Friday 15 May 2015

Using Storyboards in E-learning Design

Storyboards were first used to design animation movies. They can also be useful in the design of e-learning. Storyboards come in all types of format - from paper, to Word or PowerPoint documents, to specialized storyboard tools such as Storyboard That
The Purpose of Storyboarding
For some interesting background, here is a great YouTube video, The Purpose of Storyboarding
I first started using storyboards about 5 years ago, after beginning to design my first e-learning course in PowerPoint (based on Jane Bozarth’s first edition of Better Than Bullet Points: Creating Engaging e-Learning with PowerPoint). I was having a great time creating an e-learning version of an in-class course I had created and taught but it wasn't clear where I was going with the course. After reading Connie Malamed's blog about storyboards, I downloaded the examples of storyboards found in her Storyboard Depot, adapted one and started using it.
I realise that I use a combination of storyboarding and designing directly in Adobe Captivate. After reading the articles on storyboards and wireframes (they are mostly used to design websites), in my How to Design an E-learning Program course, and watching the above video, I realise that I don’t use storyboards in a visual context. For me, it’s all about the content (text) and the flow. The visuals come later.
Storyboarding the Menu
After doing my initial research into my learners and what they need to know, I write a first draft of my learning objectives. This is where I also figure out if I can do the work in one module or if I should have a series of modules. I use good old fashion paper to get this done.
The Menu in Adobe Captivate
The Menu in Captivate
From my potential objectives, I prepare my introduction as well as plan out how to develop the module using the storyboard. I use the storyboard until I'm comfortable with my outline and where the module is heading. Once I have a path for my module, I usually start working in Captivate. My transfer from storyboard to Captivate is pretty intuitive. When I am doing more word smithing than planning, that’s usually where I go to Captivate.
I may end up doing the rest of the course directly in Captivate, but at one point I go back to the storyboard and copy the text, instructions, etc. from Captivate into it. I do this for a few reasons:
  • It's easier for the editor to review the course in the storyboard format;
  • I indicate the types and colour of the text boxes, info on the visuals and buttons I used as well as other techniques such as roll-over captions within the storyboard;
  • After potential students and my colleagues review the first published version of the course, I make the suggested changes in the storyboard. I use this version to make sure that everything is consistent. Then I make the changes in Captivate.
  • Once completed, I forward the storyboard to the translators. I put everything that needs to be translated in French in red within the storyboard;
  • Once it's translated, I copy the French text in a copy of the original version of the module in Captivate;
  • The French storyboard gets revised by the editor and I make the final minor changes to the French Captivate version.
I like using both the storyboard and Captivate to design my e-learning courses. 
Storyboarding the Main Panel Page
Storyboarding the Main Panel Page

The Main Panel page in Adobe Captivate
The Main Panel Page in Adobe Captivate
 What I've learned:  

  • It's important that I not get bogged down with using a specific tool because I "should" rather than what works best for me.
  • I don't spend time with the visuals in my storyboard because honestly I can't draw (free motion quilting doesn't count) and I know that I would spend all of my time on the visuals. Visuals are important, but they have to support the ideas. It's best if I do these after I know where I'm going.

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