Advanced Models of Story-Based eLearning Design – Tip #141

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I just presented to a large audience in a webinar on the 7 Advanced Models of Story-Based eLearning Design.

Four provocative discoveries stood out. I’d like to share with you some interesting ways on how technology influences the way stories are told.

Stories evolve over time

Our traditional understanding of a story structure required a beginning, a middle and the end. It contains the well balanced elements from exposition to resolution.

Chart 1

You have exposition, rising crisis, climax and ending with resolution. This is a typical story structure or story archetype.

The classical story structure takes a different form when we review technologies like YouTube, crowdcasting, cloud serving, Vimeo, Facebook, Twitter and other interactive tools. The delivery of the story becomes shorter. The story jumps to the crisis, climax and then resolution or it is compressed tightly due to a shorter time or for faster delivery. What is taking place is that the story allows people to participate in the story. They interact by immersion or skimming, dive to parts they like as well as comment and exchange ideas with the audience sharing their views. This whole process brings in a high context reference for the users.

As a result, stories in videos, blogs, Twitter, Facebook and other social media technology facilitate the experience of context and add meaning to the content instantly.

This is significant because stories continue to be an important vehicle to help learners learn. However now, there’s more opportunity to allow the learners to come in as creators of their own story. It has become more apparent that learners want to experience the story.

Storytelling with the data

Storytelling with data is a provocative process because it helps learners choose and travel with a certain timeline of the story. This means that the learner interacts more effectively because the factual content gets converted into a story. Cole Nussbaumer Knaflic wrote a book on this, Storytelling with Data.

Watch this demonstration on The Bright Future of Car Sharing and see how data has been converted into a story. Observe how learners are able to come up with their own stories and follow what’s interesting to them in the context of the entire data presentation. It is interesting to observe your own behavior as you view the examples.

Mapping experiences help learners see the big picture

This particular advanced story learning design was inspired by my reading and research in relation to mapping experiences.

Mapping Experiences: A Complete Guide to Creating Value through Journeys, Blueprints, and Diagrams 1st Edition – James Kalbach.

In the example below, the main theory and concept of mapping experiences is that if we are able to replicate and capture the flow of experience that a person goes through during the process, it would significantly allow us a way to understand what it is all about. It is more than just data. It is understanding and relating with the experience. In the example provided, as the customer experiences the journey, you can begin to see that the learner follows the different stages of the customer experience and develops empathy towards the customer’s experience throughout the journey.

The illustration above of Lego’s Designing the Experience is a graphic presentation of varied examples of the flow that a user goes through in terms of the experience and engagement during a Lego activity. This is again an example of mapping experiences. It is another way of expanding the value of stories. The main benefit is that it allows the learners to undergo the chain of events, recognize the direct meaning and be able to acquire very rich context to gain an understanding of this particular process.

Another illustration is this brainstorming chart on the wall with a lot of post-it notes. This is what happens to us as learners or team members when we brainstorm. We are able to create a flowchart on a wall using post-it notes of the collated experiences. The process helps us relate to the story of such experience which in turn allows us to bring our own stories within the flow.

Realistic framing

In this other example I will show you realistic framing. This is a way to present two views of an experience. You create the story that will put the learner into two alternative worlds. We call it the realistic world. It presents two “realities” – what would happen if we save our planet and the unfortunate results if we destroy our planet.

This model of an advanced story design allows the learner to have a simultaneous experience. It’s emotional because it shows two points of view. One shows consequences – worst case scenarios. The other side exhibits the joyous benefits if things go well and what we can continue to enjoy. Click below to preview the video.


In conclusion, the technology, speed and amount of information has enabled us to shorten the ways stories are done. Today, the tools for deploying and developing stories like mapping experiences, framing realistic options and understanding storytelling with data are examples that show us the greater emphasis on allowing learners or readers the ability to empathize with the emotions shared and discover the rich context of the information provided as well as the ability to contribute. The story becomes more powerful within the control of the learner’s engagement. Reflect on this and see how you may draw inspiration from these advanced models of the story-design approach.


Storytelling with Data: A Data Visualization Guide for Business Professionals
Mapping Experiences: A Complete Guide to Creating Value through Journeys, Blueprints, and Diagrams 1st Edition
The Bright Future of Car Sharing
The Bright Future

Previous Tips

Tip #139 – Dealing With the Most Challenging Webinar Problems
Tip #140 – “Quick Answers are All I Need.” The Learner at Work Tells Us

Ray Jimenez, PhD
Vignettes Learning
“Helping Learners Learn Their Way”

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