3 Tips For More Powerful eLearning Storytelling

3 Tips For More Powerful eLearning Storytelling
Summary: The mark of a good story is a lasting effect on the reader, the feeling that they have connected with the story, and the compulsion to share it with others. Here are 3 ways to achieve this experience with your learning.

How To Create The Most Powerful eLearning Storytelling

Storytelling certainly isn’t a new thing. There’s a good reason why humans have been telling stories for centuries—and why you should consider an element of storytelling in your learning. Not only do we connect with stories on an emotional level, it’s also been proven that stories help us remember information as they draw us in.

What Does Storytelling Have To Do With Learning?

For example, this interactive showcase takes you through a story. It shows how you can create a gripping experience using a simple, non-fiction narrative, low-cost sound effects, and a small element of interaction.

What this example shows is that you don’t have to produce the next bestseller. Using cheap audio clips, scrolling pages, intrigue, and a small amount of audience participation, you can deliver effective content that hooks your user and provokes discussion or self-reflection.

So how can you use storytelling in your own eLearning? Here are 3 tips to get started:

1. Use Audio To Subtly Create A Sense Of Place

In the example, the scene is set, and the user clicks onto the next page when they suddenly find themselves in Paris. Well, not quite… but that’s the effect of the accordion band sound clip. It could almost be live music on a Parisian street.

Every page features a clip relevant to the current events, including the snoring of strangers in a hostel room and the rattle of train tracks. Each one plays for around 10 seconds—too short to be irritating. It’s a great way to add a touch of reality and atmosphere to the story.

2. Use Interactions Sparingly

Your story doesn’t need to have audience participation. In fact, it can be just as hard-hitting without. That being said, using a small number of subtle interactions can help to involve your user in the story, as well as make sure they’re paying attention!

The example uses only 2 brief interactions in the form of gentle questions that ask the user what they would do if faced with the same situation. These decisions don’t affect the story in any way and have no influence on the outcome, unlike branching stories.

The user simply makes their choice, is presented with what happened in real life, and the story continues. Most importantly, the user gets no judgment on their choices. Instead, the user is reminded of their answers at the end and has the opportunity to reflect on them. This isn’t a form of teaching but of self-learning.

3. Go Long And Use Scrolling Pages

People often find the short content useful, particularly when it's broken into digestible modules that they can dip in and out in order to fit them around their busy lives. But this doesn’t mean learning providers should be afraid of using the long-form content. In fact, some learning requires more depth when it comes to attention, focus, and reflection.

If you are using longer content, remember to think about your design. The scrolling pages used in the example are intuitive, resembling the common website layout we're all familiar with. You can use visuals and color-coding to your advantage, visually illustrating key parts of your narrative.

In the example, a volcano erupts in a splash across the screen. There's a dramatic shot of an iconic landmark, representing Paris. With visuals, even apparently more mundane aspects of the narrative, like arriving into an airport, become more engaging and colorful. The story is tied together with an easy-to-create recurring banner that shows the time ticking down.

Indeed, using visuals in longer content is a classic approach. Intertwining full-width images and multiple columns mirror an editorial or magazine article, both of which are typically longer formats.

Get Them Coming Back For More

These 3 tips show that storytelling doesn’t require lots of resources or skill. You don’t have to produce a fantastic new piece of fiction. Simply introducing an element of storytelling within your learning can help better engage users.

Storytelling can even give you a way to keep users coming back for more, particularly if it’s not explicitly advertised as ‘learning’ or if you feature a cliffhanger—and promise a resolution in your next piece of content.

For more storytelling inspiration, take a look at this immersive storytelling example with tips for trying this yourself.