One of my favorite memories from growing up is listening to my grandfather tell stories. We would sit around the dinner table after a meal and he would tell stories about his youth, his athletic endeavors, his business, his home projects, and many others. I would listen attentively and ask questions. Most of them contained valuable life lessons, and I remember many of the details decades later. Yes, those are great memories. The data privacy compliance course that I took last week? Well, I’m not sure I can recall many details. Why is that?

Stories have a powerful effect on the human mind. They create images in our minds that stick in long-term memory. They trigger emotional responses to the storyline and the characters involved that also serve to burn the story into long-term memory. Stories are a key part of how we learn, and therefore, they should be a key part of how we train. I’ve heard statistics that framing training in a story improves retention by something like 60 percent.

At Mastech Digital, we consistently try to work with our Digital Learning clients to develop stories around their learning projects. Not every project lends itself to a story, but those that do generate some powerful results. Here are a few things our team has learned through working on those projects:

  • Use a situation that is familiar to the training audience. One of my favorite examples starts out with the main character saying, “I just got out of the worst meeting of my entire life.” Wow. There’s a statement that immediately triggers an emotional response in every learner, because everyone in business today has been in a terrible meeting. She then goes on to describe what happened in the meeting, leaving the audience with mental pictures of their own worst meeting and what went wrong in it. Another of my favorite examples uses a simulated conversation between a retail salesperson and a customer to teach a product’s attributes. Again, it’s a situation that everyone in the audience of salespeople has been in and can relate to.
  • Use characters that the audience can relate to. Some of our best stories have involved a team of characters with different roles such as project manager, business analyst, developer, tester, executive leadership, etc. The story comes to a team-oriented conclusion, and everyone in the training audience can identify with at least one of the characters and the role that character played in accomplishing the result.
  • Bring the story to a successful conclusion. Using a situation and characters that learners can identify with, develop the story to a successful conclusion. In the process, the story should relate the correct way of accomplishing the learning objective, whether it’s correctly performing procedure, achieving a business result, or improving a business process. Learners will remember how the story played out better than if you just present a process as a series of steps.
  • Provide mechanisms for learners to transfer what happened to their own situations. Using a situation, characters, and a business result that learners can identify with, learners will remember the story and draw their own conclusions about how it relates to their own situations. This is another important factor in transferring knowledge from short-term to long-term memory.

As stated earlier, not every project lends itself to a story. Developing a story around a body of content involves investing time and money, but the results almost always prove to be worth it. How much more memorable would that data security compliance course have been if it contained a story about identifying a breach, fixing it, and ensuring it didn’t happen again, instead of simply presenting the company’s policy?


Author James Wallace
James Wallace
Consultant Manager

Mastech Digital

Digital Learning

Learning Management


About Mastech Digital

Digital Learning Services

Microlearning is a concept that has been generating a lot of interest in the learning industry lately. This year’s Association for Talent Development (ATD) conference featured several well-attended sessions on microlearning. If you’re reading this blog, then you’re probably already familiar with what microlearning is.

Simply put, microlearning is (relatively) short chunks of learning that address a single objective or task. Some feel that good microlearning has a finite time limit, like it has to be under two minutes, or under five minutes in length. But good microlearning can be as long as it needs to be if it addresses a single objective or task. I’ve seen pieces that were 15 or 20 minutes long, but I would still call them microlearning because they taught a single objective.

I’ve heard some learning professionals say that microlearning is the next big thing, and we should all be doing it all of the time. But like any tool in the learning toolkit, it’s great for some situations, but it’s probably not the right tool for every situation.

At Mastech Digital, we constantly strive to select the right tool or method that best solves a client’s business problem. I’m reminded of a recent project where a client was introducing a new computer system that automated a number of operations that were previously performed manually. The client was a global company with many locations, and one interesting aspect of their organization is that individuals in similar roles didn’t necessarily perform the same groups of tasks in different locations. This made role-specific training virtually impossible.

Microlearning was the right solution in this case, because it separated the tasks and allowed them to be connected differently in different locations. It also allowed individuals to learn discrete operations as needed. The result was shorter time between learning a specific task and performing it live in the system, which then resulted in better retention.

Microlearning has another advantage for those with an eye toward the future, in that it can help facilitate adaptive learning, which is a subject for another blog post at another time. However, as the technology evolves and adaptive learning becomes more accessible, having content in smaller chunks already can make it easier for an adaptive learning engine to make decisions based on the analytics it collects.

In summary, microlearning is a terrific tool for some situations, but it does learners a disservice if we try to force-fit every problem into that particular solution.


Consultant James Wallace
James Wallace
Consultant Manager

Digital learning is gradually replacing traditional learning and training methods in most organizations, irrespective of the size and industry. Digital learning has become integral to organizational growth because it has some definitive benefits. The seamlessness that digital learning solutions provide results in a more engaged workforce. One of the evident benefits of digital learning is the omnichannel experience that can be created such that the content can be accessed from anywhere, and if necessary, anytime. Yet another benefit is the customization of modules, based on organizational requirements.

Since the content and resources can be continuously updated, digital training is both competitive and a competent method of training. Resources utilized for digital learning modules are multimedia-based because of which they are more interactive and engaging. The constant technology advancement in digital learning tools ensures ever-changing and ever-engaging learning experiences for the end users.

Future innovations in digital learning solutions

As digital learning solutions continue to conquer and change the fundamentals of conventional training and learning, there are some futuristic changes that are imminent. The primary change we are all witnessing is the phenomenal rise in the use of portable mobile devices like smartphones and tablets. The increased use of mobility in the enterprise is having a tremendous impact on digital learning.

Cloud-based platforms stand firm in their position acting as the cornerstone of online storage, sharing and analyzing. Virtual availability of data makes it possible for multiple users to access data via various devices. Hence, a cloud-based learning system has its own set of benefits. It is cost effective, which makes it an ideal choice for smaller organizations also. The effort of setting up, installing support software, and maintenance and data management is also less, while cloud-based platforms also facilitate faster time-to-market.

Mastech Digital provides digital learning solution through five methods:

  • Mobile learning
  • Web based learning
  • Social learning
  • Virtual learning
  • Blended learning

All digital services provided by Mastech Digital are interactive, customized and possess the flexibility to suit specific organizational requirements. From informal social learning solutions to strictly formal and hybrid learning, Mastech Digital has can tailor the right kind of learning solution for everyone with a constant eye on security and business continuity.


onsultant Manager James-Wallace
Jim Wallace
Consultant Manager