In 1928, Walt Disney and his team used a storyboard to plan out the animations for a short film titled Plane Crazy. In 1929, when it was released to the public, it introduced a character you may be familiar with…Mickey Mouse. The film was based around the idea of Mickey flying a plane to imitate Charles Lindbergh. If you would like to see images of the original storyboard click here. If you want to see the actual short film, click here. (For more background on this story and storyboarding in general, read Kevin Thorne’s article titled, “The Art of Storyboarding“).
The storyboard consisted of six panels that touched on each of the major action sequences. Walt would review these boards and approve sections, request modifications to some and even cut out pieces he didn’t want. By using the storyboard, Walt Disney and his team could take a more holistic view of the entire film. Prior to this time, most animators were assigned specific scenes to design without the context as to how it would fit into the overall film. So, storyboards are a good thing for e-learning designers to know about. With that little bit of history, let’s return to the topic of this blog post… storyboards.
There are many different ways you can create storyboards.
- Create them in Microsoft Word
- Create them in PowerPoint
- Use a commercial-based storyboard application
- Build the course directly in the e-Learning application
If you are looking for storyboard templates, Connie Malamed offers an excellent group of resources all on one page. You can find them by clicking here.
In general, I prefer to storyboard directly in the e-learning application itself instead of producing pages of text and hand-drawn graphics in Word templates. I know a lot of people will say taking this approach gets you caught up in the technical aspects of using the program and reduces your overall creativity. In other words, it’s better to do all of it with a pencil, an eraser and a piece of paper first.
From my experience, rapid prototyping works much better and makes it easier to communicate your ideas to the client. On the other hand, I do prefer to use a SNOW approach when the material is complicated or requires a lot of branching scenarios. SNOW is just my shorthand for using Sticky Notes On the Wall. With that being said, I have received Word-based storyboards from some clients and adapt my approach based on their unique requirements.
My Rapid-Prototype Approach
For most clients, I prefer a rapid prototype approach where I match the client’s color schemes and fonts while using placeholders for images, animations and interactions. If the interactions are easy to design, I’ll throw a few in for the client to see the possibilities with their content. This prototype is then uploaded for the client to review with subsequent modifications made as we go along. From my experience, allowing the client to see and participate in the development process reduces the chances of major changes in the later stages and provides quicker and better feedback. In other words, it allows the client to have a better visual image of the look/feel/navigation of the course when compared to text-based storyboards.
When audio narration is used, I include the scripts in the notes section of the application, have the client approve the scripts, and then move to recording the approved versions only. In some cases, I’ll also do a rough recording to help them see how the animations will accompany the narration.
Three Tips (regardless of your Storyboard approach)
- Write the learning objectives out before you storyboard; refer to them often during the design process
You must be able to identify where in the course each learning objective is met.
- Don’t fret over the details
When designing the flow of your course, keep the big picture in mind and watch how the information flows from one scene to the next.
You can always go back a second time and add more information if necessary.
- Avoid wasting time trying to find the right image.
This is storyboarding, not the final design! Use basic stick figures and symbols to get the main ideas across.
Well, that’s about it for this week’s challenge. I hope you found the information in this post useful! Happy storyboarding using whatever method you choose.