In Learning through Story, our Instructional Designer will demonstrate the value of storytelling in online learning, break down the components of a successful story, explain how stories can be connected to course content, and provide learners with examples of how to apply storytelling to their courses while making full use of the Brightspace Learning Environment tools.
Why was this Resource Developed?
When you think of all the classes you’ve taken as a learner, do you remember most the times your teachers regaled you with facts and figures or regaled you with stories?
The Instructional Designer and course owner, Amanda Darling recalls her Politics teacher, Mr. Pavey, introducing the concept of rights by telling her that nothing stopped him from inventing a “Paveyland” flag and flying it from his rooftop. She remembers her Home Ed teacher telling stories about her cat approaching “low and slow” when targeting a mouse while she taught that the same principle applied to heating milk for a recipe. Amanda remembers an adjunct faculty explaining in one of her Screenwriting classes that she got hired to write for a TV show because she told her interviewers that her greatest strength was that at the end of the day no one ever wanted to punch her in the face. If you want to make your content memorable and engaging, try adding a storytelling element. If you’re not quite sure how, take the one-hour, self-guided course “Learning through Story: Making Connections and Engaging your Learners through the Time-Honoured Tradition of Storytelling.
The Value of Storytelling
Need to Know
Learning Through Story was created by a D2L Instructional Designer with an MFA in Screenwriting. In Learning through Story, Amanda Darling will demonstrate the value of storytelling in online learning, break down the components of a successful story, explain how stories can be connected to course content, and provide learners with examples of how to apply storytelling to their courses while making full use of the Brightspace Learning Environment tools.
Learners will be able to assess their own progress through accomplishing “Try this!” tasks and answering optional auto-graded review questions. A series of short videos by the course creator will supplement written content. At the end of the course, learners will feel confident in their ability to integrate storytelling into their courses, and they will be armed with the tools to do it well.
Nice to Know
For those fearing this sounds like a lot of work, rest assured, most of the heavy lifting has already been done for you! Downloadable job-aids will allow learners to take the essential tools/learning discussed in the course and easily apply the concepts without always having to access the full course.
There’s a table of possibilities that contains many story ideas for learners to use. There are three sample stories, which are broken down with information about their learning objectives, content, format and audience, character, motivation and complication. Finally, there are photos of a sometimes-cooperating cat, and who doesn’t need more cat photos in their lives?
The information below comes from Learning Through Story’s Story Format Options page and describes different formats for storytelling in online courses.
Using a character with a complication related to your course content, you can develop a case study that’s presented on a Brightspace HTML template page or in a callout on another page. Repeating case studies throughout the course using the same format will provide engagement and consistency for your learners, two key factors for success in online learning.
Personal anecdotes or origin stories
Brightspace video notes are great for personal anecdotes or origin stories. Origin stories can be about people, but they can also be about animals or objects. Anything that gets you as a content creator excited about your subject will likely interest your learners, and interested learners are motivated learners. Try adding an anecdote or origin story every week for semester-based courses or every few pages for self-guided courses.
Sectioned stories can be similar to case studies, in that they can use callout boxes or their own Brightspace HTML template pages. One great way to engage learners is to break a story into sections and have one section at the beginning of every module or lesson. Using release conditions, instructors can direct learners to complete each module before they can find out the continuation of the story in the next module, and as we’ve already seen, our brains love stories and are eager to find out what happens next.
For any courses where investigative skills would apply (any many courses that don’t!), mysteries create an engaging storytelling element. Finding the correct answer to a content-related riddle could trigger a release condition to unlock content for learners. You could even include the beginning of a story and have learners try to guess the ending. For a gamification element, badges can be used as rewards for learners who solve mysteries within a course.
Learners generally enjoy feeling in charge of some aspect of their learning, and this storytelling option does just that. Branching scenarios can be created using Brightspace pages or Twine. The Brightspace survey tool can also be used to create branching scenarios.
Have you ever tried to elicit an opinion from a group of learners about a complicated subject (or done UX research)? Sometimes people just don’t know what they want when it’s presented in a theoretical manner. Scenario-based questions can help. For example, you could write a simple story with two different endings, one representing an easy-but-less-satisfying experience and the other representing a more-challenging-but-rewarding experience. Ask your learners which story they prefer, as a way to determine their priorities and preferences. As you go through the course, you will notice that many of the course activities use a tool that allows users to provide responses in content, this is the implementation of the Reflection Tool (Socratic Tool).
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