Stories play a crucial role in human learning. It’s no wonder, then, that good stories have been part of the teacher’s toolkit for generations and are currently being re-examined by educational scholars. These scholars are discovering (or perhaps rediscovering) that using stories to facilitate learning can motivate people to make significant and lasting behavioral changes. Stories can also help people meaningfully interpret their experiences, improve their recall, and contextualize learned information so it better relates to real-world environments. But despite this potential, the method of story is seemingly underutilized by today’s instructional designers. The purpose of this presentation is to examine some effective ways to design and craft great instructional stories. The target audience is all instructional designers.
The objectives of this presentation are: 1) to examine what innovative practitioners have learned about developing effective stories that motivate, inspire, and educate; and 2) to demonstrate that this knowledge has practical application to everyday instructional design activities.
This presentation will demonstrate that learners respond to rich and sometimes difficult-to-understand stories, as long as those stories engage learners’ imaginations. By implication, instructional designers may increase their effectiveness by using rich instructional stories, and perhaps decrease their effectiveness by oversimplifying stories in an attempt to make instructional materials easier to understand. As designers adopt approaches consistent with these findings, they will be better able to develop instruction that is both successful and meaningful.
This presentation relates to the conference theme of presenting “best practices in teaching.” Instructional designers are often criticized for developing instruction that is uninspiring and that does not represent the richness of the knowledge base they are teaching. Story is a potent instructional approach to counter these criticisms. While the method of story draws on principles which may be foreign to some instructional designers, by learning instructional design principles beyond those with which they are already experienced instructional designers can accomplish a wider range of goals than those possible by only relying on techniques with which they are familiar.
This presentation is based on interviews with master storytellers who have been recognized for their ability to motivate, inspire, and educate, to discover what they know about using story as a method of instruction. Interviewees were chosen for this study because of their diverse storytelling experience, gathered through their work in such formats as the production of feature films, documentaries, and industrial training films. Interview results were then coded and analyzed for patterns and common themes that seemed to best illustrate the issue of story as a method of learning and instruction. The presentation format will present study findings through rich descriptions based on one or more interviewees’ responses.
Jason McDonald is currently the manager of eLearning and Exhibit Media Production at the LDS Motion Picture Studio, located in Provo, UT. He has been involved in education and training for over ten years. Jason’s research centers on principles to help educators remain focused on the essential characteristics of well-designed learning environments, as well as to help them focus on the questions and problems of most worth. His PhD is from Brigham Young University’s department of Instructional Psychology and Technology. Apart from his work and research, Jason enjoys history, classic films, and generally enjoying a good time.