29 Replies
Steve Flowers

Hi Lani. What kind of features would you be looking for?

The reason I ask - I've built and contributed to storyboard and integrated production management tools in the past. I've always thought this was a relatively small niche market but if there were enough demand I might throw my hat back into the ring. As far as I know there are a few options available. None of which are really built for our needs. Most folks fall back to Word document templates (what I use most of the time, but I can see the benefit of tool automation).

1. Tools that contribute to the planning process and produce artifacts that support the articulation and elaboration of instructional architecture. Diagramming tools like Visio, MindManager, and hyperlinked prototyping tools like Twine spring to mind.

2. Tools that are close but don't match up precisely to incremental storyboard development and reporting requirements as we see them. I've developed MS Access tools and online tools for this purpose but these were each for a focused set of requirements and were neat but less than ideal (10 years ago). I've also seen some really great tools for development of specific types of artifacts (video scripts)  like Celtx. CeltX is keen but I've never seen it as a perfect match.

3. Tools that enable some storyboard capture and reporting but are part of another learning content development system. There are plenty of these out there. RapidIntake Unison has some storyboard / planning features in their forms. I'm not sure how this reports.

Part of the problem is the lack of a consistent lexicon and priority for the fields associated with instructional planning artifacts. This extends to the definition and lexicon associated with interactivity (a pet peeve of mine). Without some common definitions of these elements it's difficult to communicate globally and consistently. If such a standard existed, it would surely not be able to cover all permutations of design. But a common lexicon could still have some value.

Do you envison an online tool that would have these features?

  • Offline portability of data (data not stuck inside the tool)
  • Flexible reporting (both in format and file type)
  • Flexible forms input (tunable so you can adjust the order of entry and visibility of form elements)
  • Attachment and association (easy to attach files and visuals generated using common tools)
  • Narrative tenor tagging (an easy way to synchronize planning for narrative events with interactions)
  • An optional offline client (Think Ipad)
  • Increment state tracking (cooking, ready for review, reviewed with comments, approved)
  • Voice annotation capture (a pretty good way to communicate)
  • Map flow generation (a quick mapping of the experience flow)
  • Threaded feedback (each screen / interaction references are all discussion threads)
  • Nasty prototype mode (A quickgen of the storyboard elements into a navigable pseudo flow)
  • Text to speech generation (Part of nasty prototype mode - good for ear tests)

Can you tell I've been thinking about this? :P

Lani Flores

@Steve,

I am wishing for an online tool tailored to eLearning for:

- mapping the flow (like mindmap)

- input forms for content

- input forms for quizzes (ex: type of question, possible answers); then export to Quizmaker (a dream come true!)

- organizer for files, images, videos, etc; sort of asset management  where each asset can be cross-referenced/indexed with the slide

- export data from the Storyboard into different slides and index the reference slide numbers  (cut and paste from Word is so primitive)

- sketching or wireframe (integrated with the storyboard as opposed to using another tool)

- collaborative discussion (very useful for large teams and working with clients)

- version control

I haven't thought about the narrative aspect.   But if you build a great text-to-speech software, I'll be the first in line to test the beta and buy the software

On another note, the Articulate community alone has close to 60,000 members -- big enough for a niche storyboard software tailored for instructional design   Indeed, you have thought about the storyboard requirements, how about leading the effort in drafting the lexicon standards too?  It can't hurt to add "Founder, eLearning Lexicon Standards" in your bio following "Sausage Maker".  LOL.

Many, many thanks for your suggestions and insights.

Cathy Moore

Shelly, thanks for mentioning the Elearning Blueprint. The blueprint is a guide to instructional design that it walks people through the ID process as I see it. It doesn't actually produce anything--you do all the creation with the tools that you already own.

I'd also be interested in a storyboarding tool, especially one that handled significant branching, collaboration, and version tracking.

Robert Kennedy

I don't know if I have seen an exact match for eLearning as everyone's storyboarding process is so different.  That is really verified by the bazillion different types of storyboard templates out there.  I have tried software like Celtx which really does work well as a collaborative storyboarding tool.  But then, you could use a simple Word template and upload that to google docs for the collaborative aspect.  Best bet, look through a few templates and then create your own.  It might take a little time on the first go through but you'll have it for later iterations or presentations.

Jeanne Bernui

We are currently building a web-based storyboarding tool to use within our organization.  We were just discussing whether there would be a market to sell it.  However,  much like everyone here is saying, storyboarding can be unique to an individual or organization - depending upon needs and preferences.  So not sure what works for us will work for anyone else...

Steve Flowers

Hi Shiva,

Here's the rule of thumb I use for storyboards:

  • Match the document to the needs of your reviewing audience.

The worst storyboard formats I've seen for reviewers of content are the most common. Those that have 15, 20, 30, or more fields to contend with. You can only guess what happens to a reviewer after the second or third screen of storyboards. They tune out. It's too much mental energy to contend with so much irrelevance.

I use 6 fields with most audiences. Only two of these fields are intended for focus based on the design of the document. These two fields are:

  • Audio Narrative
  • On-Screen

In the early versions of the boards, the Narrative may be the only field we fill. This forms a single "story" for the flow. Since the main reviewers will stick with the process throughout the storyboard development phase, this also provides a nice anchor.

I design the doc to present these as two side-by-side columns. Above or below these columns I provide these fields to frame the experience and provide reference points.

  • Screen Title
  • Section Title
  • Screen ID
  • Prompts

The best advice I can provide is don't overload your reviewer with irrelevant fields. If you need to add programming notes and all of the other fields necessary to guide your development teams, add those elements after the boards are approved or better yet run those in a separate document.

Marc Vlietstra

Hi guys,

Really interesting to read that I'm not the only one struggling with this! In our company, multiple departments work with the storyboard that my team creates: content development, audio, video, animation, etc. I struggle with a couple of things:

  • how to keep and safe guard version control within multiple department in relation to storyboarding, perhaps almost a 'patch notes' solution to this?
  • How to deduct only that information that a specific department needs (for example, our audio crew only need the script, not the developer notes, etc).

And of course: automatic numbering, scene type indication, etc would be extreme helpful. 

I do agree with Steve, however, that almost every company out there does it different (although there should be a big common denominator).

My 2 cents!

Cheers!

Marc

Daniel Brigham

Hi, Maureen:

Attached is a section of a storyboard I created recently. I think everyone struggles with storyboards. My Word based template is far from perfect and doesn't work well for courses that have a lot of branching. But it does let the reviewer see what information is being presented and how the slide is going to look. You'll various columns for VO narration, text on-screen, image on-screen, a place for reviewers to give feedback one I've build in Studio or Storyline. I don't usually include a lot of sfx, but if I do I'll just note that in a comment.

Totally open for ways to improve it if people have suggestions. Steve?

Perhaps someone could share how they storyboard fairly complex branching?

Steve Flowers

Mine are similar to yours, Daniel. A few differences but similar concept in row based capture of segments within a single element of a presentation or activity.

I like to have everything matched up side by side. I never use more than 2 columns to keep things simple and (mostly) readable. I add notes / remarks in [brackets]. If these are something I want to suppress from a reviewer, I'll add a style to my stylesheet and make them small and white to match the background. That way I can make them all bigger and dark when it's ready to send to the next stage (developer, if that's where it goes next). I usually develop my own stuff so I don't need to make a heap of notes to explain myself to myself I went crazy with the brackets, more than I normally would. This makes things a little less readable than I would expect.

There are a couple of advance organizers I like to add to the board as well. This can help avoid the need to add complex representations within the boards themselves. 

See the attached for an example of my style. This has been honed and adjusted for about 15 years. Simple is what I've found works best for all (and best for me). Many storyboard formats are just too complicated and hard to review. 

Alexandros Anoyatis

I'm also doing something similar to Steve's and Daniel's whenever a process(es) needs to be defined. If I need a mindmap i use iThoughts on the iPad.

Once that's over and done with, I the use Adobe Proto on the iPad to give them a quick visual presentation, slide-by-slide. The good news is it's a huge timesaver, and often gives me a chance to segment content efficiently before development. The bad news is : It has been discontinued.

Eric Nalian

When I am creating a new course (after the content has been gathered), I head over to my whiteboard and start drawing everything out - slide by slide (or one slide to represent a group), the branching and everything is included in my drawings.

After this, I add more detail to my 'Storyboard template' to use as a guide when I actually start to create the slides.  My template is pretty basic, however they get the job done for me - especially because I am the only person who ever sees them.  I have attached the doc for you.

-Eric.

Daniel Brigham

Steve Flowers said:

Mine are similar to yours, Daniel. A few differences but similar concept in row based capture of segments within a single element of a presentation or activity.

I like to have everything matched up side by side. I never use more than 2 columns to keep things simple and (mostly) readable. I add notes / remarks in [brackets]. If these are something I want to suppress from a reviewer, I'll add a style to my stylesheet and make them small and white to match the background. That way I can make them all bigger and dark when it's ready to send to the next stage (developer, if that's where it goes next). I usually develop my own stuff so I don't need to make a heap of notes to explain myself to myself I went crazy with the brackets, more than I normally would. This makes things a little less readable than I would expect.

There are a couple of advance organizers I like to add to the board as well. This can help avoid the need to add complex representations within the boards themselves. 

See the attached for an example of my style. This has been honed and adjusted for about 15 years. Simple is what I've found works best for all (and best for me). Many storyboard formats are just too complicated and hard to review. 

Thanks, Steve, for sharing this. I'll check it out in detail this weekend.
Trace Main

Daniel and Steve, thank you for the examples, but they came through as a zip file for me with a lot of executable files.  How do we run these to view properly?  Currently I'm only to see some of the media files essentially jumbled.

Eric's doc was a simple word doc, so that was easy to see.

Thanks

Rebecca Flores

It seems to me the storyboard for WBT should be like a storyboard for a movie. It roughs out what each scene (slide) will look like, what will be said, what type of actions (animation/interactiions) will happen. From there the director and producer (WBT developer and SME) work off the PowerPoint file or the html of the presenter published files. However our company has started a policy of issuing a storyboard document that is updated to capture a lot of detail about each slide after the product is finished and having the SME and content manager sign it for approval. There is little to no emphais placed on using the storyboard to communicate with the SME on what the product should contain. Is this an accepted practice, i.e. update the storyboard to capture details about the finished product, or is there some other document that is used to do that instead of updating the storyboard?