Creating a new e-learning course
can have its challenges. While you may have several ideas swirling around in your head, it can be difficult to find a way to get all of that necessary information into your course in a structured and organized way. One method that works well with planning ahead is storyboarding.
Storyboards are the blueprints for your online course. They show the big picture plan and make it clear how various elements of the course fit together. Just having a visual outline to work with can help you early on with figuring out what sections need more work, or may need to be changed entirely. It also helps identify missing or redundant content.
To design a successful storyboard, keep these six strategies in mind.
1. Start with a needs assessment
Before you even begin the storyboard process, work with your team to discuss who the users are for your course. What are their skill levels and preferences when it comes to working on a computer? Do they prefer pictures to text? Are they used to interacting on social media? Knowing the answers to these questions ahead of time – including background experience working with e-learning courses – will ensure you create a course designed to provide users with the best experience possible.
2. Create your storyboard on an easy-to-use template
If you have a team working together on the storyboard, it will be more efficient to use a program that everyone is familiar with, such as Microsoft Word or PowerPoint. Have each page or slide in these programs represent a screen in the actual course.
Whether you are working with a team, or building the course by yourself, using a template
is a great way to get started. Just as building a storyboard is a good place to start with your e-learning course, storyboarding templates are the first step toward building that outline. There are a number of free templates available online, in many different formats. eLearningIndustry.com has put together a great list of free templates, which you can view here.
3. Be as descriptive as possible
The more descriptive your storyboard is, the better your course will be. A storyboard for e-learning courses should include text, visuals, audio, and navigation — or at least placeholders that detail where these elements will go in the final course design. For graphics and media, you can describe with words what the users will be seeing. However, it is better to include actual visuals, even if they are just thumbnails.
Include ideas for navigation and interaction in your storyboard. For example, you can describe how users get from one page to the next (“place ‘next page’ button at bottom of page”), and how they interact with various elements such as quizzes (“multiple-choice quiz here”). Use if-then statements, such as "If user clicks on the right answer (answer C), then they will be directed to the next screen." It’s also fine to write informally in your storyboard, including using abbreviations and other shorthand. That said, make sure that if the storyboard is a team effort, that everybody is on the same page and understands all of the terminology that is used.
4. Label each screen
Labeling each page or slide makes it easy and efficient for your team to discuss a specific screen. However, labeling with just numbers isn't enough. You'll be creating many courses down the road; unique labels can help you identify which course or lesson a screen belongs to. Again, if there are multiple people working on the same course and storyboard, properly labeling everything will ensure that the right issues are addressed if changes need to be made.
5. Write the course objective on top of each page or slide
The learning objective
is the goal for the course. It should be specific, telling you exactly who the users are and what they should learn from the training session. Having the objective written at the top of each screen can serve as a reminder throughout the process, in order to make sure that the text, visuals, and quizzes in the course will help you reach that goal in the end.
6. Get feedback from everyone, for every screen
Creating a storyboard is a team effort. Some members of the storyboard team might find flaws that others miss. To increase your chance of success, it is essential that everyone involved in this process has the chance to give feedback on each screen before the course actually starts to be developed.
E-learning affects employee engagement and performance, so it’s important to be prepared. Design a course that promotes learning and increases engagement by creating a detailed, thorough storyboard first.