Recently, while helping a GCC Reading faculty member, I stumbled on this wonderful YouTube channel called Help U Conquer, which is produced by Conquer Education as a demonstration of their online lesson production services. Their video lessons are a great reminder of how powerful storytelling can be for instruction.

The Help U Conquer channel has 16 video lessons, which are sequenced into four topics organized using YouTube’s playlist feature. Each lesson is designed as a narrative story with educational competencies woven into the story. The stories are designed to engage students by being relatable. The narratives revolve around challenges most students confront in daily life, like paying for college or getting through performance evaluations at work.

Aside: If you happen to teach Critical Reading or a writing course, you might consider using one or more individual videos or entire playlists for your course, since these are essentially an Open Educational Resource. If you want to embed any of these videos into Canvas, the CTLE has a handy how-to guide. The general video lesson topics are:

Why are stories an instructionally effective way to explain course content? So many reasons!

  • Stories provide context and relevance

    Especially for practical, results-driven adult learners, stories answer the question What’s in it for me?. If the plot evokes life experiences of the learner, the story shows learners how the instructional concepts can be applied in the real world.

  • Stories make remembering easier

    More people remember facts when they are embedded in a story than when the same facts are presented more conventionally. For example, in his book Made to Stick, Stanford Professor Chip Heath relates that his students, while giving 1-minute speeches about crime, averaged 2.5 statistics per speech, while only 1 in 10 students told a story. But when his students were asked to recall the speeches, 63% remembered details from the stories, and only 5% remembered any individual statistics cited.
    Read: Research team explores link between memory, stories & learning

  • Stories help clarify concepts

    The scenarios, plot, and actions of the protagonist within a story provide a roadmap for learners on how to deal with similar situations. Stories link theory to practice and clarify complex or abstract course concepts. Metaphors within a story can help simplify new ideas and concepts by linking them to a familiar idea or past experience.

  • Stories engage multiple areas of the brain

    Beginning a story with a minor shock or attention-getter causes learners to wonder what happens next, engaging learners’ curiosity and emotions. They also break up monotonous piling-on of information by helping learners stay aware and present.
    Read: The Science of Storytelling: Why Telling a Story Is the Most Powerful Way to Activate Our Brains

Storytelling can be as simple as recording an audio podcast, or more complex, such as the narrative videos from the Help U Conquer YouTube channel. Storytelling can even involve interactivity. Check out some examples from smartbuilder for some inspiration.

As the CTLE’s Instructional Media Developer, I am available to help you integrate storytelling into your course content. Feel free to contact me to brainstorm or explore your ideas. I can help you with every stage of media production, from the planning all the way through production, editing and publishing to the Web or Canvas. And, like your students, I just love a good story!

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