Our belief: At Vignettes Learning we use stories in eLearning; however, we make them interactive. The emphasis is getting learners involved in the story and not just telling the learners the story.
Synthesis. In most endeavors – war, sports, marketing or storytelling – the element of surprise works wonders. By using the strategy of surprise, people are caught in their vulnerable state, a condition that leads to openness and non-judgment. This component of surprise is important in the Story-based eLearning design because it creates an environment of awe and marvel in learning.
The element of surprise adds more impact to an event or endeavor. In the movie Sixth Sense, the audience was blindsided when Bruce Willis – whom everyone thought was a regular character – was actually a dead person. During the Vietnam War, the Tet Offensive launched by the communists caught the US military off-guard that it nearly depleted the American forces.
The power of surprise is as important in the Story-based eLearning design. Since eLearning follows the dynamic or hypertext method instead of the linear one, the lessons are unexpected with open-ended outcomes. Thus, it heightens the learner’s sense of wonder and causes them to be more receptive.
How is surprise attained?
Story-based designs are basically provocative and argumentative. It compels learners to take different views and answers that are not labeled as right or wrong. In effect, there is a flow of new ideas and it gives learners an opportunity to ‘stack experiences’.
Surprise is also based on the unexpected. In real life we cannot always predict how events will turn out. We attempt to bring the unexpected into our learning scenarios to make lessons more authentic. Our eLearning designs usually mirror real life with its own surprises.
On the contrary, when we spoon-feed learners, we eliminate the surprise factor. When this happens, the learners tend to be passive and take less active roles. When elearning lessons are dynamically designed, the learners are taken to various twists and turns. They flow with the story and discover context as it unfolds. Learners wait with anticipation and see how the scenario will turn out.
In his article Surprise Is Still the Most Powerful Marketing Tool, Scott Redick writes:
“Surprise is addictive. Surprise is like crack in your brain. Scientists at Emory and Baylor used MRIs to measure changes in human brain activity in response to a sequence of pleasurable stimuli, using fruit juice and water. The patterns of juice and water squirts were either predictable or completely unpredictable. Contrary to the researchers' expectations, the reward pathways in the brain respond most strongly to the unpredictable sequence of squirts. "The region lights up like a Christmas tree on the MRI," said Dr. Read Montague, an associate professor of neuroscience at Baylor. "That suggests people are designed to crave the unexpected." Birchbox, a subscription service that sends customers a box of mystery beauty products each month, and Phish, the rock band that never performs the same show twice, proves that entire business models can be built around this insight.”What are the other lessons infusing surprise? When learners are surprised, It is actual evidence that they have more to learn. The fact that they were surprised proves that they still lack knowledge or have not learned enough; thus, there is an exciting room for growth.
Learners Don't Know What They Don’t Know
Adding Tension to eLearning Stories to Engage Learners
Surprise Is Still the Most Powerful Marketing Tool by Scott Redick