Once upon a time…stories were told to entertain, educate and engage. Storytelling has been around as long as civilisation has existed. Stories in sacred text thousands of years old have withstood the test of time and are still told across the world today. You will remember a parable told to you as a child yet struggle to remember what you did at work on Monday. The way stories are told has changed. Instead of gathering around a campfire we play role play video games, follow celebrities on twitter or watch our moview and TV shows or people on YouTube. The one thing that hasn’t changed is the power of a good story. Stories give meaning to the otherwise unmeaningful.
Stories provide an effective way to engage learners with the content. A good story can be used to provide some context around the topic, to provide some characters that people can relate to.
“Stories have the ability to encapsulate, into one compact package, information, knowledge, context and emotion”. (Norman, 1993)
Stories provide an immersive learning experience, making learning more memorable and fun. People always remember a good story, therefore will have a higher retention of the content covered in the learning.
In an online or digital environment the use of imagery, animation and sound to tell the story create a user experience that is even more memorable.
Stories activate our brains
When we undertake training that uses boring bullet points or text, our language processing part of the brain is activated. This part decodes the words into meaning, but nothing else happens. When told a story it is not only the language parts of the brain that are activated. Other areas of the brain that are used to experience the events of the story are switched on. This could be our sensory cortext, motor cortex or other part. Our whole brain is put to work.
Stories can be used in many ways
There are numerous ways that we can use stories in learning.
Tell your own story
Telling your own stories when facilitating can help to capture the audience, provide context around what you are saying and help people relate to you. Telling your stories brings your lived experiences into the training room.
Use other stories
Parables and analogies have been used to convey learning for centuries. Using other stories can allow your presentation to become a conversation, rather than simply bullet points and data. A good analogy can make the learning easier to remember, long after simple facts have been forgotten.
“The motivational benefits of narrative-centered learning, particularly with regard to self-efficacy, presence, interest, and perception of control, are substantial.” (McQuiggan, et al., 2008)
Immersing learners in the story
Interactive narratives or scenario based learning allow for the learner to e immersed in the story, challenging learners, allowing them to make decisions and apply their knowledge.
Use their own stories
Everyone has a story. You can encourage learners to reflect on their own stories, to allow them to relate their previous experiences to the content. Encouraging people to tell their stories, to share their experiences, also allows learners to establish authentic relationships with their peers.
Stories have been woven into our lives in the form of novels, fables, ballads and movies. Weaving stories through the learning will create a greater learning experience.