Where does eLearning design begin? Though not essentially the first step, the design idea is actually formulated and put in a well outlined form during the process of Storyboarding. That’s where the eLearning starts. And for those of you who are unfamiliar to the word, Wikipedia defines storyboard as, "a graphic organizer in the form of illustrations or images displayed in sequence for the purpose of pre-visualizing a motion picture, animation, motion graphic or interactive media sequence". Simply put, a storyboard is more or less like a script with visual elements. A script is nothing but a screen-by-screen description of what the user/learner/audience/stakeholders will see, hear, do while running a particular course. The task of storyboarding is usually handled by Instructional Designers.
The role of storyboarding is as crucial as plan designing in Architecture, and can be equated as the pillars of eLearning and we all know how important the foundation and the pillars are to a building. A good storyboard guides the graphic designers, programmers, voice-over artists, producers, project managers and provides all the instructions required for completing the project. Approvals from the client at the storyboarding level have shown to be largely helpful in reducing the overall costs too. So, what does it take to create a really strong pillar? Here are some best practices to follow during creating eLearning Storyboard.
- Do your Research
What good is an eLearning without proper analysis and content gathering? Try and understand your audience, their level of technological awareness, age bracket, cultural aspects, preferred modes of learning, learning schedules etc. before getting started with the storyboard.
- Understand the Interface
Storyboard represents what happens on the screen, and to do so you should know which kind of screen you are working with. The Interface depends mostly on the screen size based on which the number of buttons, the kind of instruction and the overall course design, branding has to be determined. Narrowing down on a storyboard template is essential too.
- Consider the Limitations
Before jumping straight into using high-end animations, videos etc within the course, it is always better if you understand the browsers you may encounter, the kind of devices users have, the bandwidth at which these courses will be accessed, the LMS on which these courses will be hosted. Keeping alternatives handy saves both time and money and ensures that the end product runs smoothly on all the specified devices.
- Put Yourselves in the Learner's Shoes
While developing the storyboard you should be able to imagine yourself as the learner/audience. Try to visualize and understand why, how and when the learners learn. What are the teaching pedagogies used for such users. This makes the whole process simpler and helps in creating eLearning that the learners understand and like.
- Scrutinize it from Different Angle
Single mindedly focusing only on the learners can make the storyboard lopsided and even shallow. Always consider the instructional aspects, try to look at it from different a perspective, think about situations like: how will it be taught, how will it be programmed, how will it be deployed etc. in order to create something that is holistic.
- Chunk Information
eLearning that you create should not be an information overload. The key to successful eLearning is chunking. Create subsections, where information flows. Utilize the features of the interface to make actions more purposeful.
- Use Appropriate Language & Visuals
Consider your audience, and write accordingly. A conversational style usually helps in creating a better connection with the learners. Also, keep it simple and short to ensure that each one of your large and varied audience understands it perfectly well.
- Make Sure the Media Richness Enhances the Course
Media should essentially enhance the quality as well as learning outcome. It should not be a forcefully added dummy just to make the course look good. Also the description of media within the storyboard should be well in detail so that the artist/graphic designer can comprehend it right.
- Don't Forget to Add Instructions
Wouldn’t that be a disaster? eLearning without proper instructions. Oh No! Trust us you definitely do not want to be there. So, don’t forget to include the right instructions that fit into the respective screen sizes and if necessary also add an introduction and summary section. But, if you do so try to follow the same pattern across the entire module.
The advantage of storyboarding is that, it gives us a detailed picture of how the course will look like, how the transitions will be managed etc. Storyboards can be corrected easily and also validated and approved by the clients before the actual development process; this step saves both time and money. Storyboards are also said to be helpful in getting better ideas through brainstorming. But, storyboarding should essentially be done by someone with a degree in Instructional design, or someone who has a clear idea about the instructional design theories, learner psychology etc. or else there could be many aspects of learning design that are missed out on, and the end product may not turn out to be much effective.
At Knowzies we have a well established practice of Storyboarding and we will be happy to extend our support for the same if need be.