Monday, February 18, 2013

Little Red Riding Hood 2.0: Creative Use of Scientific Data to Enhance Interactive Stories

Synthesis:
Scientific data is usually presented as raw boring information. However, creative eLearning developers can effectively use these to add impact to interactive storytelling.  Learn how to use scientific data in story telling like ‘The Tech and Science Behind Little Red Riding Hood’ featured in the American Scientific. __________________________________________________________________________

Watch the video  ‘The Tech and Science Behind Little Red Riding Hood’.

In my experience as an eLearning developer, I regularly grapple with the dilemma of choosing which data to include or leave out in my interactive modules. Data overload can dampen the essence of storytelling. So, I don’t intend my interactive narratives to appear like a robotic encyclopedia mouthing figures, numbers and technical jargons.  

We, the so called ‘creatives’, shun data like we would  dirty linens. Story developers are wary of statistics, especially the scientific ones. We would rather focus on the essence of storytelling and forgo unnecessary technical information that could possibly bore the audience. 

In storytelling, the storytellers simply say, “I am enjoying a hot cup of coffee,

We don’t say, “I am enjoying a hot cup of coffee, boiled to a temperature of  90°C.

Since scientific data is not part of everyday lingo, it could alienate elearners from the story once stats and figures flood our storylines. We don’t want our interactive stories to become classroom lectures. If used inappropriately, data becomes the major cause of distraction.

However, after watching ‘The Tech and Science Behind Little Red Riding Hood’, a video featured in  Telling A Story…wait, what’s a “story”? by Bora Zivkovic published in the website of the American Scientific, I gained a deeper insight into interactive storytelling.
Like beauty, the relevance of data is in the eyes of the beholder. 

As eLearning developers, we can actually turn the statistical information into a supplementary enhancement - an added dimension that can heighten the impact of storytelling.   

In the article of Jen Christiansen entitled, Storytelling with Big Data: Thoughts on Visualized, the writer lauds those data visualizers who take the effort to ‘humanize’ data by changing their approaches and storytelling themes.

“I can’t help but wonder if in the relatively recent race to distance ourselves from fussy or decorative and nonfunctional chart junk, we have vercompensated, and ended up in a sterile place of displaying cold numbers, stripped completely of their stories. Perhaps on hitting that extreme, the emphasis is now on the injection of humanity into the numbers in a more sophisticated and meaningful way. One thing is for sure, there is a lot of inspiring data visualizers in the world doing just that, in very memorable ways.”
In closing, I take on the challenge of how to further ‘humanize’ scientific data and use it in my interactive narratives. What did I learn from ‘The Tech Science Behind the Little Red Riding Hood’?

It is interactive storytelling at its finest. The video showed that Little Red Riding Hood is real and alive, part of a world with depth, measurement, speed, specifications and price tags.  Do not just include scientific data in the story; blend or embed it with the story.

Using scientific data is one of the best ways to simulate real-life scenarios. 

Read my related blog
Embedding Learning in Stories –“Lost Package” Vignette Featured.

Works Cited
Christiansen, J.,  Storytelling with Big Data: Thoughts on Visualized  by  Jen Christiansen

Ireland, P., The Tech and Science Behind Little Red Riding Hood’
 
Zivkovic, B., Telling A Story…wait, what’s a “story”? By Bora Zivkovic


Ray Jimenez, PhD
Vignettes Learning
"Helping Learners Learn Their Way"

3 comments:

  1. E-learning is an important part of self education. Especially in those regions where the situation is not stable economically. Check the article about online learning Africa experience.

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  2. Ray,
    Clever as all get-out and an inspiration to watch. At the same time, I can’t even imagine the audience and learning objectives, other than to jazz up a bunch of instructional designers.

    I develop systems training for a healthcare audience. If they saw anything close to this I would be warned to “cut out the fluff. Just show me what to do.”

    As a firm believer in storytelling, I understand the power of turning a generic patient into Mary Watson, who was injured in an auto accident, and her treatment protocol modification is based on medical history by clicking here and doing that. But other than a shot of a sympathetic Mary, and maybe eager family members following her recovery online (if that supports a specific learning objective), our audience has no tolerance for cute graphics and analogies, especially if they take even a moment of additional time.

    In short, I get the power of story. But fear that it is too often taken to mean tacking on the look and feel of entertainment rather than engaging the audience with a simple human-scale example.
    --
    John Morley

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  3. John, I love your comments. I completely agree. We can get overboard.

    The idea that is worth keeping is that there are multitude ways to use story design depending on the audience.

    I was in a flight last night and watch a 7 year old played his iPad. I was fascinated on how he used multiple ways to approach the screen and following interesting items.

    Best, Ray

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