We have been using the power of stories in professional learning for several years now.

I am going to share a case study that highlights how we effectively converted face-to-face Instructor-Led Training (ILT) to online training learning using storytorial as our learning strategy. What is really interesting is that the aimed business gain that was evading us during the ILT training was met after we made this story based online conversion.

ILT to Effective Online Conversion using Storytorials

Background

In India, we still do not have adequate colleges that can provide instructional design talent. As a result, in CY’11, we had created an extensive training program on Writing Effective Storyboards (ILT based) to train new team members.

Challenges

The talent came from diverse backgrounds (i.e. journalism, technical writing, engineering and mass-communication). They needed to be trained ground up on the entire process, tips and best practices.

We also had seasoned Instructional Designers who needed a quick overview of our methodology to align their prior experience to the specifics of our approach.

To cater to the varied learner profiles as well as different proficiency levels, we created an ILT program. This was designed for six hours of face-to-face training followed by assignments.

Results from our learners’ points of view were rather mixed.

  1. Freshers certainly responded better to the program but we saw a marked inability to apply all aspects of the learning at work.
  2. Seasoned team members felt a lot of information was redundant and had to spend considerable time mapping what changes they should make to align to our mandate.

As head of our learning practice, I found that the desired impact on business (to generate consistent quality in a short time frame) was still evading us.

Our first approach

Our first attempt to convert the ILT material to eLearning had moderate success.

It gave our fresher learners far more flexibility to review the material at their own pace and gave them an easy-to-use reference (guidelines, tips and best practices, etc.) once they were on a project.

From a business perspective, we now had a much easier process of updating and dissemination.

However, the learning experience for seasoned professionals was not engaging enough. The reason was that the learning path still covered all aspects fairly linearly (as in ILT material) and they still needed to delve into everything to pick and select the pieces they needed.

Our revised approach featuring storytorial and extensive content layering

In CY’12, we went back to the drawing board and re-evaluated our approach to mitigate the identified challenges.

Writing a storyboard is one of the primary and essential requirements expected of an instructional designer. How should you present such relevant information in a manner that will enable learners to apply it in an actual work environment?

This formed the basis for outlining the strategy for this module. We used a story-based approach (storytorial) as an innovative and engaging strategy to present information that would:

  • Serve as a refresher to most IDs
  • Enable new IDs to apply the learning to create effective storyboards

The module highlights key aspects about storyboard creation through the character of Nina, an instructional designer who has landed her first job as an ID:

  1. The interview process, preceded by the preparation for the interview, serves as a tool to reinforce or refresh some basics of storyboarding skills.
  2. Nina’s first assignment, after landing the job forms the remaining part of the “story” and highlights key aspects to remember while creating a storyboard.
  3. In her new assignment, she also goes through tips, guidelines and best practices that enable her to perform better.

ILT to Effective Online Conversion using Storytorials 1

 

ILT to Effective Online Conversion using Storytorials 2

The outcomes

The aim of the module was to ensure that learners with diverse experience and varied educational backgrounds were easily able to understand the basics of storyboarding and gain an insight on the key focus areas of a storyboard.

Extensive layering and chunking of the content gave seasoned learners a flexibility to move forward quickly and zero-in on desired aspects faster.

A story combined with practical tips and best practices ensured that the information delivered was highly useful, relevant and easily applicable in an actual work-setting.

Incidentally, this course (in an updated avatar) is now part of our upcoming ProductLineInSight being launched on June 30th’14.

I hope this was useful. I welcome your views as well as your own experiences in creating your success stories.