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Why Trish Made The Transition To Interactive Storytelling After a Master's Degree In Adult Education

 

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Story:
Are you smart, hard working, on a career path, and still feel like there's much more you can do?

Meet Trish... she just graduated college with a master's degree in adult education, and a graduate certificate in online teaching and e-learning... while working full time!

A solid foundation? Absolutely!

Still not enough? Also yes.

"... it's all things that I didn't learn through five years of undergraduate and then graduate school. They didn't do anything with storytelling ... it just gave me a whole different perspective and opened my eyes to different possibilities that we can use ... It was like, 'Hey, this is really cool!' and I saw the importance right away."

With an open mind and purpose Trish took to interactive storytelling like a fish to water.

She invested in herself and her career and made the commitment to work closely with me through my coaching program.

And, as the Zen saying instructs, "Empty your cup so that it may be filled." And that's exactly what Trish did! Implementing the advice from our calls immediately.

Now, fast forward to today, Trish has created her first interactive story and developed a variety of skills that make her unique to the market (script writing, Articulate Storyline, collaboration with illustrators, and much much more!)

Recently, I sat down to chat with Trish. So if you're ready to hear how Trish upgraded her master's degree in adult education with fresh new skills then watch her interview!

In this video, Trish and I will discuss:

  • How interactive storytelling isn't taught in school and why it's now so important to her current career
  • What parts of interactive storytelling were awesome to work on and sparked joy
  • How a mentor or coach can help you uncover enormous opportunities for efficiency improvements (and fun!)

TRANSCRIPTION

Anna:
Hello, everybody. Anna Sabramowicz here. Thank you so much for joining me. I have a fabulous guest with me today. One of the members of our interactive storytelling community, Trish Makowiak. Thank you so much for being here.

Trish:
Thanks, Anna. You're welcome.

Anna:
So this is kind of an awesome time for us to get together because you're at the cusp of finishing this interactive story, I believe you're. It's like final tweaks. Right? So super exciting. So one of the things I really wanted to dig into with you is just this process, this creative process, your journey to get you to this point. And then what's next. So first off, before you even joined us, tell us about what were you doing before you joined the Interactive Storytelling Accelerator?

Trish:
Actually, I just graduated college with my master's degree in adult education, and I had a graduate certificate in online teaching and e-learning. And I approached one of my professors to get a letter of recommendation and he's like, "Hey, I want to talk to you," and offered me a position anyways, with his own company that he had just started because he just retired.

Anna:
Yeah.

Trish:
So I started working with Dennis and Precision Healthcare Ecosystem. So he had just recently, like right before he hired me, found out about you and Ryan and joined the interactive story line accelerator group. And so he told me, he was like, "Well, we're going to be participating in this and learning from them because this is what we want to do with our learning products that we put out." So we started early on, I think it was.

Anna:
Yeah. Totally. You were a part of the founding members as far as I'm concerned. So that's fantastic. And it's kind of cool because I think Dennis was really sold on the interactive storytelling and then he was really needing some help. So you were like, you had no choice almost. You're joining and you're going to help me. Awesome. Fabulous.

Trish:
Yeah. It was awesome because it's all things that I didn't learn through five years of undergraduate and then graduate school. They didn't do anything with storytelling or any of the things that you and Ryan have taught me. So it was just super bonus for me that he signed me up for this because it just gave me a whole different aspect and opened my eyes to different possibilities that we can use. So it's awesome.

Anna:
One of the things that I just wanted everybody to know is your incredible work ethic because you're like, "Oh, I just finished these two degrees, but you accomplished that while you were also working full time."

Trish:
Yeah.

Anna:
Whenever I talk to you, I feel like a super underachiever. I'm serious, I'm like I should be doing more when I sleep. Okay. Once you joined us, were there things that surprised you or that you were skeptical about? Because you just came out of a different world, right?

Trish:
It came out a different world, but I'm very open. I'm a total learning nerd.

Anna:
You are.

Trish:
So anything else that I can absorb or learn, I was excited about it. It really hit me, the importance of it, of storytelling was evident from the beginning, from the first class with you guys. Actually I think I had a watch a couple of the replays to get caught up, but it was only a couple luckily. But no, I was not skeptical at all. It was like, "Hey, this is really cool," and I saw the importance right away.

Anna:
Tell us about your interactive story, who's it for? And then just that process that you went through of that discovery and all the way to this magnificent visual masterpiece you got going on lately.

Trish:
All right. Audience is people who are either facing their own healthcare crisis or their caretakers that are trying to find information online about whatever medical problem that they're having, things that they just want to research and find out a little bit more. Maybe they felt like they want to start looking into this before they see their physician or a physician, or maybe they feel like they're not quite getting all the information from their physician about whatever their problem is. Dennis did some research and he found out that most of caretakers are women between 35 and up to 60, 70 years old. And that demographic doesn't necessarily have the knowledge or the skills or the training on how to navigate the internet because the internet, there's the digital natives society, and those are all usually millennials and younger. And so there might be a gap in people's knowledge on how to access and how to weed out credible information from the junk or just blog pages that are just people's opinions.

Trish:
So our piece is about this character named Michelle and she's 38 years old, and she just found out that she is pregnant. She had a miscarriage in the past and she's suffering from lot of morning sickness and fatigue and she's just really ill and her husband's very concerned about her, of course. And the story is about her trying to navigate the internet, to find out more about what she can do to try to control her nausea and still be able to get some rest until she can actually get in to see her physician, which ends up being probably about a week, but still this has been going on for a while. She has a sentinel event where she passes out and ends up in the emergency room and they're kind of like, "Oh, you're alright." Send her home, "Make an appointment with your doctor." So she's trying to find out what to do. So our story takes her through all the different places where she's going.

Trish:
So she goes online and she's looking on Facebook and finds an alarming post. That post is telling her, don't do this and that. And one of the thing that she has been doing is drinking turmeric tea. And she says that that makes her stomach feel better. The alarming poll says don't drink turmeric tea. So she's like, "Oh my God." She's reading the resource. It turns out that it's written poorly. She's seeing all these red flags, it was like crazy ads on there and stuff. So she's like, "I don't like this." So then the viewer, the user, has choices. Should she just forget about it or should she continue searching? And depending on what choice they make, it'll take them to a different path.

Trish:
The way that I have it set up is most of our paths loop around so then the learner goes through the same experience pretty much just because we wanted to make sure that we get them to touch all of the bases that we're putting out there for them, all of the examples of things that people could be going through. So then she's like, "Okay, well maybe I'll ask my friends. All my friends have been pregnant. They've had kids." And she asked three friends, she gets three separate opinions. She's like, "Well, that didn't really work." So that touches on how we always want to go to our friends and family and ask them questions about their healthcare experiences, but that's very personal and it doesn't hit a broad audience, so it's not like a one size fits all type of thing.

Trish:
So yeah. So at the end of this, she finally gets to her doctor's appointments. She tells her doctor that she has been following this BRAT diet that she found online for like a few days that is supposed to calm an upset stomach. And the doctor's like, "Oh, you were at dark Dr. Google," just like, "Don't do that. There's a lot of non-credible information out there on Google and that's a bad diet for pregnant woman and." Leads her to Google Scholar and MedlinePlus as more reliable search engines for her to get better, credible information.

Trish:
And then Michelle finds out she's having twins and that's why she's sick all the time. And then at the end of the story, she's talking about how she feels like she's more empowered, which is what we want people to do is to be able to search credibly and then to give them that sense of empowerment, that they're not just like lost out there, that they can actually something about it. And she has her twins. And then that loops us to arise 360 learning module that is a very deeper dive into all of these different sites and how to discern the credibility of them.

Anna:
I think that's such a brilliant setup because this idea is that most people would come in, I'm thinking. And it's funny because you say caretakers and they're not digital natives. I'm thinking everybody could use this because I think that even people who are younger are even more predisposed to believing what's on the internet because they don't even have that. I think all of us need that, anyways.

Anna:
But what's really cool is that this idea of leveraging things that people would automatically assume would be correct and assume would be truthful or good for them, and then you're kind of exposing them to the consequences of what it means to really not take this stuff seriously. But then also exposing them to the opportunities, like, "Yeah, here's some ways that you can actually find this information out the right way." Right? And then lead into it just, "Hey, by the way, do you want to learn more? We've got this in-depth courses." That's fantastic because most places don't do that. Most places are like, "Here's all the info." But you're really setting them up to be curious about it and care. So that's cool.

Trish:
Yeah, it's given them the why, like "Why would I need to know this?" And it's showing them a real life experience that somebody could go through and it's very believable story. It's like, "Oh yeah," you can parallel that to modern life, for anybody pretty much.

Anna:
Yeah.

Trish:
So yeah, why is it relevant to me is huge. And that's what I think that these stories tell. So I'm hoping that I can use that with my new employer too.

Anna:
Absolutely. Yeah. I hope so, too. So as far as the development, you built all of it using Articulate Storyline.

Trish:
Yep.

Anna:
As far as the professional skills or anything that you're like, "Okay, this was one of the things that I really enjoyed doing or taking away from this," what was your favorite part?

Trish:
Just seeing it come together. I had to keep reigning myself in and going back to making the script on paper because I had so much fun building this out in Articulate that I would just take off with it, and creating slides and then not have the script for Dennis to review the script. So that was fun. I had to learn to manage myself with that because you see your possibilities and how you can build it. And yeah, that was the fun part of the software.

Anna:
That's cool. And I know that that's why Dennis decided to collaborate with you because he saw that strength. Right? I remember even our first meeting, you were like, "I look at some of the stuff and I put together some ideas." Remember? You're like, "I already/"

Trish:
Yeah.

Anna:
Yeah. I was like, this woman is ready. That's awesome. You were just like, "I just had some ideas. I put this together." I was like, "That's cool."

Trish:
Yeah. Yeah. It threw him off track too, because he didn't expect that either. He's like, "Here's the password to get into the Articulate software," because I had played with it when I was in graduate school, but I only had the 30 day free trial or whatever it was. So it was very small amount of exposure to it.

Anna:
Yeah.

Trish:
And so he's like, "Oh yeah, this is what we're doing." So once I got in there, then built like a little mini thing example. And it wasn't Michelle's story, but it was something else. But yeah, he was like, "Holy," surprised that I did it.

Anna:
Yeah, that was fun. Now you decided to work with an illustrator for this project.

Trish:
Yes.

Anna:
Tell us about that experience.

Trish:
Yep. It was awesome. We decided that the characters that are in the Articulate program, they were just too limiting to what we were doing and we really wanted to make this personal. So Dennis was able to budget out for us to hire an illustrator and we searched around. So Precision Healthcare Ecosystem and Dennis are both based out of San Diego. And our character, Michelle and her husband, they're black people. And Dennis wanted to make sure that we empowered somebody in his community so he was specifically searching for a black woman artist because the story is about a black woman.

Anna:
Yeah, makes sense.

Trish:
And he ended up, through one of his neighbors or something, signing finding out about our illustrator. Her name is Charlene Mosley and she actually lives a few blocks from him, which is kind of crazy because he never met her, didn't know anything about her. But she was having an exhibit in one of the local art galleries. So he went online and we looked at her things and he reached out to her and explained what we were going to do. And in the meantime, I created a storyboard, a very detailed storyboard, slide by slide, using the Marvel method that Ryan taught us. And so she looked at that and she was sold on the deal because first off, she liked what we were doing. And then she also, because I made it so easy for her by having such a detailed storyboard, she could see exactly what we wanted. And once we got her on board and started receiving images, there was very little image corrections that we needed to make with her.

Trish:
So it was awesome. Her images are beautiful. I was looking at her portfolio and I was really drawn to her water colors. So we didn't know what we were going to be able to basically afford to have done. And when she was looking through it, she's like, "Oh yeah, this needs to be done in watercolors," because we didn't know if it would have to be black and white or cartoonish type of drawings or whatever.

Anna:
You find a budget.

Trish:
Yeah. So we were super excited that she was going to go to the water color and her images are just gorgeous. So yeah, over the top. So we're hoping to work with her on future projects as well.

Anna:
Yeah, yeah. One of the things is kudos to you because obviously it allowed you to be a visual storyteller as well. So you provided that framework for her. That's fantastic.

Trish:
Yeah. Yeah, because I had a very specific idea in my mind for what I wanted my characters to look like. And as I'm creating this story, I can visualize it. So I wanted to make sure that anybody else could visualize it, that we handed this to, knowing what our expectations were or what my expectations were because it turned into my baby.

Anna:
Of course, yeah. You're the artist, you're the creative director really. Right?

Trish:
Yeah.

Anna:
That's fantastic. Okay. This process and then just being with the community, what surprised you about it?

Trish:
How quickly it grew, like every day.

Anna:
Is that a good thing?

Trish:
Yeah, it is a good thing. But yeah, it really took off because like I said, we started, in the beginning there was, I think maybe six or eight other participants at the site when we started. And I don't even know how many people you're up to right now, but yeah, it really took off, which is amazing and awesome because it is such an awesome thing to be able to capture people's attention and get them to have that buy-in to learn more with the storytelling. So that surprised me, that you were able to get it out there, I guess. I don't know.

Anna:
Okay. That makes sense.

Trish:
Yeah.

Anna:
Now, as far as your personal takeaways for a skill that you're like, "Oh, this is awesome," and you can take that with you, is there anything?

Trish:
The Marvel method and the storyboarding I think were really great and even the story spine things that we learned, like early on in the process, about how to have your protagonists and you need to throw in those drama points, the conflicts and how they handle that. And to throw multiples in there. I know Ryan, he explained it like, "If you think of your favorite movie," or he referred to Star Wars a bunch of times and I'm a Star Wars junkie. That really, "Oh, okay," it was a light bulb moment. I see what it has to be now." So those are key takeaways as far as, like I said, I'm hoping that I can incorporate storytelling into future learning things that I do. I just was hired for a new employer and I'm not sure. I start on Monday, so I don't even know what their learning modules look like or any of these kinds of things. So I'm hoping that I will have some creative license where I can incorporate this into their products. Otherwise, as I continue working with Dennis, we definitely will be heavily using stories in our upcoming work too.

Anna:
That's fun. That's fun. Okay, if you were to give yourself, you're just starting, you give yourself advice, before a year back you could give yourself advice, what would it be?

Trish:
Go through, watch the replays as many as you can, of the videos that you guys created just to get that base knowledge because I think that maybe if you just jump in now, all that base foundation has been laid and somebody may have a hard time catching up basically. So if you go through and you start watching those first five videos or 10 videos or whatever it is, that's going to give you that really strong foundation as far as setting up the story and scripting it out and making sure that you've got a nice, strong story before you get in there and start developing it out.

Anna:
Excellent advice. Excellent advice. And you're right, it's so fun to get in the software, but it's limitless, so you can get lost in it, right?

Trish:
Yeah. And then you lose track of where you're supposed to be. It's like when you're designing curriculum, you start with the end in mind. So you start and you have your objective and then you create backwards from there. And if you start just diving into the software, you're going to end up losing your focus as to what is the story actually about, what is my objective of this story and what do I want the learner to come away with? Because it's just so fun and you're just going to keep writing and writing. So you got to keep going back to reeling yourself and trimming stuff out and making sure that you're staying on track.

Anna:
Yeah, the constraints. Yeah, absolutely. Cool. Okay, and I know you're starting a new position. I don't want to take you away from that because I know it's an awesome new change for you. But if people do want to get in touch and work with you in the future or learn more about the work that you're doing with Dennis, where should they go?

Trish:
You said that you're going to put my LinkedIn address on the bottom of this video. So I would say there. And I will also give you my website address.

Anna:
Fabulous.

Trish:
And if you could put that there too. Yeah, because I don't have my website information so much built into my LinkedIn profile. If people want to see my learning artifacts that I've created and things like that, I haven't had time for that. You go figure, right?

Anna:
That's usually how it happens. Right?

Trish:
Yeah.

Anna:
That's awesome. Fabulous. No, that's great. And yeah, I'll put the links underneath and then if anybody wants to connect, reach out to you, LinkedIn is a great place to start, right?

Trish:
Yep.

Anna:
Fabulous. Okay. Thank you so much for your time today, Trish. This was awesome. I loved talking to you about your story.

Trish:
Thank you.

Anna:
Yeah.

Trish:
Yeah. I appreciate everything that you guys have taught me. It's golden, I love it.

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