The article was last updated on August 22nd 2016.

Storytelling is the oldest means of sharing knowledge. For ages people have been using stories to pass down history, traditions, life lessons and morality. As kids we loved story tellers as we could you use our imagination to bring stories to real life and associate ourselves with the story heroes. Stories stimulate the brain, attract attention and help to retain information. That is why their usage can be quite beneficial for eLearning practice: bare facts become more memorable and learning process more engaging.

Storytelling is a process of presenting data by means of entertaining and memorable stories. The approach can be beneficial both for delivering distance learning knowledge and corporate training. Applying storytelling to distance learning we catch learner’s attention and help them to bring knowledge into practice. Talking about corporate training, storytelling can be used for teaching lessons, presenting organization’s culture, defining values and explaining company’s beliefs.

There are 4 storytelling types that can be implemented into eLearning courses:

Case-based storytelling

Bringing as examples cases that need to be resolved. Case-based storytelling is used in situations when understanding of the issue is more important than finding correct solutions. We tend to teach a learner how to behave in a certain situation or how to apply skills and knowledge rather than memorizing facts. The method is a great team-building instrument as it can be used for group discussions and exchange of views. The model is widely used by business and law schools.

Narrative-based storytelling

Either fictional or real narrator brings necessary for training information. The method is used for increasing learner’s interest to the topic. is one of the narrative-based teaching examples. Two heroes – Daniel and Sara teach how to manage the budget effectively.
debt talk

Scenario-based storytelling

A learner becomes a part of the story and achieves different outcomes depending on certain decisions. The method is well suited for situations that are infrequent, unsafe or when you want learners to use previously gained knowledge and expertise. By using scenarios we add meaning to users’ knowledge and help to apply it to the real world.

Problem-based storytelling

>Teaching how to solve the problem with the best results. The method helps people to develop problem-solving skills and bring their knowledge into practice. Problem-based as well as scenario-based techniques are widely used in medical institutions, ecological organizations etc.

Moreover, technology development led to growing popularity of stories, delivered by various types of multimedia such as recorded voice, images, animation and video - so called digital storytelling. Digital storytelling is frequently used for delivering personal experience, for creating virtual tours, presentations or performing debates.

No matter which of storytelling methods you find the most appropriate for your course users, there are fundamental principles that are worth to follow:

  • If you have decided to implement storytelling into your eLearning courses, first of all you need to analyze your future course users to make the stories relevant to the target group.
  • After you got an idea who your learners are, create the stories using your imagination and experience. However, remember not to bring as examples the stories that can embarrass anyone of your learners (for example, if the story is based on one of the learners’ foolish mistake that led to the company’s financial loss).
  • Choosing an idea, always consider the situation. Connect the story with the issue you want to clarify.
  • Don’t use the stories that can wound smb’s religious convictions, traditions or cultural differences.
  • Make the stories short and clear, bringing only relevant facts to the point.
  • Try to catch users’ attention with your story.
  • Make the story memorable: avoid using complicated terms and phrases.

Storytelling is a great and widely used technique; however there are situations when the approach doesn’t suit: for example, the case, when learning requires analytics, critical thinking and exact numbers. Not to make mistakes and not to waste time we suggest careful analysis and planning.

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