Really Fast Storyboarding for E-Learning Projects

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Darryl L. Sink and Associates, Inc. (DSA) helps organizations design and develop learning and performance solutions that get results. DSA works cooperatively with organizations to:

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Today's tip comes from Dr. Thomas Welsh, professor, consultant and longtime DSA Associate.

In days-gone-by, instructional designers developing training for CBT, web-based training, and other E-Learning projects often used an effective, yet quite cumbersome method of specifying the content for their courses. The interactive storyboard, or detailed design document, was used to spell out in detail the output for every screen in a course as well as all possibilities for learner input. This was done to allow for exhaustive content review and approval prior to the expensive, time-consuming programming process.

Times have changed. While exhaustive storyboarding and detailed design is still used in large budget – long timeline projects, most training projects do not have the budget or development cycle to allow for this type of pre-production. Luckily, there is another storyboarding technique that has several advantages over the old method.

  1. It uses Microsoft Word, allowing for quick development by instructional designers.
  2. It requires content writers to fit their content to the available space of approved E-learning templates.
  3. It allows for easy content review and direct editing by subject mater experts.
  4. Approved content is in a format that allows for relatively fast integration into final E-learning form.

How it Works

All you need is a screen image capture tool, such as SnagIt, an image editing tool, such as Photoshop, and MSWord. Here are the steps for really fast storyboarding:

  1. Use SnagIt or another screen capture tool to take a screenshot of the approved screen templates for your E-learning project. The screenshot should include the entire E-learning screen, with all standard buttons, banners, footers, and navigational tools.
  2. Import the saved image into the header of an MSWord document. Use the FORMAT PICTURE option to set the image to “FLOAT OVER TEXT.” Also, increase the BRIGHTNESS of the image so it is barely visible in the document.
  3. Close the header and go back to the PAGE LAYOUT document view. You will see the template in the background of your MSWORD document.
  4. Set the margins, header, and footer of the MSWORD document so that the page accommodates only enough text to fit within the template.
  5. Use CUSTOM STYLES to set the text size, font, and other attributes to match your project requirements.

Now the writing can begin. As instructional designers generate the content in MSWORD, they will see the E-learning template in the background. In addition, MSWORD will automatically wrap to the next page/screen when available space on the current page/screen is exhausted.

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