaticised’ which would render this option obsolete. You can then add the word “Exit” to this button.
The custom action button can also be used for
[Go back] and could be made available for any incorrect decisions.
A custom action button labelled [Restart] could be the only one made available on a given slide when a decision was chosen which led to a major detrimental impact to the scenario, e.g. life or death decision in first aid.

Select relevant option to Hyperlink to, e.g. select ‘Slide’ when wishing to select a specific slide within the presentation
Then select relevant title from the list of Slide Titles
Note: The text entered in the title box of each slide is automatically displayed as the slide title.

Click on [OK] [OK]

Using photographs can make the scenario-based learning activity look as if it has been professionally produced. Using clipart can create a cartoon-style learning object which adds an element of fun to the activity. Clipart can either be obtained from the in-built clipart library that comes with Microsoft Office, or it could be obtained via the Microsoft website by selecting clipart online. The majority of clipart can be ungrouped and taken apart and edited before regrouping thereby enabling the designer to make the image more relevant to a specific topic.

Embedding fonts in your presentation
It is best to avoid using a special font for your bullets or your text which may not be available on another computer. However if you do, you should consider embedding your fonts in order to maintain the appearance of your text. To embed fonts within a presentation:

  1. Select Save As from the File menu.
  2. On the toolbar, click Tools then choose Save Options.
  3. In the pop-up window, select the Embed TrueType Fonts check box, and then choose one of the following:
    • To embed only those fonts used in the presentation, select Embed characters in use only (best for reducing file size) but then cannot be edited.
    • To embed all the characters in the font set, select Embed all characters (best for editing by others).

Note:   If you plan to have others review and edit your file, it's best to embed the full font set, however that will create a larger file.

Further reading:
Scenario-Based E-Learning: A Step Beyond Traditional E-Learning
By Randall W. Kindley

Experiential learning articles including David Kolb’s Theory

Tips for Rapid Instructional Design: Dr. Sivasailam Thiagerajan.
Penny Everett
Learning Technologies Support Officer
University College London

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