5 Essential Elements Of An Effective eLearning Story

How To Write An Effective eLearning Story: 5 Essential Elements To Include

There is a science to eLearning storytelling. Sure, it may involve imagery, visual metaphors, and other artistic expressions. But it all boils down to a few crucial components that fuel learner motivation and get them emotionally invested. It may take a good dose of creativity and time, but the payoff is well worth it. Here are 5 all-important elements that every successful eLearning story should have.

1. Relatable eLearning Characters

Consider this: When you read a novel, is it the plot that pulls you in or the main characters? Sure, the plot is important. It's what dictates the parameters of the story and how the characters react to their surroundings. But no one can resist a carefully crafted character. And no eLearning story is complete without a relatable protagonist who resonates with your online learners. Perhaps this is why developing eLearning characters is such a daunting task. You have to breathe life into them by giving them motivations and backstories.

You must research your audience to determine which characteristics and goals your eLearning characters should possess. In other words, there has to be rhyme and reason for everything they do in the eLearning story to make it believable. One of the most effective strategies is creating a character map. Give each a name or title and jot down a few words that describe them. Figure out how they fit into the eLearning story and what purpose they serve. You see, every person in your eLearning story must earn their place, or else they are simply irrelevant. And irrelevancy leads to online learner confusion and cognitive overwhelm.

2. Structure

Every eLearning story needs a good foundation, a structure that frames every eLearning character and event. This is referred to as the "arc", which should include three core components:

  • Introduction: This is where your eLearning characters make their grand entrance and you set the tone. The introduction is your chance to emotionally connect with your online learners and immerse them in the world that you've created. If you don't hook them from the start, they aren't going to be invested in the eLearning characters.
  • Conflict: The middle of the eLearning story should have a conflict or problem the eLearning character needs to resolve. Your online learners must feel like they are part of the decision-making process. They should know all of the pertinent details surrounding the obstacle and why the eLearning character needs to overcome it.
  • Resolution: The grand finale, which gives online learners a resolution to the conflict or problem. Wrap up all of the loose ends and show how the character's behaviors or actions led to the outcome.

Before you write your eLearning story, create a general outline that features the main plot points. This includes all of the major events, scenes, and eLearning character interactions. You can use it to track the arc and build up to the eLearning story's climax.

3. Realistic Setting

The setting of your eLearning story has a significant impact on the character's actions, motivations, and choices. For example, your protagonist will behave differently at home than they do at the office. The surroundings also dictate the plot points, such as the tasks the eLearning character must perform or the people they interact with. Thus, it should be realistic and relevant for your audience.

Include vivid imagery that puts them into the middle of the scene and helps them relate to the eLearning character. For instance, including small details about the room or someone's appearance. Just make sure that you don't go overboard. Online learners don't really need to know every sight, smell, and sound of the setting.

4. A Personal Challenge

I know that I touched briefly on the conflict element of your eLearning story. But it warrants its own section. An eLearning story should feature a personal challenge or crisis that online learners might encounter in their own lives. The main goal is to emphasize how they can use the information in real world settings. Thus, the conflict must be rooted in realism and involve commonplace tasks or decisions.

The exception to this rule is fantasy stories that include metaphors and analogies that tie into real world concepts. For example, climbing a majestic mountain to defeat the dragon may be symbolic of completing a complex task. If you take the mythical route, be clear about how the make-believe elements are linked to real life struggles.

5. A Revelation

Your main eLearning character begins the eLearning story as one person and the events alter their lives in some fashion. This is the culmination of every conversation, every action, and every choice your eLearning character has made. Ideally, the online learner will experience the same revelation, such as realizing that a long-held belief or assumption may be incorrect. The key is gradually building up to the revelation so that online learners can see the eLearning character's evolution.

You can also follow the revelation with thought provoking questions or ideas that make the eLearning story more personal. It also gives online learners an opportunity to reflect on the topic and determine how they'll use in the information in the real world. Another option is leaving the eLearing story on a cliffhanger and inviting online learners to complete a follow-up eLearning activity. For instance, an online simulation or a branching scenario that provides answers and explores related concepts. These interactive elements have the power to increase online learner participation and engagement.

eLearning stories also have one essential element that you won’t find in most traditional tales; an objective. Every eLearning character, plot device, and challenge must tie into the learning goals and achieve the desired outcome. Otherwise, it’s nothing more than a tall tale.

Want to learn more about crafting the perfect eLearning story for your eLearning course? Read the article Storytelling In eLearning: 7 Tips And Tricks For eLearning Professionals to discover tips and tricks to include storytelling in eLearning and craft provoking tales to include in your eLearning courses.

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