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Using storytelling in e-learning: An e-learning strategy

Stories are often a popular mode of learning in our formative years.  In adult learning, they can prove to be equally impactful. Stories can effectively lighten the mood, bringing relief to the monotony of learning. They can be helpful in citing examples for the learner to relate or learn from. They can also encourage the learner think about the described situation or scenario and derive their own endings. Here are a few ways that stories can be built into corporate learning – with some innovative thinking and the aid of technology to make them come alive.

  • Illustrated stories: A story can be told with the help of graphics and images – much like a comic strip. This style of storytelling brings in a light and informal aspect to learning. In the midst of heavy textual reading, the infusion of a short and crisp comic strip can bring relief and yet illustrate desired skills or behavior. This mode of storytelling can be utilized in varied trainings including sales or marketing training and soft skills courses. For instance, a sales pitch can be illustrated with a series of images and ‘balloon’ dialogue which grabs the attention of the learner very well. An illustrated story can be accompanied by audio, to make its impact stronger. For a global approach, the images and dialogue can be retained and a separate audio track can be added to give a more localized flavor.
  • Animated stories: With the advent of modern tools to create animations, 2D and 3D figures can come alive on a variety of learner devices – PCs, laptops, mobiles and tablets. Animated characters can be used to narrate a story. Animated characters can also be utilized to ‘show’ a story to the learners. Characters can be created keeping in mind the learner group and the characters they identify with. A number of topics can be broached with this approach and that’s why this type of storytelling works very well with trainings such as employee development and soft skills. For instance, an animated story can be used to create ethnic sensitivity within a global organization. The customs of the ethnic groups can be told as a story – giving the learners a clear indication how to be sensitive to the beliefs and traditions of others.
  • Open-ended stories: Stories can also be utilized to build in interactivity in e-learning courses. Stories can create a setting, introduce characters, relate the plot – but the ending can be left open-ended for the learner to ponder over. The story can be followed by an interactive exercise where the learner is asked a number of questions derived from the story and the responses are then evaluated. Not only this successfully engages the learner more, it also helps to gauge how much learning has been derived from the story. This mode of storytelling has a vast utility for a variety of trainings – sales, marketing, soft skills or trainings that seek change in prevalent behavior.
  • Game-based stories: Stories woven inside a game create a suitable context for the learner. This context is especially important for the corporate learner, who learns better by ‘doing’, if they have a clear idea of ‘why’ they are doing it. Stories can take the learner through the different interactivities of the games. They can also create a suitable backdrop for the game. As the learner progresses through the game, the story also inches towards the climax – which is attained as the learner brings the game to conclusion. This is a very interactive approach where the story and the game go hand-in-hand. The interactivity within the game can be taken up a notch by creating a story which has multiple endings – depending upon the learners’ choices within the game. This encourages the learner not only to have fun but think and decide as well during the course of the game. Storytelling within game-based learning can thus strengthen the impact of the approach by leaps and bounds.
  • Real-life stories: A story does not always have to be fictional. Current affairs or actual case-studies can also be related like a story to engage the learner. Debates and discussions can follow the story – encouraging different views on topics to converge and generate knowledge within the entire learner group.

Stories can be used in learning in a multitude of ways. For corporate learners, it not only brings in a breadth of fresh air into learning but is a powerful mode of learning in itself. For more on storytelling in e-learning, write to in**@gc**********.net

3 thoughts on “Using storytelling in e-learning: An e-learning strategy”

  1. Great article. I am creating an e-course and would like to animate it. Can you point me in the direction of animation tools for the MacBook Pro?

  2. Excellent. I fully agree with your points, but slightly differ regarding corporate training. For the trainer and students to gain something of value, the atmosphere needs to be built up. But extensive cost-cutting reduces the whole exercise to a farce. This is especially true in Indian atmosphere.

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