If you’re new to e-learning, you may have heard people throw around terms like storyboard and prototype without daring to ask the question: What’s the difference? Well, don’t worry, we’ve got you covered! In this article, we’ll walk through the definitions of both as well as some advantages and disadvantages of using one over the other. Let’s get to it!
A storyboard can act as a blueprint for developing custom, interactive e-learning in apps like Storyline 3/360. Using a storyboard helps you lay out the visuals, multimedia, text, audio elements, interactions, and navigation details (where does the learner go next?) of each and every slide in your course.
By viewing the storyboard, the stakeholders should be able to understand what learners will see, hear, and do during the course.
Often, storyboards are created with Microsoft Word or PowerPoint. While this makes it easy to share the course content and design with stakeholders, the drawback is that it can be harder for them to imagine what that experience will be like. For people who have never been part of an e-learning project team before, storyboards can feel a little abstract. However, the more experience stakeholders have with e-learning, the easier it is for them to look at one and imagine what the finished course will be like.
We like to think of a prototype as a halfway point between a storyboard and the final version of a course. Like a storyboard, it lays out all the course content. And like a finished course, it’s clickable, so stakeholders can interact with it. That way, instead of having to imagine what that experience will be like, they can actually click through for themselves and get a feel for the flow of the course.
Sometimes, prototypes include branding elements—like the customer logo, colors, and fonts—which allows the stakeholders to approve their usage. However, unlike a finished course, prototypes usually contain only mockups of graphics, and not the final versions. They also don’t include the final version of the voiceover audio. In fact, sometimes they don’t include any audio at all—just the script that’ll be used to record it later on. Other times, designers will include text-to-speech audio to allow stakeholders to hear for themselves what the audio script sounds like when read aloud. That way, if stakeholders notice anything that sounds awkward, they can request changes before the audio is recorded.
Some e-learning designers swear by storyboards, claiming it’s an essential step in the course creation process. Others skip straight to prototyping, saying it’ll save them time in the long run by helping stakeholders better understand what the final course will look like. In the end, there’s no right or wrong answer here, it’s all about personal preference.
Looking for more storyboarding and prototyping tips? Check out these helpful resources.
- 11 Best Practices for E-Learning Storyboarding
- Storyboard Like a Pro with Storyline 360 and Review 360
- What Information Do You Include in Your Storyboards?
Based on the definitions of storyboard and prototype above, what do you think are the pros and cons of each? Do you always create a storyboard, or do you prefer to skip straight to prototyping? Leave us your thoughts in the comments!
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