Storytelling works in e-learning


Storytelling works in e-learning

Stories have an incredible influence on humans, both intellectually and emotionally. Why? They communicate information in the exact manner in which we as humans think. How we process and absorb information, how we see ourselves, and how we influence others. Stories are powerful - even in this digital age - because the human brain hasn't evolved as fast as technology. As such, storytelling is still one of the best ways to connect with your audience. What can storytelling do for e-learning?

What our brain does with stories

Storytelling mobilizes and stimulates different parts of our brain. When we are told something in the form of a story, we often remember it better than if we simply read it. If we listen to a presentation with boring bullet points, only a certain part of the brain gets activated. It hits our language processing parts in the brain, where we decode words into meaning. And that's it, nothing else happens!

How our brains process storytelling is entirely different. When we are told a story, not only does it engage the language-processing areas of our brain, but it also engages areas that are used when experiencing the story.

Compelling storytelling causes its audience to release several chemicals. First, our brains release cortisol which helps with awareness. Next, dopamine helps with arousal which, in turn, gives pleasure. Last, there's oxytocin, which in combination with cortisol, dopamine, and other potential chemicals in the storytelling cocktail, produces action. And therefore, storytelling in e-learning is so important: it changes behaviour by changing our brain chemistry.

How storytelling is effective in e-learning

Storytelling not only creates a more immersive experience, it also motivates learners and encourages an emotional connection to the topic. Accordingly, it presents an effective delivery method in e-learning to convey information by creating relatable scenarios with which your audience will empathize in order to connect with the content.

Learning theorists suggest that adult learners must see the relevance of something in order to feel persuaded to learn about it. So, in e-learning, explaining concepts in the context of a story helps learners integrate knowledge in meaningful ways. And thus, making the information easier to remember. Storytelling can improve online courses by increasing emotional engagement while also utilizing instructional theory best practices.

Five reasons stories make e-learning more engaging

Human beings are emotional. We trust a friend or a co-worker’s advice over a manual’s instruction. Emotions influence us, and we are inspired when we can relate and connect. In e-learning, knowing how to leverage emotion to foster engagement is very powerful. Here are 5 reasons stories make e-learning more engaging.

1. Emotional Connection

There is something ageless about stories, invoking the child inside each of us. So, when stories are leveraged in your online trainings, emotional and intellectual connections are more easily made with learners. Further, when the content creates an emotional connection, it makes learners trust the value of the content and, subsequently, make them want to learn more.

2. Curiosity

How many of us have been kept up way past our bedtime by a good book, show, or movie? We keep turning pages or keep our eyes glued to the screen because we must know what happens next. And when we weave an engaging story throughout our e-learning content, learners will be hooked. The brain of the learner engages with it and tries to figure out what's happening or predict the next move, igniting active learning.

3. Connection

People connect with other people through their stories, so e-learning storytelling must focus on characters, life situations and problems that mirror reality in some capacity. Giving real-life context that makes content applicable to the learner builds familiarity and fosters an emotional connection, making the experience more memorable.

4. Persuasion

Cold, hard facts alone are often not enough to persuade or influence people. But stories, really good, compelling stories, can be a very powerful tool for persuasion as they keep people engaged and interested. Stories evoke emotions, and they’re more easily retained. Additionally, stories make it easier to learn complex and abstract concepts with anecdotes and analogies.

5. Recall

Again, we remember stories of our childhood - the characters, the plot, the scenes, the adventure. It’s unlikely that we remember such details of things we studied in middle school. Why? Because according to research, 63% of people remembered facts better when presented within the context of a story, whereas only 5% remembered the information when presented in a traditional learning format.

Storytelling is one of the most effective ways to gain and keep the attention of the learner. What’s your story? We can help you tell it!

Marguerite Stolp

Marguerite Stolp

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