Branching is one of DecisionSim’s greatest capabilities because it enables us to create simulations that mimic real-world scenarios. Branching enables the simulation to be:

  • Interactive – immersing learners in the context of an authentic story, allowing them to make decisions and see the results of those decisions
  • Immersive – enabling authors to build engaging stories through use of video, imagery and audio, creating an emotional connection for the learner
  • Intelligent - collecting data from learner decisions, provide real-time results (scores, metrics, time), and performance analysis.
Many of our authors want to add branching to take advantage of this value and therefore, we are often asked: “How and when should we use branching in a simulation?” Here are some tips:

Put yourself in the learner’s shoes. Effective branching makes your simulation more interesting and engages your learners by giving them control as they interact and make decisions. Simulations that are too linear can decrease learner motivation, engagement and the effectiveness of the learning.

Branch around your primary learning objectives. Typically, the most critical decisions you want the learner to make are around your primary learning objectives. To determine what the branches you should add to your story, ask yourself two questions.

  • What is the “fairy tale,” i.e., the best possible decisions and outcomes that could be made in my story?
  • What are the “horror stories”, the worst-case scenarios that could happen in my story?
Remember, sometimes the simplest solution is the best solution. The simplest form of branching in DecisionSim is to use a branching node (screen), which allows learners to select one choice that advances them down a unique path. You can see basic branching on the Case Map, indicated by the arrows connecting the nodes.

However, sometimes real-world scenarios are more complex. To implement more advanced branching, you apply rules and/or counters to a node. Some examples of advanced branching include:

  • Requiring learners to select a certain number of choices on a branching node or inquiry node
  • Forcing learners to make at least one selection on a branching node or inquiry node
  • Using the choices selected on an Inquiry node to branch down different paths
  • Interrupting a learner who is making too many selections on an Inquiry node
  • Limiting the number of choices a learner can make on a node
Strike a balance between creating the real world situation and the complexity of the simulation. If a simulation has too much branching, it may be highly complex. This complexity can make the simulation more difficult to create and may confuse learners.

If you are having difficulty implementing branching, or with rules and counters, contact us at support@decisionsimulation.com. Describe what you are trying to do in your simulation and we can help you determine how to do it!

To see examples of branching in DecisionSim, login to the application and search “branching” in the Case Library. You will see a list of branching tools created by our Instructional Designers in the Templates list. You can clone these cases to see how they operate. Our Help Center has instructions on this: https://decisionsimulation.zendesk.com/hc/en-us/articles/202810585-Implementing-Branching-in-Your-Simulation