Storyboards are an essential element in designing your online course. They’ll improve efficiency, save a lot of work/re-work down the road, and can also help communicate your ideas to stakeholders.
1. Keep your goals in mind
Why are you creating this eLearning course?
Be clear on the purpose and content of your course, right from the start. If the course is truly your course, it should be much easier – you’ll know the exact direction to head. However, if you’re creating the course for a client, be sure everyone is on the same page (stakeholders, SMEs, course developers, etc.)
I often find that what I think the course should be is drastically different from my client’s expectations.
2. Don’t forget your audience
Assuming you know your audience is a mistake. Research is key. This can come in the form of focus groups, surveys, or interviews to find out everything about the audience you’re trying to serve.
- What’s their educational background?
- Is there a company culture to consider?
- What is their professional/technical knowledge base?
- What experience level do they have with the topic?
- What are the skills gaps they need to overcome?
- What are the knowledge gaps they need to overcome?
- What strategies have worked/failed in the past?
- How will your audience define/measure success?
3. Organization is key
Storyboards serve many purposes. One of the most important being organizing your course content into a logical flow.
I find it helpful to have a firm grasp on most of the content available before starting a storyboard. I call it my 80% rule. By having an understanding of 80% of the content, it’s possible to chunk the content into modules and sequence it in a manner that makes sense to your learner. The remaining 20% can be the unknowns or tweaks needed once you’re able to see the big picture of the storyboard and what gaps need to be filled.
4. Use templates
Save yourself all kinds of time by relying on templates. There are free storyboard templates in several formats that you can download and use (or rework into your own go-to template).
I have just a couple of templates that I reuse often, regardless of the course I’m creating. This really helps me focus on consistency. The familiarity of these templates also allows me to concentrate on the content instead of clunking my way around new templates for every course I create.
5. Plan for design
While we don’t want to waste unnecessary time with a full-on design of our course within the storyboard, we do need to consider the design elements we plan to include.
- What multimedia elements will be utilized?
- What do you want your course to look like?
- What are the capabilities/limitations of your LMS?
- Do you have a description of each multimedia element required (images, animations, graphics, videos, interactions, assessments, games, etc.)
CAUTION! You may be tempted to go too far down the path of creating the actual course content, but without a clear design spelled out in your storyboard – rework and redesign are inevitable. Nail the design concept first, then save the actual design for when everything is “approved” and looks great!