Stories bring e-learning to life

July 18, 2005 (PRLEAP.COM) Business News
Tata Interactive Systems (TIS), the global e-learning pioneer, has announced that it has developed a story-based learning (StoBLs) methodology. The StoBL object utilises visual imagery and audio to bring the learning content to life and achieve interactivity in the true sense of the word – beyond mere mouse-clicks and multiple-choice questions.

Some of the ways in which this is done are through agents and artificial intelligence that create branching to help the learner explore alternative possibilities. Instructionally, this has the added benefit of reusability of the learning object.

According to TIS, story-based learning appears to work best when you teach principles and concepts that are:

* Abstract (for example, soft skills such as leadership)
* Colourless or uninspiring (such as compliance-related regulations and codes of conduct)
* Difficult to appreciate (such as finance for non-financial managers)

“StoBL objects are effective teaching tools because stories facilitate their audience’s appreciation of inaccessible concepts by lowering their resistance to new ideas,” said Manoj Kutty, TIS’s Worldwide President of Sales and Marketing. “They can make the tedious memorable, make concrete abstract notions and unravel complex ideas by making use of story elements in an instructionally structured manner.

“Up to now, instructional designers have been regarded as teachers and trainers. Perhaps, with StoBL objects, they can graduate to being storytellers who set the plot, visualize the screenplay, create the characters, pace the action and choreograph the learner’s emotions to achieve an instructional paradigm that is as new as it is old.

“To be effective as pieces of technology-delivered learning, stories must be ’CRUNCHED‘ - Contextual, Realistic, Unusual, Natural, Concrete, Human, Easily accepted and Discovery-oriented - into believable, impressionable and assimilative learning”, he added.

TIS has introduced StoBLs into programs it has made for United Nations. According to Kutty, the user feedback so far has been highly positive.

“Users are coming back, asking for more – which, in itself, is a good indication that this approach is energizing and motivating the users to learn”, he said.


Notes for Editors:

About Story Based Learning Objects (StoBLs)

The StoBL object is constructed around two broad structures: the meta components and the media components. The meta components provide the basis for the instructional design, while the media components help create the presentational interface.

Meta Components
* Theme: the moral of the story and determines the intended resultant mood of the learner.
* Plot: the semantic structure of the learning object, providing the opening act in the story, setting up the conflict, building to the climax and providing the resolution.
* Characters: The learner identifies or empathizes with the story’s protagonist and internalises the experiences of the characters. It’s also possible that the other characters and the support cast reflect the learner’s sub-personalities or the characteristics that the learner finds inspirational.
* Tone: derived from the conventional classification of stories. Categories include horror, humour, thriller, tragedy and romance. These can help create the backdrop that makes the story interesting and immersive.

Media Components
*Text: Narration, dialogue and external commentaries form the basic elements of a StoBL Object.

* Images: Photographs, illustrations, animation and video can augment the learning experience by providing visual relief to break the monotony of reading. These appeal to other senses, and, instructionally, they broaden the scope of implementation of instructional material.

* Interactivity: Branching and alternative decision-making paths provide a conceptual level of interactivity as opposed to conventional interactivity that is merely physical. This also enables the learner to explore different possibilities.

* Sound: Audio, sound effects and, especially, music cater for the learner’s ’musical intelligence‘ and increase the material’s impact by addressing multiple facets of intelligence.
* Instructor/Narrator: Provides authenticity and credibility and is essential for instructor-led training material and for inter-textual explanations.

About Tata Interactive Systems
Tata Interactive Systems (TIS) is a global pioneer in e-learning. A part of the $14 billion Tata Group—one of the largest and most trusted business conglomerates in India—TIS has 15 years of experience in training consulting, designing, and developing innovative and cutting-edge workforce performance enhancement solutions. Its service bouquet includes Consulting; Simulations and Simulation-based Learning Objects (SimBLs™); Story-based Learning Objects (StoBLs™); Game-based Learning Objects (GamBLs™); IT Application Training; Regulatory and Compliance Training; Adaptive Assessments; Sales and Customer Service Training; New Hire Training; Electronic Performance Support Systems (EPSS); and Business Processes and Skills Training.

TIS employs a global team of 850 multi-disciplinary specialists—a unique mix of Project Managers, Software Engineers, Instructional Designers, Content Developers, Visual Designers, and Animators. It has a strong presence in the US, with operations spread across seven cities—Atlanta, Boston, Carlsbad, Chicago, Dallas, New Jersey, and San Jose—serviced by its development teams stationed locally. In keeping with the co-shoring model, the teams are managed by on-site Project Managers who co-ordinate with the clients and drive the project operations.

Powered by creative talent, sound processes, and technological excellence, TIS has developed 950+ e-learning solutions for more than 300 clients—including more than 50 Fortune 500 companies—across the US, UK, Europe, Australia, and Asia. Its client roster includes leading corporations, renowned educational institutions and government bodies such as Allstate, American Airlines, Abbey National, American Honda Finance Corporation, British Airways, Citigroup, Cigna, ExxonMobil, Florida Virtual School, GE, GlaxoSmithKline, Hewlett Packard, Motorola, McKinsey & Co., McGraw-Hill, UNICEF, Unilever, University of Maryland, and University of Phoenix.

Apart from holding ISO 9001 and BS7799 certification, TIS is the only e-learning organization in the world to be assessed at Level 5 in both the SEI CMM and P-CMM frameworks. Classified as a Visionary in the Gartner Group’s coveted ‘magic quadrant,’ TIS’s quest for innovation and excellence is reflected in 20 prestigious industry awards, including Brandon Hall Excellence in Learning Award 2004; APEX 2004 Award of Excellence; Best Product at the British Educational Training and Technology (BETT) Show 2004; Training Magazine’s APX Award 2003; and Best E-learning Provider, Best B2B Web Site, and Best Educational Total Comprehensive Solution at the SIIA Codie Awards 2002.

For more information go to

TIS offices in the USA:

California: 7227 Spoonbill Lane, Carlsbad CA 92009

(Phone 760-476-9191; Fax 760-476-

0350 Email

1762 Technology Drive Ste 112, San Jose CA 95110

(Phone 408-452-5752; Fax 408-452-5745; Email

Georgia: Phone 848-250-9723; Email

Illinois: 701 Main Street, Evanston IL 60202

(Phone 847-866-7474; Fax 847-866-7575; Email

Massachusetts: 56 Roland St, Suite 102B, Boston MA 02129

(Phone 617-625-0024; Email

New Jersey: Suite 509 Levinson Plaza, 2 Lincoln Highway, Edison NJ 08820

(Phone 732-906-0002; Fax 732-906-9222; Email

Texas: 3601 Branchwood Drive, Plano TX 75093

(Phone 972-403-1451; Email


Press contacts

Kashyap Vadapalli, Tata Interactive Systems, Atlanta GA.

Phone: 848-250-9723; email:

Bob Little, Bob Little Press & PR.

Phone: +44 1-727-860405; email: