Story-Based eLearning design is effective because it creates an environment where learners are compelled to anticipate. The vagueness of "what's next" keeps the mind engrossed until the story finds a resolution. Very few people can resist the power of a good story.
Anticipation is a natural human tendency or practice. Ordinary everyday occurrences are filled with circumstances that compel us to anticipate. Whenever we drive, we anticipate the change of traffic light at the intersection. While watching a baseball or football game, we await the direction of the ball or the pass. We can almost predict what our boss might say if we are late for a meeting. We look forward to how our spouse would react over a new dress or suit. We eagerly anticipate the reaction of our kid over a surprise gift. Anticipation makes life dynamic. It keeps us moving.
The Story-based eLearning design stirs the learner's anticipation. It is a catch or secret door through which learners enter. People can barely resist a well-told story and their minds are enticed to follow the plot with embedded lessons.
Interestingly,Thomas Levenson wrote an article in the MIT Technology Review about Rebecca Saxe's experiments on Theory of the Mind (ToM). One of the objectives of the experiment was to find out how our brains learn to be social. To do this, Saxe devised a story-based experiment to assess via MRI, how children anticipate scenarios and thoughts.
Rebecca Saxe describes how she came up with the idea of making a story-based experiment process:
Even other fields of science have acknowledged the potential of the story-based design as a learning modality and a knowledge-gathering tool for neuro-research.
In my blog Vague Stories Help Learners to Discover, I quoted an excerpt from John Lehar's In Praise of Vagueness:
As eDevelopers and story-based learning designers, we are reminded that the human brain is wired to anticipate. Every human being has the innate capacity to see storylines in everyday occurrences. Our job is to bring out these storylines in real life and put it in the context of eLearning.
I’d love to hear your thoughts about this topic. Sound off in the comments section!
Thomas Levenson: The Story of a Study of the Mind
Vague Stories Help Learners to Discover
Ray Jimenez, PhD
"Helping Learners Learn Their Way"