Pairing pithy videos—the epitome of hip modernity—with the ancient art of storytelling can invigorate otherwise ordinary eLearning.

Storytelling is among the best ways to communicate, share experience, and teach; a good story stays with the audience for a long time. Video storytelling might be a relative newcomer, but it has surged to supremacy. Reading a story or listening to a great storyteller can activate the imagination and lead learners to visualize a sequence of events, but a video can take them there and re-create the feeling of being part of the event. Newer technologies, like 360-degree video and augmented or virtual reality, promise to immerse learners even more realistically in stories.

Video is a natural medium for storytelling

The Internet is highly visual; according to Gigaom, a technology research firm, consumers and businesses are increasingly turning to video to tell stories. eLearning designers should take a page from their book—or would that be a frame from their video? The shift to video is, in part, due to the ease of creating and editing video with smartphones and apps. As short videos and video ads dominate social media and other mobile spaces, video is literally being reshaped and reimagined. (The age-old taboo on vertical shooting is fading as companies specifically design video to fit vertical smartphone screens.)

Animations, clever filters, and the instant ability for anyone to star in a video have fueled an explosion of creativity. Videos are becoming shorter and faster-paced, vital to holding the attention of time-starved, multitasking learners.

For eLearning designers, this points to a need to integrate compact, engaging videos intomicrolearning and eLearning modules. Even very brief stories require the essential components of a great narrative:

  • Tight focus—a central idea that you can capture in a single word
  • Appeal to viewers’ values or emotions
  • A character who is interesting and whom learners will care about
  • A tension point—a challenge, a problem to solve, a conflict
  • Actions, consequences, and resolution—a character’s journey