Once upon a time, in a home office in a far off land, a young PA stared at her Zoom screen. She wished she could see her boss in person again, but morning conversations by the water cooler seemed like a faraway dream. Pretty engaging stuff, huh? Storytelling is our social and cultural heritage as human beings. As digital media becomes more and more part of our cultural landscape, digital storytelling becomes more sophisticated. Let’s have a look at how digital storytelling can brighten up the eLearning landscape. 

Storytelling: An Evolution through History 

Storytelling has always been used as the means to tell our peers about life and life lessons. Before reading and writing were widely available to broad parts of the population, we would gather around the fire and entertain and learn together. Cave drawings and oral tradition made way to printed and typed stories. 

Enter the 15th century, and mass printing changes the landscape of storytelling. A few hundred years later, we have photography. Then, in the blink of an eye, movies, radio, and tv follow. A nanosecond in human history later, the social media age enters. We are now surrounded by digital storytelling no matter where we turn. Some examples are:

  • Blogs: the food blogger who takes the chance to tell you about her family history of pizza creation while sharing her recipe.
  • Instagram: a photo tells a million stories in one quick snap. The caption can solidify the story even further. 
  • Twitter: micro-storytelling in under 280 characters (hey kids, count yourself lucky, I remember it being 140 characters in ye olde days).

Digital Storytelling Toolbox

In the edTech and eLearning world, you have quite a few tools at your disposal. For example:

  • Images: an engaging picture coupled with some voiceover can be effective modes of storytelling without breaking the bank. 
  • Film: there’s a reason we flock to movie theatres. A little clip tells a whole bunch of stories in a concise period of time. 
  • Interactive Scenarios: giving the learner some control, even if it just requires them to click in specific places, ensures that they engage rather than let knowledge passively wash over them. 
  • Scrolling pages: take a cue from online graphic novels. This is pretty new and unique to digital learning. Let your learner navigate through the story by scrolling their way through. The visuals here can be very effective and beautiful. Different music cues can start throughout the page.

The 7 Elements of Digital Storytelling

As an edTech creator, you can’t just grab your tools and get going on digital storytelling island. Telling a story may come naturally to you, but making it engaging for a learner and helpful for an organization is a whole nother level of complexity. Thankfully these 7 points are a fantastic starting point.

Digital Storytelling and Learning

Thankfully, we now know that learning happens everywhere, even without us having any awareness of it. Compulsory, structured learning courses often cause learning fatigue. Digital storytelling is an excellent way of avoiding this for learners and keeping them engaged. More engagement means greater knowledge retention. Why is that?

  • Emotions: If a story or experience touches us, we are likely to remember the information given to us. The Affective Context Model of learning proposes that learning is the process of attaching emotions to information. What better way to do this than digital storytelling? 
  • Formally pushing learning is likely to experience some resistance, however unaware the learner is. They aren’t seeking out specific learning, so we must do everything in our power to make it fun and feel as if they are pulling for more information once the initial push has started. 


Hopefully, the above has given you a small taster of how you can include storytelling in eLearning effectively. It doesn’t have to cost the earth, but it can make a world of difference in how willingly your learners engage with new material. We all like to learn when it’s wrapped up engagingly. 

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