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Aug 29, 2017 Katelind Hays

The Secret to Adding Context to Training Content

Using Stories in Training

BYTE Session Recap

As we all know, blended learning is all the rage these days! We know that selecting authentic design treatments for each defined learning objective creates the most impactful training experience. While strong instructional design makes a difference for our modern learners, there’s one additional element we can integrate into our programs that further increases the likelihood of learner success: stories!

Speakers Karin Rex and Tom Campbell recently shared their storytelling expertise with BYTE learners. Watch the full program replay for examples of powerful instructional stories in action.

A Rich History and Powerful Tool

From Egyptian hieroglyphs, to the first words ever written on papyrus with ink, people have been telling and listening to stories forever. Even cave paintings communicated important messages about life and survival for our ancestors.

Narrative engages us. It adds context to content, making it spring to life. Stories grab our attention, generate anticipation, and boost retention.

Fitting Storytelling into Modern Learning

Many of us already understand the basic benefits of storytelling in training on some level. Think about how people learn. Why don’t we just hand people a book and command them to learn? Why do we bring people together with a facilitator?

Well, without talented facilitators to make the material come alive by adding context to the content through teachable stories and engaging activities, most learners would simply struggle and absorb nothing.

This concept applies to developing learning as well. Without talented instructional designers to make the material come alive by adding context to the content through teachable stories and engaging activities, most learners would simply flounder and learn nothing.

As learning professionals, we have an entire arsenal of tools at our fingertips, but storytelling is probably one of the most powerful.

The Science Behind Stories and Learning

When learners attend information-heavy training events and read text-laden slides, only the language processing areas of their brains are active. When we tell our learners stories, the brain lights up. It’s not just sitting there decoding language, but is instead fully engaged and experiencing the events of the story.

Stories put our brains to work. We make connections between the content being shared by our facilitators and past experiences. Those connections make learning stick. Why? Because according to scientists, we think in cause-and-effect narratives constantly. From grocery shopping to ruminating about work, or thinking about our families, we make up short stories in our heads for those conversations and actions.

Incorporating narrative and taking learners on a journey supports how they naturally think, learn, and navigate their daily lives. From a learning authenticity standpoint, there’s nothing more natural or logical than a storied approach.


Published by Katelind Hays August 29, 2017
Katelind Hays