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

Everybody likes to listen to good stories. They have the ability to keep the readers hooked to the content as the curiosity of what happens next drives the viewers. Research has shown that we human beings have a special connection to the stories.

So do stories hold power in this digital age? In my opinion stories have a special significance in the digital age as they help us to establish a connection between the technology and the subject matter or the service being availed or the product being purchased without which things will be too routine or mundane.
For example, while purchasing goods through an e-commerce app what if the app narrates a small story with the help of some characters….would you not want to revisit this app to experience more such stories. This art of storytelling can be effectively used in the domain of elearning as stories have the power to make the learners engage with the learning content and it is observed that learners tend to remember and recollect more through stories.

Let’s see some popular benefits of using stories in e-learning:

1. Meet Specific Learning Objectives
Stories convey a message through an endearing or a compelling storyline and thus increase the engagement. So if you are wanting your learners to meet a specific and defined learning objective, stories are the best way to address it. Do you recall the story of Alice in Wonderland or Rapunzel-the lady with long golden hairs? So the story of a simple girl turning into a princess and living happily ever after delivers a powerful message and makes us believe that nothing is impossible if you have simple and pure heart.

2. Power To Inspire And Motivate The Learners
Stories have the power to inspire people and motivate them to take actions.Including element of storytelling in e-learning is likely to improve the completion rates as the learners feel motivated and inspired to attempt and complete the module.

3. Generate Curiosity
Stories can generate curiosity among the learners. E-learning requires involvement and participation from the learners side as it is all about “self -learning “. An element of storytelling can generate the interest, inquisitiveness and curiosity amongst the learners to participate in the learning process.

4. Live The Experience
Stories help you live the experience of the situation and the message which is entailed in the story. Like for example while designing an e-learning module for a leading e-commerce company we had created a situation of the person finding himself/herself on a deserted island and he needs to complete a learning module and answer a few questions to get clues on how to leave the island. Including this element of storytelling in the e-learning module helped the learners to see themselves in an endangered situation and wanting to get out of it.

For more examples of e-learning storytelling ideas to create a great experience, please visit our portfolio page.

5. Retain And Recollect Information
As mentioned an element of storytelling can help to convey a message and make the learner experience certain situation thus enabling them to better retain and recall the information.

While we have understood what are the various benefits of stories in learning, let’s also quickly understand the popular story learning types:

1.Case-based- Case based stories use different cases as stories to support the learning process. The learner is usually not expected to find solutions to problems here but the learner understands the concepts after studying and analysing the case.

2.Narrative-based- Narratives can be either fictional or non-fictional. They seek to emotionally immerse the learner in the narrative’s situation;.

3.Scenario-based -The learner is positioned in a place that allows them to interact with the scenario and produce different outcomes depending on their decisions and actions. T

4.Problem solving based-The final story type is especially suited for teaching learners about how to best solve ill structured problems that do not have optimal solutions.

In elearning, stories are a tried and tested strategy to make the learners hooked to the learning topics. Here, in this blog let’s see some examples of effective story ideas for various elearning topics like

1.Sales Training

An effective sales training module should not only have facts and information but also include the practical side of making sales happen. Sales is all about good listening skills, strong negotiation skills and a die hard attitude of not giving up.
In an elearning module on sales training, the storyline should be such that it leads to some action or the learner earning some rewards or losing some resources on a wrong action.
Stories built around action themes like space missions, war thrillers, mountain expeditions etc can be developed as a part of storytelling ideas for the sales team.
For a pharma company e-learning module on sales training, we had built around the idea of the sales representatives being on a special mission of saving the planet earth from the alien attack by equipping themselves with the right sales knowledge.

2.Compliance Training

Compliance e-learning modules are always a challenge to the organization in terms of lower employee turnout, less engagement etc. Stories can be a powerful element to make the compliance modules engaging and interactive for the learners.
The story idea for compliance should be centered around the themes of doing something right or saving the organization from compliance issues through a series of smart moves. So themes of adventure and thrill ranging from to a superman or batman can be apt themes for compliance modules as the learner is able to connect with the feeling of preventing some bad deed from happening.
For an e-learning module on Infosec training for a large financial conglomerate, we had inbuilt a story of a devil disguising an a company employee and entering the company’s premises and the employees assuming roles of Superwoman and Superman on the mission to identify the devil and prevent any cyber security attack.

3.Product Training

Product training is another popular e-learning in almost every organisation, where the learners are required to learn about the new products and services. In product related e-learning the element of storytelling has to be built in a very subtle manner so as to not compromise on the product features, benefits etc. Simple storytelling concepts picked up from everyday life can be quite effective here.

For example, while designing a product training program for a FMCG company we had built the story around famous cricketers of our country and how they handle their matches, wins, and losses etc.

4.Soft Skills Training

For an e-learning on soft skills, building storytelling and incorporating story ideas can be relatively simpler as there are wide choices available depending on the topics.

For example an e-learning module on time management can include an element of time travel where the character in the story travels back in time as many times as he fails to meet the learning objectives and finally ends being in the stone age.

Similarly an e-learning module on business etiquette can include the story of how the person is thrown into an inferno due to bad etiquette and he has to put together the various clues to come out of the inferno by exhibiting the right etiquette.

5. Technical Training

Incorporating story into e-learning related to technical content can be the toughest as sometimes getting the right story or building a right story around it becomes a challenge owing to the nature and treatment of content. For example, a technical training on warehousing process or delivery hubs or some sales dashboards is not easy to be converted to a story form. In such cases, the instructional designers need to put that extra effort to make things interesting and challenging.
More realistic workplace themes can better suit the technical e-learning rather than a pure fictional one.
Some examples could be a character prepping himself/herself for a promotion interview and brushing up his technical knowledge or a character acting as a team leader and training his team on various parameters to be observed and worked around within the sales dashboard are a few examples of storytelling ideas for technical e-learning.

These were a few examples of storytelling ideas which can be used in e-learning. However always remember that stories are useless if your learners cannot establish a connect with the story. So while designing your next e-learning involving storytelling do remember to incorporate a relevant and compelling storytelling idea, which can strongly and vividly meet the learning objectives.

I would love to hear from you, the storytelling examples you have used to design your e-learning course and how did your learners connect with them.

For more examples of e-learning storytelling ideas to create a great experience, please visit our portfolio page.