Storyboards are an eLearning project’s best friend! As an Instructional Designer, Content Developer and now, eLearning Project Manager I’ve been fortunate to see the benefits of a solid eLearning storyboard from all angles of eLearning content development initiative. Regardless of which medium you use, be it Word or PowerPoint, or some other format, these 5 essential components should be in there somewhere. So let’s talk about each one and arm you with the information you need to make you successful!
I recommend from the start coming up with a slide number naming convention that you keep consistent throughout your projects. An example might be something like ‘LMSOvw_1_1’, where the first part is an abbreviation for the module name (in this case, LMS Overview), then the chapter or section number, and ending with the screen number. This comes in handy when going through various edit and review cycles with your client. I also use this same identifier when naming my audio narration files. It’s a breeze matching up those files when you are ready to integrate them into the module!
As self-explanatory as this one seems, you may actually use it in a couple different ways. It could be the visible “Header” line of the slide, or it could simply be a description of the slide, such as “Splash screen”, “Closing slide”, etc. Whichever you use, be sure to keep it consistent so that you can keep your edit process clean and your developers happy!
OK, so this is one component that may not be as intuitive to include but think about it. Certainly from an Instructional Design perspective, this helps to validate why each screen is there in the first place. Is it necessary? Does it further the learner’s knowledge of the topic? Should it be an entire screen, or perhaps a popup or reference in another slide?
Screen Text and Elements
This will most likely end up being one of the ‘meatier’ parts of the storyboard and it should include:
All visible text on the slide, exactly as you want it and in the order you would like it displayed.
- Using thumbnails of the actual images is ideal if at all possible.
- If using an animation, provide a full description of what the animation will be showing.
- If this is a Question/Interaction slide, be sure to include what the correct/incorrect feedback text will be.
- Note where the user will go after clicking a certain element on the slide (e.g., to the next slide, previous slide, popup, jump to another screen, etc.)
Notes to the Developer:
- You can include anything here that will help the developer translate what’s on the storyboard into the actual eLearning content
Audio Narration Script
This is the actual narration text. I highly recommend you have the client sign off on this component separately, especially if you are having the voiceover done by a professional artist! (See “The Top Three Things Your PM Wants You to Know…”) Also, if you have “jargon”, uncommon words, or even acronyms… write out how it should be pronounced. For example, in the case of an acronym, should it be read as a word, or each letter sounded out?
TIP: What I’ve found very helpful is if you have bullets or any type of animations on the screen that you want synched up with the narration, insert the image filename or identifier right into the narration text of where you want it to trigger. This takes the guesswork out of the picture when the developer goes to add in the audio. Of course, be sure to make it easily identifiable with something like [brackets] that you can then delete when extracting the script later, for sign-off and recording.
These may not be all the possible options within a storyboard, but I feel they are at least the most critical. And ultimately it means less work for you and will make your Project Manager, and the whole team, happy and successful. It’s a win-win all around!