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Reel Life - Episode 1: Plot, Storytelling, Dialogue

Michael Darden

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets: An E-Learning Discourse

A lot can be learned about e-learning through the study of film and media. In this series, we’ll explore e-learning principles and techniques in the context of movie critiques, game reviews, and literary studies. You never knew that e-learning could be so fun!

In this week’s blog, we’ll be looking at storytelling do’s and do not's in e-learning.

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets is Luc Besson’s newest film, a brightly-colored and imaginative sci-fi flick that follows a pair of suspiciously young government spies, the eponymous Valerian and his partner, Laureline, as they get caught up in an international crisis in the middle of an extravagant city inhabited by thousands of alien species.

It is a gorgeous movie, with incredible creature designs, breathtaking scenes, and spectacular visual effects. Unfortunately, good visual effects do not make a good movie. Valerian lacks three vital things: a clear plot, active storytelling, and believable dialogue. In short, it’s the movie’s content that drags it down. Likewise, bad content can break an otherwise pretty and interactive e-learning course. We will be looking at each flaw and its fix in the following series.

Part 1

In Valerian, the plot was muddled by distractors. Valerian and Laureline go from fetching a rare animal from a crimeboss and investigating a hidden dead zone in the supercity of Alpha, to spending time hunting a mind-altering jellyfish, ogling a pole-dancing Rihanna, and unwittingly taking part in a predatory fashion show. The plot is slowed by non-essential elements and confused by weak objectives.

Similarly, unclear learning objectives muddles the course and the learner’s understanding of the topic at hand. Learning objectives are the spine of your e-learning story; with indistinct or confusing objectives, the learner is set up to fail and, worse, gains nothing by taking the course. Just as it is vital to have a clear plot, it’s vital to have strong and active learning objectives.  Establish clear goals and objectives, and then stick to it.

Consider this: What are your goals for your learner to achieve? How can you refine your goals and support them?

Resources:
http://blog.cathy-moore.com/2011/07/checklist-for-strong-elearning/
http://blog.cathy-moore.com/2008/05/be-an-elearning-action-hero/

Written by:

Katie Wincek

Comments

I've been using Cathy Moore's Action Mapping process for years with great success. Love that you applied that to Valerian, but too bad it seems to have fallen short. I'll have to watch the movie through that lens. Thanks for the great post!