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Utilizing Storytelling To Make Schooling Helpful

August 30, 2020
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Using storytelling to add value to education

The question is what makes it useful? There are many answers based on different points of view, but the most common are stories. Through stories we share information and learn about life and learn from each other. The way we tell stories, known as storytelling, has a huge impact on the way people reach them. In education, good storytelling can transform a not-so-good presentation and make it more valuable.

The power of storytelling

In 2006, a New York Times Magazine journalist Rob Walker and Josh Glenn, author of Taking Things Seriously, created a project called Significant Objects. They wanted to quantify the power of storytelling on eBay. How did you do that?

Initially, they ordered 200 items of little value (e.g. candle holder, wire basket, corked bottle, plastic banana, etc.). The average cost was $ 1.25 per item that had no intrinsic value. And then Walker and Glenn invited 200 different authors to each write a story about one of the objects. This item was later auctioned on eBay. The written story is in the description field.

One of the products was a snow globe, which was originally priced at 99 cents. After Blake Butler, one of 200 authors who participated in this study, wrote a 400-word story about it, the price soared to $ 59.00. This is not a particular exception. Walker and Glenn originally spent a total of $ 197 and sold 200 items for $ 8,000 - more than 6,300% more than before.

What we can learn from this study is that stories enliven anything, even if it has no meaning at all. Peter Guber, the former CEO of Sony Pictures, said:

In times of rapid technological change, it is not the zeros and ones of digital evolution, but the oohs and aahs of a good story that offer the best chance of forcing the audience to act for a worthy goal.

At the heart of educational animation is the core value we all want to achieve, the deep connection with learners so that they feel like they are educated when talking to a close friend. Animation is a brilliant medium for delivering stories that can benefit cognitive learning as well as "emotional touch". We can easily present imaginative stories, meaningful metaphors, and purposeful emphasis to achieve the desired behavior by simulating the intended result using the storytelling method.

5 tips for using storytelling

1. Define a clear purpose

Without a goal, you can get lost! Although this preparatory phase seems unnecessary, believe me, the result will be much better and to the point. What is the goal of your story? Is it for entertainment, to create a welcoming atmosphere before class? Or does it serve as an additional piece of information for the interests of the learners? The more clearly you define the purpose, the easier it will be for you to make decisions in later stages.

In addition, you can not only define the purpose, but also make your target audiences clear. Their demographic, social, and psychographic habits have a huge impact on their story interests and study habits. Let's say you're designing a course for elementary school students. The stories they contain should be simpler and more carefree than corporate training. By getting to know your target audiences, you can engage with them more intensively.

2. Paint the scene

It is crucial that your audience knows the background of the story: when and where it took place, who was there, what originally led to the event. Painting the entire picture will ensure you won't get lost and most importantly, it will help you better understand why your story is being told.

Check out this video called MAN. It took only 3 seconds (from 00:04 to 00:07) to figure out the background to the story. As simple as that!

3. Be your own audience

Listening to a story releases hormones and neurotransmitters in your brain. They differ depending on the content and storytelling of the story.

  • Dopamine
    All storytelling creates dopamine by definition. The audience will focus more and be more motivated.
  • Oxytocin
    This is the nicest hormone of all because you feel human. Good stories create empathy. When you have oxytocin in your blood you become more generous, you trust more, and you connect with the storyteller.
  • Endorphins
    These are released when people laugh. What then happens is that they become more creative, relaxed, and focused.

Now that you know the incredible effects of storytelling, you can choose an appropriate style of storytelling to get the effects you want from your learners.

However, it's not always about what you want to include in your educational video. Remember to put yourself in the audience's shoes. They can turn away too many jokes or too many moving stories. It's not what you do, it's how you do it. Providing information, storytelling, and entertaining should be broken down into appropriate parts. That way, you can improve the learning experience and make the course more enjoyable for learners.

4. Let your characters come to life

Everyone on earth is different, even twins and triplets. Therefore, it is recommended that you create a complete profile (e.g. gender, age, hobbies, etc.) for each of your characters. All of these elements contribute to the overall picture of the characters and later influence their behavior. If you intend to create an educational animated video with characters, please don't use just one voice-over for everyone. The way we speak, our accents, our stress levels, and our use of slang in real life differ from person to person. So it's nonsense that 4 or 5 characters have the same way of speaking. If hiring more speakers is beyond your budget, don't hesitate to ask a friend or family member. It's fun to be part of so I'm sure you will happily agree to it.

5. Rethink and rethink again

We all know how exciting it is when an amazing idea finally pops up in your head. If you've been stuck for a while this is a real life saver. But wait, let's take it slow. It may sound wonderful now when you are overwhelmed with excitement. However, you need to consider the overall picture, plot, characters behavior, ending, etc. to make sure it makes sense. Sometimes you have to sacrifice some good ideas for a better "whole" story.

Actually, this tip is used in all disciplines and professions. Reading a book is a good idea when you want to get started. A good book I would recommend is Animated Storytelling: Easy Steps to Create Animations and Motion Graphics by Liz Blazer. It offers simple instructions for beginners so it's easy to follow. And remember that "good things take time". So don't be afraid if your production isn't going well. Find out what is wrong and learn from it. You will make progress soon.

Do you remember how Isaac Newton discovered gravity? Do you remember how Archimedes discovered his most famous principle of fluid and solid dynamics? I bet most of us remember it. And do you know why Because behind each of these breakthroughs there are fascinating stories. Newton sat in the shade of an apple tree when he wondered why all apples fall to earth, but not the other way around. And when Archimedes stepped into a bath and saw the water level rise, he had such a significant realization that he could hardly wait to share it and ran naked through the streets of Syracuse.

Exciting stories shape the human mind and make the associated information much more unforgettable. The next time you want to highlight important data instead of repeating it again, try telling an engaging story or fact or some behind-the-scenes details.

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