Techniques for Developing Your e-Learning Narrative Flow

eLearning Narrative - 2013 Sept 30

Designing a great e-Learning course is like creating a cinematic masterpiece. Your selected graphics, audio and video all need to flow and work together. When each piece complements the others, the graphics shine, the words sing and your learners will fixate on the screen.

A key part of this involves developing a good narrative flow. To do this, you need to first determine exactly what the story is that you want to tell, or what sort of behavior change you want to instigate. Then you need to craft that into a compelling narrative. Here are some tips that will have you sounding like a word wizard in no time!

Tone and Transitions

Your words need to make it clear to your learners why this content matters to them. When narrating e-Learning, it’s generally acceptable to adopt a more informal, friendly tone, so your learners feel a connection with you. And remember, never read verbatim off the screen. That’s the quickest way to alienate your learners and convince them to turn their sound off!

You also need to provide transitions to keep your narrative flowing from screen to screen. For example, saying “Now that you’ve mastered the concept of (job-related task), let’s look at how it plays out in a few real-world situations,” can be a good transition from high-level, conceptual content to more immediately applicable examples.

Framing your e-Learning as a guided story or “day in the life” example is an easy narrative technique that will help you create a natural flow with smooth transitions. As the learner delves into the e-Learning, he or she follows the actions of a character that you’ve created, guiding that character and learning from situations he or she encounters. For example, you could create a quick backstory like this:

  • “This is Pierre. Pierre is starting his new job as a health inspector today. Let’s follow Pierre as he goes on his first inspection, at the beloved local watering hole, Foster’s, and make sure he doesn’t miss any health violations.”

Practice

Creating a script for your recording is key. This will help you produce a fumble-free, “um…”-free narrative delivery. Have you ever gone to presentations where the speaker said “um” or “like” after every sentence? Don’t do that to your learners!

Practice your narration several times and listen to the playback of multiple takes to ensure your transitions all sound natural and pauses come at logical places. You don’t want your narration to distract your learners from the content they are focusing on. You can easily record narration using a free tool like Audacity and then import it into an e-Learning authoring tool like Lectora® Inspire.

Once you’ve recorded a smooth, engaging narration and imported the file into your authoring tool, you’re ready to synch your visuals with the audio and create an amazing e-Learning masterpiece!

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Christie graduated from Indiana Wesleyan University with a bachelor's degree in English and Writing. When she's not writing about e-Learning, Christie enjoys traveling or playing piano and guitar.

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