Why should you use storyboarding in eLearning? Get FREE storyboard templates!

January 17, 2021 0 By admin
Why should you use storyboarding in eLearning? Get FREE storyboard templates!

Storyboarding is one of the first things in media production for entertainment,  and it is a technique that can be really beneficial in training production. But let’s start from the beginning – let’s look at what storyboarding is and then move to discussing using how  storyboarding is used in eLearning and online courses development.

What is storyboarding?

Storyboarding is a technique that helps designers to visualise the flow of their multimedia or training materials – courses, animations, videos or slides at the early stages of the project development.

The storyboard is a sort of a first draft or a prototype of your training course or video.

Types of storyboards in eLearning  I used :

I used a few different storyboards’ types, and the most popular were: high level storyboards for videos and animations, and more detailed storyboards for e-learning slides or learning videos development. Each of these types is slightly different.

Storyboards of eLearning videos and animations

The first is used to present the sequence of scenes for videos and animations. It is usually a sequence of illustrations, pictures or mock-up sketches representing each shot or a scene. They can also  include additional notes for videographers and developers. The notes are usually general, about what happens in the scene or a slide, what visuals appear, what narrator or authors say; or detailed including exact scripts and dialogues.

You can see the examples below.

Detailed storyboard for eLearning artefacts

The second type is a less visual but quite detailed storyboard for eLearning artefacts – presentations or educational videos. When planning learning artefacts, I try to be more specific, and include more additional information – especially, when collaborate with others. I usually have space for the graphic to visualise the scene or a slide and have a space to record the slide’s outline. There are also sections to record information about additional files to be used (video, audio, images), text or visuals to be appearing on the screen and for the script itself.

There are loads of templates and online tools you can use to create storyboards – I include some examples at the end of the post.

Why using the storyboards in eLearning?

Producing high-quality custom eLearning is similar to creating a movie or documentary.  Education has evolved over the recent years into edutainment – education that entertains and is well designed.  Storyboarding is one of the first things in media production for entertainment, and education could benefit from that practice too.

Sharing design concepts

Storyboarding in eLearning can be used to prototype courses,  multimedia or presentation. It allows presenting design concepts and sharing them with stakeholders before creating the entire course or a presentation.

Reviewing, assessing, getting feedback

You can also use it to review and assess the initial plan, keep other team members in the loop and get their feedback at the very early stage of the development. For example, you can ask to comment on the content flow, sequence, duration and make necessary changes.

Planning project and resources

I am sure that there are ways of creating resources without storyboards, and if you do everything yourself, that should be doable. Also, if the project is relatively small, the storyboard can be maybe a bit too much. But since I discovered and explored that technique, I use it a lot to design videos, animations, presentations and especially online courses. 

Saving time and money

A bit of time added at the storyboarding stage usually saves me loads of time at the later stage of development, because I have everything planned so carefully. It also makes it much easier to communicate my requirements to other team members (so; as a result, it saves time and money).

Who is the Storyboard for?

The storyboard is for the course creator and all main stakeholders involved in the learning design process, It is for those who need different types of  information about the planned training course. If you ever were involved in a learning project, you should know that the eLearning teams sizes and team roles can vary from project to project. That means that there is no one, universal approach to storyboarding. It also means  that the storyboard templates often need to be customised and adapted to your project.

As an instructional designer, I worked with the individuals who wanted to share and monetise their expertise, so the team was relatively small – they were SMEs and project sponsors; I was everything else. I also worked in extended teams, where we had SMEs, content writers, videographers, instructional designers, reviewers and a few project managers.

As you can imagine, the storyboards were quite different for these projects.

To give you an idea of how that team structure might look like I put together this diagram.

What information are team members interested in?

(i.e. what should you include in the storyboard for them)

If you are going to develop the storyboard, think about who is it for, and then what information they will need. The goal here is to develop the storyboard that satisfies all these stakeholder needs.

So let’s look at what these people need to know from the storyboard. Knowing that, you will know what to include in the storyboard template.

SPONSOR

If you are going to have a sponsor (so someone who has an overview of the course) looking at the storyboard,  you might need to include  some sort of high-level information.

SUBJECT MATTER EXPERTS

The SME is responsible for the content, so that person’s role is to communicate and create content. At the design or prototyping stage, the SME checks whether the content planned to develop is correct.

So from the storyboard, the SME need to know that their content, media, and narration are correct and will work well. They will be interested in a narration, scripts for audio and video, text and visuals appearing on the screen, the timing of the visuals, etc.

The story board’s role here is to save time and money and allow catching any errors and anomalies while the course is still at the development and prototyping stage.

If you have all information recorded correctly in the storyboard, SMEs can check it before the design begins. It significantly reduces the likelihood of errors or re-working developed media.

INSTRUCTIONAL DESIGNERS

That the instructional designer needs to know from the storyboard is whether  the course learning objectives are covered  – so  whether the course content flow and key learning objectives align with the agreed curriculum and the course roadmap.

eLEARNING DEVELOPERS AND AUTHORS

eLearning developers and authors need some kind of direction – they need to know aesthetics, what to create – graphics, text on the screen, infographics, etc. They also need to know how to name their files, formats they need to export, etc.

VOICE ARTISTS

If you hire a voice talent, they need the script, so you either include the recording script or instructions to access it (e.g. link to the file).

Voice artists will also need to know the file naming convention to submit files in the correct format. This will help other authors to know precisely where these files fit into the course

COURSE AUTHORS

The course author puts all these pieces together, organises all the source files, builds the published courses, and reviews and edits them as needed. The storyboard informs the author about the sequence, files used, their location etc.

REVIEWERS

The reviewer is going to need an agreed course flow. The storyboard gives reviewers some sort of a blueprint to follow when checking if the course is correct. They can be comparing the final course against the storyboard and making sure that it makes sense to them and that things are sequenced correctly

ELEARNING PRODUCION MANAGER

The eLearning production manager needs a high-level overview and the system to track who’s doing what, so you can consider including that info there (e.g. consultants names etc.).

To summarise: the ultimate goal here is to develop the storyboard that provides info needed by the team members involved in the course creation.

What exactly should the eLearning storyboard include?

That’s a good question!  Team sizes and roles vary not only from project to project –  you might have different team members involved producing different elements of the course. So how to create a storyboard that would satisfy all these different needs and work as a blueprint informing all your eLearning developers and other team members about the course details?

Well… the answer is that there is no one best recipe or a storyboard template. Depending on your eLearning project and the development team’s size, you need to include slightly different headings in the storyboard.

On that note, let’s have a look. Below is the example of the storyboard I use for my training videos and slides articulate slides with some details populated. (You can download this exact template from the end of the post).

 I divided the information included in the Storyboards in three categories.

Types of information to include in the storyboard:

  1. Design  notes  that include:
    • Ideas for visuals to be on the screen or a  slide
    • Notes about the scene or a slide
    • Text and visuals appearing on the screen
  2. Media details include
    • Media file names
    • Media naming convention (video/audio/images)
  3. Narration section include
    • The script of the text to be read

A bit more info about using differnt sections of the storyboard:

Notes about the graphic design and aesthetics help your authors and developers to create aesthetically cohesive eLearning product.

You should create some visuals – sketches or images that would help your team to understand what you plan to create. If you can’t sketch, there are tons of online tools available to help you storyboard.

Scene or slide overview – in case of videos or animation will describe the shot type, camera angles, etc. You can include an overview here of the section, include learning outcomes or topics to be covered.

Information about interactive items such as quizzes, assessment and other activities should be detailed. Include additional details such as correct answers, distractors, feedback to be displayed, max number of attempts etc.

Narration or a Script is the exact text recorded for a particular scene or a slide. The script is to be read exactly as it is written, so it should be carefully reviewed and approved by the SME before recording. Remember to include a pronunciation guide and instructions for any specific tone and emphasis you want your narrator to use.

Text and objects on the screen should state what graphics and text will appear on the screen, note when things appear on the screen, and what kind of items, background, bullet points etc.

Creating and communicating naming conventions will help you and your team organise files in groups – I usually adopt the naming convention that links the audio to the corresponding graphics and eLearning slide numbers, or course activity numbers.

Get your free eLearning storyboard template:

If you are ready to start your storyboarding adventure I have good news!  I have some storyboards templates and I am now sharing them with my subscribers

To get printable templates  click on the banner below, subscribe and you will receive two editable storyboard  templates straight to your email.

Experiment, change and try what works best for you.

Happy Storyboarding!

Related posts

Recording audio for online courses – a few technical tips

As we all continue to experience vast advances in technology and social media advertising, blogs, websites and the like, audio…

Read more
Recording audio for online courses – a few technical tips
Adult Learners – their characteristics & needs

Adult Learners – their characteristics & needs

As I most frequently work with adult learners in their working context, I thought I would share a bit of…

Read more

Join my network, stay connected, get in touch!

Join my network!