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published: March 2004
analytic scripts updated:
November 7, 2010

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0  License

Developing Goal-Based Scenarios for the Web
Steven Allison-Bunnell, Educational Web Adventures LLP, USA
David Schaller, Educational Web Adventures LLP, USA

Workshop: Goal-Based Scenarios

Developing effective learning activities for the World Wide Web requires an understanding of both learning theories and what appeals to today's learners. Research indicates that active learning modes are most effective, but learners accustomed to commercial media and video games prefer passive entertainment experiences rather than more demanding interactive experiences. A format that attempts to bridge this gap is the goal-based scenario, which engages learners by providing a structured environment with a clear and appealing goal. Goal-based scenarios provide both the intrinsic motivation and the context for learning. They involve assuming a role or persona, exploring an information space, and solving a mystery or puzzle.

The workshop will begin with a discussion of learning theories, learning styles and goal-based scenarios. We will present an Information Architecture planning process for goal-based scenarios to help structure the development cycle from concept to implementation. Participants will then divide into small groups to develop the plan for a web site or activity from initial idea to the outline stage. While we will consider some technical features and limitations of the Web, this workshop will not teach technical skills such as HTML or graphics. Rather, we'll focus on the creative process of creating a great online learning experience.


1. Discuss the goals of online learning activities: What are they trying to accomplish? Review theories of learning and pedagogy (constructivism, learning styles, etc.) and compare them to recent user studies. Discuss strengths and weaknesses of goal-based scenarios in the context of education and Web media.

2. Examine the content development process. Introduce Information Architecture process and checklist. How do you design an active learning Web activity? How can you create an open-ended experience while providing the guidance and context that leisure learners desire? How can you engage multiple learning styles?

3. In small groups, take an idea for a Web activity and use the first stages of the Information Architecture checklist to brainstorm concepts for a goal-based scenario. Discuss ways to create active learning experiences that take advantage of Web media.

4. Return to large group for presentation and discussion of small group concepts.