Best Practices/ Methodology to creating online training in Storyline 3.

I know this is a broad question but I am developing my first on line training course using Storyline 3. I  have viewed online courses and read books on Storyline which focus mainly on functionality. I understand what it does and how it works but I feel stuck on where to begin, what order things should be done in and also finding or creating the right template for my project. What I really need to know is what is the flow for design, what should my process be?

I have an outline and I have created a story board. I am having a challenge choosing a look and feel for my project. I have searched free downloads and tried several but they never seem to function properly either because they were created with 360 or in an alternate version of either Power Point or Storyline which is not compatible with my version.

My project will have slides, a menu, several modules that can be viewed independently of each other (a la cart) with audio of a narrator voice and two character's voices. Is my next step to just start adding content to slides, worry about slide design, and bells and whistles later? Because I feel like I don't necessarily know from the start what I want each slide to contain in terms of functionality, buttons, hover overs etc. I feel like that will come later as the course begins to take shape -or am I off in my thinking about that? At what point does the audio get added?

Can anyone share with me their process and or methodology and best practices to begin and work though the process?  


Thank you!


3 Replies
Joe Waddington

When I'm developing content and the storyboard, I try to have a general idea of what my side will look like - not necessarily color-wise, but layout wise. I think about what, if any, interactions will I use. I already have a general idea on how I will display the information before I start building.

When I'm ready to start building in Storyline, I first come up with a style guide, and include the color scheme as well as the standard look and feel for the course.

Style Sample

If I get stuck trying to find a way to display info on the slide, I go looking at templates or other people's designs, and copy or recreate it, with my own additions or flair.

I hope this isn't too generalized, and helps!

PS - Tom had an article about finding color schemes that was really helpful for me.

Ray Cole

Step 1: Decide what the course is meant to do--why is it being requested? What problem(s) is it meant to solve?

Step 2: List the answers to the Step 1 questions in the form "After successfully completing this course, you will be able to..." followed by a short bullet list that describes the discrete skills the course will teach.

Make sure each bullet item begins with an observable verb (i.e., you can't observe someone "knowing", "understanding", or "being familiar with" anything, so avoid those verbs). Whenever you're tempted to use an unobservable verb like "know", go back to your subject matter expert and get him or her to complete the sentence, "Learners need to know xyz so that they can...?" That is, you need your SME to explain what decisions or actions this knowledge informs.

When you've got your list, each beginning with an observable "action" verb, these are your course's "learning objectives." Sanity check that if the learner is able to do the things you list here, that has a chance of solving the problems you identified in Step 1. If not, get with your SME and figure out what or what else the learner must be able to do in order to solve the business problem that initiated the request for this course.

Step 3: For each learning objective, design a realistic job challenge that you can present to the learner so that the learner will have the opportunity to demonstrate mastery of that objective. For example, if you have a learning objective that says "After successfully completing this course, you will be able to shoot a video framed in accordance with the 'rule of thirds'," then that implies that at some point in the course, you will need to put the learner behind a (possibly virtual) camera and allow him or her to position it so that the subject is framed in accordance with the 'rule of thirds.' Do this for every objective.

Now you've designed at least one activity for each objective, and you've ensured that you have relevant interactivity in your course that drives learners to practice the skills you are teaching.

Step 4: Connect the activities, either narratively as part of a story (maybe a "day in the life" tale, for example), or chronologically, or by some other sensible organizing principle. Pay attention to the transitions from one activity to the next. If there are facts, policies, or principles the learners must know in order to succeed at an activity, this is where you figure out how to get that information to them. Try to do it as minimally as possible. If you can do it in the context of the activity itself, that's ideal; if you can't, then provide the info as succinctly as possible so the learner can get to the activity without wading through a lot of info-dumping.

Step 5: Add the intro to the beginning and a summary/wrap-up to the end.

At this point you can build the course in Storyline from your detailed notes. Often you can start building the interactions you designed in Step 3 as soon as you've got them worked out on paper, in which case, by this point in the process you've got a fair amount of the course already built. When the course is done, test, debug, send for review, revise, and, finally, deploy.

Work with your SMEs throughout to ensure the accuracy of the situations you create to drive learner practice.



Ray Cole

PS: As to look and feel--the nature of the activities you design often dictates the look. Photographs that fill the entire screen are a simple way to get a look and feel that is particularly immersive. As the learner, you're immersed in the real environment of the tasks you're learning, so what could be more appropriate than that? When you take this approach, the only look-and-feel decisions you have to make are simple (and somewhat arbitrary) things like what color you want your buttons to be, and how large or small you want them to be. This frees you up to focus on things of much greater instructional importance.