In my last post I gave an overview of my DemoFest course, Intro to Office 2010. I would like to delve into the analysis and design of the course.
When this project was brought to me it involved training for both a Windows 7 and Office 2010 upgrade, which is why some of the documents included here references Windows 7 in addition to the Office upgrade. My first step for any training project is the needs analysis, albeit it is often very informal when on short time-lines like this project. Because I had been teaching a face-to-face computer basics class, including some Office training, I had already a big jump on both knowing the audience and how they use the systems that were being upgraded. I also was provided a second work PC with Windows 7 and Office 2010 loaded on it. This allowed me to use and learn the Windows 7 operating system and Office 2010 applications while simultaneously identifying the changes staff will encounter. Keep in mind, I still had my current PC so I had the luxury of being able to make comparisons of the old and new. Once I identified the learning needs, which by the way were more numerous in Outlook due to bigger changes to Outlook from 2007 to 2010 than in the other Office apps, I was ready to draft a course design plan.
The course design plan is crucial in creating an effective course and includes everything from the rationale for the course to its evaluation plan. I am providing a link so you may see a copy of the course design plan (CDP). I always circle back to my stakeholders and share the CDP with them. It shows the approach I am taking and exactly what will be taught. Keep in mind it did not reference much regarding social media. It focused mostly on the asynchronous online course itself. The social media and Intranet page were components that evolved during the development stage. FYI: If you would like to know more about my approach to writing course design plans, please visit my post on CDPs.
Once the CDP was completed and reviewed by my stakeholders and subject matter experts, I like them to sign off on it, I began storyboarding the course. It is important to note, I am a “one person e-learning shop,” so when I storyboard they are not handed off to developers or anyone else. These are tools for my own design and development process. So, as you can see in the examples below, they include enough detail for my own review and get quite messy. If I worked with others I would create much cleaner versions. Either way, below are several examples that show a bit of the process. Once storyboards were developed, and rewritten a few times, I then had the content, navigation, development tools needed, etc. I am was now ready move on to developing the course.
Regarding the Windows 7 content that was scrapped just prior to implementation, because the course was non-linear, but had a separate section for Windows 7 sims, it was easy to isolate that section of the course and remove it. Actually, because the interface was built in Flash all I had to do was remove the button to the section and introductory reference to it. I will speak more to that in the next post in which I address course development.
View the course – Introduction to Office 2010
Several things of interest I recently wandered upon that I would like to share.
Kevin Thorn, a.k.a. Nugget Head, recently published an article in eLearn Magazine, The Art of Storyboarding, that is a very worthwhile read. Storyboarding is a crucial skill to have in our elearning world and Kevin offers great insight on its uses and value in elearning design along with a bit about the history of storyboarding.
Also, NPR had a story regarding the myth of learning styles that is worth a listen. Although this is probably not news to many in the world of ISD, it did get many instructional designers on twitter (my PLN) discussing, and paying more attention to, the subject. Give it a listen below. It also sheds light on some teaching methods that do work.
When I peruse my blog stats it always amazes me that my storyboarding posts are some of the most visited and my storyboard template has been downloaded far more than expected. I guess the practical things are the most valuable. Since there is such interest in storyboarding I thought I would follow-up and offer a few more practical tips on creating and using storyboards.
- Determine who you are making storyboards for. Are they for:
– your client and/or Subject Matter Expert (SME),
– developers you are handing the project off to,
– your own use, or
– a combination of the aforementioned.
This will determine how detailed they should be, the technical information you need to include, and how “rough” they can be. For example, storyboards that are for my sole use are sketched out in pencil and the notes are to a level of detail that suits my own needs. If for a developer, obviously I would add far more technical detail and content, for a SME it would focus more on the content and I may leave out technical specifications, etc.
- Put storyboards up on a wall. This is the best way to get the feel for the course’s flow and how well it is, or is not, designed. Keeping them on the wall is also a constant reminder of the project, keeping you looking at it, and will call out to your coworkers to take a look and provide feedback.
- Play with the storyboards. I write mine in pencil just for that reason. Once you read them over there will be many improvements that jump out at you. Make the changes and see how they work on the storyboards.
- Don’t feel you have to stick to the storyboards. Sometimes what works on paper just does not translate well on the Internet. Also, at times the technology, resources, or time just does not allow exactly what is written on the storyboards to happen. We often discover this during the development phase. Note: Whatever sacrifices you make do not make them at the cost of learning.
- Include good notes on navigation and orientation. Even properly arranged on the wall, a non-linear course’s storyboards can become confusing without good notes on which link/button goes to which screen or event.
- Storyboards never do the final product justice. They are only representations and cannot fully capture the rich interactivity of the course. Be patient with them and remind anyone involved with the storyboards that they are an initial design and they will get an even better feel for the final product when it comes to life in the coming online drafts.
If you have additional storyboarding tips, please share them in the comments section. Thanks!
Here are past storyboard posts:
The eLearning Coach now has the “Storyboard Depot,” where you can download free storyboard templates. If you have a storyboard template of your own that you would like to share on the depot, you can do that too.
The eLearning Coach is also full of other great resources. Take a look around at http://theelearningcoach.com.
For the last week I have been in storyboard mode for a large course I am creating. Since grad school I have been using the same format for storyboards, when I do use them. Some projects benefit from use of storyboards, some do not, but that is another post.
The storyboard I use is a very simple, but flexible format that we used in my school’s ISD program. I have made a few small changes to it. Here is the template, which is made in PowerPoint, but could easily be made in MS Word too.
And here’s what I include in my storyboards.
In the main frame:
- Textual content
- Graphics (even if rough representations)
- Screenshot or representation of animations, interactives, etc.
- Buttons and/or navigational features
- Page orientation
In the side frames:
- Navigational info (i.e. where each button or link will take the user)
- Text for pop-ups or rollovers
- Media info (e.g. info about the animation, video, audio, etc.)
In the bottom frame:
- Notes to developers, SMEs, or anyone else that may have access to the storyboard
- Notes that won’t fit in the side frames
- Any pertinent notes that don’t fall under “Navigation” of “Media”
- Color requirements, screen size, graphic sizes, etc.
Storyboard formats very widely. The above happens to be the format I like, but here are some more storyboard resources you may find helpful:
Multimedia Storyboard – Studio 1151
Storyboards for eLearning – The eLearning Coach
Free Storyboarding Template – eLearningLive.com
Creating Scripts and Storyboards for e-Learning – e-LearningGuru
Really Fast Storyboarding for e-Learning Projects – Learning & Performance Tips
Example of a storyboard in MS Word – Learning & Performance Tips
At the moment I am busy storyboarding a course. So, here is what I would like to share today…a great video about the history of storyboarding, how it is done in the film industry, and its benefits. Please pay attention because much of it translates to what we try to accomplish in e-learning.
Some e-learning designers “storyboard,” others do not. Me, sometimes I do and sometimes I do not. Below is a list of reasons I do not use storyboards. I also include a list of when I find it worth the time to storyboard a course. Before I begin, I must note that I always create a thorough course design plan (CDP) for each course. My CDPs include a rationale, target audience, participant prerequisites, course description, terminal objectives, enabling objectives, evaluation plan and a course map. So, here we go.
I do not use storyboards because:
- I run a one-person e-learning department. I am designer and developer. After the analysis and design, the course is very much in my head and I do not need to hand anything off to a developer.
- Often my courses are non-linear and both difficult and time consuming to storyboard. I have deadlines to meet, people!
- I have new ideas during development and scrap half the storyboards anyway.
Why I use storyboards:
- If the course is very, very complex and non-linear, it is the only way I can get a handle on it and remember where I am going from screen to screen. For example, branching simulations.
- If I have other co-workers involved in the actual design of the course. This gives them a great visual for where we are going with it. In other words, a great way to step back and “run through” the course before we start the development phase.
- I include a lot of notes on the storyboards regarding the multimedia, technology and/or coding needed, etc. for each screen. This keeps me much more organized and helps prioritize many tasks.
- Whenever people see a wall full of storyboards in your office they will think you are really busy. That’s always a plus.
Yes, I know it appears I contradicted my self with the non-linear thing, but there is a certain point where it gets so complex that I feel it is necessary to storyboard.
FYI: This post was inspired by an online discussion I read where it appears e-learning designers are very split on the subject of storyboarding. I would love to hear from you if you storyboard your courses and why.