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.


Anonymous Jon Revelos said...

Great post, Anil! I totally agree with the claim that stories can do something for learners that more quantifiable approaches cannot. Just as we shouldn't expect to build great structures using only one (or a few) tools, we shouldn't expect to be able to build great comprehension and understanding using only a limited number of instructional tools. Hammers can't do what screwdrivers can, but that isn't a strength or weakness of either - simply a difference that should be acknowledged and leveraged based on the situation at hand.

As you know from my TIS days, this is a topic of passion for me, so thanks for devoting some time/space in your blog to furthering the cause! I wrote on this subject several months ago (although not as succinctly :-)) - perhaps you and your readers may glean some useful insight/perspective from it.

Keep up the great work!

2:35 PM  
Blogger Karuna Sanghvi said...

However, at the base of each scenario or a simulation is a story. An anecdote. A situation. Whether you would refer to it as a short story or anything else.

1:28 AM  
Blogger Purabi Patnaik said...

Absolutely agree with you Anil. Afterall, interactivities in an elearning program intend to engage the learner and what can be more engaging than a good story.

11:58 AM  

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