Like the rest of the country, I spent the last week watching Netflix’s homage to the 80s: Stranger Things. Let’s take a look at why this show is so popular and how we can apply these elements to our e-learning courses.
Stranger Things is storytelling at its best. It’s a suspenseful mystery, but it also is loaded with interesting characters that are all in the midst of change. There are themes of friendship, adolescence, innocence, and motherhood all woven together in a way that doesn’t waste anything. In eight episodes, it accomplishes so much.
Now e-learning courses might not want this level of storytelling, but this is a good reminder that fleshed out characters are crucial to an audience's engagement. Instead of creating caricatures, trust that your audience wants realistic characters in their learning experience.
New Spin On The Familiar
Dungeons & Dragons, ET, Jaws, Goonies. Stranger Things really conjures up a lot of memories and feelings about things from your childhood/past. One of the main attractions to the show is how it reminds people of things they loved when they were younger, but is a completely new and interesting story involving those things.
When we are designing e-learning courses, we want to push the envelope a little and give learners something new that they are also familiar with. Maybe it’s a screen type that functions a little differently, but still looks familiar enough that learners are able to figure out how it works. A fresh spin on something old can draw a learner in.
Leaves You Wanting More
I tried my best to enjoy the show slowly and savor each episode. I was able to last until episode six and then had to watch the last three back-to-back-to-back. It does a great job of giving you an idea of what the next episode holds in store before ending the current one. This makes an audience want to watch the next one right away.
Things that can keep an audience interested in coming back to your course include badges, challenges, mini games that track high scores, and branching conversations with numerous outcomes.
A Great Hook
The opening is sparse and cool and feels epic. It lets the audience know that something big is on the way, just with music and letters floating on the screen.
e-Learning audiences probably need a little bit more than letters and music to get them excited about a course, but a good hook goes a long way. Like the Stranger Things opening, you can use your hook to help establish the tone of your course. Will it be funny and vibrant? Or more serious and clean? The hook can get the learner ready for what to expect.