The Importance of Storytelling in Online Education

Stories leave a lasting impact on people in a way that few other things do. It is part of human nature to communicate via storytelling, exchange experiences, and create genuine connections. Storytelling goes far back in human history, whether it be visual representations like cave drawings or oral traditions passed down generations. 

The idea of learning through storytelling is just as popular today, though the way we tell stories has changed dramatically with advancing technology. Today, storytelling in online education leverages rich visuals, VR technology, and gamification, just to name a few. 

In an increasingly digital age, better methods of storytelling keep emerging. In order to make use of these technologies, it is important to understand the way storytelling works, and how it can impact your learners positively. Let’s take a look!

The Case For Storytelling in eLearning

The Importance of Storytelling in Online Education

Makes Learning Compelling

Stories have a way of sparking curiosity in learners. By weaving eLearning content in a way that creates a compelling narrative, your learners are invested in the story and genuinely pay attention. While it may seem that learning is being placed second to storytelling, the reality is far from it. The more curious a learner is about content, the more likely they are to delve into why or how something happens. 

Enhances Retention

Students tend to remember stories, rather than isolated facts. Studies show that facts presented as a story are 22 times more likely to be remembered. This is true for all ages, whether you consider pre-K or adult learners. 

Stories are able to evoke emotion in the learners and can help them process information in a much more effective way. Learners are even likely to remember small details since processing information in a story-like manner does not feel burdensome.

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Provides Context

Many adult learners can be resistant to changing their behaviors or assumptions. This can make training a challenge. Contextualizing the learning materials via storytelling makes it possible for them to relate to the situations or environments being presented. For example, a workplace training module that builds a story around a frequently experienced issue in the workplace invites greater attention from the trainees. 

Making content relatable through stories is not just for corporate training though. For example, by using familiar situations or cultural contexts, most learners are able to personally relate to the story and are likely to learn from it.

Fosters Emotional Connection

We’ve all experienced a time when we felt deeply connected to a story. The ability of humans to empathize and relate can be an effective means of learning. If a character’s behavior, challenges, or struggles are in common with the learner’s, the learner can become emotionally invested in the narrative. Learners can also bring their own personal experiences to the classroom and immerse themselves in the learning content.

As a result, learners are able to find solutions to problems or explore new areas of action. At the same time, they also learn to adapt their behaviors.

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How to Incorporate Storytelling in Online Learning?

Establish a Relatable Storyline

When establishing a narrative for storytelling in online education, it is important to consider how your learners may relate to the plot and characters. Learners must be able to relate to the challenges the characters face and find the scenario realistic enough to take seriously. Remember that the story is a way for you to incorporate the learning objectives. Therefore, care must be taken not to get carried away by the storytelling, leaving the learning aspect behind!

Use Visual Elements 

Good visual design aids storytelling in eLearning. Depicting key elements of a story in the form of images draws the learner’s attention and makes it easy for them to recall concepts associated with their respective images. Infographics can also help convey key points of a narrative in a much more visually appealing way, instead of using large blocks of text to relay the same information.

Apart from the use of images and infographics, there are other ways to make your narrative visually stimulating. With good spacing and a careful selection of font type and size, it is possible to make it easy for readers to quickly scan through the text. Care must also be taken to place content in a user-friendly way, optimized to fit screens of various sizes.

Make It Interactive

Incorporating interactivity adds another layer of engagement in storytelling. Simple methods like clicking through different parts of a story can prove to be surprisingly useful. Learners have a better memory of the content they interact with, no matter how simple the interaction is.

You can also kick it up a notch and include game-like interactivity. If learners are given the option to experience the story as one of the characters, they get a chance to learn in a more hands-on way. An immersive storytelling experience can potentially be much more effective than ordinary storytelling in online education.

Don’t Overcomplicate It

As we come to an end, it is imperative that you remember one crucial detail: avoid cognitive overload. With so many different ways to explore storytelling, it is easy to get carried away but you must remember not to overwhelm your learners with an unnecessarily long or convoluted narrative. It would be best to incorporate elements of microlearning in your online storytelling, which can help break down the content in a more digestible way.

Get Started on Your Storytelling Journey with Edly

Incorporating storytelling in online learning is a great way to ensure that your audience personally connects with the content and therefore retains it. The best way to do so is by creating content that draws the learners in and holds their attention. Sounds complicated, but it really isn’t. Perhaps a good place to start would be by asking yourself: what kind of storytelling would you respond best to?

If the task of incorporating storytelling in online education seems daunting to you, consider talking to an expert. Edly’s instructional design services can help you design your online course in a way that genuinely connects with your audience. Feel free to get in touch for details about our services, or try out our platform!

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