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The Value Of Storytelling In Instructional Design

Updated: Jan 15, 2023

Storytelling and learning have always gone hand in hand. For many years, stories have helped us humanise and comprehend complex ideas and remember important lessons, which is why it is such a great tool for instructional designers and learning professionals.




The right story can help professional learners acquire the lesson while also retaining all the important facts and information about a topic. As a result, it is imperative to make storytelling a part of e-learning content development because most people tend to remember stories and their lessons over data and facts.


When story elements are incorporated into e-learning material, leaner engagement improves – the different scenarios they are presented with prompts them to think and respond to the learning material in engaging ways. Moreover, stories enable learners to achieve the instructional designers learning objectives as well as the business outcomes.


When incorporating storytelling in instructional design, the designer can include the beginning, middle and end of the story if it will help the learner achieve specific learning objectives. An instructional designer can also include the beginning, middle and end of a story when the story is significant to a leaning activity or solution. However, the story does not need a beginning, middle and end if the designer plans to make the assessment questions more relevant to the learners’ experience or view.


Adopting good storytelling techniques can help instructional designers to communicate the lesson clearly and improve learner engagement.As a result, there are different types of storytelling techniques that instructional designers can apply to promote learning through storytelling. These include:


Making the learner the protagonist

Just as we relate to the protagonist in a movie, book or show, creating a protagonist that has similar attributes to the learner makes the learner emotionally involved in the plot – and helps them retain the information and lesson.


Presenting a choice between good and bad, winning and losing

Create moments of crisis for the protagonist. How the protagonist acts in such situations will pique the learner’s curiosity and help them remember how to address such situations in real life.


Crafting good vs evil scenarios

Create an enemy out of a real-life problem that learners are likely to deal with in the workplace – and let good triumph.


Aligning the story with the learner’s goals and desires

By doing this, the learner stays interested throughout the course as they would like to see how the protagonist achieves their goals (and how they can apply these lessons in real life)


It is important to keep in mind that not all instructional designers are creative storytellers, one way to craft a good story is to start by writing down what the main character is trying to achieve, ways that they can achieve what they want, as well as the actions and consequences of those actions. Moreover, when crafting a story, it is important to:


  • Create a story that is relevant and meaningful to the learners. Not only does it need to be told well, but the story also needs to be appropriate to the learners.

  • Make the story simple and understandable (complex stories with many details are often difficult to follow).

  • Create a story that will cause the learner to think about how they currently do things.

  • Include visual elements in the stories in order to aid understanding and create a lasting impression.

  • Ensure that the story has a purpose. Determine what the learners should benefit from the story, and what actions they should take should they be confronted with a similar situation in real life.

In conclusion, storytelling in instructional design is a great tool to help instructional designers to focus on the people using the learning material instead of data and facts. At My Future Work that is what we aim to do with each of our eLearning material.


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