Skip links

5 Tips for an effective eLearning Storyboard

There is so much to be gained from storyboarding your eLearning.  Storyboarding improves the structure and flow of eLearning and helps to ensure learning objectives are met.  It also improves the efficiency of instructional design and development processes, and allows for effective tracking of changes across the resource lifetime.  Additionally, the storyboard provides an opportunity for key stakeholders to provide feedback prior to the development of a working version.   For these reasons and many others, storyboarding is best practice for eLearning instructional design.  However, having a storyboard won’t automatically generate these benefits.  In this article, we’ll look at 5 tips for getting the most value out of eLearning storyboards.

1. Break Up the Content

As a rule of thumb, a traditional page or slide should have no more than a minute of content.  More than that and you risk losing people’s attention.  Breaking the content up into sections of one minute or less, and pairing each section with a new graphic, animation, or video sequence keeps learners engaged.  Alternatively, you can break up content using something like a click-to-reveal interaction or hover-state object.

2. Make the Voice Over Script Sound Natural

Writing voice over content requires a very different approach to writing text.  What looks fine on the page can sound awkward or unnatural when spoken aloud.  This matters because an eLearning script that sounds unnatural will distract from the content. 

The most effective way to create a natural, conversational-style eLearning script is to keep your sentences short.  Don’t getting tricky with punctuation.  If you need to use semicolons, the sentence is probably too long.  Also avoid acronyms and abbreviations, and include pronunciation instructions for words your voice over artist might be unfamiliar with.  Lastly, read the script aloud to the review team to identify any awkward turns of phrase.

3. Use an Authoring Tool That Tracks Changes and Comments

Tracked changes provide a number of advantages.  When you have a team reviewing the eLearning storyboard, tracked changes and comments enable members to see others’ feedback and points of discussion.  This is especially helpful if the review team is working remotely.  For added efficiency, upload the storyboard to a shared document drive that enables live changes and comments.

Another benefit of tracking changes is that it improves organisational memory.  The storyboard becomes a record of decision-making over the lifetime of the eLearning resource. When you review it in 12 months’ time you can understand why a particular choice was made, even if the original decision-maker is no longer at the organisation.

4. Include UI/Navigation Information

Poorly thought out navigation can have a big impact on the learning experience, while navigation planned at the last minute can affect the content or structure of your eLearning.   There are a few questions you need to answer while creating the eLearning storyboard:  How will the learner move through the resource?  What buttons will they need to select and how will they find them?  Do navigation instructions need to be included? 

The best types of user interface are intuitive, so good navigation shouldn’t require much instruction.  But what seems intuitive to one person might be confusing to another, which is why it’s important to get a few sets of eyeballs on the proposed navigation.  The best time to do this is during storyboarding, since changing navigation post-development can be costly and time-consuming.

5. Seek a Wide Range of Feedback on the Storyboard

This is hands down the best thing you can do to get the most value out of your storyboard.  While it can be tempting to wait until you have a working version of the eLearning before bringing people in for review, incorporating feedback into an almost-finished resource is usually bad news for your budget and schedule. Consider this: it’s far easier to change words on a page or a static graphic than it is to re-record voice over, re-develop animation, or reprogram interactions and navigation.  While a larger storyboard review team might be harder to coordinate, a little extra time and effort at this stage can save you a world of headache later on.