In an attempt to gather some of the foremost research in transformational storytelling and innovative curriculum design, I offer this article from eLearn Magazine. This article discusses how creativity and innovation can enhance e-learning systems based on digital storytelling. It goes as far as to propose a story creation model called “movement-oriented design” (MOD) for systematically developing effective digital stories, in conjunction with story creation principles articulated by Robert McKee, a Hollywood guru of script writing.
With advancements in digital audio and video capture technology and editing software, digital storytelling is becoming a part of modern life, making it easier to create innovative e-learning content presented as digital stories. Such innovative content can not only make courses more attractive, but can also lead to deep learning.
Some of the new pedagogical models based on storytelling include: story-centred curriculum, proposed by Roger Schank (2007), and scenario-based curriculum development, suggested by Ray Bareiss & Sukhjit Singh (2007). The common theme that permeates these pedagogical models is: “learning through stories.”
Stories have been used as educational medium since prehistoric times as they encapsulate four crucial aspects of human communication: information, knowledge, context, and emotions (Norman, 1993). Embedding stories as digital media, i.e., digital storytelling, is therefore not only desirable, but almost essential for producing engaging e-learning content . . .
e-Learning and Digital Storytelling
E-learning systems that just transform the traditional educational content (for example, books or lecture notes) into digital media are not successful; because, e-learning content that presents only facts and figures can loose the learners attention more easily than a good lecturer, who can capture the learners’ attention with personal charisma. With e-learning content, the lack of personal connection (with a real teacher) can be overcome by creating “educational stories” that embody good storytelling principles.
Good storytelling principles have been articulated by the masters of storytelling since Aristotle. These principles can also be applied to develop good educational stories. To capture and maintain the learner’s interest, a story’s narrative must connect with the learner’s emotions and create emotional movement. Any learning that happens with a story, especially one that provides an emotionally moving experience, is much more persistent, and therefore, easy to recall.
Robert McKee, the Hollywood guru of film script writing has articulated principles for creating effective stories (McKee, 1998). A subset of these “McKee Principles” can be applied for creating good educational stories as well. To achieve emotional movement, McKee proposes five stages for designing the “spine” of a story: 1) inciting incident, 2) progressive complications, 3) crisis, 4) climax, and 5) resolution.
Movement Oriented Design
Movement Oriented Design (MOD) is a framework proposed by the author for creating contextualized stories, that is, stories that work in a given context, for example e-learning (Sharda(2), 2007). MOD views every temporal presentation as a story. From a MOD perspective, even this article is a story. Every good story should have three clearly identifiable components: a beginning, a middle, and an end; called Begin (B), Middle (M), and End (E) in the MOD terminology.
The most fundamental element of the MOD methodology is a Movement, which is defined as a micro story with clearly identifiable begin, middle, and end components. A good beginning should entice the user, wanting to find out more. The middle should be used to deliver the essential educational content, and the end should conclude the story unit. Wherever possible, the end of one story unit should build a link to the next. A story unit that does not have all three components (B, M, E) will most likely be ineffective. When creating e-learning content, often the authors overload it with useful information without linking these with an effective narrative; consequently the learners’ interest wanes.
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