How to Create Effective eLearning Storyboards



“The storyboard’s primary value is that it forces you to have a reason for, and a consistent approach to everything you do.”

- David Becker

Imagine building a house without any form of plan? You could imagine the possible outcomes. Well the exact same goes for eLearning. Planning and storyboarding your eLearning is crucial to creating well thought out and effective learning solutions. The last thing you want to do is spend a significant period of time developing an eLearning module only to realise that the concept doesn’t work or needs to be redesigned. If you plan your concept well at the very beginning, developing is a much easier and often more successful task.

I have been involved in projects where hurdle after hurdle appeared to the dismay of myself and my team. Concepts didn’t make sense, deadlines were not able to be met, an array of situations that were not planned for or expected at the beginning of the project popped up. This was unfortunate but it resulted in a huge learning about the importance of planning early and planning well!

Imagine you have spent a whole day building an eLearning module. The design of the module looks great and you have set up a template for all the activities. You begin to add the final elements to the activity screens only to realise that the software you are using will not support the navigation required for the activity. You have to remove all of the activities from your development file and start again (meltdown!). If a storyboard was created prior to development this could have been picked up early on in the process and there would have been no time wasted on developing activities, that in the end, would not work.

Throughout this blog I will share the positives that come from storyboarding as well as some practical tips to support you in storyboarding your learning solutions.

So what are some positives that come from storyboarding?

1. Defines Concepts Early on


The storyboarding process provides you with the opportunity to map out the learning outcomes and come up with a plan for how they will be delivered. This is a great time to ensure that all stakeholders (e.g. client, instructional designer and subject matter expert) are aware of what will be covered in the module and how it will be designed (Penfold, 2015). It also leaves you with a tangible plan that can be referred to throughout the development process.

2. Helps you Identify Errors

Whilst you are storyboarding your learning solution you have a great opportunity to pick up on any errors prior to the development stage. Errors could include spelling and grammatical errors, missing content, content that doesn’t make sense or activities that won’t work, the list goes on. It is important that these errors are picked up during this stage of the process. A spelling or grammatical error could be easy to fix down the track but imagine if a service provided by the business was missed and this was only picked up after the development of the module was complete. Imagine having to redesign your module to include the new behaviours you need to train.

3. Activates your Creativity

I find that storyboarding is a great way to come up with new and creative ideas when it comes to designing your learning solution. When you take the time to map out what your learning solution will look like, your brain can discover multiple ways of achieving it. Even the process of putting pencil to paper can spark new ideas!

Now that you know some of the benefits involved with storyboarding, let’s check out some hot tips for creating a storyboard that is effective and enables you to plan and structure your learning solution.

1. Understand the Goal

Prior to commencing the storyboarding process, it is crucial that you know the goal of the learning solution. What is the learning trying to achieve? What is the problem you are trying to solve? Knowing this, is the foundation to the whole process and should be referred to throughout.

2. Gather Content

Once you know the goals and objectives of the module, it is time to start collecting content. Gather everything that is relevant to the goals and objectives and then select which parts of the content are necessary to achieve them.

3. Idea Scribble

Now that you have this collection of information, you can begin to brainstorm some high-level ideas and concepts. To really allow your creativity to flow grab a notepad and draw as many ideas and concepts as you can think of. This allows you to see the ‘big picture’ and decide on how you would like your module to work at a high level. I have included a visual example below:


4. It’s Time to Storyboard

“The storyboard is a document that specifies the visual elements, text elements, audio elements, interactions and branching (where the system or user will go next) of every screen in an online course” (Malamed, 2009). There are many ways that you can storyboard (I find PowerPoint to be a useful tool for this process). Storyboarding can be rough and does not require a lot of detail (stick figures and shapes is enough). The intent is that anyone who picks up that storyboard would have the information they need to successfully develop the course. You need to place objects where they should appear, provide notes on how the navigation will work, include all text that will appear/be heard on the screen and provide reference to any resources that will be linked.

5. Design Time

Once you have completed your storyboard you can begin to bring it to life with design elements. This involves colours, images and more. This can be done roughly in your storyboard so that as you develop you know how to design the ‘look and feel’ of each screen. Creating a template for your organisation is also very useful and allows you to just input your storyboard content into already designed screens. This is also great for consistency as it ensures that all of your modules have the same look and feel.


Do you storyboard your learning solutions? If so, what process do you follow? We would love to hear the different ways that storyboarding is happening out there! It is a crucial step in the process of developing a learning solution and if done well can ensure a smooth and successful development process. We hope you enjoyed this blog and look forward to sharing strategies for creating effective storyboards into the future!
A little bit about the author...

"I am Hannah and I am passionate about how we can create effective and fun learning experiences. I believe that if you create enjoyment and social connection through learning, learning outcomes can sky rocket! The world is changing and becoming more and more digital by the day. We need to harness this and see what's possible!".

                                                         References

Malamed, C. (2009). Storyboards for eLearning. Retrieved from: http://theelearningcoach.com/elearning_design/storyboards-for-elearning/

Penfold, S. (2015). Why Storyboards for eLearning are Important (4 reasons). Retrieved from: https://blog.elucidat.com/why-storyboards-for-elearning-are-important/ 

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