Engaging online students through storytelling using the EMPOWER mnemonic

Concurrent Session 8
Streamed Session

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Session Materials

Brief Abstract

The session presenters will share storytelling techniques using the EMPOWER (Engage, Meaningful, Prepare, Organize, Writing, Expectations, Relevant) mnemonic to create connections with students in the online classroom. Participants will learn how to utilize the EMPOWER mnemonic in an engaging, meaningful, and relevant way in the online classroom.


Marlene Blake has enjoyed working in higher education for over 17 years in various roles from student services, academic operations, student support resources as well as faculty training and development. She has also taught doctoral level leadership as well as research classes along with student success, critical thinking, and interpersonal communication courses for 13 years. Beyond her passion for teaching, training, mentoring, student success, and supporting faculty, she enjoys traveling with her husband and daughter.
Holly Love is a Faculty Manager at Grand Canyon University. She has over 15 years of experience in the field of education. Her journey started off as a secondary special education instructor through her two degrees from Arizona State University. She has also worked as a liaison and site supervisor for Rio Salado College prior to becoming a full time online faculty member at GCU. Through her 9 years of experience in higher education, she has attended multiple conferences and has spoken to many faculty regarding topics that enhance and encourage faculty to move forward in their own professional journey in the classroom.

Extended Abstract

The goal of the session is to share strategies through storytelling to engage online learners using the EMPOWER (Engage, Meaningful, Prepare, Organize, Writing, Expectations, Relevant) mnemonic. Participants will learn the valuable role of creating connections with students through the EMPOWER mnemonic that are meaningful and relevant to meet classroom objectives. In addition, participants will also engage in activities throughout the workshop that will allow them to utilize this strategy.

The EMPOWER mnemonic helps to establish expectations in which there are various opportunities for students to engage and create connections with the course content through storytelling. Researchers reveal the benefits of integrating storytelling to increase interest by personalizing the learning experience (Baldwin & Ching, 2017). The storytelling strategy also offers opportunities to demonstrate varied, regular, and consistent communication, which is valuable in helping students feel connected and engaged (Green, Hoffmann, Donovan, & Phuntsog, 2017).

The participants will use Poll Everywhere to apply the material presented. This technology tool will encourage participant contribution with the use of interactive questions.


Baldwin, S., & Ching, Y.-H. (2017). Interactive storytelling: Opportunities for online course design. TechTrends: Linking Research and Practice to Improve Learning, 61(2), 179–186.

Green, T. T., Hoffmann, M. M., Donovan, L. L., & Phuntsog, N. N. (2017). Cultural communication characteristics and student connectedness in an online environment: Perceptions and preferences of online graduate students. International Journal of E-Learning & Distance Education, 32(2), 1-27.