How instructional designer work with narration script writer?

Hello People,

I am a newbie to E-Learning. Recently we are considering to develop e-learning course, but we do not know how.

My senario is that client provided some raw resources - screen capture videos, product user guide, product help files, etc. I need to create e-learning course from there, to host in LMS.

What puzzles me now is how to produce  the narration script  (my course will have audio, animation, grapic,  videos, etc.). Does this need a same person to design the course and write the audio script? If not, how two persons line up?

What's your practice if you do not mind sharing advices? Looking forward...

Thank you,

Anson

9 Replies
Tim Slade

Hi Anson and welcome to the world of eLearning!

Typically, the instructional/eLearning designer is the person who develops the script/narration using the client's content. However, this can vary from one organization to another. Some teams work as a group with specific tasks - one person to develop graphics, another to create the script and another to work with the SME, etc.

Either way, you should try and stick to a standard eLearning project management process. I think this article explains it pretty well.

As for narration specifically, it can be hard to know where to start. For me, after I've reviewed all of the client's content and developing specific learning objectives, I like to make an outline of all the major topics I am going to discuss. This helps, not only to organize my thoughts, but also as a way to structure the course.

Next, you'll need to decide if your course is going to be informational or performance-based. Here is a great blog post from Tom on this topic. Additionally, you can decide if you want your course to be linear or to having branching.

After you've done all of this, the next step is to open a word document and start typing. Remember, eLearning is meant to be very visual - so when writing narration, you have to keep that in mind. Stay aware from writing anything that you can't communicate visually on the screen. Also, the process should be collaborative with your client/SME. Work with them to develop the narration and ensure the content is accurate.

I hope this helps! If I think of anything else, I'll post it here.

Tim

Daniel Brigham

Hi, Anson:

Tim makes good points. Creating elearning is a complex process and often overwhelming if you are doing most of it. Know that you will get better with each course or lesson you build.

As far as writing voiceover/narration goes, you might find this presentation helpful. Writing Voiceover Scripts

Regarding the basic process of building an online course, you might find this helpful. Basic Process of Building an Online Course

Anson Zhang

Tim Slade said:

Hi Anson and welcome to the world of eLearning!

Typically, the instructional/eLearning designer is the person who develops the script/narration using the client's content. However, this can vary from one organization to another. Some teams work as a group with specific tasks - one person to develop graphics, another to create the script and another to work with the SME, etc.

Either way, you should try and stick to a standard eLearning project management process. I think this article explains it pretty well.

As for narration specifically, it can be hard to know where to start. For me, after I've reviewed all of the client's content and developing specific learning objectives, I like to make an outline of all the major topics I am going to discuss. This helps, not only to organize my thoughts, but also as a way to structure the course.

Next, you'll need to decide if your course is going to be informational or performance-based. Here is a great blog post from Tom on this topic. Additionally, you can decide if you want your course to be linear or to having branching.

After you've done all of this, the next step is to open a word document and start typing. Remember, eLearning is meant to be very visual - so when writing narration, you have to keep that in mind. Stay aware from writing anything that you can't communicate visually on the screen. Also, the process should be collaborative with your client/SME. Work with them to develop the narration and ensure the content is accurate.

I hope this helps! If I think of anything else, I'll post it here.

Tim

Hi Tim and Daniel,

Your very good points loud and clear, appreciate much.

Two furher questions pls help Tim said:

"..., another to create the script and another to work with the SME, etc. ",

Here, if the course is about explaning software product concepts/features/benefits from using it, and teaching how to use it too, who can write the voiceover script? Internally, I do not have such product expert. Besides, why another person to contact SME instead of the same guy writing the script?

Another topic from my mind, what's your practice whether to base slide contents on script or script basing on slide contents? I mean, write script first or slide contents first?

Kindly help me out further, thank you,

Anson

Bruce Graham

Hi Anson,

I tend to write all the content I need for the slides, then when it is correct, take most of it away, turning into graphics/illustrations, and place it into the script, which explains the slide.

In terms of the features and benefits, your role as an instructional designer is to find this from the SME/salesperson.

Nobody will learn about system functionality if they do not see the personal or business benefits to THEM, so you need to ensure that these are covered at every step of the planning and developing.

Typically, I will learn the product I am creating the course for - so currently about to start learning an Oracle Product, because without understanding that how can I build a course on it, (that's my view anyway...). This gets built into the project time. As a MINIMUM, you need to understand the business benefits of the product. Get the sales literature, speak to existing users etc. to get this.

We have to learn our parts like an actor such as Daniel Day Lewis does - to create great courses we should get immersed in the subject and the business applications, not just stick to the "eLearning" bits - we cannot remain on the sidelines.

Hope this perspective helps you further.

Bruce

Anson Zhang

Hi Bruce,

Thanks a lot for the insights.

Do you have further idea that I am not an English native speaker, but my course will be English. My understanding is that although I will look into the product itself and I have some reference from client, but I cannot write the script myself because I do not feel safe of my English once it goes out to public.

So what's your experience or considerations?

Best,

Anson

Bruce Graham

In that case I would either work with someone who is fluent in your language and English, OR perhaps consider getting someone else to build the course.

I do not know your exact business situation, however, it all sounds a little dangerous to me in terms of management and quality.

Sometimes we have to be pragmatic.

Bruce

Sales Framework

Anson Zhang said:

Agreed Bruce, it is a dangerous job for me. I am considering to draft the content (not by me, by some others internal or external contractor, etc.) and send it to client for review/signoff before I move further with development.


Anson, I think this is a good route. 

I do not usually have the product knowledge for the content I write, but I do a meeting with the clients first and ask them a bunch of questions. There are a ton of questions that can go into a needs analysis, but find out the key points they want to cover about each product. 

Then, I write up a draft and hold a meeting with the clients again to review it. They provide feedback, I adjust, and get one final approval before I send to the voiceover talent.  If yoru clients are native english speakers, maybe they can provide that expertise in this review. If not, I would send the script that is approved by the clients to a native english speaker for editing only - not for writing the content. 

You asked which comes first, the slides or the script. It can vary a little, but mostly it's the script. If I get an idea for a slide and then try to build the script around it, it's usually not a very effective slide. Sometimes you really want to use a great slide design, but it's just not in the cards. The content should be the the foundation. 

Good luck with your project!

Steven McAneney

Bit of a late response, but here is my workflow. I do everything myself, because there is nobody else to do the job!

  • Write a Table of Contents (i.e. exactly what topics the client wants to be taught. Should be in a 'learner friendly' order (e.g. Simple to difficult), not just as per the original text.)
  • Add some topics to each TOC item. Teaching/transmitting these points will be the goal of the slide.
  • Start writing a narration for each TOC item, making sure you have covered off the topics you wrote earlier. You might want to do this in your own language then translate it later. (I write the narration into a 3-column table in MS Word).
  • Hand-draw slide content/animation ideas that support your narration to the right of each narration point. I insert a drawing canvas into the RH column of the Word table and hand draw images using my pen/tablet (this is called a 'storyboard').
  • Number each transition on the drawing canvas, and then add each number to the appropriate location in the narration (this helps with timings later on). I make a copy of the narration in the same table column for this, so I still have a 'clean' narration text to copy into the elearning later on.
  • Make a list of photos, movies, assets required for each slide, then go and collect them and edit them so they are ready to insert into the elearning.
  • Build the e-learning with the narrations. Now you can tweak the narration to match the slide content and vice-versa.
  • Finally, review and add interaction/quizzes etc.

Some e-learning experts will probably disagree with this flow, but this is what works for me with my very limited development time. The above doesn't exactly answer your question, but hopefully itemising each task will help you decide which ones you want to pass on to someone else.