Step Up Your eLearning Game – Go for Hyper-Stories – Tip #209

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Can you think of the most recent viral video or story you have seen and shared? What about it caught your attention? Let me guess. It probably made you laugh out loud, or tugged at your heartstrings, or got you so mad, or afraid even. But it surely moved your emotions enough to share it or extend the discussion among your friends. A study by Jan L. Plass et. al., among many others, have reported the significant influence of emotions on human cognitive processes, particularly learning, memory, and problem solving.

However, modern learners are impatient. According to an infographic from Bersin by Deloitte, online trainers now only have 5 to 10 seconds to grab the learners attention before clicking away. Thus, there is a constant need for learning strategies and approaches that facilitate instant learning. One effective method that we, as trainers, L&D designers, facilitators, SMEs can master is the art of using hyper-stories in our learning designs.


Hyper-stories are the shortest and most emotional aspects of the story. By using hyper-stories, we are providing learners with content that is engaging, thought-provoking and purposeful.

4 Elements of an Effective Hyper-Story

Immediate meaning and context

According to Donald Hull’s definition of contextual learning, learning occurs only when learners connect information to their own frame of reference. The hyper-story is about making sure that the short video or idea brings out an experience from the learners. When they are able to understand the content based from their own interpretation, it is only then that lessons are relevant and useful to them.

Heighten involvement

A good hyper-story amplifies learner engagement. It ignites emotions and elicits learner response and reflection on the lesson you are trying to impart. A good tip when using a hyper-story, is to give the learners a good amount of time for reflection. Try the 10-90 rule (10% video or lesson, 90% reflection). Let it sink in. Allow them to internalize their own experiences in relation to the lesson ideas associated with it.

Faster application

Effective hyper-stories allow the learners to quickly connect the lesson to its application in real-life. When we design lessons for training, facilitate seminars or do workshops, always have a desired learning goal in mind – to build content that assists learners in their need for instant answers and solutions.

Instant recall

Hyper-stories in lessons help the learners be instantly reminded of their past experiences related to it. This accelerates the learning process. We all have a plethora of experiences and knowledge. Hyper-stories aid in tapping into this vast resource and reinforce what the learners already know.


The use of hyper-stories in lessons is an ingenious way to promote instant learning and to capture the emotions and attention of the modern learners. The connection between emotions and learning is undeniable. Learners learn faster by drawing from past experiences and reflection. Reflection deepens their own learning.


Um E., Plass J. L., Hayward E. O., Homer B. D. (2012). Emotional design in multimedia learning.

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