7 best practice tips for eLearning storyboarding

Justine Swain | 08/08/2017

A storyboard is said to be “a map that guides eLearning professionals through every twist and turn of their eLearning course design”. Storyboards improve efficiency, allowing you to confirm the finer details before build, and are a great way to communicate ideas to stakeholders. There are many ways to storyboard for eLearning, but we think there are 7 best practices you should follow no matter how you choose to storyboard your eLearning course:

  1. Be visual

You are designing eLearning, which is a visual medium. So why wouldn’t you create your storyboard as a visual representation of the final course?  

In the past, I have seen long and wordy ‘storyboards’ which simply describe what the screen should look like, and how it should work. As a content developer they are difficult to interpret, so can you imagine how a client would feel?  Our clients, SMEs or colleagues can’t take that leap of faith when the storyboard is just words. We need to produce a visual storyboard that our stakeholders can view, understand and readily get on board with, so you get useful feedback on your content design while you are still at the storyboard stage.

  1. Keep your purpose in mind

Be clear on the scope, audience and content for your course, right from the start. There is nothing worse than ‘scope creep’ when you are halfway through designing a course. Or, needing to start again because of misunderstandings and misinterpretation of the requirements.

  1. Pin down your look and feel

If you know what you want your course to look like, it helps your design process, and you can build your content to suit your course design. You may be tempted to dive into creating your course, but without a clear design in mind - rework and redesign is inevitable. Save yourself the time-consuming rework later, and think about your design first.

  1. Stick to a template

Use a template for your storyboarding – either create your own, or use some of the templates available on the web (our friend eLearning Brothers have one here!) Customize the template to suit your needs, then stick with it.

storyboard.pngMine is done in PowerPoint, using the notes section for the audio script and a table to the side for the information needed for each slide. I keep the main PowerPoint slide area for my screen mock-ups, which means I can readily use them to share on a big screen in client meetings, without any of my content development detail getting in the way.

Use the same template for every course you develop. It helps to focus your mind and you can easily see what details you need to plan out, identify or document. It introduces consistency to your storyboarding process which makes peer or SME reviews much easier. Also, if someone else is building the course for you, your content developer will also appreciate the consistent layout and detail for each slide; it means they can get creative in the build without wasting time trying to interpret your design and what is needed.

  1. Naming convention

Save your storyboard files with a clear title to make them readily identifiable to all. Use version control and dates to help identify when content was developed. I use the file naming convention of ‘Client name – course name storyboard v? DD – MM - YY initials’.

  1. Be self-critical

Self-review - often! I always take the opportunity to review the storyboard I am working on from the beginning. This gives me chance to see how the content design is coming together and be sure that it all flows and makes sense. Putting the PowerPoint into slide show mode helps me to focus my attention on just the content, and really helps me to pick up the small errors and issues so I can finesse my design.

  1. Hold fire on building

Use your storyboard as a tool to really fine tune and pin down the course content. Don’t start building until you have completed the design for the whole course, and it has been reviewed and signed off. Remember, it is easier to rework content at this storyboard stage, and makes your building stage more efficient.

So, there you have it, my 7 best practice tips for eLearning storyboarding. If you have anything you’d like to add, why not tweet us at @OmniplexeLearn? We’d love to hear your thoughts!

Justine Swain

Instructional Designer at Omniplex