Storytelling in education

Slide Storytelling in der Lehre

Storytelling in education

Once upon a time…

“Once upon a time a long time ago …”. Six words. Six words that will get you virtually any child’s attention. Because … these six words clearly signal: Now is the time for a story.

But even if we are now taller than five feet … Storytelling plays an immensely important role in our lives – whether consciously or unconsciously. Storytelling is simply part of life and is in our nature – whether between colleagues, with friends at dinner or together with the children.

It is often said that storytelling is the oldest form of entertainment. But in reality it is much more than a simple pastime. We show us the skills that a storyteller needed back then, not just limited to telling good stories around the campfire. Back then, a storyteller clearly had an educational and teaching role. Over the years, storytelling has been used less and less in education … of course … education and learning have to be structured and science analytical. Entertainment factors such as storytelling are, at first glance, elements that seem to distract from the essentials.

But that has changed a bit in the last few years. Storytelling has not only become a term again in education, but now even in organizational and personnel development. But where is the potential of storytelling?


Why edutales sees a potential for storytelling in education

Stories offer great potential to convey information and can address listeners or readers in a very unique way. Some stories make us laugh, others cry and it is not uncommon for us to even create completely different life concepts thanks to them. In short, they manage to enchant us. Edutales would like to use this potential to make learning and teaching more creative, active and playful. In addition to classic storytelling, we make use of non-linear storytelling. But what does it mean?

Non-linear Storytelling

In the case of interactive or non-linear stories, the readers actively influence the course of the plot. A well-known example of this is the series Bear Grylls “You against the wilderness”: the film stops at various points in the story and presents the audience with a decision. These can be very simple decisions, but also seemingly dangerous ones, such as “Should I take the long, safe route over the mountain or the shortcut over the cliffs?” As soon as the audience has chosen, the main actor sets off. So you have the course of the story and the related narrative threads in your hand and can thus not only influence the plot, but also the end of the story through your decisions. The following overview shows the potential of storytelling in teaching in compact form.

Immersion means that you expose the recipient’s consciousness to as many illusory stimuli as possible, so that what is received is perceived as believable, intense and real as possible. And of course, that’s more likely to happen when your recipients are actively participating in a story than when they are just passively listening or watching. Through interactivity you strengthen the immersion and through immersion you convey a feeling of participation in what is happening.

Since the recipients put themselves directly in a certain situation and possibly also in a certain person and have to plan specifically in advance how an action will affect the respective situation, he / she has to construct his / her perception of reality from the ground up and win thereby possibly new knowledge.

In contrast to simply reading texts or watching films, interactive stories not only convey knowledge, they also help your recipients to develop skills. In this case, purely specialist skills are more likely to be joined by decision-making skills, problem-solving skills and planning skills. Your target group has to practically construct their own world and become active themselves.

This interactivity and adaptivity leads to another benefit of non-linear storytelling. Learning and exploring through play. According to Bodo Möslein-Tröppner and Willi Bernhard, playing always requires active action, which the game acknowledges through a feedback system. Since the recipients have the opportunity to become active themselves and intervene in the course of the story, if necessary go back to the last node and go through the situation again with another action in order to observe a possible change in the result , a playful instinct is awakened, which can lead to exploratory learning success.

(Source: Möslein-Tröppner, Bodo, Bernhard, Willi (2018): Digital Gamebooks in Education. Teaching and learning through play with interactive stories. Springer Gabler Verlag)

The aim of our edutales platform is to combine the described potential of non-linear storytelling in individual, topic-specific media products. Be it a classic html-based text with various plot developments or an audio or video in which the progression of the story can be decided on an auditory or audiovisual level – you can find numerous practical examples on this page for immediate use in teaching. Each media product is accompanied by a suitable data sheet that provides additional basic information, as well as possible connection methods and conversation components. And would you like to become the author of an interactive media product yourself? Then our storytelling laboratory will help you step by step through the development process of such a story.