Flow chart to map out branching of slides

I'm a graphic designer and put together our company instructional design trainings. I receive the copy in powerpoint from the Instructional Manager/Editor with the copy flowed into quiz and engage slides.

We are just starting to do some branching in our trainings. I am interested in giving the Instructional Manager a program or some way to convey how she would like the navigation in the final training. Instead she is attempting to do it herself before she gives it to me to work on.

I find this a little confusing, because I have to go in and figure out what she has done, but I also don't think it is the best way to work. I would prefer to have her use a flow chart or some way to show me how she wants the navigation to work. That way I can actually do it and figure out what way works best to achieve that goal.

Any comments and/or suggestions?

12 Replies
Jeanette Brooks

Hi Rebecca! Would your instructional manager be open to just creating a simple roadmap on a blank PowerPoint slide? There are certainly tools out there that automate flowcharting, but in a lot of cases, just a simple visual (with some boxes, arrows, and production notes) can do the trick. Plus then you wouldn't be asking them to learn a new software tool. I have done this in several previous projects when working with a team of other deisgners/developers ... we actually used a blank Slide Master in PowerPoint for the roadmap. That way it was never in the way and was never part of the published output, but it was easily accessible anytime we wanted to see it for reference.

Kevin Thorn talks about a similar idea in this blog post (scroll down to number 2: "Storyboard Your Project").

Rebecca Mac

Thank you for the link. I checked it out. This is all rather new, so I will try to sell this idea. I am not really sure at what point the storyboard would need to happen because the basic content comes in from an outside writer, then the Instructional Mgr. edits and puts in quizmaker quizzes and picks Engage interactions and puts that content into Engage slides.

Because the Instructional Mgr. has the same programs I have now, instead of directing me how she wants the navigation/branching to work (with a storyboard) she wants to get in there, work in the program and do it herself before she gives me the project. In the past, as a graphic designer, when we worked on print projects (in this company or others) this wasn't an issue because the Manager didn't have the programs. It does not seem to be the best way to work and it also feels as though it's taking away from my responsibilities.

Thanks.

Jeanette Brooks

Rebecca Mac said:

I am not really sure at what point the storyboard would need to happen because the basic content comes in from an outside writer, then the Instructional Mgr. edits and puts in quizmaker quizzes and picks Engage interactions and puts that content into Engage slides.

Because the Instructional Mgr. has the same programs I have now, instead of directing me how she wants the navigation/branching to work (with a storyboard) she wants to get in there, work in the program and do it herself before she gives me the project.


Yeah, sometimes on a cross-functional team the lines can get a little blurry!   In your team, who has ultimate accountability for the course design and functionality? That person (or team of people) would be the one(s) who comes up with the branching/navigation strategy, at the very early planning stage, before anything gets written. It's pretty important that stuff gets nailed early on, before the course is built - because the course structure has a big impact on what gets written/created as far as content.

So, from a workflow perspective, if the course designer has the skillz to build the branching before they hand the project off, that might really be the quickest approach. That would free you up to do more graphic-design magic and make the course really shine.

Saenna B Ahman

Hello Rebecca, i agree that the branching strategy should be one of the early decisions in the designe process.  It sounds like maybe you are are concerned that your Instruc. Mgr. isn't doing a very good job with applying branching;  Perhaps if thats the case you could ask to be a part of the early design/strategy phases so that you have a clearer understanding of how the branching is supposed to behave? And then explicitly offer to take that as part of your role in the production process. You could position it as "I'd like to streamline our team's work flow and take some work off your shoulders - would it be ok if I help with the design phase so that when it comes time to apply & test branching, I can take that on."

Simon Perkins

Hi Rebecca

I've used Gliffy in the past.  Certainly has it's advantages over many similar products; free, intuitive, dynamic (everything moves/stretches/links as you make changes etc).  But it's still not quite my bag.

Sometimes use Mindjet Mind Manager - that to has some great features but isn't IMO suited to every map.

So more often than not I map out in PPT using skeletal (bare bones) content.  This creates a framework that allows you to move through for real (well, almost).  Not everyone's cup of tea, but tends to do the trick for me more recently.

EDIT: one thing I've learned when working with various SMEs is that I no longer 'accept' being given just a load of content to work through.  Instead, I go through various steps to have them cut out the unnecessary stuff before they then get back to me with a proper structure.  Sometimes you have to be firm otherwise you end up spending your time doing a whole load of re-organising that they should be able to do better and quicker.

Simon Perkins

Once we've filtered down the content into what needs to be included (based on an understanding of the audience and what they need to do (not just know)), I ask the SME(s) to create a learning flow.  Here they break the content into manageable pieces around which the branching comes in.  We then check how each bit marries up to various objectives until the structure is finalised.

So the skeletal framework that I build is based around bare bones content, with buttons etc for linking between slides.  That's how we mimic branching and so on.  

HTH.