A big part of life is learning to grow and improve as we go. As eLearning developers, we want to grow and improve in our eLearning development process. Learning to effectively storyboard can be a great help in developing well-thought-out eLearning. We here at eLearning Brothers have put together a free Storyboard template (you just need to sign up for a free account) that can guide you through the storyboarding process.
One of the primary reasons for a storyboard is to communicate to all affected parties, the course design. It is useful when you are utilizing course developers, project managers, graphic designers and even a review board in your course design. But, even if you’re doing the whole design and development yourself, a storyboard helps you gather your thoughts and helps you make sure you have the tools and resources you need to successfully complete your course. In addition, it helps you stay true to the instructional design and objectives as you go through the development process.
Let’s delve into some key steps in the storyboarding process!
Step 1: Identify the Key Players
A key part of any eLearning development is knowing who will be consuming and creating the content. It’s vital to have a good understanding of your target audience, your subject matter experts (SMEs), your project manager, and your review committee (if one has been established). Of these, often nailing down the target audience is the hardest part. You need to understand who will be using your course and for what purpose. Designing a course for a nebulous “everybody” is very difficult, as each learner brings different skill sets, backgrounds and prior experiences to the table. Understanding your audience helps you better identify which particular SMEs would be the most beneficial to utilize in your development process.
This first slide helps you as you identify each of these key components.
Step 2: Identify the Aesthetic and Technical Aspects
Before you begin any course development, it’s important that you know what the requirements are as far as color, branding, and fonts. In addition, a good understanding of how learners will be accessing the course (browser, CD/DVD, Flash drive, LMS, etc.) can affect your course development. You want to address this early on, as it can be very time consuming to adjust these attributes later.
This slide in our storyboard template will help you keep track of this key information.
One of the most important questions that can have a major impact on your course design is the 8th item down on this list: “Will the Training be viewed on a mobile platform?” Knowing the answer to this question in advance will reduce the development time when compared to finding out later on down the road. As you look at the free template download page, you’ll notice that there are even storyboard templates for responsive course design.
Using the responsive storyboard template helps you design courses that need to be viewed on multiple device types (tablet, phone, PC, etc.).
Step 3: Identify Your Course Objectives
You wouldn’t try to build a house without blueprints, would you? Probably not. So why try to build a course without objectives? Identifying your learning objectives gives you a good framework on which to design and develop. We have two slides that can help you as you work to solidify your course objectives.
The Course Map (Outline) slide in our storyboard template helps you identify not only the objectives, but also the content and instructional strategy you plan to use to accomplish the objectives. It uses a written outline format to help you formalize those objectives.
The Course Map-Logic Flow slide helps you to determine any sub-objectives you may have, but also gives you a visual guide for the flow of the course. This lets you see how the objectives will flow together to accomplish the overarching Course Instructional Goal.
Step 4: Identify Engaging Elements
One of the most important parts, yet often most underused pieces, of high quality eLearning course design is the use of engaging elements. Learner engagement has been shown to improve retention rates and knowledge transfer. Yet, so often, we leave our engaging elements or just do a bare minimum. Having a plan in advance of what engaging elements you’d like to utilize in your course allows you to plan for those. If you need to find a graphic designer, video editor, or voice actor, you can do so from the outset and avoid the work stoppage that can occur by trying to do those things during the course development process.
This slide allows you to not only describe the engaging element, but also to give a thumbnail view of what you’re thinking about to any other designers who may be involved.
Step 5: Identify Course Branching Points
Most eLearning courses are designed with some branching involved. Thinking about that in advance let’s you design your course to meet those branching needs. This slide lets you specify the slide number and name where the branching occurs, what the branching path looks like, and any other notes that could be pertinent to the other members of the design and development team.
The template then gives you several slides that let you do a basic design for your course. In the responsive template, you are given slides that are laid out with the most common screen sizes framed for you on the slide.
This allows you to give yourself and other developers an indication of where certain elements should appear on the different size screen layouts.
I would strongly encourage you to utilize storyboarding in your eLearning course design, if you don’t already do so. Because this free template is designed in PowerPoint, you have the ability to change any element to meet your design and branding needs. And, since it sits in our free library, anyone can access it (with a free account sign up) and take advantage of the power of storyboarding.
Once you have your storyboard in place, then you can go out to the extensive eLearning Brothers Library of Templates, Games, Stock Images and Cutout People to really speed up your course development process. Go check it out now and happy storyboarding!