Monday, February 02, 2009

Stories and Learning (Stories—Not Scenarios, Not Branched Simulations)

If you judge learning through the lens of learning objectives and the measurement of behavioral outcomes, you might as well not depend on stories to aid learning. Stories move you. They make you think. They provide insights. They have high recall. However, emotions, thought and insight are ambiguous terms. And what you recall from a story are the things that moved you, that made you think, that laid bare some meanings. The recall is personal—not exactly what the “teacher” or “SME” wants. So, you can’t go back and tell your learners “That’s not what I meant at all. That’s not it, at all.”

Listening to or reading a story is not a passive exercise—the reader or the listener interacts with a story through the sheer act of interpretation even after the story has been told. For e-learning designers, interactivity mostly constitutes drag, click or text entry—and now game-play, collaboration and personalization. But that’s just a Web idea of interactivity. Interactivity also means interaction with characters, plot, theme, and ideas—without necessarily having to click on options and alter outcomes.

So, you can use stories to teach. But you can’t close their meanings.
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