I present at workshops and conferences.
Using Story Beats and Comedy Plot Curve for eLearning Scenario Development
Learning Solutions Conference & Expo, Orlando Florida, April 14, 2023
About: Everyone enjoys a good story. Using storytelling techniques and role-play activities, you can transform boring training content into memorable learning experiences; you can create a situation in which learners apply their knowledge to solve problems, make decisions, take action, and experience the consequences of their choices, even really bad choices—all without endangering themselves and others—and possibly learn from their mistakes. However, scenarios written by educators tend to be predictable, prescriptive, and preachy. And learners know when they’re being manipulated into how to think and feel. Outwardly, they may click the right answer but inwardly they resent it. Studies have shown that this may actually produce a reverse effect. So, how do you design engaging and interactive learning experiences without being heavy-handed? How do you plot out a good story?
This session will explore a better way to write scenarios using a story arc common to comedy genres. We usually think of comedy as lighthearted and upbeat, full of laughter and fun. But a comedy plot is often about trouble and pain, heading full-speed toward outrageous catastrophe. What do audiences derive from the madness of comedy? We will explore why comedy is a fitting archetype for learning design. We will view scenes from films, study their construction, and learn to apply the techniques we discover. You will learn how to give shape to an eLearning scenario using a three-act structure: beginning, middle, and end. Going deeper, we will look at beat sheets used by writers to plot out a comedy screenplay. In film writing terms, a “beat” refers to a single event that transforms the story and its characters at a critical juncture. The culminating activity will be to design a scenario together using the techniques we’ve discussed. You will receive a scenario worksheet for writing your own story plan and a checklist for producing dramatic tension.
In this session you will learn:
- The basic plot shapes of stories and why you should be aware of them
- 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
- How to apply story beats to plot your scenarios, including when key beats should occur and why
- How comedy works, why it impacts audiences, and why it is especially relevant and effective in learning scenarios
- How to use character insight and perspectives to anticipate learning via catastrophe
- How to fit story components together to regulate dramatic tension
- How to apply all these techniques to achieve your learning goals
Using Story Beats to Plot eLearning Scenarios
Learning Solutions Conference & Expo, Orlando Florida, March 26-28, 2019
About: 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.
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. More …
Flipped Classroom Studio at Ohio University
OHECC Conference, Swanee University, Portsmouth Ohio, April 2015
About: The Flipped Classroom is a teaching model that inverts traditional teaching methods. Course “lectures” are published as video podcasts and learning modules that students view online before class. This allows class time to be spent on activities such as problem-based work that focus on higher order thinking, improve student engagement and increase meaningful interaction between students and teachers. It is called the flipped classroom because what used to be homework is now done in class and delivering content is now done at home via teacher-created videos.
We designed a four-week Studio that provided participants with assistance and collegial support to begin the process of flipping their course. Students in flipped classroom have reported feeling that they had increased innovation and cooperation when compared to students in a traditional class (Strayer, 2012). A review of active learning research, which the flipped classroom encourages, found that it increases student engagement, achievement, and student retention (Prince, 2004).
Visible Learning; Using a Student Response System
About: To evaluate learning, we have to go beyond getting the right answer. We must ask, “What mental steps led you to your answer?” But thought processes are invisible. Indeed all learning is invisible. This presentation encourages instructors to interact with students via dialogues, rather than monologues (philosophical treatises). To teach by asking questions to generate discussion and debate.
But what makes a good question? If a question does not elicit haggling about how to figure out the problem, then the question is not working. When the question is too easy, students are bored and there is nothing for them to discuss. Too difficult, and students don’t even know where to start. So they give up. But, how do you get into the sweet spot of learning? We explore ideas and strategies to make problem-solving appropriately challenging and to make learning visible.
Interactive Learning Modules Instead of Lectures: An Example from Classical Mythology
About: Interactive learning modules allowed Ohio University to offer twice as many sections of a popular undergraduate classical mythology course without increasing class size, adding to the instructor’s workload, or taking away from class discussion time. This presentation will describe how we did it and what we learned in the process.
What People Said ...
Best session I’ve attended so far.
This session was amazing! Mike was totally engaging and engrossing. The content was a fun take on the topic with a great framework to work from in crafting story.
One of my favorite sessions of the entire conference. All I would change is more time to get in depth. This could be a great extended block topic.
This was really fun to learn about and I liked the presenter’s style.
This is just what I needed to understand how to write a story for my training. Very practical steps.
Awesome session, Mike! So interesting and we’ll laid out. I will look to download your deck and research this further.
Exceptional! Very practical.
Very engaging! Storytelling is a skill I want to hone and I loved the breakdown of familiar movies to start orienting ourselves to the practice.
Great session with a lot of inspiration. Many slides with good info that there was no time to jot down. Looking forward to finding the presentation online.
Great stuff, simplified version of scripting a story.
Impressed with his ability to compress the content into one hour. Lots of practical tips to support the theory.
Great applicable tips and tricks.
Great session! This was a great introduction to story beats – I can’t wait to give this a try and share the idea with my team.