Take it from us: We know that creating compelling, engaging, and impactful eLearning takes a village. From scriptwriting to graphic design, animation, quality assurance, and coding, every project is a collaborative effort. But how do you keep everyone on the same page—literally?
Storyboarding is one of the most effective tools for start-to-finish project management. An eLearning storyboard creates the foundation and outlines the key elements of any good story— the key characters, the setting, and, instead of the plot, the general learning path. An eLearning storyboard gives you a chance to chart out learner behavior, build in opportunities for interaction, and identify potential issues long before you launch. Once you’ve used storyboarding for eLearning, you’ll wonder how you ever planned and collaborated without one.
Whether you use a simple text doc for storyboarding or you utilize a specific software, storyboarding reigns supreme when it comes to prepping and planning a new course. With a large cast of supporting characters and an array of choices and interactions, storyboarding is the best way to ensure your eLearning has a happy ending.
When you think of “storyboarding,” you might imagine it as a device for movie plots or comics. After all, those are types of media that require a creator to lay out text, graphics, and other content in a visual way for a successful outcome. But, if you truly consider eLearning a type of storytelling—learner (hero) has conflict that they overcome—plotting out the process makes sense. Your team needs to know where to start and how to proceed while staying organized. You need to know what you want to say and the best way to say it.
Still not convinced? Consider this:
There are typically two types of storyboards: written and visual.
If you’re just getting started, a written storyboard is simple and easy-to-understand. Whether you plot out your program on a piece of poster paper or use Word, a written storyboard gets all of your ideas out of your head and somewhere for others to access for brainstorming, collaborating, and reviewing.
Written storyboards are ideal for focusing on course content. When you’re bringing in subject matter experts, editing text, or just starting to write your script, you don’t necessarily want to be distracted by all the bells and whistles of the final product. A written storyboard focuses on what you want to say rather than how you say it.
Visual storyboards help organize the how behind your eLearning. By adding files for graphics and audio, video links, and interactions, you’ll be able to plot out the delivery mechanisms to keep learners engaged. Visual storyboards work well for those that are already familiar with the eLearning development process, as they usually rely on software that can have a learning curve. If someone is just adding notes or offering expertise, a written storyboard captures that content quickly and easily. When developing the course learning path or testing out different graphics and animation, a visual storyboard works best. If you’re new to using visual methods, here’s a great resource for finding storyboarding software.
The best part about storyboarding is that it’s extremely flexible and you can tailor the frames, slides, and content to your needs. Still, a solid storyboard should have these components:
You’ll probably find there’s a high degree of trial-and-error when it comes to creating successful, usable storyboards for your next eLearning project. Even if you experience a learning curve, it’s worth the time to see what works best for you and your team. Here are some of the best tips we’ve learned over years of using storyboards to plan our projects.
Define your core audience and know who you’re creating your content for. Think of your learner as the main character in your story: what conflicts and experiences will they encounter on the road to success?
You probably have a lot of graphics, content, audio, and video on hand you want to use in your eLearning. Assemble all of your assets ahead of time so you know what you have and what you still need to get your team on the same page and assign duties as needed.
Storyboarding for eLearning makes it easy to see where you can naturally break your content into digestible chunks. Keep the story moving by adding interactive elements before starting a new topic.
Chances are that more than one person will be using the storyboard at any given time. Encourage your team to add as much detail as possible when creating the storyboard so everyone’s clear and nothing gets lost in translation.
Transitions in the story occur naturally as you’re ending topics, checking progress, or starting something new. Don’t forget to add transitional slides in your storyboard to recap what’s been covered and give users the opportunity to skip forward and back.
A storyboard lets you identify the right delivery method earlier in the process. As you plot out your learning path, the storyboard can also guide your technique and delivery methods. Perhaps you notice that a long block of text is better as an audio clip or a specific topic would benefit from some instructor input.
Utilize your storyboard as a proving ground for what you think will work—and what doesn’t. Go through each slide as if you’re the learner and you’ll be able to weed out inconsistencies, find learning gaps, and turn out a better end product, all before you invest time into development and launch.
Storytelling is our favorite way to develop eLearning, and we believe that storyboards are an integral part of organizing and developing the right learning path.
Breaking your story into slides or boards is an easy way to make sure your entire cast of characters, storytellers, and illustrators are on the same page and working toward the same goal. We get it: You’re excited to get started and anxious to deploy your eLearning program. Don’t forget, however, that there are a lot of moving parts and different roles to fill. Taking the time to organize your content might feel like a slower start, but it results in a much smoother, more effective ending.