We love stories – have done for centuries. Storytelling has been a part of human culture for literally thousands of years: from the early cave paintings to works of literature that create new worlds and languages. Even today, where technology has enabled us to have a constant stream of information in the palm of our hand – the art of storytelling has remained as important today as it was back when we lived in caves. Stories make us emotional; stories make us feel connected; stories can help us remember.
Introducing a storytelling element to your eLearning can be beneficial – just look at the psychology behind it. When delivering information in bullet point for the information hits the language processing part of our brains, such as Broca and Wernicke’s area. However, this merely decodes the meaning of the words, nothing else, which is very boring indeed. But, by introducing a storytelling element, the brain reacts in a differently, in a way that helps to improve memory through cognitive empathy. With that, our brains release a trinity of chemicals: dopamine, for arousal; cortisol, for awareness; and oxytocin, for action. This combination changes our behaviour, and how we process information. By telling a story within your course, you can make your content relatable to the learner and therefore make the whole experience more memorable. And in addition, when your learners develop an emotional connection with your content, then they will also believe in the value of it – making them want to learn more.
Storytelling takes away the monotony that can sometimes occur when learning about facts. Stories are more engaging, meaning our brains are more switched on and willing to process and retain the information. Although we may not remember every minute detail of a story, chances are we can always give a quick synopsis of one – we can remember this better than if we were asked to repeat details of a graph, spreadsheet or facts.
So, what can you do to successfully incorporate storytelling to your course:
- Set a scene; think about heroes and villains – yes, even in eLearning it can be a good idea to introduce the good guy and the bad guy; this can help your learner to relate to the content and provoke emotive feelings, leading to greater engagement.
- Make it interactive. Let your learners choose their path and determine their outcome – this can really enhance course engagement.
- Make sure that you have a happy ending.
Remember you are not aiming to write the type on content that you would expect to see in the Bestsellers List, there are some steps that you should avoid:
- Avoid complex storylines or introducing more than one story – over complicating the story can become distracting.
- Do not get carried away with metaphors and analogies – this can muddle your message to your learners.
- Do not stray away from your point – try to maintain the structure of your course.
We all love a good story, so why not try telling a story within your eLearning course Not only will this method be beneficial for your learners in terms of memory retention, but it will enhance their overall learning experience.