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Making the Best Use of Storytelling as an Instructional Strategy

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Making the Best Use of Storytelling as an Instructional Strategy

Do you wish to build an online course that captivates your learners? Are you looking for ways to ensure high levels of learner engagement? Well, you need to employ a time-tested instructional strategy – storytelling.

Research conducted by Clandinin and Connelly et al. have shown stories are ideal instructional tools as they facilitate effective learning by helping create meaningful links between theory and practice and enable people reflect on their learning. Storytelling is very useful to train learners on facts and principles.

OK. How to come up with a good learning story?

You need to focus on five key aspects to make up a good story for training your staff members.

  • Create realistic characters your people can relate to
  • Come up with the right context for your learning story
  • See that the story presents a challenge to the learner
  • Present various alternatives to overcome the challenge
  • Explain what the right solution is and why

1. Create realistic characters your people can relate to

Proper “molding” of characters goes a long way in enhancing the effectiveness of a story. You need to ensure your story contains characters your people can relate to work. For instance, if your target audience is your sales folk, you can include characters such as a salesman and a customer.

2. Come up with the right context for your learning story

It is very important to come up with the right context to tell a good learning story. The context of the story plays a key role in explaining “the background” of the problem your course intends to help resolve. Staying with the above example, you can create a context where a new product has been launched and salesmen are assigned quotas for it.

3. See that the story presents a challenge to the learner

This is a key element in the construction of a good story for instructional purposes. See that the story throws a challenge (the problem you wish to help resolve) at your people.For example, a customer is objecting to buy your product, citing cheaper alternatives.

4. Present various alternatives to overcome the challenge

You need to remember that one of the main objectives of using storytelling as an instructional strategy is to make learners think. Present various alternatives for resolving the problem. This makes the learner ponder about the best possible solution.You can present 3 alternatives to the problem mentioned above:

  1. Highlight the superior features of the product vis-à-vis those of competitors
  2. Offer additional services (such as free maintenance) at no extra cost
  3. “Agree” with the customer and sell the product at a price lower than that offered by competitors

5. Explain what the right solution is and why

This is arguably the most important component of a story told for training purposes. You need to tell the learner what the best solution is and how it resolves the problem. It is also important to explain why the other options provided to the learner don’t provide an effective solution to the problem. For instance, agreeing to sell the product at a price lower than that offered by the competitor could reduce the profit margin considerably. Similarly, if the rep offers additional services at no charge, it could lead to a loss of revenue to the company. On the other hand, if the sales person convinces the prospect that the product offers better value, by highlighting the superior features of the product vis-à-vis those of competitors, the expected profit margin can be achieved.

Let us now look at some hurdles in using stories for training.

Problems in coming up with a good instructional story

A key challenge in using storytelling as an instructional strategy is coming up with a good plot. The plot of your story needs to be realistic and have a “smooth flow”. But, the biggest problem is ensuring the story conveys the intended message effectively in a short span. A study by Microsoft revealed most new age learners have attention spans of just 8 seconds (smaller than a Goldfish that can remain focused for 9 seconds).

Stories are very useful to impart training in an engaging manner. They go a long way in teaching facts and principles effectively. To use storytelling effectively as an instructional tool, you need to come up with realistic characters your people can relate to. It is important to create the right context for the learning story. You need to present the learner a challenge and various options to overcome it. Finally, the story must reveal how the problem can be resolved. Hope you liked this post. How do you use storytelling as an instructional strategy? We’d love to know.

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