Storyboarding is a technique that is used to provide an overview of the course. A storyboard helps SMEs to review the content and guides the production team in creating the course. It was first used at Walt Disney studios to create their famous animated movie in 1930. In its most basic form a storyboard consists of a series of visuals which when arranged in a sequence, convey a story. Today the storyboard concept is widely used in web designing, instructional design and in advertising industry.
Storyboard in the context of eLearning is a document with two components. One is the background information about the course that states the title, description, target audience and learning objectives of the course. The second component is the actual content of the course which include visual objects, instructions, text elements, audio elements, interactions or branching of screens and so on. Traditionally storyboards consisted of lots of text giving instructions and explanation regarding the graphics, visual elements and course content. However, now instructional designers are increasingly using visual storyboards. Visual storyboards can be created in many ways.
The advantages of including visuals in storyboard are that:
- The SME or the product team will get an overview of the screen just with one look. Get a clear picture of the visual that is being used, the animation that is suggested and interactivities involved.
- Based on the visual ideas given in the storyboard, the production team can improvise on the design ideas provided by the ID.
- Most information can be compressed and summarized visually instead of presented through lengthy textual instructions. Adding visual elements communicates the depth of the course both to the SME and to the production team. They can get a proper perspective to the course.
- Using visuals in storyboards illustrates the interface in the way it responds to user’s inputs; this helps SMEs to understand the course clearly before its development.
- Visual storyboard makes it easier for the production team to integrate various course elements such as the content, graphics and animation to create the final eLearning course. IDs’ vision of the course can be accurately translated by the production team.
Though there are some commercial storyboard applications, most organizations create their storyboards using MS word (where each page represents one screen) or PowerPoint (where each slide is considered as one screen). Effective visual storyboards can be created using either methods or the ideal method can be chosen based on the course requirements and interactivities involved. Whatever be the format, visual storyboards have definite advantages over traditional pure text-based storyboards.