The Power of Personalization: Engaging Learners

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Harriet Beecher Stowe and Upton Sinclair were able to show the human cost of the institutions they spoke out against, eventually swaying public opinion and policy in their favor. They proved it’s impossible overstate the power of personal narrative — even if it’s just engaging employees and not changing the world, people still relate to people more than anything else.

Personal stories always have been an unofficial necessity when onboarding and training employees. While being bombarded by blandly generic print or video material, a personal touch tends to stick.

It’s in this vein that a new trend is emerging in e-learning: personal stories as learning. In both content and delivery, these programs offer video and audio accounts of individuals’ success or failure on a whole host of subjects.

There are many means by which to accomplish this, and three programs are presented here.

50 Lessons
50 Lessons is a YouTube-like program of hundreds of lessons from business leaders. (On Sept. 12, the Web site’s feature of the day was the lessons of Anita Roddick, founder of The Body Shop, who died two days earlier.)

For businesses, it’s free to sign up and search and collect lessons to add to a database called My Videos. Depending on your business and what points you want employees to really grasp, you can create an ideal playlist of lessons suited for your needs.

Some other big names lending their experience to 50 Lessons are Howard Lester of Williams-Sonoma, Robert Johnson of Black Entertainment Television and David Brandon of Domino’s Pizza.

To create a system in which you can deliver these lessons to employees, an allocation fee is required for full access to the video library and integration to all your company’s workstations.

Spiral Story
This program offers audio lessons in an interview format from a “Zoomer” (any business leader, nominated by Spiral Story users, who has an interesting and worthwhile experience from which others can learn).

The Web site is designed to be user-driven. Built like an online community, Spiral Story has its own terminology: Zoomers, Seekers (persons looking for content) and Ambassadors (those who share certain Spiral Stories).

The Web site is regularly updated, and the “lessons learned” are from a wide array of business leaders, not just the biggest companies.

Stories in Motion
Stories in Motion is the live-action offshoot of Spiral Stories, both owned by learning company The DeSai Group. Unlike its more user-generated sister program, Stories in Motion also offers produced programs that feature multiple business leaders who experienced overcoming similar obstacles. Additionally, team dynamics are highlighted in this video series, with lessons on how individuals worked individually to come together for a common goal.

Whether re-emphasizing a basic point through new means or learning something new from an industry-specific source, personalized stories always will carry more weight than just any learning method.

Even if we’ll never change the world as much as Stowe or Sinclair, perpetuating the idea of people being the best resource of information helps foster all levels of communication throughout your organization, a welcome achievement in today’s e-mail-driven corporate culture.

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