Adding storyboarding into your eLearning authoring process can save time and money in the long term, while setting you up to create content that hits the mark every single time.
While it can be tempting to jump straight into creating a course, investing time in planning your overall structure with a focus on individual screens will set you up to deliver efficient and effective learning messages. By storyboarding your eLearning, you’ll see at least six key benefits.
1) Storyboarding Aids Team Collaboration
Creating eLearning courses is collaborative work. Project managers, clients, graphic designers, and subject matter experts are just a few of the many faces that might input on a course before it’s finalized. The sooner you get their input, the better. If the client—internal or external—is never going to sign off on a certain screen, it’s far better to know that during the storyboarding phase.
A storyboard gets everyone on the same page from the beginning. It allows your learning designer to bring the collective vision for the project to life. It also describes their intent to graphic designers and the wider production team, leaving less room for (mis)interpretation. A good storyboard becomes the blueprint going forward—no one on the team will have to root around emails and other planning documents to know what they or someone else should be doing.
2) Storyboarding Helps You Visualize Your Learning Design
Working on an eLearning storyboard isn’t just about getting ideas approved by everyone involved. It’s also a great space for everyone to explore the possibilities available. Use this opportunity to review how your visual, UI, animation, and interaction ideas fit into your wider flow, check whether they are paced appropriately through your journey, and ensure they tie in with your learning objectives.
More visual design guidance from the blog: ‘3 Simple Factors to Help You Make Better Image Choices for Your Courses’
3) Storyboarding Puts the Learning Experience First
Storyboarding marries a visual exploration of your project scope with an exploration of how learning will be transferred. A storyboard goes into just enough detail to help everyone visualize the course without getting too hung up on the (potentially expensive and time-consuming) process of asset creation.
This means designers can focus on planning the kinds of interactions and structural decisions that will transfer knowledge and change behaviors. This can be done via wireframes, basic imagery, and screen layouts as well as text descriptors.
Without storyboarding, you risk “just making it up as you go along”.
So think about the progression between steps and the effect you want that to have, rather than the next step alone. Particularly consider the flow between screens and between topics, and how they’re paced.
For more on the importance of keeping things simple, read our article: ‘The Simple Life: How a Simplified eLearning Project Structure Sets You up for Success’
4) Storyboarding Lets You Identify Design Weaknesses
With a high-level visual overview of your course, you will find it easier to spot mistakes and oversights earlier in the process as you plan, discuss, and share. Storyboards deal with the broadest—and often, the most important—elements of instructional design. Mistakes in these parts of your design can be very damaging if they’re not identified early.
Storyboarding also allows you to view these basic building blocks from different perspectives to find more subtle weaknesses. With your audiences and/or pre-defined personas in mind, consider the different ways your different user groups will approach the learner journey.
Related reading: ‘7 eLearning Visual Design Mistakes and How to Fix Them’
5) Storyboarding Makes It Easier to Budget Effectively
Your storyboard helps you to control project costs in a couple of ways:
- Firstly, it allows changes in direction to be made with little to no cost. You lose nothing by scrapping an asset at the storyboard stage, as you’ve not yet invested in its creation.
- Secondly, it’s a useful tool to help you map out how much each element is going to cost and prevents you from going over budget. Everyone is kept informed about what’s possible with the money available—and whether additional investment is needed to deliver a more impressive end-product.
For more on the important issue of budgeting in your eLearning program, see: ‘How to Budget for eLearning Authoring Success’
6) Storyboarding Saves Time
Mistakes cost a lot more time in production than they do in planning. Storyboarding allows you to identify dead-end developments before you invest time fleshing them out. In the worst-case scenario, the fix may be considered too time-consuming to implement. The result? You end up launching the course with the error. This usually means wasting even more time in the long run.
Discover More About the Power of eLearning Storyboarding
Our full guide, ‘13 Ways to Get the Most Out of eLearning Storyboard Templates’ goes on to explore how you can maximize the effectiveness of the storyboards you build.
- Defining your overall structure before starting
- Focusing on learning objectives
- Keeping track of the assets required
- Including visuals
- Focusing on one learning objective per screen
- Getting as much input as possible
In addition to these tips, we have also produced a downloadable storyboard template which can help you record all of this critical information (and can be built upon if you’re exploring your own ideas!). Use the download form below to grab both resources.
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