How To Weave Storytelling In eLearning

3 Tips To Weave Storytelling In eLearning Modules

Mark Van Doren said “The art of teaching is the art of assisting discovery”… and what better way

Mark Van Doren said “The art of teaching is the art of assisting discovery”… and what better way to assist discovery than to tell a story? For the longest time we, both young and old, have been enamored by the power of storytelling. How about online learning? Here are 3 tips on how to weave storytelling in eLearning and offer your learners a context which makes your modules relevant to them.

How To Weave Storytelling In eLearning 

From the first cave painting, storytelling has been a key method in how we learn. It’s fair to say that evolution has wired our brain for storytelling. When we were kids we were told stories to not only keep our busy minds occupied, but also to instill moral values… After all, stories have the power to make anything fun and memorable. However, as we entered into the hallowed portals of formal education, stories got replaced with section after section of droning text. Imagine how much more interesting a history lesson would be had they been narrated more as stories of adventures. Stories have the unique capability of drawing in the audience and engaging them with the content…and when you are engaged, you learn better and retain better. In eLearning too, storytelling can be used as a powerful tool to flesh out content and give the learners a context which makes the learning module relevant to them. At the same time, eLearning providers have to ensure that that they take a strategic approach and seamlessly weave storytelling in eLearning modules to deliver a memorable learning experience.

1. Identify The Audience

The first step towards integrating storytelling in eLearning starts with identifying your target audience. What works with one group might not resonate with the other. So it becomes essential to dig a little deep and learn about your learning audience so that you can effectively weave in their reality with the context of the story using situations, jargons used among them etc. This exercise makes the eLearning module more relatable and relevant and provides context to the course.

2. Flesh Out The Story

Having identified your target audience, you now need to head to the storyboard. At this stage, you need to map out the entire eLearning program to identify areas where you can include story points and understand how and where you would want the learners to interact with the said scenario. By integrating real-life problems of the learners in the eLearning module, you are also giving them the opportunity to see and learn the necessary skill sets they will need in the real world. So, to design an effective plan you will need to focus on:

  • The setting.
    This is the place where the story will unfold.
  • The characters. 
  • The event.
    This is the main problem area that your course will try to solve.
  • The body.
    This will define the elements that connect the different story points and carry the lesson forward.
  • The climax.
    The section that explains the results of actions versus the consequence.
  • The conclusion.
    The end point that drives home the lesson summary.

Developing a storyboard helps eLearning developers stay focused, on track and on topic. At this stage, you also need to identify the conversation tone for your learning module. Instead of opting for a formal narrative, keeping the style conversational helps in building engagement.

3. Decide The Approach

You can weave storytelling in eLearning modules in several ways. Using elements of surprise, suspense, and humor works well when you want to retain a learner’s attention, especially when the topic of discussion is less than interesting. You can incorporate storytelling elements via comic strips, interactive timelines, videos, audio narratives, and even interactive timelines to communicate a series of events. At the same time, you need to make sure that the story elements enhance the learning module, integrate with the core message flawlessly, and do not distract from the core subject matter. The multimedia elements employed during storytelling in the module also have to work towards reducing the cognitive load of the learner. Using irrelevant elements to make the content unique or to provide entertainment will take away the element of clarity, which is crucial to design memorable learning experiences.

Stories are everywhere…In our everyday lives, history, myths, legends, movies, etc. and come in many different forms. But in order to use them effectively, it’s essential to choose your stories well and tell them in a compelling manner to provide a memorable learning experience. Finally, to tell a great story and to make it stick, just keep it simple.

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