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The Learner’s Story

By Sally Eames, Instructional Designer

It’s time to reveal my Secret Designer Storytelling Weapon. This secret weapon takes training from “gets the job done” to great training learners remember.

When I design training, my goal is to help learners gain the knowledge or skills they need to do their jobs well. They may need to learn how to follow a process effectively; they may need to interview potential team members without allowing bias into the process; they may need to know that certain behavior could get their organization into trouble and what to do if they experience or witness it.

I could just create documents or eLearning that provides that content, but that’s not necessarily going to help the learning land. Learners need to feel connected to the content. It needs to matter to them. How do I make this happen? I look at the context and the goals from the learner’s point of view, and then I craft training that follows the story of their journey.

That’s my Secret Designer Storytelling Weapon: shifting my focus from “How do I provide this information?” to “What’s the learner’s journey from where they are now to where they need to be?”

It’s a little something I borrowed from the worlds of User Experience design (UX) and marketing, but it’s also the way I designed my syllabi when I was in academia.

Here’s how I do it:

  1. Start with the learner. Who are the learners? What is their experience or education level? What equipment will they use to learn? What support will they need after training? What is the organizational culture?
  2. Get clear on the end point. What is the exact goal of the training? Which behaviors need to change? What specifically will learners need to do?
  3. Mind the gap. What is necessary to bridge the space between the starting point and the goal?
  4. Map the journey. Look at the big steps required to get from A to B, and then break down what goes into learning each big step. Now we’ve got an outline for the training and what it needs to include.

Once I’ve figured out the learner’s journey, I create interactivity that guides them through it. Then, based on my understanding of who the learners are and the organizational culture they exist in, I design training that will support them on their journey in the most effective way.

Want to talk more about this? Leave a comment below, or reach out to us at Our team of creative rock stars are ready to help!

Topics : Articles, eLearning, Learning, Learning Solutions, Storytelling, Training

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