Step 1. Introduction
The power of CHALLENGE lies in the scenarios. A good scenario can challenge,
educate, inform and even entertain. Scenarios should be well-constructed, appropriate
to the audience and deal with something that is less than straightforward.
The Builder program can be used to create or modify any number of
scenarios for any number of situations.
Before constructing a scenario
in the builder, much background work needs to be done. The following text will assist you with creating and storyboarding your scenarios.
Work through them in sequence, either outlining the scenario in a word-processing
file, or creating the necessary nodes in
the Builder program as you go along. This HTML file is fairly long.
It may be worth printing it out.
Step 2. Decide on an approach
Before creating a scenario it
is important to determine just how you are going to use this program. Will
is be to facilitate discussion? Is it to guide students through a process,
or is it used to throw them in the deep end and let them make mistakes.
Does it count towards their final grades or not? What prior knowledge do the
These considerations are
important in determining the nature of the scenario written.
Step 3. Decide on a scenario
The first step in actually creating a new scenario is to decide what problem
the scenario will focus on. Normally, it should be sufficiently complex that the solution is not
obvious to the user when presented with the initial scenario information. Coming up with a good
scenario is not always easy. Think of the objectives of the exercise, then think
of a real-world problem that relates to these learning objectives.
At the tertiary level, personal experience
at solving a complex domain-specific problem is best. Also, consultants can be a good source of information. Ask them for
any novel or unusual situations they may have been involved in. Get them to
talk about it whilst you record it on tape, or note it down. Consultants are usually happy
to share this information, and can become enthusiastic when they learn that their
experiences are going to be embedded for all time in an exercise such as this!
At the secondary and primary
level, clear learning objectives are usually outlined in the curriculum. Use
these, so that any exercise clearly produces a deliverable for these objectives.
Step 4. Outline a sensible investigatory pathway
One of the first things to do is to define the
approach an experienced person would take to solving the problem. In order to peruse
the correct hypothesis, what
observations would they make, and in what order? What tests would
they use? They will form your
"must-have" observations, procedures and tests.
Whilst doing this, compile a list of important clues.
Decide how observations pointing to the correct solution (i.e. re-enforcing the
correct hypothesis) will be presented and where.
Also, recommendations as to what should be done about the problem identified need to be decided on.
Step 5. Add misleading and/or irrelevant
(but interesting) observations
The best scenarios will be ones
where students can form a number of hypotheses and be given scope to investigate
these. Red herrings and misleading clues are an integral part of the problem-solving process. These components should be included.
Somewhere along the way you will have to
include an observation or two that points to
the real problem and discounts the false leads.
Step 6. Work out the scope of the scenario
There are literally hundreds if not thousands
of irrelevant observations which can be made regarding a real-world problem.
You can't add all of these of course, but it doesn't hurt to add a few in,
especially where they will enable students to follow up on (and eventually
reject...hopefully!) a false lead. For example, a student should at least
be able to examine a few objects, even if only one or two will reveal
anything important. They should be able to make all the quick observations
you would normally be able to undertake "in real life" at least. However,
these should be in context and correct for
the domain being dealt with.
The ability to make a large number of
observations adds to the authenticity of a scenario and makes it appear more
"real" to the student working through it. Also, having extra
observations and tasks available that may not be appropriate for the problem
helps to test the student's ability to focus on what is (and what is not)
important. This mirrors more closely the reality of a true problem analysis.
Step 7. Collect the multimedia
Whilst developing a scenario, bear in mind the
availability of images, sound or video. The more illustrated you can make the problem, the
better. Scan, or collect appropriate images both for the clues and red herrings.
Step 8. Include a little humour
Do not forget to include a little humour. This
is appreciated by students and can make the whole exercise a lot more fun. One
way to do this, is to include ‘characters’ students may know, such as other
lecturers or general personnel. Try to give people in your scenarios a ‘character’, and make the
throw-away lines and viewpoints they express consistent with the persona. The
scenarios should be local if possible. The setting should places students will
recognise. All this adds to the richness and realism of the
Often it comes down to the time
it takes to build a scenario. A point to remember is that extra pieces can
always be added to the scenario later, if needed.
Step 9. Include costs
You may wish to include costs
with some or all of the procedures. These are useful, as they force students to
consider their actions. Inappropriate actions carry a financial penalty, which
appears as they are using the CHALLENGE player, and on their results file.
Step 10. Add the debriefing
It is worth dwelling on the
debriefing text for a moment. Much of this will come from the text incorporated
into the ‘clues found/not found’ boxes. However, you will need to write a
specific debriefing text for the model answer. This should be
well thought out and should discuss all
the major clues and red herrings in the exercise. Also, you will need to decide
whether instant feedback will be shown to the students or whether the
information will simply be appended to their disk file.
Step 11. Consider modifying existing scenarios
The discussion above has dealt
with the creation of new scenarios. However, modification of existing ones is a
much easier task. If an existing scenario deals with a similar problem or
domain, consider tailoring that to your requirements. After entering the scenario, it should be
carefully checked in the CHALLENGE Player. Explore all the paths you have
entered and check that everything is working properly. In
particular, test it on the machines that students are going to use. Every time
a scenario is changed, test how it looks in the CHALLENGE Player.
Step 12. Test your scenarios
The last step is to give your
scenario a test run with some willing evaluators. Older Students,
consultants and other staff members are all good candidates. They will be able
to give you feedback as to how easy or hard the exercise was, and point out any
Step 13. Consider making your scenarios
available to others
Creating a scenario takes effort.
Considering distributing your scenarios (either for sale or free) to others to
adapt for their own situations.