7 Reasons Stories Work for the Modern Learner – Tip #210

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Storytelling has been a very effective learning tool since time immemorial. But even with the changing learning landscape, big shifts in work environments and tech disruption, why do stories in eLearning designs still work? Simple. Everybody is a sucker for a good story, in whatever shape, type or form. The beauty of stories transcends all types of learners. Yes, including the distracted, impatient, overwhelmed modern learners.


Modern learners’ behavior, attitude and motivation towards learning have evolved over the years. The rigidness and linear approach of traditional training no longer appeals to them.

Here’s my take on why stories work for the modern learners.

1 Stories are highly contextual.
Today’s learners find more value in content that is relatable and personalized. Using highly contextual stories helps learners better understand how lessons can fit into their needs and be useful to them. Integrating stories in eLearning allows the learners to build their own understanding of the lesson, establish their analyses and come up with solutions to their problems.
2 Stories deliver content faster and easier.
In a typical work week, workers only spend less than 25 minutes on learning. They want fast access to answers and solutions whenever they need them. Instant learning through hyper-stories addresses that need.
3 Stories leave long-lasting impact
Modern learners are easily distracted and have shorter attention spans. Interactive stories aid in easier recall of lessons because it gets them to immerse themselves and share their experiences making learning a personalized, highly impact experience.
4 Stories make complex ideas simple.
While facts, technical data, and policies are vital information to learners, they tend to ignore them unless there are some personal goals to be achieved. Stories in learning designs make complex ideas simple. It humanizes technical data and analytics and enables learners to fully and quickly grasp the learning points that can impact their performance.
5 Stories make learning meaningful.
Today’s learners may have a myriad of resources and information at their fingertips but they are focused on the ones that fit their purpose. Stories carry with them the real-life and emotional aspects of learning. It draws reactions, insights and reflections even after the story has ended.
6 Stories convert content into relevant ideas.
Millenials are self-reliant learners. They are the Google generation and adept at looking for answers by themselves. What engages them more is not just finding information per se but the relevance of the information to their jobs and their lives. Stories help learners realize the significance of lessons to them, thus, contribute to faster application to real work issues.
6 Stories add to learners’ experience.
In Jane Hart’s annual survey, learners have shown more preference to learn while doing work and sharing their experiences with peers. Unlike traditional learning where there are only right or wrong answers, story-based eLearning probes deeper into the emotional and intellectual faculties of the learners. Learning becomes a collaborative experience because they get to interact and gain additional insights from others.


Engaging the modern learners is no mean feat. We have to always be on the lookout for newer innovative ways to catch their fleeting attention span. The oldest and one of the best tricks in the book is storytelling. Not your traditional long narratives but short, succinct, and interactive stories capture the learners’ attention and help them remember. Our brains are wired to respond to stories. Let’s use that to our advantage and design Story Lessons that appeal and cater to the changing needs of the modern learners.


Bersin by Deloitte. (2014). Meet the Modern Learner.
Jane Hart. How Modern Professionals prefer to learn.
Ray Jimenez.(2012).  Making Technical and Compliance Learning Fun and Engaging.
Tip #98  – Keeping Learners Motivated Using Hyper-Stories

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