What is this technique about
Storytelling is all about engaging an audience by applying narrative techniques, it involves bidirectional communication between a storyteller and the listeners aiming to reach them emotionally. It could also be defined as the process of using facts, narratives and emotions to communicate stories with a certain purpose, which could be, for example, to inspire someone, to create a brand image, to share knowledge, etc.
In order to properly apply stories, bear in mind the importance of its structure to deliver information. Cynthia Kurzt (2014) proposes the following structure:
- Context: introduction on the settings of the story.
- Turning point: the dilemma or problem which is needed to be solved.
- Action: how the characters are responding to the problem.
- Reversal: complications, further difficulties, challenges, etc.
- Resolution: the outcome of the story and reactions to it.
The “interest factor” is also key to attract people’s attention and engage an audience.
Where does it come from
Stories have always been a communication and teaching tool used since the beginning of time. Stories are worldwide used daily to share information but also to support traditions and provide answers to the biggest challenges in life. However, we are not able to define its origins. Did storytelling first appear in cave painting? Did it appear in the form of myths and legends?
For which purposes it is used (why in your engineering teaching)
While it is true that in recent years the application of narrative tools has been more linked to studies related to the humanities and social sciences, its potential in the classroom is equally useful in the case of technical studies, such as engineering.
Good stories always captivate the audience and that it’s why storytelling, thus narrative techniques, is a powerful tool to deliver information and it is key in order to provide and share knowledge, becoming a useful asset for your engineering teaching sessions. Prepare a suitable script for your session, focus on your teaching aims and adapt your training to your student’s needs. In addition, the lack of creativity of engineering students is sometimes criticized, so learning the functioning of ideation techniques, as is the case with storytelling, can be useful in the development of new ideas and technologies. In the current context, creative skills are increasingly in demand in the workplace, there is a need for them to be exposed to a learning means that can unleash their creative potential.
Regina Freyman, professor and storyteller expert, suggests using Blogumentaries in order to apply storytelling in engineering and science teaching. This tool works as an online blog which combines video, reading, podcast, additional resources and statistics, so the blog becomes a documentary and the training materials become part of a bigger story.
How to use it
Even before creating the story you aimed to deliver, please, reflect about the following topics:
- Define your target audience (analyse your students and their learning needs)
- Establish your training goals and the main objectives of your story
- Plan its scope and structure
Applying the “story skeleton” approach (both the 3-part skeleton structure and the 5-part skeleton one) will be useful to organise your lessons side by side, being also helpful to keep your audience’s interest in the topic. Plus, we recommend you to include some calls to actions and self-reflective questions in your story to create a participative community beyond your students.
The human voice itself is the best vehicle for transmitting stories, so you should pay attention to its use and your body language, modulated to adapt them to the needs of your story and your audience.
How to implement this techniques online
At a basic level digital storytelling means using technology to tell stories, as such it is in essence the same method, but only the means to transfer your message is not in person but using any type of technology, such as videoconferencing, video, animations, pictures, texts, etc.
Using the technique online with your students requires that you select the best way to convey your story, and this is determined not only by the story itself, but also by the technology you have access to and the type of students you are working with.
Examples and/or testimonials
There are many examples and cases on the use of STORYTELLING, but we have not yet found one where this technique is issued in a virtual environment.
If you have used this technique in an online or virtual setting, or know about a case please let us know.
- Concept Board
- Teammate 360
Adams, R., Allendoerfer, C., Yasuhara, K., Rhoulac-Smith, T., Williams, D., Socha, D. (2007, June). Storytelling in Engineering Education. Center for the Advancement of Engineering Education. In: ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, June 24-27, 2007. Available at: http://depts.washington.edu/celtweb/caee/ASEE2007/Storytelling%20in%20Engineering%20Education%20-%20revised.pdf
Web Summit. (2018, November 07). Masterclass: Creativity and storytelling. [Video]. YouTube. Available at: https://youtu.be/nhRt3sR9Ugc
TEDx Talks. (2018, June 05). Seven Keys to Good Storytelling | Josh Campbell | TEDxMemphis. [Video]. YouTube. Available at: https://youtu.be/iV0M5l5KhnE
awwwards. (2020, March 26). Storytelling With Design Thinking | Creative Director Achtung! Kika Douglas. [Video]. YouTube. Available at: https://youtu.be/I0qsOs1Y4Do
Read McDonald, M. (2013). Teaching with Story: Classroom Connections to Storytelling. August House Pub Inc. ISBN-10: 1939160723
Riley, J.T., dall’Acqua, L. (2019). Narrative Thinking and Storytelling for Problem Solving in Science Education. IGI Global. ISBN-13: 978-1522599593
Lee, D. (2012). Powerful Storytelling Techniques. ATD Press. ISBN-13: 978-1562868352
Kurtz, C.F. (2014). Working with stories in your Community or Organization. 3rd Edition. Kurtz-Fernhout Publishing. ISBN-13: 978-0991369409. Online at: https://www.workingwithstories.org/WorkingWithStoriesThirdEdition_Web.pdf