How eLearning Professionals Can Integrate Storytelling in eLearning
There are a number of reasons why storytelling is so effective in eLearning. Not only does it help to motivate learners and create a more immersive experience, but it also allows them to feel more emotionally connected to the subject matter. The trouble is that converting your content and topics using a storytelling strategy can be challenging, especially if you want to get maximum results from your efforts. Fortunately, there are several storytelling in eLearning tips and tricks that can help you to entertain and to educate your eLearning audiences with carefully crafted stories.
7 Storytelling Tips and Tricks for eLearning Professionals
- Make the storyline and characters relatable and relevant.
Each and every character in your story should be relatable and relevant to the learners. The dialogues should be realistic, and the characters’ personalities should be familiar to the learners. The characters can also be symbolic of something or someone, such as an individual who lacks the skill sets you are trying to develop within your eLearning course. Keep in mind that your story's characters are the vehicle through which you are achieving your primary learning objectives. 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, so as to not bore the learners or inundate them with irrelevant information.
- Don't forget to include the main elements of storytelling.
Every good story has an arc, wherein you introduce the characters or scenario, followed by the problem or conflict, which leads to the resolution. Your storyline should also involve a plot that develops throughout the narrative, in order to make your learners feel more emotionally connected to the content. In other words, they have to be immersed within the story so that it becomes an effective learning tool. While there is absolutely nothing wrong with letting your creativity take the lead when you're creating a story for your eLearning course, it shouldn't come at the price of sacrificing the story structure.
- Use high quality images to illustrate major plot points.
Get high quality images to visually represent core elements of the story and to draw the learners’ attention to key points that they need to absorb. You can find a variety of free royalty free images online that are ideal for storytelling in eLearning courses. When selecting your images, try to think outside the box and keep the learners’ emotions in mind. For example, if you are creating a story about a pair of characters who are trying to achieve a particular goal through collaboration, you can use more symbolic and inspirational photos to represent certain plot points, rather than just using a photo of two people.
- Always integrate the core message into the plot.
The entire story should illustrate the core message you are trying to deliver. The plot itself should include key points of the subject matter, even if you have to get creative about how to incorporate them. It's easy to let the story take over and lose sight of the primary focus of the plot, which is to achieve the learning objectives. However, every character, and every image you choose should reflect the core message of your deliverable. Otherwise, it may entertain the learners, but it simply won't offer them any real value.
- Use narration that enhances the story, but doesn't distract the learners.
If you are going to be narrating the story vocally, you'll want to ensure that the narrator serves as a guide for the learner, while it doesn't become the star of the show. In many ways, the narrator is simply a literary device that enhances the story and highlights the key aspects of the eLearning story. However, if you make the narrator verbose or over-exaggerated (such as using a funny accent) this will only distract the learner from the subject matter. In fact, when you're choosing the narrator's voice and cadence, you should opt for clarity over uniqueness, as this will ensure that the learners can fully comprehend what is being said.
- Keep it short to prevent cognitive overload.
When you're creating your story, try to keep it as simple as possible to avoid cognitive overload. On the other hand, it shouldn't be so short that it doesn't offer the learners any real benefit or value. While you don't want to overwhelm your learners with too many plot points or lesson highlights, you also want them to feel invested in the story. This can only be achieved by walking the fine line between brevity and creativity. Avoid confusion and cognitive overload by limiting the number of characters or conflicts you feature within the story, but still ensure that all of your storytelling elements are well developed and exciting for the learners.
- Make your storytelling interactive.
Rather than simply incorporating lengthy paragraphs into your eLearning course, why not make your story interactive by making it a slide show or presentation. Learners can click through to access the next part of the story, or make decisions along the way that directly impact the outcome of the story. This can help them to see the consequences of their choices, and to determine the best problem solving approach. While this may take more time and resources to create than the traditional method, it can significantly enhance the learners’ experience and even make the eLearning course more engaging, effective, and memorable.
Why not give these tips for storytelling in eLearning a try in your next eLearning deliverable. I strongly believe that you will make your eLearning course more effective and you will deliver an entertaining eLearning experience for your learners.
Storytelling in eLearning Resources
- In the The Basics of Scenario-Based e-Learning article, I will walk you through the various aspects of scenario-based eLearning, so that you can design eLearning courses which not only keep the learners motivated and engaged, but provide them with the best possible educational experience that effectively enhances their skill sets and/or knowledge base.
- Want to learn more about why you should incorporate storytelling into your eLearning course? The Win Over Your e-Learners with Storytelling article highlights 4 good reasons why storytelling can win over your eLearning audience.
- Free Digital Storytelling Tools
At the following list you will find 17 Free Digital Storytelling Tools plus 4 Free apps for digital storytelling.