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. Surprise, therefore, is important in the Story-based eLearning design because it creates an environment of awe and marvel during the learning process.
The ingredient of surprise adds more impact to any event or endeavor. In the movie Sixth Sense, the audience was blindsided when Bruce Willis - who everyone thought was a regular character – was later revealed to be 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 just as important in the Story-based eLearning design. Since eLearning follows the dynamic or hypertext method instead of the linear approach, the lessons are unexpected, with open-ended outcomes. In effect, learners’ sense of wonder is heightened, causing 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 labelled as right or wrong. In effect, there is a flow of new ideas, giving learners the opportunity to 'stack experiences'.
Surprise is largely 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, 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 in anticipation and see how the scenario turns out.
In his article Surprise Is Still the Most Powerful Marketing Tool, Scott Redick writes:
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.
I’d love to hear your thoughts! Sound off in the comments section, and let’s discuss.
Scott Redick: Surprise is Still the Most Powerful Marketing Tool
Ray Jimenez, PhD
"Helping Learners Learn Their Way"