Why learning needs storytelling

What did the last compliance training course you took look like? Was it just multiple choice quiz after multiple choice quiz? Sometimes, I feel like I could just use my common sense for those things, or worse, take a guess without even reading the question.

This year I took a WHS course that was different. The course had a cast of characters that were put in different scenarios. Instead of guessing the answer to, “What colour fire extinguisher is used for electrical fires?” I had to respond to a real scenario, under time pressure, and choose my character’s actions. It felt real! There was a choice to make and consequences for my choice. It was probably the best WHS course I’ve ever taken... 

Storytelling is a powerful learning medium, and there’s more than one way to implement it. In this article, we explore how to put your learners inside the story and to leverage the storytellers in your organisation to tell their own.


Put learners in the story

Earlier this year at iDesignX, Androgogic’s Director of Learning Experiences Emma Henning presented on the importance of integrating storytelling into learning. Emma emphasised how plot and character development work together to keep your learners intellectually engaged and emotionally invested. 

As an example, Emma presented Androgogic’s work on the MATE Bystander ProgramAs a mixed Virtual Reality (VR) and SCORM experience, it empowers learners to be active bystanders when confronted with behaviours associated with gender-based violence. 

The program follows a small cast of characters as they navigate situations related to gender-based violence. The learner is inserted into these situations and is prompted to take action to practice their skills. Challenging the learner to be involved in the development of the story and the relationships between characters encourages emotional investment, which keeps them engaged and focused.

While VR can immerse learners in a story and is important for learners who need to practice their skills, storytelling doesn’t always need to mean SCORM packages and Virtual Reality. Below, we explore how easy it is to implement a practice of digital storytelling in your organisation.


Digital Storytelling

Each individual in your organisation has a wealth of experience and knowledge behind them. Digital storytelling is the act of bringing those stories to life. 

Digital storytelling can bring new insights to people when individuals create

  • A personal narrative
  • A historical documentary, or
  • Informative instruction

Digital storytelling offers your colleagues the opportunity to share their wisdom with their peers. When your colleagues share information or instruction through digital storytelling, they create opportunities for everyone in their team, department, or organisation to learn. Telling a story digitally through a podcast, a video, or a presentation can really make the learning stick. 


Why digital storytelling?

Totara’s ebook The Learner Social Contract advises against designing “online lessons” which fail to take the online medium into account. Their advice is to design a learning experience that will take learners on a journey. Try varying the media used in course delivery to change the way your learners experience their learning so they can both “normalise the new” and stay engaged. 

This can mean immersive storytelling experiences like the Workplace Health and Safety case study above or the MATE Bystander Program, or it can mean encouraging the storytellers in your organisation to share their knowledge with their peers. Digital storytelling with podcasts, videos, or presentations is one way of changing the media learners experience so that you can keep them invested in their learning.


Put digital storytelling into practice

Follow these steps to bring digital storytelling to life in your organisation.

Choose your learning experts

Who in your organisation has valuable expertise? Where do people go when they need help with a particular problem? Identifying the knowledge experts is your first step.

Choose your medium

Podcasts are lightweight and great to listen to on your commute. Videos and presentations require a bit more know-how but can be powerful in the right hands. What do your learners like best? Try posting a survey on your Totara Engage site to see what your learners prefer.

Make it available for learners

Where will your learners go to find your digital storytelling experience? A learning experience platform (LXP) like Totara Engage allows anyone to post their own content as a standalone resource or part of a playlist. Add your new podcast or video to your LXP, add some tags to make it easy to find, and let your learners loose!


What next?

You’ve implemented a culture of storytelling and knowledge sharing in your organisation and your learners love it! They remember much more than they used to because the scenarios are memorable. Immersive VR experiences allow them to practice their skills in a low stakes environment, and they feel much more confident using their new skills in the real world.

This could be your organisation. VR experiences add another level of pathos to your stories and allow your learners to practise their skills in a low stakes environment. When you have subject matter experts right under your nose, you can create a culture of storytelling and knowledge sharing. 

Whether you’re after an immersive experience like the MATE Bystander Program or need a boost getting started with digital storytelling using Totara Engage, Androgogic is here to help. Contact us to find out more.