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Instructional Storytelling

May 5, 2013

In this assignment I looked at instructional storytelling.

I think fundamentally most documentaries are instructional storytelling. Their goal is to entertain, to create emotions (authenticity if you like) and there needs to be some sort of conflict or it won’t be able to entertain or create emotions (McDonald 2009).

The best example of this commercially is the Folger’s commercial where the son is coming home from being away and his sister meets him at the door and he wakes his parents by making a pot of Folger’s coffee. The main problem with this video is that although it meets all the criteria for being an effective digital story, the only thing it really instructs you about is to wake up people with the smell of coffee or how to serve coffee. There is another Folgers commercial with Randy Travis that you can take to instruct a person to have an automatic coffee maker to wake you up with the smell of coffee and it shows you how to savor a cup of coffee tells you it is grown in the mountains, but that is a bit of a stretch.

The commercial with the crash test dummies is instructional, it shows what happens to the body in a crash, and instructs you to wear a seatbelt. It is entertaining, but it lacks in the area of conflict or creating emotion.

This next video is also using the crash test dummies but is also an educational video about why to use safety belts.

I found a website: This website is specifically for educational uses of digital storytelling. It has a lot of short documentary type pieces that are educational. the following is on foot binding in China. It is interesting, so it kept me entertained. As to the creating emotion, it could have been done better. There was talk during the video of painful processes. The narrator could have changed her voice tone to match to improve the creating of emotion or connection to these women. The conflict in this is how all women inorder to be married were expected to bind their feet, which was a painful process that limited their movement and this persisted for hundreds of years. In modern times, families were told not to bind their daughter’s feet, some did anyway, even with negative consequences. This practice finally ended in the late 1940’s. The narrator could have played up this conflict more to make it more effective.

The final video is a New Zealand Air instructional video using the movie the Hobbit and characters from Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit movies. This is the video that would be shown before each flight to give safety instructions for the flight. It effectively gives instruction, is very entertaining, if you have seen the video it may create emotions. In me, because I enjoy these movies, it definitely created a fondness and desire to fly on this airline. They made use of conflict within the characters in the video itself. They used the conflicts the characters would naturally have in the story. They even had a cameo of the Director of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. It was amusing and effective.

I do have to give a shout-out to one of the funniest educational videos I have seen. True Fact by zefrank1 on youtube are educational. I checked the facts on a few of them they are true and connected to an BBC youtube channel about science. The narrator sounds like Morgan Freeman as he is talking about the animal. The animals all have something odd and the comments he makes in between are snarky and hilarious. It is definitly entertaining and educational. There is very little creating of emotion other than joy from how funny the video is. There is very little conflict other than how odd the animal is and how different they are from us. But, be warned, they are a little crude.

Works Cited

Jason K. McDonald (2009): Imaginative Instruction: what master storytellers can teach instructional designers, Educational Media International, 46:2, 111-122

One Comment leave one →
  1. May 6, 2013 12:50 pm

    I certainly agree that documentaries are, by their very nature, instructional. The question becomes what devices the authors might use (e.g., McDonald’s three principles) to interest or engage the viewers. Of the videos you cited, the element of conflict isn’t very prominent, although there is a clear subtext of conflict in the crash test dummies videos–that being how to keep you and your family safe. I suppose that advertising in general has that same implied conflict–how to be popular, how to make your family love you, etc. The best example was the airline safety video. Great use of an engaging format to make a usually boring and repetitive video interesting–also a great tie-in between NZ Air, the country, and the movie.

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