Providing services in instructional design, virtual training, and human performance improvement.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Developing Templates: Storyboards

As a company, we have developed templates for a variety of common documents and tools used during the process of eLearning analysis, design, and development. These templates include things such as style guides, course design documents, storyboards, facilitator guides, student guides, and quality assurance reports. For this entry, we’ll be considering the important elements that should go into a storyboard template.

We use storyboards for several project types, and more than one storyboard template is utilized. Our storyboards for web based training (WBT) are much different than the ones we use for virtual instructor-led training (VILT). However, the goal for all of our storyboards is the same: to organize and convey the designer’s vision to all members of the team, including graphic artists, programmers, subject matter experts, and the client.

For our WBT storyboards we include the following elements:
  • Storyboard number
This number consists of the module and/or lesson number as well as a unique identifier for each storyboard. We count our storyboards in multiples of ten so that we can add storyboards during design without having to renumber every board.
  • Visual elements
What does the screen look like? What do the buttons look like? Where are all of the components in relation to one another? What graphics are being used?
  • Navigation instructions
Navigation not only includes next and back directions between storyboards, but also branching instructions. Directions should be provided for every linking item on the screen, including hyperlinks that open documents or webpages.
  • Question responses and feedback
For our knowledge check or test question storyboards, we provide correct or example responses, as well as positive and negative feedback and actions.
  • Voiceover
The specific voiceover script is written in the storyboard. We later pull this script out into a separate document for an additional round of quality assurance prior to sending it off to a voice actor.
  • Animations
What action happens on the screen? Do any elements enter or exit the screen, and if so what are their specific starting and ending locations? Do elements highlight, move, grow, or shrink? Are there any avatars, and if so what are they doing?
  • Graphics
In addition to representing graphics directly on the storyboard screen area, we make sure to list out the graphic name or file number in addition to any modifications required. If a new graphic is needed, we provide examples or specific descriptions of what is required from our artists.

Our VILT storyboards include the following elements:
  • Storyboard number
Just like the WBT storyboards, the VILT storyboard numbers consist of the module and/or lesson number as well as a unique identifier for each storyboard in multiples of ten.
  • Layout type
Which pods are needed? Where should these pods be located? If a new layout is needed, what should be the layout name? When created, screen captures are added to convey visual information.
  • Pod content
Every pod that is used in the layout type should be accounted for in the pod content section. For example, if a sharing pod is being used then we name the specific document or presentation being shared. For a poll pod, we include the exact question and answer choices.
  • Timing
How long should the presenter and student spend on each storyboard?
  • Presenter directions
For our presenters, we provide directions for what they should say as well as what they should do.
  • Host directions
Similarly, for our hosts we provide directions for what they should do during and between each activity and layout.

Utilizing thorough and well thought out storyboard templates can create a streamlined design and development process. Keep in mind, however, that there may be times when a project needs extra flexibility. Templates are there as guides and should not lock you in as a designer.

Kelly Novic is an instructional designer with Victor 12. She has over 12 years' experience designing and developing web-based, virtual, and face-to-face training for a variety of clients and settings, including higher education, non-profit, corporate, and government.