Storyboarding Assists Working Memory
eLearning storyboards are a cognitive aid. They not only communicate your vision, but they help you think things through. Working memory is too limited to plan an entire eLearning experience, so you end up diving into the development. Storyboards assist working memory in so many ways.
- They make it easier to structure and sequence a learning experience.
- They spur creativity by allowing you to quickly try out various ideas.
- They enable you to plan every step of an interactive activity.
- They help you lay out a user interface and screen design.
Counter-arguments to Storyboarding Complaints
Storyboarding for eLearning may be tedious. But making many revisions to a finished product is also tedious and makes you feel like you’re going backward. Storyboarding indeed takes time and effort. But, modifying a running lesson in an authoring tool also takes much time and effort. The point is that you can find many reasons to complain about storyboarding if you want to. Perhaps you’ve been able to make it work so far.
But, if you want to create well-designed and thoughtfully planned eLearning that builds complex skills, then relying on the storyboard process is your best bet.
Ten Ways to Make Storyboarding a Better Process
If you find writing eLearning storyboards to be a challenge, here are ten ways to make the process more effective.
- Content Outline: Storyboard off of a content outline sequenced in the order you want for each lesson. The outline helps ensure the lesson organization makes sense for effective learning.
- Instructional Strategies: Work off of a design document specifying the instructional strategies you’ll be using. Then, you won’t need to ideate on the fly, which often involves many rewrites.
- Collection of Documents: Include separate documents in your storyboard if you need to write an involved video, test, or similar document. Refer to these by filename in your storyboard. Listen or download Kevin Thorn’s talk about a storyboard as a collection of documents in There’s More Than One Way to Storyboard.
- Slide IDs: Use multiples of ten for your slide identification numbers. It makes it easier to insert slides when you get feedback without continually renumbering everything.
- Performance Objectives for Reviewers: Add learning objectives for reviewers to read at the start of each lesson if needed. It may help reviewers understand why you’re including specific content that might otherwise seem confusing. Listing performance objectives for the learner is not always the best approach. You can usually find a more creative way to describe a lesson.
- Meaningful Interactions: Interactivity does not mean clicking to present information. Interactivity refers to an action based on a performance objective, involves cognitive effort, allows participants to build skills, and provides meaningful feedback. Use interactivity to help people develop skills that you’ve already defined.
- Real-world Practice: Simulate real-world challenges aligned with the performance objectives with realistic scenarios. Use the problems and words of your learners that you’ve gathered through audience research and interviews.
- Number of Reviewers: At the start, determine who will need to review a storyboard and who will give final approval. It makes the review process more efficient and avoids the number of reviewers increasing over time. Although you want to provide accurate and meaningful content, you also want to limit the number of opinions.
- Draft Versions: Assume your first storyboard will be a draft document and label it as such. You will get feedback from stakeholders and subject matter experts and need to make revisions. Agree ahead of time on the number of drafts that seem reasonable, considering budget and deadlines. Then, stick to that number. Number the draft versions to avoid confusion. I add a vX to the filename where “X” is a number.
- Final Approval: Get signatures of approval on final versions of a storyboard. Just add a line for signatures and a date at the end of the document.
If you cringe at the thought of writing a storyboard, I taught a short course on this topic and you can purchase the recordings, templates, and resources. Learn more about the course at Storyboard Like a Pro.