Why Use Storyboards In Elearning Design?

storyboards elearning

Why Use Storyboards In Elearning Design?

One the first steps in designing interactive e-learning courses is to create a storyboard for each module. It’s an essential part of the process, which is often overlooked and misunderstood. But why do you need to storyboard elearning? This article looks at the background of storyboards, other industries that use them, and why storyboards are important in e-learning.

Storyboard analogies

Imagine building a ship without a blueprint. Just making it up as you go along, picking materials you hope will work. Crafting something in a roughly boat like shape. What are the chances it will sink?

Building a house without a blueprint

Similarly, you wouldn’t start building a house without a blueprint to work from, would you?

You’d call in the architect to discuss your ‘dream space’. The architect would go away and meticulously create a blueprint that defines the shape and size of the building, the number of rooms, the layout, the structure, and the interior design. With that blueprint in your hand, you’d then turn your attention towards building the foundations, before bricks were laid or you started making the house look nice.

Filming an advertising campaign without a storyboard

Advertising campaigns don’t film an advert without a storyboard to work from.

The advertising agency discusses the objectives of your campaign, your target audience, the brand messages you want to convey and how you want your audience to react to the campaign. Before you even lift a camera or open your design software, you’d brainstorm some ideas, and begin to outline the campaign.

A bit of storyboarding history

Storyboarding was developed at the Walt Disney Studio during the early 1930s, after several years of similar processes being used. As technology and media advances, the storyboard remains just as relevant. As the name suggests, storyboarding involves laying out the story you wish to tell … the beginning, the middle and the end.

5 Reasons for using a storyboard in elearning design

Like an architect’s blueprint for building a house, a storyboard in elearning design is the blueprint for building your elearning project. It’s needed for so many reasons. Here are our top 5:

  1. Outlining how the user will react to and behave with a piece of content and the user interface
  2. Planning the design of various elements (such as visual, text, audio, interactions and branching), so you can visualise each screen, develop the audio script, outline each interaction and specify graphics.
  3. Mapping the flow of content
  4. Allowing clients, subject matter experts, developers, and other stakeholders to guide the content development process. This ensures the whole team work to the same end result
  5. Ironing out issues and technical limitations (best done at the storyboard stage rather than waiting until development stage).

Many organisations new to e-learning underestimate the importance of storyboards in the e-learning development process.

Some think that an existing PowerPoint presentation can be magically processed into a bit of software and….voila!…here’s an e-learning course.  While that might be possible, the learner experience would be seriously lacking, the design non-existent and the learning objectives are unlikely to be met effectively. (See this post on more about converting training materials into e-learning).

You may start with an idea or a picture in your mind, but to translate that picture into an effective or successful end product requires a plan, a blueprint, a map … a storyboard! Good elearning is powerful. Like anything that’s worth doing, don’t scrimp on the planning, because we all know what poor planning leads to.

What do you think? Please share your ideas and thoughts, particularly if you work in area other than training or e-learning.

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