Case studies are widely used in higher education because they work. They allow learners to apply their knowledge to a real-life scenario. True, these learners have a smaller frame of reference. But it’s equally beneficial in corporate learning to directly identify real-world uses for new ideas. It provides essential context to the training and helps embed and retain skills. Open-ended case studies allow the employee to answer that all-important question: what would I do? This can be used as a unique and effective form of assessment. Use questions like: ‘What, Why, How, and What Next’, to help the corporate learner challenge and reflect on their new skills.
The Benefits Of Case Studies In eLearning
Case studies are useful in helping employees reflect on their decision-making skills. Whenever reasoning or a questioning attitude is required, case studies can help them relate to the content more effectively. Case studies imply that the desired behaviors have already been applied in reality. For example, the employee can ask themselves how they would respond in their own role. In situations where there is complexity or uncertainty, case studies are a useful tool for providing clarity.
Using Open-Ended Case Studies In Assessments
‘Open-ended’ basically describes any question that prompts thought, discussion and free-thinking. Using a case study in an assessment is a world away from the traditional test-based assessment: closed ‘Yes/No’ or multiple-choice answers. The question becomes: how to make these case studies accessible and engaging? And, how, subsequently, to assess the corporate learner’s response in terms of successfully understanding and adopting new behaviors?
Creating Interactive And Engaging Open-Ended Case Study Exercises
We all know how off-putting large blocks of text can be in online training. We spend multiple hours creating interactive elements to avoid just that. But, how can we insert case studies without creating a lot of text content? Follow these tips to develop open-ended case studies that serve as experience-building tools and as online training assessments.
1. Branching Scenarios
Enable the employee to make decisions as if they were directly involved in the case study. For example, help them navigate the path and give them the information they need to make an informed choice. Thus, the corporate learner can see the direct results of each decision. Also, they can see how to improve on the real-world example. For instance, how would things have turned out if they ventured down a different decision-making path? Which skills or topics do they need to brush up on to make better-informed choices or improve behaviors?
2. Emotional Connection
The key to case studies is that the learner can relate to the scenario. Use an example from a similar industry facing the same challenges. Focus on the risks involved to connect the learner emotionally to the content. Open-ended case studies as assessments must mimic real-world situations so that employees immerse themselves in the experience. As a result, they’re able to truly test how they might react on the job and learn from their mistakes.
3. Focus On Characters In Videos Or Cartoon-Style Images
Make the people believable. For instance, if you want the corporate learner to imagine themselves in this situation, make sure they respond well to the characters. Use videos or even a cartoon-style layout to avoid the overuse of text and keep the content fresh. As a result, these memorable characters can liven up case studies and improve immersion. It’s not just about the situation they find themselves in, but how they respond. For example, the open-ended case study involves a disgruntled customer and a new employee. Corporate learners must determine how they would deal with the complaint and explain their thought processes.
4. Create Simulations
Use your simulation tools to place the learner directly inside the case study, not just reading as a third person. How does their reaction impact those around them? Simulations let learners immerse themselves within a challenge and test their skills in a safe, risk-free environment. However, if blocks of text are unavoidable in a case study, back up the learner’s understanding with an infographic. Pick out the key points you want the learner to take away and display them as images, charts, or graphs.
5. Transform Studies Into Serious Games
Convert your text-based case study into a serious game that lets employees provide their own conclusion. They must navigate through every challenge to reach the next level. Every obstacle tests their ability to apply their skills and experience in a real-world context. In addition, you can also follow it up with targeted feedback and recommendations to help them improve.
Assessing Learner Comprehension Via Case Study Content
Your developers will need to create a comprehensive marking schema to cope with the complexities of a case study-based assessment. Ensure that you have an appropriate weighting for this part of the assessment, alongside any quizzes or tests you use. Next, reflect how closely the learner’s answers to open-ended questions match the reality of the case study. Understanding how successfully the learner has applied their skills to a case study scenario is a fantastic motivator.
Adding open-ended case studies to an online training module allows corporate learners to test their practical skills in a real-world scenario. Therefore, it’s essential that case studies are used as an interactive tool. Inserting large blocks of text is a crime in eLearning development! For example, use images, infographics, scenarios, and simulation tools. This ensures the message of the case study is transferred without losing the learner’s attention.
Next, let them imagine how they would behave in that same situation; thus, directly applying their knowledge to a real-world scenario. Assess their ability to practically apply their skills using an effective marking schema. For instance, you could even send out a case study exercise as a piece of microlearning. Thinking of ways to embed your content in reality? Interactive case studies are an excellent use of your development time.
Looking for ways to boost learner engagement? Read Online Training Simulation Mistakes: 6 Elements That Ruin Learner Immersion to avoid the most common pitfalls.