Using storytelling to improve e-learning outcomes: The what, why and how

Telling a story is the most powerful way to activate our brains. When we listen to a PowerPoint presentation with bullet point lists, for example, the language processing parts of the brain are triggered. We learn the words that are being used, but that’s about it.

On the other hand, stories light up the entire brain. The story doesn’t just trigger language processing — your brain reacts as if the events of the story are happening to you.

The story talks about delicious foods? The sensory cortex lights up. Talking about movement? The motor cortex gets activated. The more your brain engages with the communication, the more you’re likely to learn and recall the material.

What are the ways in which storytelling is effective in e-learning?

Establishing relevance

By communicating information in the form of stories rather than usecases, adults relate better to the information being provided and are more likely to stay involved.

Engendering trust

Learners believe the content and, therefore, are more likely to recall it.

Improving recall

Learners may not remember every detail of the story. However, it is easier to remember the gist of a story, and the moral or learnings derived from it, than a set of facts.

Increasing engagement

In e-learning, since the next part of the story is the next module in the curriculum, this ignites active learning.

How can you use stories in e-learning?

Course structure

For instance, for sales training, you could define a pair of salespeople as protagonists. For each module, the narrative can flow from the two protagonists learning (from their mentor) how to prospect, then how to talk to their leads, and how to service the customer post product delivery.

Engaging protagonists and realistic storylines are key when using storytelling as course structure.

Microlearning

By its nature, microlearning needs to be highly interesting and engaging. A story works perfectly in such contexts. A short anecdote, with a learning built-in, is a great way to optimize microlearning and increase recall.

Assessments and gamification

For example, the learners can face a scenario and select from various dialog or action options. Based on correct or optimal selections, they can unlock achievements. Instructors can assess progress based on this roleplay.

Simple narratives

Storytelling is one of the best ways to engage adult learners and get them involved, especially in online learning. By preparing short, simply written, realistic and relevant stories for your e-learning course, you’re likely to see significant improvement in learning outcomes delivered.

To get started on relatable, interesting stories that work for your course, get in touch with our experts today!

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