​ ​​​​​Digital Storytelling Tools for Occupational Training

Digital Storytelling in Occupational Training Training workers is crucial to the success of any business. Digital storytelling, or the practice of using computer-based tools to tell stories, is an occupational training technique that merges a natural human inclination with modern tech​nology. Future business leaders can shepherd their teams toward success with this cutting-edge training technique.

What Is Digital Storytelling?

Also called "computer-based narratives," digital storytelling involves telling stories through a combination of graphic, audio, video and web publishing elements, explains Bernard Robin, Ph.D., and colleagues. Digital stories usually range between two and 10 minutes in length and can cover any subject imaginable. The medium is popular, as evidenced by its use in such varied arenas as classrooms, political campaigns, business initiatives, advertising and social media.

The look and use of digital stories varies tremendously. TED talks, viral whiteboard animations, education tools such as Mr. Beat's Social Studies Channel and the video essay series Nerdwriter all constitute versions of digital storytelling.

 Wired offers an exciting video that describes how virtual reality can be used as an effective training tool.

How to Integrate Digital Storytelling Into Occupational Training

Because telling stories is a natural human behavior, integrating the practice into employee training is a logical choice for occupational trainers to make. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) extensively researched storytelling in occupational training and found that the practice improved work performance and increased safety. Its research concluded that Digital Storytelling:

  • Can influence and change how people think about and react to situations
  • Is an integral part of the learning process
  • Provides rules about what is expected by a certain group or culture (whether social or occupational)
  • Helps make meaning out of experiences
  • Can provide information about what to do, how to do it and why to do it in a certain way

The purpose of occupational training is to effectively prepare employees for the work they must perform and to ensure that they do so in a safe and compliant manner. That's why using digital storytelling to its utmost effectiveness is key. Occupational trainers should strive to both share stories themselves and encourage their employees who provide training to others to do the same.

eLearning Industry identifies four valuable storytelling tactics for these individuals:

1.)    Make the story realistic to your audience. This means using a protagonist who lives in the same world and faces the same challenges as your employees. When a story is contextually relatable, it strengthens the connection between the story and the listener.

2.)    Use a conversational, friendly tone. Again, this tactic strengthens the connection between the narrative and the audience. Use normal cadence and leave out jargon and technical or formal language.

3.)    Be brief. Workers are more likely to remember stories that are short and to the point.

4.)    Make sure your narrative contains a beginning, middle and end. Adhering to basic story structure is key for helping workers to effectively process the information you want to convey. Many stories structurally consist of a protagonist presented with a challenge, who attempts ways to overcome it and eventually succeeds.

It is also important to consider the types of stories that are most impactful. When using stories to train employees, the following forms are common, according to the CDC:

Hero stories

Hero stories describe individuals who the company considers to be "larger than life". In an occupational training context, these "heroes" may be individuals whose performance is notably exceptional. They may have taught the storyteller "everything they know" or helped a colleague in the midst of a crisis. They embody the traits, such as dependability, creativity under duress or hard work, that the company or occupational field value. The message listeners receive through hero stories is an understanding of the sort of behavior that is expected from them at their job.

Villain stories

Villain stories portray individuals who act in complete opposition to expectations at a job. They are narratives that describe what not to do. The people described in villain stories have "turned away" from the values and expected performance of a work culture and are to be punished, shamed and feared as a result. The message about appropriate behavior remains the same as in hero stories, but the listener hears about what behavior is unacceptable.

Adventure stories

Adventure stories serve to highlight the sorts of problems that may arise in the workplace. They are stories about significant events and often include a larger cast of characters who all react to the event in different ways. Adventure stories allow listeners to make sense of things when events go wrong and learn how to deal with problems when they occur.

Fool stories

Perhaps the most valuable for occupational training purposes, fool stories discuss the events that unfold when individuals ignore warnings, forget training, or become careless or complacent. Although the protagonists often emerge relatively unscathed, they learn valuable lessons about how to behave properly on the job.

By using these methods, occupational trainers can expect to see an increase in both the productivity and effectiveness of their employees' work.

Occupational Training Scenarios: The Future of Digital Storytelling

As technology moves forward, digital storytelling tools can be expected to follow. Occupational training as an immersive experience has already begun to emerge through the use of virtual reality. Examples of future digital storytelling scenarios may include:

  • Surgeons and other medical professionals practicing digital medical procedures
  • Increased use of flight simulators for commercial and military pilots
  • Practice scenarios for employees whose work requires handling expensive equipment
  • Response drills to major emergencies that involve bodily risk to employees, such as firefighters or police officers

Ultimately, occupational trainers can rely on both present and future forms of digital storytelling to bring out the best in their employees' performance.

Digital Storytelling Tools and the Future of Human Resources Training

Digital storytelling can be a powerful tool for business professionals working in human resources in the modern technological age. Obtaining a degree such as the online MBA  from the University of Findlay can help students develop the skills they need to become the leaders of tomorrow. The program allows students to tailor their education to fit their unique career goals by studying in more than one concentration, including Human Resource Management. ​


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