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What are branching scenarios?
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What are branching scenarios, and why use them?

A headshot of Elaine Keep
Elaine Keep
15th February, 2024
9 min read
A signpost with signs pointing in three directions
A headshot of Elaine Keep
Elaine Keep
15th February, 2024
9 min read
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What are branching scenarios?
Benefits of branching scenarios
Where to use branching scenarios
Creating engaging learning experiences
Case studies and success stories
What outcomes can you expect?

Branching scenarios take the thrill of a 'choose your own adventure' and apply it to your course, business training, or new project.

In a world where most training experiences are one size fits all or uninspiring, branching scenarios offer personalised, active learning content, allowing users to consider scenarios they'll likely encounter in a safe, virtual world in order to gain confidence before they experience it in real life. It's a win-win.

Already in the know and want to get started with branching scenarios? Explore Guided Pathways for Confluence, the simple way to structure, and organise all your content in one place!

What are branching scenarios?

Simply put, branching scenarios are interactive learning experiences that give users a series of decision points, where their choices dictate the outcome of the scenario. They’re commonly used in e-learning, training simulations, and interactive fiction.

With branching scenarios, users can roleplay the effects of making decisions in a safe training space. Branching scenarios create simulation-based learning unique to almost any environment where decision-making or situation-management skills will be required.
A flowchart showing branching decisions, with one route and outcome highlighted
In branching scenarios, a user's decisions directly influences the outcome

The benefits of using branching scenarios

Branching scenarios help sharpen the critical thinking required for real-world situations. Because the learning path is tailored to individuals, practical relevant knowledge can be gained without on-the-job experience (which is perfect for high-risk environments).

And the benefits continue after the 'quiz’ element has passed. In fact, whole knowledge bases can be organised around branching scenarios to deliver the right information exactly when it's needed - such as during onboarding, making branching scenarios an incredibly effective learning tool.

Where to start using branching scenarios

There are many use cases for branching scenarios - here are just a few ways you can them work for you.


From classrooms to lecture halls, branching scenarios are transforming traditional teaching methods, making learning more immersive and personalised. The 'why' of learning matters, and with branching scenarios, it's possible to show students the importance of solving a problem in one particular way, helping to get all students on a level playing field.

Corporate Training:

Branching scenarios are often used in corporate settings, where they are increasingly employed for skills development, onboarding, and decision-making training. Branching can be used to model a sales scenario or how to engage with an angry customer.

Healthcare and Simulation:

Even in a high-stakes environment, branching scenarios can upskill and that's why everyone from astronauts to surgeons are getting involved with branching simulation scenarios. The latest models can even use evidence-based guidelines, telehealth, medication information resources, and electronic medical records to help guide decisions.

Creating engaging learning experiences with branching scenarios

Branching scenarios foster learner engagement but only if the pathway is highly personalised. A simple question, such as, 'If a customer wishes to cancel a contract, what do you do?' - could have two incorrect next steps,  and one correct one. If the learner picks an incorrect move, they should get feedback on the consequences, and then be offered a brand new question related to this issue. When they get answers right, they should also be able to access relevant supporting material. This is known as ‘divergent branching design', where each stem divides into new pathways and doesn't return. A bit like real life, (as much as we would all love a checkpoint to respawn to now and again!).

This approach is a time investment, but allows you to create branching scenarios as part of a learner experience with clear links between steps, meaning crystal clear understanding and no missed information.

If you create or manage documentation, using branching scenarios will allow you to organise your content so users never get lost and can drive those great behaviours through to real-life situations.

(Don't forget you need content that is visually engaging and meaningful. Are your branching scenarios interactive? Are they adaptive or do they feel static? The right scenario-based e-learning design should closely mimic reality. Don't scrimp on this stage!)

Case studies and success stories

There are many successful implementations of branching scenarios. A chronic illness branching simulation has been shown to provide ‘an excellent opportunity to train students…that supports rapid, real-time decision-making in emergency situations that will positively influence patient outcomes.’

NASA uses branching simulation
and states that it offers several benefits "particularly the introduction of feedback and reinforcement….individualised instruction, potentially saving time, money and effort among the higher ability trainees."

Virtual reality integration, artificial intelligence enhancements, and adaptive learning technologies will all play a significant part in the development of what branching scenarios look like in the near future, but you don't have to be a national space agency to get involved. Branching can get any student or team member ready for what's ahead.

What outcomes can you expect?

Whether you're off to space or have more modest goals, you should definitely expect increased learner retention, as well as overall engagement with your programme vs more static approaches to learning.

After a few rounds of branching scenarios, users should show improved decision-making skills and should have a good basic understanding of the material that has been provided. The results should be evident, and exciting!

Introducing Guided Pathways

Want to get started with some branching scenarios in Confluence? Now you can. Guided Pathways makes it easy to build effortless user journeys with consistency across all pages, promoting usability and removing friction. With Guided Pathways you can create, structure, and organise content in one place.

Guided Pathways is the perfect tool for creating a variety of guides, journeys, and multi-step procedures, including:
  • Troubleshooting guides and decision support systems,
  • Sales enablement and call centre scripts,
  • Employee/customer onboarding,
  • Escalation and disaster recovery policies,
  • ITSM runbooks, and
  • Any other use case that needs multiple linked Confluence pages!
Get the structure you need with Guided Pathways, and bring all your content guides together in one easy-to-navigate view. You can spot knowledge gaps and stay on top of changes, helping you develop exciting learning experiences with ease.

Experience Guided Pathways today for free

Finally, you can bring interactive guides and branching scenarios to your Confluence instance. Start creating your own today.
Written by
A headshot of Elaine Keep
Elaine Keep
Content Writer
Elaine has established herself as a respected authority in the HR industry and uses her experience gained as the head of marketing in the employee rewards and recognition software sector to inform her reporting.