The use of a powerful storyline is one of the elements that makes eLearning lessons effective. However, eLearning developers should also assess their narratives and check their authenticity. Using hyperbole is good but it should not becloud the meaning and context of the message. Too much hyperbole and metaphors could turn a narrative into a hoax. __________________________________________________________________________
Image source: urbanlegends.about.com
To stop the global proliferation of hoax stories, photos and web content, Witness.org and the Guardian Project have built InformaCam. According to a Businessweek.com article written by Bernhard Warner, InformaCam is “an app that collects and analyzes the metadata stored in digital photos and video. Users download the app to their phones, where it integrates with the cameras. Once installed, InformaCam can identify where and when a photo was taken and even the weather at the time.”
Although fake pictures, “Photoshopped” photos and hoax stories serve their purposes for entertainment and amusement, they also cause serious harm to other people and to society in general. Some governments fabricate digital evidences to arrest the so-called “enemies of the state”. Believable hoax stories - the supposed inspirational and heroic kinds - generate donations for its perpetrators. During typhoon Sandy, false tweets and manipulated photos posted in the Net generated more fear and panic.
We, eLearning developers and researchers, can learn some lessons from the core objective of InformaCam. The app is actually an assessment tool to identify hoaxes and fake content.
In our work as developers for narratives, storylines and scenario-builders, we should apply the same diligence to provide authenticity and accuracy in our stories. Simulation and interactive methodologies do not give us the license to produce hoaxes for the sake of marketability and audience impact.
In a paper written by Heather J. Richmond entitled “Learners' Lives: A Narrative Analysis”, he emphasizes the importance of authenticity in narrative research. According to Richmond, stories are “transformable” or “mutable”. This means that storytellers can manipulate narratives to pursue an agenda.
On Transformability: The Mutability of Stories, Richmond writes,
“ When examining the veracity of the learner's account, there is the possibility that learners tell you just what they think you want to hear. In order to reduce this, I tried to encourage the learners to re-listen to the taped interview with me after each interview was finished. In this way I hoped to verify the narrative. Narratives allow transformations to occur; and re-listening to the tape allowed the learner to make changes - rather than the researcher relying solely on her own interpretations. If a story was too fantastic, I did not use it as a case story.”As eLearning developers and story researchers, our task requires us to engage with people in order to listen to their narratives and stories. We use these stories in developing storylines, plots and sub-plots for our story modules.
There are two ways we source stories. One, from subject matter experts (SMES) and the other, from people on the job as well as targeted participants.
But what do we do when we face contradictions from these two sources?
In my previous blog, The Wrong Way Shows The Correct Way... Sometimes, I wrote:
“In contradictions, our brain responds, our brain keeps a built-in sanity check. It creates some sort of equilibrium between what is right and what is wrong. Most often, these senses are unconscious and come to us as gut feel. Experts say "we should trust our gut feel." This truth is based on that sanity check in our mind.”I discovered some points to ponder from Richmond’s “Learners' Lives: A Narrative Analysis”:
1. Learn the difference between “the events as lived and events as told”.
2. Avoid the “illusion of causality”, or putting undue and stereotyped explanations to events
3. Test the authenticity of the narratives
4. Always be aware of the context of the storyteller
We are in this profession to develop teaching methods for rapid eLearning by using stories and narratives. It is not our job to propagate hoaxes.
Read my related blog:
Use ERRORS in making technical eLearning engaging and embedding objectives in error discovery and resolution.
Richmond, J. H., Learners' Lives: A Narrative Analysis. The Qualitative Report, Volume 7. Number 3. September, 2002.
Ray Jimenez, PhD
"Helping Learners Learn Their Way"