Storytelling is crucial for training oneself or others. While I intend to talk about informal learning that we indulge in, online, I don’t disregard formal eLearning or training here. We’ve been a part of stories of others, shared our own stories, whether verbally or virtually (now especially through Facebook we sort of have it in our faces) and somewhere we do love listening to, or reading or watching stories. Fact of the matter, who doesn’t love a good story and better, one which translates to an excellent learning experience?
One of my favorite stories of all times is Breakfast At Tiffany’s and there is an important scene in the book/movie, of which I often speak of, whether in my ID meetings or in sales training content (when allowed). It is as seen in this video. I will talk about it at the end as well.
I love digital storytelling for my informal learning as much as I love it for everyday life, there is so much to learn from it. Give me an interesting story and I’m hooked! Give me a boring fact-text-based-information through drab PowerPoint and you’ve killed me and my interest. This is largely the case with everyone especially millennials, trust me I can say that cause I am one. I even wrote a whole article on grabbing the attention of millennials on my article – Give them what they want – which ATD’s TD Magazine published for their May edition.
Storytelling can not only enable a better learning environment but also result in a cohesive organizational culture. Storytelling is important in (e)learning because it:
- Activates brain function: Well who doesn’t love a good story? Whether it is a novel, a prose, friend’s anecdote, movie or just a blog or vlog? We’re more engaged when we hear a narratives. “Death by PowerPoint” wasn’t just framed just like that. It is just that telling only, doesn’t engage anyone. It’s in fact quite simple that this technique gives learners multiple points of entry into the content. The learners can actively participate because every story or narrative, can be made and presented in a unique and memorable manner. Narratives also get registered in the memory faster than simple facts, figures and information.
- Engages the learners through relateable experiences: Almost every adult human being learns better through experiential training, which can only be made possible with the help of narratives on relatable experiences. Characters, events and situations should be communicated through simple conversations. Obviously, the story-line needs to be made relevant to the overall learning goal. While you can always include a bit of humor or lighthearted conversation between characters in your story, to make it more realistic, it’s always wise to ensure that you stay on-topic.
- Is interactive: Storytelling can be especially really interactive whether face to face or online. Even if it is not a technically interactive elearning module, storytelling can be made interactive through nuanced reflective questions pointed at the audience. Learners can click on, to access the next part of the story, or decide along the way what choices they need to make regarding their learning outcome. This can help learners to see the consequences of their choices, and to determine the best problem solving approach. Storytelling as an interactive method can be more time consuming, however, it can significantly enhance the learners’ experience and even make the eLearning more engaging, effective, and memorable.
- Works cross-culturally: Even in my article – Achieving cohesive organizational culture – I’ve stated the importance of storytelling across cultures and organizations. All cultures love a good story. People and organizations have had great successes with storytelling when narratives are constructed with clarity and context is given importance. In storytelling, especially in a culturally fixated environment, it is important to run through the context before adopting storytelling. While storytelling can be made extremely interesting, and is appreciated everywhere, it can also backfire if not used in the correct context.
- Is flexible: Storytelling is a technique, which can be adapted and adopted into any genre or any kind of workplace training or even k-12 education. For instance the Breakfast at Tiffany’s example is really important to a sales training context and can immediately grab the learners interest.imagine if you present that example to a sales rep, they learn a lot regarding courteous customer service.
I am an instructional designer who loves creating learning content through storytelling techniques. You could check out few of my projects created with the help of storytelling, on my ISD portfolio.
Now share with me, how do you incorporate storytelling and why in your training or learning? Share it in comments below!
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