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Article TitleEngage Learners Emotionally in eLearning Experiences

Publication: Integrated Learnings: eLearning

Summary: What was the last book you couldn’t put down? The last movie you couldn’t stop talking about? The last song you found yourself playing repeatedly? While you may feel drawn to each of these for different reasons, chances are, you have emotional connections to them all. This article describes simple strategies for engaging learners emotionally with eLearning content.

Inspiring engagement doesn’t require an investment in high-end video production. Rather, a simple yet compelling story can help emotionally engage learners with the content, creating a motivational and memorable learning experience. These stories can also create a challenge that permeates an entire course or lesson.

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Article Title: Storytelling in eLearning: The Why and How

Publication: eLearn Magazine

Summary: Whether you design classroom training, eLearning, m-learning, or work with another medium entirely, storytelling is a learning tool that possesses the power to motivate, persuade, educate, and even entertain. This article describes how learning theory supports storytelling, how to craft a story, and ways to design stories into eLearning lessons.

Cleverly crafted stories stimulate an emotional response to training content, such as a desire to help, curiosity about how something works, or a drive to achieve. Thus, the story helps persuade learners to engage in the training and ultimately perform the desired behaviors. When written in a conversational tone (and with a pinch of humor, if you have a knack for that), stories can even entertain.

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Article Title: 5 Ways to Tell Stories in eLearning

Publication: Integrated Learnings: eLearning

Summary: Training professionals promote storytelling as a way to engage learners and relay tacit knowledge. Although storytelling is a skill that many inherently possess, instructional designers often struggle to incorporate stories into eLearning lessons. This article describes five approaches to designing a story into eLearning.

Who doesn’t enjoy a snappy comic strip? Comics offer a relatively quick read, an effective method for displaying dialog, and a visually engaging format. If the rest of an eLearning lesson follows a standard, templated look, using fun images can contribute to the story’s attention-grabbing effect. It also opens the door to a more informal writing style…even a bit of humor.

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Article Title: Conveying Tacit Knowledge in eLearning

Publication: Integrated Learnings: eLearning

Summary: Tacit knowledge – concepts we understand intuitively but struggle to explicitly articulate – is often difficult to clearly outline in training. However, instructional design techniques such as storytelling and social learning can help convey and reinforce these concepts. This article explains tacit knowledge and describes techniques for conveying it in an eLearning environment.

If you’ve ever stumped subject matter experts by asking how they made certain decisions, you may have stumbled upon tacit knowledge. When you get vague responses like “I just know,” or “I just caught on from experience,” you may be entering the realm of tacit knowledge.

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Article Title: George Orwell’s Advice for Writing eLearning Content

Publication: Integrated Learnings: eLearning

Summary: Learners can be fickle, quickly slipping into distraction or boredom if asked to read too much. Thus, instructional designers have a responsibility to write training materials as clearly and concisely as possible. This article explains George Orwell’s six tips for communicating in “plain English,” applying his principles to eLearning design.

This makes me think of sentence fragments. Technically, a sentence fragment is not a grammatically correct sentence. But sometimes we get away with fragments when we use them to emphasize a point and the idea is still understandable. Rightly or not, I frequently use fragments in posts on this blog. In fact, I’ve done it at least once in this post.

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I just found out that an article I wrote in April, A Formula for Storytelling in eLearning, made the list of top April posts on the eLearning Learning site (scroll down to #21)! Yippee!

eLearning Learning describes itself as a community that collects and organizes the best information on the web about eLearning. Last year, the site collected nearly 9,000 web articles related to eLearning.

Click on a link below to view…

…the eLearning Learning list for April

…this article on Integrated Learnings: eLearning

…a summary of the article on this blog

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Article Title: Writing to Educate and Entertain: What Would Stephen King Do?

Publication: Integrated Learnings: eLearning

Summary: Most instructional designers I know are decent technical writers, but many are not as adept at creative writing. However, to keep learners motivated during an eLearning course, designers should apply the techniques of creative writing and technical communication to learning theory’s best practices. This article, inspired from a literature review recently published in Performance Improvement Journal, theorizes about what techniques an accomplished fiction author like Stephen King might apply when writing for eLearning.

What an intriguing question. What would someone like Stephen King (or any acclaimed fiction author) make it a point to do if he had to write for eLearning? Borrowing ideas from the rest of Iverson’s article and reflecting on my own experience, below are some answers that come to mind.

I’ve been on a style and learner engagement kick lately, and I have two other recent posts related to this topic:

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Article Title: Visual Storytelling: Lessons from Slide:ology

Publication: Integrated Learnings: eLearning

Summary: A graphic can be an effective way to illustrate a concept, summarize data, or create a focal point within a sea of text. This is true for magazines, presentations, eLearning – just about any communication tool, really. Slide:ology, a book by Nancy Duarte, offers an inspiring and informative crash course on visual design. This articles summarizes lessons learned from the book and points out how its principles do (and sometimes don’t) apply to eLearning design.

First of all, Duarte practices what she preaches. The book is a package of eye candy that inspires and informs. In just flipping through its glossy pages, I spotted several slide examples with ideas I went on to borrow for my own projects.

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Article Title: A Formula for Storytelling in eLearning

Publication: Integrated Learnings: eLearning

Summary: Storytelling is a hot topic in the field of instructional design. This article lists ways to use stories in training and outlines the elements of a good story.

When a client asked our team to develop a sales skills enhancement course, we opted to base the training on the methods of the most successful sales person in the department. We included her stories to demonstrate key skills, and we used her stories as the foundation for a few problem-centered lessons. It worked like a charm.

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Article Title: Use Scenarios to Make Quiz Questions Relevant to the Job

Publication: Integrated Learnings: eLearning blog

Comments: My co-workers and I are always brainstorming ways we can make training more engaging – especially e-learning. A recent theme in our conversations is storytelling.

Instead of just presenting information in training and then prompting learners to apply it afterward, why not make an entire lesson into a story? Introduce new concepts in the context of the story…instead of introducing concepts in a decontextualized way and bringing examples in later.

I’ve made a concerted effort design this way over the past several months, and I feel like it has really brought the content to life. If only I had the time to go back to previous projects and apply the same principle!

This type of thing can work with quizzes too. The story might not be as fluid and involved in a quiz, but even using basic scenarios seems to make quiz questions more relevant. And learning theories out there support this approach. I used my latest contribution to the Integrated Learnings: eLearning blog to describe my application of scenarios to quizzes.

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