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Telling others stories is a way of connecting to each other. If your story’s exciting enough it’s also a way of teaching experiences and lessons, to yourself and others. So, if you can create an engaging story to teach others skills and techniques, why wouldn’t you?


How to use storytelling

The technique can be used in elearning to develop more engaging and memorable content. Some of us may not like to read, however listening to a good story may make us want to learn more. By taking the learner on a journey using relevant and authentic content, storytelling immerses them into the content and aids better understanding.

But, storytelling isn’t just somebody telling you a story. In elearning, storytelling aims to achieve and so it requires more thought. As HubSpot says “it requires creativity, vision, skill, and practice. That being said, this isn’t something you can grasp in one sitting, after one course. It’s a trial-and-error process of mastery.”

You can include audio, video, interaction, images, plot lines and reality – after all, the content needs to be relevant and engaging so that learners can action what they’ve learned. But don’t bombard learners with all of the elements at once, keep it simple to make it effective.

1. Multimedia

Varied types of media throughout your story can improve engagement and stop learners from feeling bored. Audio clips, images and videos can immerse learners into scenarios to give them a sense of realistic environment. Some of us learn through reading, some through visuals and some need sound – using various elements of media should enable different types of learners to achieve similar outcomes.

2. Interaction

Adding in short interactions should (hopefully) connect learners with the characters to understand and practice desired behaviours. Branching decision points which change how the story unfolds, or just asking the learner their opinion without impacting the story can engage and immerse learners. This can provide the opportunity to give learners feedback, a great way to understand knowledge levels and identify areas for improvement.

3. Realistic stories

To ensure learners can action behaviours in real life, it’s equally important to make your story is as realistic as possible. Those that have had first hand experience in the role could form the base of your storyline or be used as characters. Realistic scenarios can inspire learners and motivate them to carry out the same behaviours on the job.

4. Challenges

Challenges keep learners engaged and intrigued into what’s happening next. We all know that every story isn’t plain sailing, learners need to understand that problems occur. Challenges and solutions allow learners to understand what type of issues they may come across and how to deal with them. Your challenges can also be made interactive, again a great way to practice desired behaviours. If the challenges are too obvious or too difficult, you may alienate learners so be sure to set realistic challenges.

5. Connect

Connect to your learners through emotion – emotions prove for better retention levels. An easy way to bring emotions is through the feeling of getting the right solution to a challenge – and a good ending. The emotions felt should enable learners to not only remember the story, but to remember which actions and behaviours should be used on the job.

Near-Life™ storytelling

These elements enhance storytelling in gamification. Storytelling is central to our Near-Life™ technology which provides learners with the opportunity to make real time decisions through realistic, immersive role play scenarios. Challenging learners this way improves knowledge retention and engagement, but also provides a more memorable (and fun) way to learn. Additionally, Near-Life™ offers personalised feedback and data to identify and tackle any gaps in knowledge.

We believe that storytelling is an important part of a gamification approach to elearning. Learning new skills and techniques should be fun and engaging – storytelling achieves this as well as increasing retention levels. 

Gamification is the craft of deriving fun and engaging elements found typically in games and thoughtfully applying them to real-world or productive activities.

In other words, gamification could be anything that optimizes human motivation — in any system you could think of, such as learning, website promotion, and of course, in storytelling.

Yu-Kai Chou further proposed eight core drives of gamification in his well-received book: Actionable Gamification, Beyond Points, Badges and Leaderboards. Here I listed these core drives with one-sentence explanation as a general reference, and later I will discuss some of these drives in detail with a case study.

1. Epic Meaning and calling, where a player believes that he is doing something greater than himself or he was chosen to do something;
2. Development and accomplishment, which refers to people’s internal drive of making progress, developing skills and eventually overcoming challenges;
3. Empowerment of creativity and feedback, which is when users are engaged a creative process where they have to repeatedly figure things out and try different combinations.
4. Ownership and possession, where the users are motivated because they feel like they own something.
5. Social influence and relatedness, which incorporates all the social elements that drive people;
6. scarcity and impatience: which is the drive of wanting something because you don’t have it.
7. Unpredictability and curiosity: the drive of wanting to find out what happens next.
8. Loss and avoidance: the drive based on the avoidance of something negative happening.

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