Skip to content

Defining Learning Story Plots

Learning story plots go beyond entertaining — they endeavor to teach.

Robert Heinlein's defined three story plots, love, fortune, and ones where the character learns. This third category encompasses all of the learning plots.  Through the protagonist, we learn or grow in knowledge or perspective.  Learning story plots engage the audience and convey a compelling change. This involves expanding storylines beyond success to cover failure, loss, conflict, and an array of work situations in the learner's daily work and career. 

Learning story plots engage the audience and convey a compelling change in four ways. 



Learning Forces Plot

The force plots are pit the character against an obstacle, antagonism, force, or foe. This is often the origin story of start-ups, disruptors, and outliers. These stories typically follow the same pattern of an upstart seeking to disrupt the marketplace's dominant force. The stories hinge on the character possessing a new power to overcome the opposing force. Many of Malcolm Gladwell's books on business, innovation, and leadership develop through learning forces plots.



Learning Journey Plot

Journeys can take on many different shapes, and the obstacles overcome. These include success stories of rags to riches and the voyage return plots where worthy goals marshal all the learner's/organization's resources to learn and grow. The journey or process searches for new ways to operate or achieve a goal. Whether the outcome is successful, the journey transforms the organization and learner. Often the character grows and learns beyond the initial vision of the journey.



Learning Character Plot

In learning character plots, the learner follows along with the protagonist to understand and reveal changes in thinking. In these stories, we learn what the character is thinking; in the story form, we develop perspective and sympathy for the decisions and obstacles the character faces and learn the changes made.



Learning Impact Plot

In learning impact plots, stories profoundly impact the systems for change. Stories that illuminate complex systems allow learners to see elements and interconnections in new ways. 

Learning experiences require more to engage the audience and convey compelling change involves covering storylines simply of success but of failure, loss, conflict, and an array of ways stories work in the learner's daily work and career lives.
By diversifying plots allows learning experience to teach sympathy, provide perspective on issues of diversity and inclusion. And, each plot regardless of how it is defined or ascribed to recognizable themes allows the learner to quickly map learning experience to story.


Learning Experiences:


Review the list of tweets to curated articles and resources from around the web.  Have additional ideas or suggestions — leave a comment and we'll be sure to add them. 



Posts from Social Media: