Why are conversations important?
Conversations in your e-learning course can be extremely powerful! Conversations create interest, personal relationships with characters and a memorable lesson.
1. Creates interest: Conversations create interest as they naturally create a story-line. Let’s face it. Stories are entertaining! Think about the last good book you read or a movie you watched. What made it good? The reason usually involves the interactions of the characters in the story-line. Of course, this is subjective, since we all have various opinions on what constitutes a good story-line. However, we can all agree that stories are entertaining, because they draw us in to find out what happens. Let’s use one of my favorite classic books, “Charlotte’s Web” as an example. Wilbur, the pig, and Charlotte, the spider, develop a friendship. It’s through their interactions and conversations with one another that the story-line develops. The fascination ensues as Charlotte tells Wilbur that she is going to create miracles to save his life. The conversations and interactions with Charlotte and Wilbur develop the story-line with Charlotte seeking to save Wilbur’s life creating interest for the reader.
Quick action: Think about how you can use characters interacting with each other to create a story-line in a course you are currently developing.
2. Creates personal relationships with characters: People relate to characters. This is a natural instinct for us to have something in common with characters in a movie or book. If we do not have something in common with them, then we usually can think of someone we know who does. When we can connect with characters in a story, we immediately create a personal relationship with them. My connection was with Fern, the girl who developed a bond with Wilbur growing up on the farm. Having family members growing up on farms, I could relate to Fern not wanting to see an animal she grew up with being slaughtered. My ability to relate to Fern in the book created a personal relationship with me.
Quick action: Brainstorm the amount of characters you will need to create the story. Think about the purpose of each character and how they will add to the story-line.
3. Creates a memorable lesson. All stories involve some sort of a problem that is overcome with a solution. The solution to the problem is the lesson or message learned. When we can relate the solution to a story, we are more than likely going to remember it. Of course, the problem in Charlotte’s Web is Wilbur’s potential demise on the farm and the solution is when Charlotte’s miracles save his life. There are several lessons that could be interpreted from the book, but one ingrained in my mind is the importance of friendship and loyalty to one another. This lesson has stuck with me for years because of the bond I had with Fern, the interactions with Charlotte and Wilbur and Charlotte’s ability to create miracles to save Wilbur’s life.
Quick action: Think about a problem that could occur relating to your course content, which can be overcome with a solution.
How to Apply Conversations into an E-learning Course?
Now, how can you apply these concepts to your e-learning courses? The easiest way to apply conversations to your e-learning course is to think about the story pattern that includes a beginning, middle and end. Once you determine your story pattern, then the conversations among your characters will come to life and have valuable meaning.
Nancy Duarte’s book, Resonate, provides us with valuable information on how to create a story pattern. She describes that the most simplistic way to create a story pattern is through a situation, complication and resolution. These elements focus around an important character; the hero of the story. She does a great job of outlining the hero’s journey in a story. (see image)
The situation involves a character who people can relate to and is a likable hero. In our example with Charlotte’s Web, Charlotte is the likable hero as her role throughout the story is to create miracles to save Wilbur’s life.
A complication in the story pattern is when the hero encounters a roadblock. As you may recall, Charlotte’s roadblock is coming up with different words to weave in her web to convince people how great of a pig Wilbur is to save his life. Another roadblock is when Wilbur has to go to the fair, which determines his fate. Charlotte could not go because she was pregnant and needed to stay behind to lay her eggs.
The resolution involves the solution to the complication in the story and also involves how the hero emerges transformed. Charlotte uses other barn yard animals to help her weave different words in her web and she makes the decision to hatch her eggs at the fair allowing her to go to the fair to continue her efforts to save Wilbur’s life. As she continues to overcome the complications throughout the story, she emerges into a dedicated true friend to Wilbur.
To demonstrate how I applied these elements to an e-learning course, I will use an example of a sales course I am currently developing.
I wanted to establish a real-life situation for this course as it relates to the topic. In this case, I created an employee, Julie, in a sales department who needs to increase her sales revenue. Julie serves as likable hero in the course as she needs to learn from her mistakes to get better at making more sales for the company.
The complication in this course is Julie’s sales being low and how she reflects on her sales techniques and discovers what she is doing wrong throughout the sales process.
The resolution in this course is when Julie learns from seasoned professionals through their conversations how she can improve the sales process. In this example, Julie realizes she needs to improve her close technique by asking for the business at the end of her sales presentation. Julie emerges transformed into a better sales person who can increase her sales revenue.
Focusing on a story pattern will change the way you think about presenting the content in your next e-learning course. It naturally will allow you to develop a story-line with characters who overcome problems. I encourage you to apply conversations to create a story-line in your next e-learning course. Maybe you have had experience with this already!
Share with TLS Learning examples of how you have applied conversations to create the story elements in an e-learning course!