Digital storytelling – online learning at its finest

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Storytelling has always been a vital part of learning. Ever since humans developed language, it has been used to create narratives and stories which stay with us throughout our lives.

Stories, when used in a learning environment, can make complex notions tangible, capture empathy, enable risk-free exploration by placing yourself in that person’s shoes, and encourage active learning by sharing collective experiences.

Storytelling from your desk?

Often without realising, we use the fundamentals of storytelling in our working environment; communicating with others in a persuasive way to try to achieve a particular objective. Whether it’s pitching a concept to a customer, communicating the importance of a new system or process, or leading the whole company through business change, bringing people together around a vision or idea can be greatly improved by storytelling. Used well, stories allow us to establish connections, influence, inspire and assist with knowledge retention— so how can this powerful medium be transferred into online learning?

One way (and CDS DS is a big fan of this!) is by combining the power of storytelling with the visual impact of video. Video production can create a more accurate, familiar working environment by addressing real-life matters in a genuine or fictitious way. Let's use an example:

Company X is experiencing issues due to incidents of staff storing sensitive data incorrectly, and they require some online learning to tackle the problem; a video could illustrate the correct practice in a simple, transactional way.

The video could be a ‘talking heads’ tutorial that demonstrates ways to store sensitive data correctly, but if there is an ingrained culture of ambivalence toward data protection within the company, this won’t necessarily be resolved through a ‘tell’ piece. However, a case study with a compelling story could draw attention to important details: how, where, when or why the issue may have occurred and the business impact of the data breach. A case study can also reflect the learner's working environment, allowing room for an insight into the root cause of the problem and evoking greater motivation to change that behaviour.

How can CDS DS help?

For over 10 years, CDS Defence & Security have been creating successful learning solutions by acknowledging and harnessing the power of storytelling and video production.

Data protection, unconscious bias and active bystander are just some of the topics I've had the pleasure of being a part of; but there are no limits to the themes we can explore, all of which can benefit from the art of digital storytelling.

The emphasis on obligation over personalisation for in-house training is telling by how many people actually look forward to online learning. Anecdotal evidence shows that mandatory training is often pushed down employees daily ‘to do’ lists until managers are forced to intervene close to completion deadlines. But if our natural desire to learn was at the heart of training delivery, what impact might that have?

What’s your learning style?

Storytelling embraces all types of learning styles – visual, audio and kinesthetic. Visual learners are able to concentrate on mental pictures, auditory learners focus on the words and kinesthetic learners can create an emotional connection to the story.

At times, training will need to include the exchange of essential facts and figures, but storytelling can strengthen the training solution to move toward an enduring cultural and behavioural change. Empathy in learning is key to inciting intrinsic motivation; why not consider video to capture your story?