Why use an e-learning storyboard?

Why use an e-learning storyboard?

As a learning designer I often get asked by academics, “do I really need to storyboard?” For many, it may seem like unnecessary extra work. However, as we develop more and more online activities and videos in higher education, it becomes a vital step in the design and development process to have a storyboard. This is particularly true when the design and development of these resources is a collaborative effort, as you need to clearly communicate what content, visuals, navigation and interaction you want to include in your learning object.

When you create your lecture slides, it is often done on your own and usually follows a linear process. You can readily edit your slides before a lecture. This is not the case for videos and online interactive resources. These resources take longer to develop, are harder to change once developed, and finally, if this is a collaborative effort, someone else might be responsible for making the changes.

What is an e-learning storyboard?

Storyboarding is simply a process to clearly communicate your ideas and show all the visual, text and/or audio elements of your learning resource, as well as the navigation and notes for developers. It can be created in a variety of formats depending on your needs, whether it be a word document, a powerpoint visual storyboard or via a storyboarding authoring tool.

What are the benefits of using a storyboard?

It serves as a roadmap. For an online interactive activity, it also allows you to plan out the flow of the content, the navigation style (branching or linear), the types of interactivity, and where to include relevant feedback. For a video, it helps you tie your script to the visual elements and determine what you need to film, where you need to film it, and how to edit it once it is filmed.

Image 1: Example video storyboard

Identifies weaknesses in the design. It allows others who are reviewing your storyboard to provide feedback on the content, to see if there is anything missing or if the flow is appropriate. You can also create a rapid prototype, which is a mockup of some parts of the storyboard, to see if the look, feel and navigation is going to work before you invest all the time to develop it.

See here for some examples:

https://www.smartbuilder.com/elearning-examples/prototypes/

https://www.shiftelearning.com/blog/rapid-prototyping-for-elearning

Helps with collaboration. If you have a lot of collaborators, the storyboard process helps keep everyone on track and reduces the risk of scope creep and misunderstandings. It also helps provide clear instruction for development. You might have someone collaborating on the design, filming or editing the video, building the interactive online resource in an authoring tool, or reviewing the content. The notes in the storyboard help to reduce any confusion and give clear directives to these people about what should happen and when.

It saves time. Ultimately, all this saves time in the development phase, reduces errors and ensures a higher quality output. People can review the storyboard and do any proofreading and corrections at this stage before it goes into production. When you have a script and storyboard for your video, you are less likely to need to re-film things.

How do I storyboard?

Stay tuned for the next blog post to learn more about the different types of storyboards you can use. Have a look at the decision tree in this blog to see whether you need to use a storyboard in your next project.