Valuable tales from Tata Interactive Systems

August 25, 2007 (PRLEAP.COM) Education News
Jon Revelos, the North American Director of Story-based Learning and Instructional Design for Tata Interactive Systems (TIS), a world leader in custom e-learning design/ development and organisational performance improvement, made his – and his organisation’s – considerable experience and skill in story-based learning available to members of America’s prestigious eLearning Guild in an online forum last week. The eLearning Guild, based in Santa Rosa, California, USA, is a community of practice for e-learning design, development, and management professionals.

Under the title of ‘The Narrative Spark: Leveraging the Power of Story’, Revelos outlined:
• The various forms that stories or narratives can take
• Why stories are a powerful and memorable communication and instructional technique
• The types of knowledge whose transfer can be improved through the use of stories
• Five ways in which stories can be incorporated into course designs for improved effectiveness
• How fictional narratives and real-world ‘tales from the trenches’ can enlighten and energise corporate learners

“Many ‘traditional’ instructional strategies fail to achieve their intended goal but, because they are tried and familiar, they continue to be force-fit into new designs,” said Revelos.

“These failures are often due to an overly analytical and logic-focused approach to training, along with failure to recognise that the most valuable knowledge within an organisation - that which top performers possess intuitively - is tacit and difficult to transfer to novices via explicit instruction and bulleted lists. Storytelling and narrative has a long and successful history of transferring tedious, abstract, and ‘fuzzy’ or tacit information more quickly and effectively than other ‘traditional’ techniques,” he added.

According to Revelos:
• Storytelling puts content into a context that is relevant and recognisable to learners, which helps them understand why the information is important.
• Stories force us to engage with the details provided, comparing them against our own experiences, to derive a meaning that is personally resonant.
• The advantage of stories, from an instructional design perspective, is that they can help strengthen the three fundamental goals of effective courseware:
• Comprehension - does the audience understand the content being presented?
• Retention - will the audience remember the content long-term?
• Application - can the audience use the content to improve on-the-job performance, in the ‘real world’?

Revelos commented: “If you want to capture and transfer implicit knowledge – that ‘je ne sais quoi’ that expert performers intuitively exhibit – bullet points and flowcharts don’t deliver.

“Storytelling, on the other hand, provides a powerful ‘backdoor’ method for experts to share know-how that they may find otherwise difficult – if not impossible – to communicate to novices. While most experts don’t know what they know, they are able to provide a path of insight by sharing their tales of success, struggle, and failure,” he concluded.

For some years, TIS has been developing story-based learning objects (StoBLs™) for clients including British Airwars (on information security), New York Presbyterian Hospital (on fire safety) and Tata Steel (on the Tata Code of Conduct). TIS claims that the StoBLs™ methodology enlivens dry subjects and makes for learning that is, like all interesting stories, unforgettable.

“StoBLs™ make effective use of multimedia for delivery of instructional material — visual imagery, animations, audio (narrative speech), sound effects, and even music,” Revelos explained.

“They enable a truer level of interactivity and intrinsically ensure that the learner stays ‘hooked’ to the learning. They work on the understanding that any e-learning that targets adult learners must focus on creating relevance, credibility, and performance motivation.”