Making A Difference In Your Learning Strategy

It is through stories that we can learn what love is, what it means to love the other, to forgive one another, and to become better versions of ourselves, one little bit at a time. The ability to craft a compelling narrative will make the difference between active and passive learning.

eLearning Design And The 'Right' Brain
Discover more about the interactive elements in eLearning that will appeal to the right brain and help create memorable, sticky learning experiences.

There are 4 easy ways of using stories in learning:

  1. Scenarios
  2. Comic strips
  3. Case studies
  4. Metaphors and analogies


The simplest, yet effective way, to weave a story into an eLearning course is by using scenarios. A scenario is a small, independent, fictionalized representation of what learners are going through, and it can be used at strategic points in a course to test decision-making skills by using what has been learned. For the same reason, scenarios help beat stress and also work well as formative assessments, standalone assessment modules (a module comprising of a series of scenarios, which tests learners on concepts covered in a course), and periodic post-assessments.

Branching scenarios are another powerful way of teaching, wherein a single scenario can take multiple paths based on learners’ decisions. There’s no prescribed path to follow, and irrespective of the path their decisions lead them on, learners will get to experience the consequences firsthand leading to effective retention and on-the-job application. Scenarios are an effective way of helping learners translate knowledge into application for subjects that require them to evaluate concepts, form judgments, and take decision compliance and safety training.

A First Peek Into The Classroom

Can you have scenarios in classroom training? Yes! Conduct role-playing in your classroom and give learners the opportunity to experiment, interpret learning, and experience the consequences of their decisions. With peers enacting the different characters involved, everyone gets a comprehensive idea of the topic. What’s more, when you convert your ILT programs to eLearning, role-playing can be leveraged to create scenarios.

Comic Strips (Steps In Your Sales Journey)

A comic strip is usually used to set the context for a learning point, in a humorous vein. They can also be used to represent learners’ thoughts and apprehensions, providing a bit of relief and bringing a smile. They infuse an element of play into the learning without trivializing it, rather they highlight the subtleties and emotions. The challenge with comic strips is to convey the mood, be understandable and succinct.

Comic strips make good:

  • Icebreaker narratives
  • Rhetorical questions that get learners thinking and involved
  • Introductions to assessments

Case Studies

As opposed to standalone scenarios, case studies, which can be either real or fictitious, run through the entire eLearning course. A case study sets the premise for the course and the various decision points within the case reinforce learning by asking learners to make those decisions, putting what has been learned into practice. Case studies are a great tool to help learners synthesize information as they give just the right amount of information without divulging too much. Learners have to draw on their learning and judgment to arrive at conclusions, and then get to know the outcome. They facilitate symphony and give learners the chance to view the cumulative outcome of all their decisions, a luxury that often can’t be had in real-life.

A Second Peek Into The Classroom

Case studies can be used in the classroom or a workshop where learners working in groups solve the case based on the learning shared. A moderator (facilitator) can provide cues, help learners when they are stuck, and validate the reasoning for their decisions. Groups can also share their conclusions, which will allow the entire class to gather different viewpoints, debate on the merits of each, and zero in on the best possible solution.

Metaphors And Analogies

Metaphors and analogies are tiny tidbits of stories used to drive home learning by offering a comparison with something known and relatable. They help internalize learning by spotting the similarities or dissimilarities between the concepts being shared.

Analogy Example
In an online course on presentation skills, telling learners not to have a stony face will reinforce the importance of being expressive, and to communicate with their audience by varying the body language, tone, and expressions.

Metaphor Example
Want to tell learners about the perils of opening mail from an unknown, spurious source in a course on information security? Remind them of how curiosity killed the cat. It pays to remember that analogies and metaphors can’t be used throughout a course, they are situational and can be used to drive home important points, in a light, yet effective way.

A Third Peek Into The Classroom

A large part of what makes classroom training effective is the personal touch added by instructors as they supplement learning by sharing analogies, personal experiences, anecdotes, and examples. If you want to read about the Instructional Design involved in storytelling for eLearning and are interested in replacing the linear, predictable, and theoretical with the emotional, creative, and artistic components, download this eBook: "eLearning Design And The 'Right' Brain" to become a 'Right' brain expert; and, moreover learn how its role in learning can be of use to you.

eBook Release: CommLab India
CommLab India
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