Using Story Beats to Plot eLearning Scenarios

Conference Archive

Learning Solutions Conference & Expo 2019 - March 28, 2019

Mike Roy

Mike V Roy Consulting

Everyone likes stories. Using storytelling techniques to spice up otherwise dull training modules is a great idea. Situating learners in a realistic context encourages them to apply skills and retain knowledge longer. But it’s not easy to write engaging narratives. Scenarios written by educators tend to be prescriptive, predictable, and preachy. Even worse, they feel contrived and artificial. Learners know when they are being manipulated to think or feel. Outwardly, they may click the right answer, but inwardly they resent it. Recent studies have shown that this sort of training may actually produce a reverse effect, compelling learners to feel more opposed to the training lesson than before they participated. So, how do you write a real-world learning scenario that isn’t contrived?

This session will explore how to apply techniques used by writers of films and screenplays. First, you will briefly discuss a movie plot by its three-act structure: beginning, middle, and end. That’s a really good way to start conceptualizing an eLearning scenario but, by itself, doesn’t go deep enough to be very helpful. It’s easy to get started plotting out your story only to lose your way without a clue of where to go next. You will look at Blake Snyder’s Beat Sheet used by screenplay writers. In film writing terms, a “beat” refers to a single story event that transforms the character and story at a critical juncture.

In this session, you will learn:

  • How to apply structure technique to plot your scenarios more quickly and effectively
  • What is essential to include in your story’s beginning, middle, and end
  • What a story beat is, and how it moves a story forward
  • About the 15 story beats from Snyder
  • How to apply the 15 beats to your storyboard
  • When each story beat should occur in your scenario


Designers and developers

Technology discussed in this session:

Articulate 360 and Adobe Captivate


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