When I was around ten years old, I had a teacher who was obsessed with the sea. On the first day of school, I stepped into a classroom that resembled an underwater paradise, but not one like the movies. There were no talking frogs or mermaids; instead there were tremendously detailed, seemingly accurate, depictions of vegetation and corral, as well as a few non-vocal sea creatures. That year we read articles from magazines and beginner biology textbooks all in pursuit of gaining knowledge about our neighbors in the deep. On the playground, the louder students spent their time making light of the teacher and her confusing lessons about coeloms and dorsal aortas. The majority of us kept quiet. I like to think we appreciated the effort, but for the most part, we were not fully engaged either. The material never seemed as vivid or interesting as it did on that first day, when we entered into the paradise. Thankfully, we felt that excitement again, during the week leading up to Winter Break. That was when the teacher decided to take a little break and give us all a treat. The AV cart got wheeled into the classroom, plugged in, and the voice of one Jacques Cousteau filtered into our space...
On that day so many years ago, and throughout my time as a student and as an education professional, I have seen the divide between the “traditional” approach to learning and a progressive one based around visual and narrative learning. Visual and narrative learning content has the power to enhance engagement for online instruction by triggering an emotional connection to the material. According to Psychology Today, “Stories continue to hold power in this digital age because the human brain hasn't evolved as fast as technology and it's only through stories that we can connect to the various digital platforms and media messages out there today.” I couldn’t agree more. That was the driving force behind the formation of Genius Produced. At my company, we use the magic of engagement and cinematic language to bring online pedagogy to life.
Think of it like this: it’s infinitely easier to remember the gist of a story and its lessons than it is to commit a list of miscellaneous facts to memory. Research shows, “63% of people remembered facts better when presented within the context of a story, whereas only 5% remembered the information when presented in a traditional learning format.”
In general, eLearners are application and results driven, so by mirroring their reality through storytelling or the use of innovative presentation styles, the content provides relevance, helping the learner understand the value in his or her own life - i.e. ‘What’s in it for me?’ Additionally, these approaches make it easier to learn complex and abstract concepts with anecdotes and analogies.
From a Jacques Cousteau documentary to something like MIT’s Virtual Reality Scuba Diving Simulator or an exclusive Genius Produced immersive educational experience, there are many flavors of media that can be used to build upon the curriculum and improve the outcomes for learners everywhere. As educators, we can find new ways to reach our students.