Story Based Learning
New York Presbyterian Hospital (NYP) has ditched traditional classroom-based learning for a story-based approach to teaching fire safety to its 20,000 or so staff. The new Story-based Learning Objects (StoBLs™), delivered via e-learning, have been developed by the global e-learning producer, Tata Interactive Systems (TIS) - and have generated strongly positive reactions from managers and thousands of learners at NYP. Staff trained via the classroom-based courses had consistently demonstrated levels of comprehension and retention which were lower than desired. One reason suggested for this was that the training was presented only in terms of steps and rules, without the application of the principles in a real-world situation. "Basically, the content didn't relate closely enough to the audience's daily experiences," said TIS's Chaitanya Hakkaladadi. "NYP, like many hospitals, has a recurring training requirement related to certifying - and re-certifying - that all of their 20,000 or so employees are aware of, and competent in, the basics of Fire Safety," commented Hakkaladadi. "This is necessary not only to ensure they can react appropriately in the event of an actual fire emergency, but also for regulatory/compliance 'spot checks', when fire and safety officials randomly show up, unannounced, and ask questions of anyone they wish. And if these employees don't answer the questions correctly, the hospital is penalised." TIS's solution was to create the 'NYP Fire Safety Course Demo' which uses a story-based approach to a learning programme which is built around the NYP fire safety acronym of 'RACE': rescue, alarm, confine, evacuate/extinguish. Each element of the acronym forms a module of the course. "Each module is a retelling of a fire event, from one character's perspective - so the same fire event is recalled five different times. Each module opens with the story, and then is followed by a series of 'teach screens' and knowledge checks," explained Hakkaladadi. "The StoBLs™ approach uses visual imagery and audio to bring learning content to life," said Alan Samuel, head of TIS's UK operations. "This enables the learning programme to achieve interactivity in the true sense of the term - engaging learners' feelings and emotions as well as imparting the knowledge that they need. "Everyone - of any age - loves a good story," Samuel continued. "Stories help to lower adult resistance to new ideas; can make the tedious memorable; make abstract concepts 'concrete' and simplify complex ideas to concepts that are readily understood."
This isn’t new – case studies are being used in Business Schools! Oh, I heard you mention Aeshop, or Panchatantra as in India, or Ancient texts. But, I must give to TIS that this is novel, whoever thought this up, as training and innovation do not usually go hand in hand.