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The Importance of Storytelling in eLearning

— by Austin Martin


If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten.”

Rudyard Kipling, The Collected Works

The most effective way to convey information in eLearning is to get your audience to care about the content, connect with the content, and to commemorate the content. This can be done through storytelling. Storytelling is the most fundamental form of communication. Since the times of cave paintings, myths, legends, fairytales, and fables, people have been learning through storytelling — it is how humans share histories and evolutions as well as day-to-day experiences. Storytelling is how we tap into our common humanity, evoke emotional connection, and facility recall to anything we are learning.

Basically, when we are told something in the from of story, we remember it better than if we are simply exposed educational snippets, lists, or disconnected piles of information. This is because storytelling actually mobilizes and stimulates different parts of the brain. In “The Science of Storytelling: Why Telling a Story is the Most Powerful Way to Activate Our Brains”, Leo Widrich shares:

It’s in fact quite simple. If we listen to a powerpoint presentation with boring bullet points, a certain part in the brain gets activated. Scientists call this Broca’s area and Wernicke’s area. Overall, it hits our language processing parts in the brain, where we decode words into meaning. And that’s it, nothing else happens. When we are being told a story, things change dramatically. Not only are the language processing parts in our brain activated, but any other area in our brain that we would use when experiencing the events of the story are too.

The first step in creating learning solutions through storytelling is to get learners to care about the content. Content creators can do this by simulating the learner’s reality by adding characters and/or other real-life and work-life situations and dialogues. Content creators can mimicking the reality of the learners daily work-life that includes a plot, conflict, and denouement. Create a story provides relevant context that supports immediate applicability and interest.

The second step is to get learners to connect with the content, and to goal is to elicit emotion. As stories connect us to our humanity and our legends, when the content is emotionally evocative, they facilitate a deeper sense of connection and, therefore, knowledge transfer. Creating an emotional connection with learners helps them to believe in the value of the content and can drive them to want to learn even more.

The third step is to get learners to commemorate the content — to get the learners to talk about it, repeat it, and think about it and how it affected them, often. Honoring and retelling a story is the way humans have been recounting history since the beginning of time. Therefore, commemorating content creates exceptional learning transfer and repeating and rehashing learning leads to great information retention.

Using the power of storytelling in an eLearning environment is highly effective in facilitating learning transfer and engaging learners on a new, different, and exciting level.


The Science of Storytelling: Why Telling a Story is the Most Powerful Way to Activate Our Brains

How Storytelling Can Improve Your eLearning Courses

Posted by Karla Gutierrez

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