We can hardly find someone who is not fascinated by the stories. Since childhood, we share and listen to stories. That’s how all of us have grown up. “Stories are the creative conversion of life itself, into a more powerful, clearer, and more meaningful experience. They are the currency of human contact.” -Robert McKee (author of a “screenwriters’ bible called Story: Substance, Structure, Style and the Principles of Screenwriting“).
These stories have so much significance in our lives that they have always been used as a powerful medium to motivate, inspire, educate and even refresh people in the society. No doubt, eLearning professionals widely consider the use of stories in the courses to engage learners. However, the story needs to be shaped up really well so that learners can improve their learning and truly benefit from an eLearning course. These are a few guidelines that can be considered while thinking of incorporating a story in a course:
1. Make it look realistic and meaningful
When you are including any story in the course where learners expect to learn something in order to enhance their current performance in the work, you need to make the story look realistic as well as purposeful for learners. Here, the learners should feel that the story had really helped them learn valuable lessons on how one can manage their day-to-day problems or overcome different challenges in work. For this, you can make learners aware of different challenging real-work situations in your story as well as the adversities of those challenges and also the proper ways to deal with them. For example, while training your sales personnel on how to sell a product better, you can share a story where a particular sales person is shown to be struggling first and then improving and overcoming the challenges in the area of sales. Such elements in stories not only connect learners with the course but also make the story significant.
2. Make sure that key message is conveyed effectively
You are definitely not presenting story without any motive, right? And that too in a situation where some knowledge is getting imparted to make people acquire knowledge and skills! So make sure that the message you want to convey through the story is clear to learners. Here, it is important that the message of the story is relevant to the learning objectives so that the story can become useful for learners.
3. Make it short
No matter how much the story is made good, learners are sure to lose interest if it is too long. Presenting short, crisp story is always better. It can also be easily remembered.
4. Think upon the characters carefully
One of the reasons for remembering some stories that we heard during our younger age (lot of children prefer listening to stories from parents, grandparents, elders etc.) is certainly because of the characters present in those stories. Do you agree? The different characters in the story grab our complete attention towards the story, provided the characters are relevant to us and are presented in an interesting way. For example, while going through a public speaking training course, presenting a story to show how a normal person slowly improved his speaking skills and became one of the best speakers can really motivate learners to a large extent. I bet that the learners who are struggling to become good speakers can immediately connect with such a character in the story and remember the valuable lesson for their entire life.
5. Use appropriate narration
Adding narration to your story can greatly enhance the learning experience of learners. However, narration is like a separate art. It should support the story and take it to the higher level, rather sound very perfect and mechanical. As it is known that a story is bound to have various emotions, it is important that narration should convey these emotions effectively.
These are a few best practices that can be followed while using storytelling in eLearning. However, these may not be the only practices that make the story effective; there may be more to the list. What do you do to make your story engaging and interesting for learners? Please do share your views. We would really appreciate your response.