The Coining of a Term: Scenarification


Over the past year, I've been tempted, time and time again, to use two words that don't exist: scenarify and scenarification. Yes, they look strange, but they are the "scenario" equivalents to gamify and gamification. When spell-check first started telling me that they weren't actually words, I turned to Google. Four hits for scenarify and two for scenarification. Great. With spell-check and Google working against me, I decidedly backspaced in favor of less concise alternatives.

Until I decided to be bold with a potential client, that is. She wanted to make a series of soft skills courses more interactive. I reviewed the material, and it consisted of bland videos and text telling the learner how to communicate well and work better on a team. My proposal? "Scenarify" everything. Rather than telling the learner how to be a good team member, allow them to choose their role on the team. After that, present them with different situations and let them decide how to respond. Queue the branching scenario.

Without going too far into detail on the specific scenario that I proposed, I did suggest that we "scenarify everything" and gave her a brief definition of the word. It felt way better (and was much more concise) than proposing to "implement scenario-based learning solutions" or "make the experience scenario-based." If we can gamify learning experiences, it only feels right to say that we can scenarify them as well.

For me, this is about more than the term. Yes, I think that having a verb for "making something secnario-based" is useful for talking about the type of work that we can do, but I also love crafting these types of experiences. In most of my personal projects (and when possible in my professional ones), I aim to thread all of the content through an overarching scenario.

For example, instead of just telling the learner what a vegan is, I invite them to help the host shop for a vegan dinner party. Rather than explain to the learner how to conduct a needs assessment, I present them with a performance problem and ask them to help analyze it. I know that when I am learning something new, I am infinitely more engaged if I am immersed in the experience and feel a sense of purpose. This leaks over into the learning experiences that I design, as I am always tempted to scenarify them.

With that being said, I'm hoping that by blogging about this topic, I can increase my visibility and gain some credibility with scenarification. Since it's one of my strengths and I love doing it, it seems like a perfect subject to write articles about.

So, here I am, standing by my decision to use a word that returns 2 hits on Google. I wrote my first eLearning Industry article last week: "3 Innovate Ways to Use VR for eLearning." And, of course, one of those ways is scenarification. I am also going to start working on my next eLearning Industry article: "The Art of Scenarification." In this piece I will define the terms more clearly and list some strategies for scenarifying learning experiences.

In all, this feels like a strong start to 2018. Since one of my main goals for this year is to increase my visibility, I'im imagining that blogging about this topic will help me do so. Worst case scenario, the eLearning industry tears me apart for trying to coin a new term (especially if they deem it unnecessary). . . but no press is bad press, right?