Creating a new module in Storyline--very text heavy, any tips?

Jun 18, 2014

Hi All,

I'm in a new Instructional Design position and have been tasked by my new boss to take some modules she created in Softchalk and "make them better".  She doesn't want to narrate the modules so they are currently very text heavy. 

I've started building out the course in storyline--adding some interactions (tabs), hot spots, etc...but I'm still looking at what seems like miles of text-only slides.

Any ideas for how to make a non-narrated course not feel so text-heavy?

I appreciate any advice!


8 Replies
Natalia Mueller

Hi Caley,

Your task is a common one and even experienced instructional designers can have trouble with that sometimes. Half the battle is actually convincing your client (or boss) that there is a better way. Learning what those "better ways" are comes with experience and the help of a great community and blog resources like you have found here!

Building on Alexandra's question, do you know if your boss specifically doesn't want audio because of a reason like some learners won't have speakers or other restriction or is she just wanting to avoid reading the text to the learner? There are a lot of good reasons to avoid reading the screen text to the learner but perhaps she would agree to replacing some of the onscreen text with audio supported by visuals or key words. 

Do let us know what the topic is and we might be able to give you some specific examples. 

For future projects, you should definitely subscribe to some of these fantastic blogs if you haven't already. There are a lot of great blog writers in this community so this is just a short list of a few I read regularly and get a lot of great ideas from-

Tom Kuhlmann's Rapid eLearning Blog

Cathy Moore's blog has great practical design tips too

Community Blogs - from the Articulate staff

Jackie Van Nice

Caley Satterfield

Thanks for the feedback. I'm really trying to stay away from audio since she has specifically stated no-audio (on these particular modules). The module is over Public Health in America, it's informational only not teaching a skill.  I think she might be more willing to do SOME audio if I show her what she *thinks* she wants and how it just doesn't work out very well.  She's not happy with how the modules are in Softchalk (text only) so if I show her something in a new-to-her platform (Storyline) maybe  we can work on changing to more audio.

Anna Oftedal

Hi Caley,

I am also a big fan of Cathy Moore and follow her Action Mapping and scenario-building processes.

In your situation, think about what the audience is expected to do with the information. How will they ultimately apply what they are learning? Are they expected to have intelligent conversations with partners or customers? Are they expected to use the information to make better decisions? Are they expected to do something more efficiently or follow a process? Information and knowledge are great, but I'm sure these folks are supposed to learn this information so that they can eventually do something with it. If they aren't going to do something with the knowledge, then what is the point?

Once you can think of how they will actually or eventually use this information, then you should be able to transfer that to mini scenarios or full branching scenarios. It will engage the learners more if you can put the information in the context of how they will use it.

For example, instead of just telling them information about a critical area of public health they need to know about, give them a situation with characters doing something, such as a conversation between two characters or a character having to make decisions based on certain information.

I build the majority of my course without audio, so audio is not a required component. I would instead focus on what the learners will ultimately do with the information. It must in some way map to what they do for their jobs or they probably won't care.

For organizing a lot of content, I use layers to organize related information. You can start with the high level information (a graphic works wonders for this) on the slide, and then have the learners click on different elements in the graphic to get the detailed information on layers.

Also, because it sounds like you have a lot of fact-based information to share, look at examples of infographics. I have seen many Storyline examples of interactive infographics, and it is a very memorable way to present facts.

But again, I encourage you to relate the information to some eventual actions that could be performed, and that will help you present the information in a memorable way and also narrow down the information to just what the learners need to know.

Hope that helps!


Jackie Van Nice

Hi Caley!

You've got great advice here from others (and thank you so much for the blog shout-out Natalia!), but I'll toss in another thought.

Whether it's for a long, bloated, crushingly heavy course or even a shorter peppier one - I'll look for every opportunity to do something besides just screen presentation. It may mean creating a genuinely useful job aid or some other kind of reference to use on an as-needed basis, but I try to offload unnecessary content from the presentation as much as possible.

Best of luck to you!


Tana Lyman

Images!  Sometimes a picture really is worth a thousand words.  I concur with the above comment on infographics.  Even simple charts or tables can be a big improvement.

Also, look closely at the text.  Is it bloated?  Could you trim it down and make it more clear and concise?  Is there information that really doesn't need to be there?  Nice-to-know bits could be moved to another location that the student can access if they want it, leaving only the need-to-know.

Dennis Hall

Sorry about my tardiness in chiming in here...

I've just been soo busy with text only content in a 1083 slide program.

All the text is technical management stuff written by a non-english native and senior asian gentlemane who was very well educated/ To put it another way... I have up to 1153 words in slide notes, one bullet in the slide content, and no association between the two. To add to this, the slide notes contain about 50% of the words having 25 characters or more per word.

Nuts yes, remote SME yes, frustrating experience, absolutely. Furthermore, I was not allowed to question teh subject matter (U.N. and Cultural rules).

My solution:

I had the SME identify the information into 3 categrories as follows:

Cirtical information (bolded in teh Notes) would be narrated and displayed (as non-bold) in the slide area.

The important text would be accessed by the learner indteracting with the slide to get to it and would not be narrated.

The Informational text would be either displayed via a secondary interaction or only be available in the Notes,

Once the PPT notes were divided, I then asked if the SME could associate the notes with anything on the screen, or add somethinig on the screen to enphisize the notes.

Doing this, really helped the SME to tell their story, while still respecting their cultural foarmalities. I also got the SME to help me do my job.

Hope this helps.

Best Regards,

Dennis Hall

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