Scenario Based Learning and OpenLabyrinth Scenarios

Based on the principles espoused in Ruth Colvin Clark’s excellent book, we have moved away from solitary virtual patients and simple cases into a more flexible and powerful approach to learning.

Scenarios can be regarded as more complex combinations of learning experiences, tools and resources that are constructed so as to address the learners’ needs. In our context, there is a heavy online component to this but in Ruth’s book, she does also refer to scenarios that are not online. Indeed, in some of our own scenario-based learning (SBL), we often combine different modalities, some online, some face-to-face, and some that incorporate quite simple non-technical task-trainers.

Now how does this relate to OpenLabyrinth Scenarios? Well in two ways. You may have noticed that we have shifted the overall emphasis in OpenLabyrinth away from from virtual patients to virtual scenarios. Part of this is to shift the focus away from just medicine. Although OpenLabyrinth could always handle non-medical cases and algorithms, the name “virtual patients” still brings medicine back to the fore.

We have also created an object in OpenLabyrinth called a Scenario, to further promote this shift in thinking. A Scenario can be thought of as a basket which holds together one or more cases, along with a group of learners. In some ways it is like a Collection, but a Collection is just a set of cases, grouped under a common name for convenience. A Collection of cases is not functionally linked together. However, a Scenario has more to it – it can be used to connect cases together so that a Scenario Director can control where the user goes next, the order in which to play cases, holding points to keep a group of users together when playing a series of cases.

A Scenario also provides control over which users can play a case and when. This can be quite useful when setting up tests or exams. It provides the Scenario Director with a bit more control over what user Groups can do. It also allows the Scenario Designer to inject other activities into an SBL design, such as working with mannequins or standardized patients.

The third major function of a Scenario is that you can then also compare performance of a group of users in various types of Scenario Report. This is more powerful than a Session Report, which only looks at one user at a time, and one attempt at a time.

We particularly make use of Scenarios when we are conducting Script Concordance Testing (SCT) or Situational Judgement Testing (SJT) exams. Both SCT and SJT require comparison of the test group with a reference group or group of experts. The Scenario Reports have been designed to allow comparison of such groups.