Keys to eLearning Storytelling: Using a Guide Character in Your Online Course Part 1

Keys to Storytelling in eLearning - An eBook by Trivantis

The new Trivantis® eBook, Keys to Storytelling in eLearning, is packed with chapters from instructional designers just like you, industry experts, and the Trivantis Team. Today on the blog, I’d like to share part of a delightful chapter written by John Mortenson, who is the Online Learning Manager for The Fresh Market. (By the way, if you like John’s tutorials, be sure to catch his session at LUC 2017.)Thanks, John, for contributing this awesome chapter to Keys to Storytelling in eLearning. Let’s take a look:

Using a Guide Character in Your Online Course

John Mortenson, Online Learning Manager for The Fresh Market with over 10 years of online course development experience and cartoonist

Storytelling and Learning

People have been using stories as a way to teach learners since ancient times, and for good reason.

GUIDE example

Stories are memorable. Stories effectively illustrate a point. Stories provide context to raw information. And a good story is addictive… listeners are motivated to see a story through to the end, to find out what happens. We humans are simply hardwired to understand stories. That is why Greek mythology, fables, and even the Bible all use stories to teach cultural values, morals, and ideas.

Stories can be a powerful way to teach, so why not leverage storytelling in YOUR online courses?

The Virtual GUIDE

In face-to-face training classes, the instructor is the student’s GUIDE—a mentor figure who shepherds the student through the material. During the class, a good instructor develops a relationship with the student through different types of interactions:

  • Presenting information
  • Asking the student questions
  • Challenging the student to complete a task
  • Providing feedback and encouragement
  • Offering humor

In an online course, you often do not HAVE a live instructor, which can leave students feeling a little lonely and less motivated. A virtual GUIDE character can act as a mentor figure so that the student isn’t lonely, but they can also be much more.

GUIDE example

A virtual GUIDE is less restricted— these characters can have amazing juggling skills, magical powers, or the ability to travel through time, or they might just be quirky. You can make your GUIDE whatever you want him or her to be… President of the United States, an elf, a robot, a talking dog, a unicorn, a germ, and so on.

Best of all, the VIRTUAL GUIDE can break the fourth wall of storytelling: instead of simply watching the story from a distance (like a movie), the GUIDE can bring the learner directly into the unfolding narrative. This kind of engagement motivates students to see the story—and your online course—through to the end.

As an instructional designer, cartoonist, and illustrator, I have created several different virtual GUIDES for online courses. In this chapter, I will cover:

  • How to approach creating a GUIDE
  • How to make your GUIDE memorable and interesting
  • How to make a GUIDE come alive

Ready to begin?

If your answer is “yes!” then download the full eBook, Keys to Storytelling in eLearning, to read the rest of John Mortenson’s chapter.In the book, you’ll find out how to create a memorable guide and bring that guide to life in your online course, along with more valuable tips from instructional designers and eLearning industry experts.