Comic books, storytelling, and crafting compelling experiences

Hi ya,

I put together a case study of a popular piece of elearning I built a long long time ago called, 'Broken C0-worker'

I believe it's worth a read (if you're into the title of this discussion):

My plan is to add more details. (I didn't completely explain design decisions around consequence and feedback.)

I assume you're interested in this kind of stuff. So, I have 3 questions for you:

  1. Did you find my case study helpful why or why not? (Be blunt if you want—I have semi-thick skin.)
  2. What's missing from the case study that you'd want to know about, hmm?
  3. And, most importantly: What's your thoughts on comic-style e-learning as a solution? (A fad, silly, not practical, too difficult...or...a fun and good way to learn?)

Needless to say, years after building it, I am still interested in comic book style learning. I want to learn more, and understand how it can complement other learning events.


8 Replies
Eric Nalian

Hey Ryan - first i wanted to say that I have loved this course ever since you showed it off a few years ago.  At my previous job when internal departments would request eLearning projects, I would always ask them how interactive they would want it.  I would give two examples: a PPT with next/previous buttons and this course.  Obviously after seeing this demo, this is what they would want.  

Your questions:

  1. I kind of skimmed through it, and focused on the text under the images... liked seeing the design process. 
  2. I would like to see a "how its made", although the really skilled Storyline developers here could reverse engineer the whole thing, some of the newer folks might have some issues.
  3. i Love comic style eLearning.  It was so engaging and refreshing, especially with a topic that is sometimes always required, or dry.  You can really do any topic like this and it is always nice to see someone take an old topic and show it in a new way.

What would be cool to see is a V2 of this course using some of the new features of Storyline!


Carolina Fautsch

Ryan, I loved this case study, and particularly the way you focused on the elements of storytelling that inspired you. It's great to see how advice from Pixar, Sorkin, etc. came to life in your design process. People talk about the quotes you mentioned a lot, but you don't often see how they can inform and guide your thinking as you're developing a story. 

I do agree that an explanation from the development side would be great. Maybe another post down the line? 

I think comic style e-learning strikes a great balance between being cost-effective (and scaling up nicely if there's more money in the budget) and sleek; it's quite modern-looking.

 I also always liked the way you incorporated video into Broken Coworker's design. People really appreciate videos, but, having worked on a couple of interactive video projects, I know how hard it is to make a full-fledged training video, especially a scenario-based one, look good without stellar production values. The graphic novel/video approach gives you the opportunity to have some fun with video while keeping the course looking great overall. 

Thanks for sharing this. 

Ryan Martin

Hey Eric happy to hear you love the course and it helped you with your internal department requests. A lot of people tell us that, which I find kind of funny considering the content of 'Broken Co-worker' ... It probably provides a lighthearted tone to project kickoff. 

Yeah, the process I shared it still pretty high level, however its the thinking and strategy that allowed me to design 'Broken Co-worker' and what I still apply today.

Seeing how its made is complex - and I wouldn't know where to start or what people are interested in. Tom Kuhlmann did a video explaining the Storyline bit, which is straightforward,...It may be on YouTube now?

I hope to explore the comic style more in a learning context. I think it never really caught on, and honestly, blame myself for not promoting or sharing more. Well, better late than never, right? What you said about it being engaging and refreshing is spot on -- for many many adults.

Regarding a V2, what new features of Storyline would improve the experience? I'm curious because I really don't know. Most of my projects use graphics, states, and triggers... rarely anything else.

Oh. About "how its made"... I do have the original 'behind the scenes' videos (of the shoot)... would you be interested in seeing those if I uploaded them?

Cheers Eric, and thank you for taking the time to check out my case study and respond :)



Ryan Martin

Hey Carolina! Great to hear you liked the storytelling bits! It's something I'm passionate about, and I believe adds a tremendous amount of a value to learning.

> I do agree that an explanation from the development side would be great. Maybe another post down the line?

Anything in particular? A particular interface decision or interaction? I don't mind writing a post or doing a video, however I get overwhelmed if I have to explain the whole project.

I'm so happy you like the comic book style. I think more adults in our profession should explore it and have conversations with colleagues about comics, and the ability to engage through visual communication and story. The solution doesn't have to be e-learning either. Anyways. I digress. I just love the potential to engage people at work in a fun way :) 

I think interactive video gets difficult when people overthink it or don't put constraints around the design. I understand learning professionals are juggling a lot of tasks, but much of the work we do isn't that difficult with the right systems (steps) in place -- which I believe always begins with ID, and discovering essential top tasks, or essentials skills and behaviours to target.

If you have a question about the graphic novel/video approach, let me know. I'm trying to discover where the process gaps may be, for all of us. And attempt to address them :)

All the best, Carolina!



Carolina Fautsch

Hey Ryan-- looking at Tom Kuhlmann's video, it's more or less what I was thinking of in terms of a development breakdown. Thanks for letting us know about it. 

I agree very much on consistent design! Those interactive video projects went much better when we were able to manage client expectations and just keep the overall course looking consistent, and emphasize the story the videos were trying to tell. 

I'll think about the questions. I would certainly love the chance to use comic books in a scenario myself. Please keep us updated if you ever do another comic-based project :) 

Ryan Martin

Hi Nadia, I hope I'm not 4 months too late :P

Sorry. I'm rarely on here and I have notifications turned off (will change that now.)

Anywho. The case study is now on my Linkedin:

If you have a question the case study didn't answer, or anything, just let me know.