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How to Use the Power of Storytelling in eLearning

There are good reasons why storytelling in eLearning leads to greater learner engagement and more meaningful training programs. In this blog post, we share some of the ways our off-the-shelf and custom governance, risk and compliance training courses tell stories.

On the way to honing your compliance training, you’ll frequently find that your learners already have a reasonable understanding of how to do the right thing. Learning content often focuses on helping them to make good decisions, exercise common sense and avoid risk and danger.

However, making learners really care about the issues being covered is a different matter. How do you emotionally engage people with your learning and the topics it covers, and how can you make people feel like breaching laws, regulations, and policies is a poor choice?

A screenshot from compliance eLearning that uses good storytelling techniques
This series of storylines is designed to help show the impact of financial crime and how people working at banks can help

One way to communicate messages more powerfully, and give learners a deeper connection, is through storytelling. Whether it’s exploring everyday situations or portraying worst-case scenarios, there are lots of ways we weave stories into compliance eLearning.

Consider Using Drama and Weaving in Relatable Scenarios

When learning lands, it creates the vital changes that protect people and your organization.

At the start of a course, you might want to use a high-impact film to grab your audience’s attention and immediately let them know that this is a course worth paying attention to. By contrast, a short reference to a real-life example of a problem can quickly bring a learning point to life on a page.

Many people know, for example, that using the same password for different accounts isn't good cybersecurity practice. But they often continue to repeat the same mistake as they don’t really appreciate the problems it can cause. In that case, your learning might tell the story of a person whose personal details have been stolen and used fraudulently by hackers who guessed a single password.

A screenshot from compliance eLearning that uses good storytelling techniques
Fictional scenarios allow learners to vividly imagine how an issue might affect their work

Similarly, something like GDPR might seem quite legalistic and dry to many learners. Despite affecting almost every organization, GDPR isn’t a subject people tend to feel compelled to learn about. With the onset of GDPR, there are more rules than ever about the kind of information organizations are allowed to collect, how it must be stored and updated, and how long it can be kept for.

One way to help people connect to these issues more easily is to create stories featuring characters in relatable situations. Someone might think nothing of sending private customer details to their personal email address in order to work from home, for example. But a story about data breach risks can show them the severe consequences faced by people in their position who have made these kinds of mistakes.

A screenshot from compliance eLearning that uses good storytelling techniques
A screenshot from compliance eLearning that uses good storytelling techniques
In this example, learners are challenged to make decisions about emails before the real-life story behind the learning is explained to them

Recognizing Situations That Might Affect Learners

Ideally, good eLearning storytelling should remind people of issues they’ve already heard about or seen in the news. This spark of recognition creates a strong connection, as well as making learning emotive and believable.

For example, financial professionals might not think that terrorist attacks or drug smuggling affect their work. They might not know that aspects of their everyday role, such as monitoring suspicious transactions, can play a direct and important part in preventing serious criminal activity.

Critical issues can also feel far removed from their areas of responsibility. The horrific consequences of modern slavery, for example, can seem a long way from the executives making decisions at the top of a supply chain. To combat this, storytelling can realistically recount how people across the world are affected by exploitation, and tell their stories in a compelling way.

A screenshot from compliance eLearning that uses good storytelling techniques
A screenshot from compliance eLearning that uses good storytelling techniques
Examples that learners may have heard about can be used to back up suggested scenarios

Storytelling in eLearning Offers a Potentially Powerful Tool for Your Business

In this article, we’ve looked at a few of the techniques you might use to make the most of storytelling in eLearning. If you are looking for a straightforward and imaginative way to enhance your compliance and conduct training, stories can be a great way to achieve this.

Storytelling gives you the chance to put learners in real or hypothetical situations, make training memorable, and provide instant feedback. You can use it to put abstract, hard-to-remember facts in a context that makes them meaningful. And you can use storytelling techniques to highlight the potential impact of decisions on learners, the businesses they work for, their colleagues, their customers and society as a whole.

Whatever the unique requirements of your organization, well-designed stories can be a powerful tool for learning.

If you’d like to find out more about using storytelling in eLearning, contact us today to speak to one of our experienced learning consultants.

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