Using Storyline to storyboard projects

At last week's workshop with Charity Learning, we talked about storyboarding courses and the formats available to designers.

It doesn't matter at all how designers choose to write and storyboard courses. The takeaway is that most designers are passionate about the way they approach storyboarding... whether it's in Word, PowerPoint, or Storyline.

It's probably no surprise that Storyline was a hot topic for prototyping ideas, but there was even more interest in using it as a storyboarding and authoring tool.

If you outline, write, and author your courses in Storyline, can you share a little about your process? 

32 Replies
Nicole Legault

Interesting topic. I’ve done my storyboarding right in Storyline for my last two elearning projects at Langevin Learning Services and it’s worked great for me.

Disclaimer: I do the instructional design, storyboarding and development for the e-learning, so the amount of people involved, and the tools they are familiar with themselves, are something to take into consideration when choosing your storyboarding tools.

I always do my up-front task analysis and writing in Word; that’s where I do all the editing and content organizing. Then I storyboard in Storyline. I move “chunks” of text from my Word document onto the slides in Storyline, and I put basic shapes and placeholder images. I will even do some basic linking just to make sure all the functionality I want will work out.

When the Storyline storyboard is finished I know what each slide will have on it (content wise) and how the course will flow. And then, the REAL time-saver, is that I will just create a copy of my storyboard file and develop my course right from there.  This means all the text, shapes and image placeholders are already there, I just have to style, add animations and ta-da!

Tim Slade

Very interesting! I usually do all of my scripting in a MS Word document. I have a standard/simple template that I regularly use (here) to write all of my content. This is nice when working with SMEs, as it keeps them focused on the content and prevents them from getting hung-up on visuals, etc.

In the past when I’ve presented my content in a storyboard/wireframe format, the business partner(s) struggle looking at it as a draft. Meaning, they aren’t able to see that what I am showing them is NOT how the final product will look.

So, I typically keep my reviews of content (narration) separate from my reviews of slides (the visual stuff). It’s what works for me.

April Kitchen

I do something similar to Tim. I have an outline document that is used to show the narration, describe interaction, and show how it alligns to the objectives. The client reviews this before I start building in storyline.

After the outline is approved, I jump right into development and skip the storyboard step altogether. If there is an interaction that I think needs more input from the client, I'll create a rough version for them to review.

One of the beautiful things about Storyline, in my opinion, is that it saves so much time because you don't have to complete a full storyboard.

Note: I do both the design and development for my courses, so this process works for me. I can see how if you are handing off development that it might need some storyboarding.

Eimear O'Neill

Much the same as Nicole - and I would like to add that once the first batch of text/script have been added into Storyline from there onwards I use the amazing translate feature to edit during the development and review phases. Which accepts formatting alternations as well as text changes.

http://learn.articulate.com/reviewer-edits-with-translation-feature/

Bruce Graham

I too build directly into Storyline. Often just use e.g. 4 x boxes for menu options to prove concept and flow, but not provide enough visual diversion that SMEs etc. get carried away.

When we agree on where we are heading I begin to build and embellish and we may go through several cycles until we get closer and closer to the requirement.

This is called "spiral model of rapid prototyping" - http://www.instructionaldesign.org/models/rapid_prototyping.html

I just find it faster, more flexible, more fun (always a good thing for both sides...), and very productive.

Bruce

Daniel Brigham

Hi, David: I used to do detailed Word-based storyboards (see attached), and then one day, it hit me:

"Dude, clients dig like 85% percent of the storyboard, so why am I going though all the extra time formatting, copying and pasting, etc., etc..." Sort of reminds of the aphorism about writing about music: "Writing about music is like dancing about architecture." (This quote is often attributed to Elvis Costello, but most likely is more the idea of Martin Mull (but I digress))

So now I rapid prototype, meaning, I build the key slides and activities in Storyline (VO and everything) and send to client and basically say, "Are we cool, so far?"

Ann Barton

I do similar to April.  First I work with the SME's to create an outline in MS Word, but then I show them a visual output of a similar story, so they get the full picture.  The outline storyboard helps to set the stage; setting, audience, objectives, issues/resolutions, which paths to take and expected outcomes.   Working with the SME's, I do not dwell on the graphics, but more the "story" they are trying to tell engaging the learner.

I also jump right into development using the outline and capture the 'story' with visuals and interactivity as I progress through the outline.  I choose visuals and scenarios based on my learners experience.  For example, many of my learners are travelers, so I a project I am working on now has airports, car rental lines, baggage claim, gps navigation, etc.  Near completion, I set up a redlining session to preview with the SME's (Team), then finalize and publish.  

deb creghan

Like others here, I am responsible for the whole process - design through to implementation.  I've found that prototypes work better with my SMEs than storyboards did, so I prototype in Storyline.  It's a basic product - aimed at getting the SME to focus on the content and flow.  If there is a particular interaction I want them to see I will include it  without anything fancy. If they like it then it's done - no additional development to do.  This method gives them a good idea of how the course will flow for the learner and the SME  focuses on what's important at this stage - the content.  I've found that it's been pretty effective at weeding out the 'nice to know' content too.  Once edits are noted I can develop the course and save lots of time. And, when the SME sees the first version with design elements added it's not completely new to them.

Holly MacDonald

I've had a change of heart around storyboards. I used to use powerpoint, but am going to go directly to SL for rapid prototyping on next project to try it out. For SME review, I'm testing the publish to word feature, but have changed the format to a table as attached. Also, publishing a working version in scormcloud for clients to see how the interactions works.

Has anyone used this workflow? If so, share your pitfalls!

Thanks,

Holly

Sheila Cole-Bulthuis

Holly, I like that... but where do you put the narration script (if you have one)? 

My usual workflow is slightly different:  I do an "initial storyboard" review where the narration script is pretty fleshed out, and the screen content is in a "draft" state - it's sketched out but there are lots of placeholders for images, etc.  Interactions aren't built, but are described in very general terms. At this point I just publish out to Word, with the pictures of the screens and the Notes (narration script) below them - but I like the idea of a table.  Any notes are on the screen in a color-coded box, or in the Notes section in italics/bold.  Then the reviewers make their edits/comments using Track Changes.  Once I go through this process to get the content nailed down, then I build everything out and have them review a functional version. 

Often there's another storyboard review in between, depending on how solid/stable the content was in the first review.  And sometimes, especially for new clients, I'll do a functional prototype at the very beginning, so they can see what to expect in terms of functionality, player, etc. and we can test in their LMS.

Holly MacDonald

Good point Sheila - I'll add narration script in the notes and include that in the print. My current process is clunky and I'm hoping that moving to SL will make that smoother. The sample I used was Monste's template, so it looks more polished than it would actually be! 

Similar to what April describes, I have an instructional approach document that links the learning objectives to elearning specs in a table and sometimes include a sort of flowchart to that document to show how the course will progress as a first pass. Then move to the rapid prototyping in Storyline without a storyboarding step. 

For those that do this (especially if you are external), how do you manage the review cycles? What do the client's actually "sign off" on?

Truth be told, I think I'm looking for the silver bullet!

Helena Froyton

Hi Holly,

Would you mind sharing what your instructional approach document that links the learning objectives to elearning specs in a table looks like?  I am very interested  in seeing how you have them both come together.     If you also would not mind sharing the flowchart to that document to show how the course will progress as a first pass, I would greatly appreciate it!  I am trying to see what is out there, so that I can also improve my approach.  Thank you.

Regards,

Helena

Ari Avivi

One of the drawbacks of using storyline to storyboard ( and I love the output to word function) I have found that is if you have items that overlap, it doesn't print well.

I.e. if you have a trigger that changes a text box to normal from hidden, and a different one from hidden to normal, it shows them on top of each other and is unusaable.

We are still looking for a good solution.

Ari Avivi

Helena,

We love storyline, we have studio but have basically abandoned it.

I'll let you know if we come up with any good storyboarding options.  One of oru challenges also is that we are embedded within the company, not freelance, so we are sometimes at the whims of managers and sme's for what they want, rather than what makes sense.

r.e.

Bruce Graham

Helena Froyton said:

Thank you for your reply Ari.  Any ideas  on where I can find out more about using Storyline as a storyboard tool?  I will check out the tutorials with the trial version, but what just wondering...I am considering it as an option.  I have Articulate Studio '09.

-Helena


Hi Helena,

I think (basically...) this thread is about as detailed a discussion as you will get.

Personally - I now just build into SL 100% of the time.

I may document the build in Word at the end if a client wants it - but they seldom do.

Have you seen David's recent article on using PowerPoint to help your SME's storyboarding?

Bruce

Holly MacDonald

Helena Froyton said:

Hi Holly,

Would you mind sharing what your instructional approach document that links the learning objectives to elearning specs in a table looks like?  I am very interested  in seeing how you have them both come together.     If you also would not mind sharing the flowchart to that document to show how the course will progress as a first pass, I would greatly appreciate it!  I am trying to see what is out there, so that I can also improve my approach.  Thank you.

Regards,

Helena


Hi Helena - it's a work-in-progress, but this is what I documented and continue to evolve. I find for clients that I'm not doing the early parts of the design process face-to-face, trying to show them how it works visually is helpful. If Storyline printed out the scene view, I think we could do the whole thing in SL with little supplemental development tools. For production purposes, I'm using the staging area of either Studio or Storyline fairly heavily. If I'm doing the work myself, it's less of an issue, but working with subcontractors necessitates more documentation.

Hope this helps

Holly

...of course love feedback from anyone in the forum on the doc, with suggestions or any other tips you've got.

Joyce Nelson-Avila

Holly MacDonald said:

Helena Froyton said:

Hi Holly,

Would you mind sharing what your instructional approach document that links the learning objectives to elearning specs in a table looks like?  I am very interested  in seeing how you have them both come together.     If you also would not mind sharing the flowchart to that document to show how the course will progress as a first pass, I would greatly appreciate it!  I am trying to see what is out there, so that I can also improve my approach.  Thank you.

Regards,

Helena


Hi Helena - it's a work-in-progress, but this is what I documented and continue to evolve. I find for clients that I'm not doing the early parts of the design process face-to-face, trying to show them how it works visually is helpful. If Storyline printed out the scene view, I think we could do the whole thing in SL with little supplemental development tools. For production purposes, I'm using the staging area of either Studio or Storyline fairly heavily. If I'm doing the work myself, it's less of an issue, but working with subcontractors necessitates more documentation.

Hope this helps

Holly

...of course love feedback from anyone in the forum on the doc, with suggestions or any other tips you've got.

Helena Froyton

Hi Bruce,

Thank you for David's article.  I will check it out.

Hi Holly,

Thank you so much for sharing your Instructional Strategy for E-learning.  I really like it!  It is very similar to what I had in mind in developing for the current project I am working on.  I will be developing something similar and will let you know if something else comes to mind.  Do you use a special software for creating your flowchart?  Are there any out there besides Visio that you would recommend?  I really appreciate your comments.

-Helena

Holly MacDonald

Helena - I usually just use smart art in word/ppt and if it needs more detail I use a product called SmartDraw that I bought a few years ago. If the client needs to change anything then it's just boxes and lines hand drawn, or I have experimented with online bulletin board services as a way to collaborate on the "map" virtually, but beware these services come/go. I was using Stixy, but they are shutting down, so do a search for others if it appeals.

Hope that helps.

Holly MacDonald

Hi Helena -

I also have a design document that I'd produce which shows the visual stuff (fonts, colour palette, images, etc). Both of the word docs then dovetail into the rapid prototype. I build the master slides and placeholders in storyline and produce that as the "storyboard". I have just found that it's just more efficient to rapid prototype right in the elearning s/w.  

That's the one piece that I'm working to improve for clients, as it's a bit disjointed. 

Hope that helps,

Holly

Ejuana Mitchell

I just noticed this post so I'll add my process. All feedback is appreciated!

I work in a small organization where I am a 1-person training group. I create 30 min - 1 hr. courses from the beginning analysis through the development and use Storyline to prototype the course. I'm using a rapid prototyping approach.

I have 3 basic steps:

  1. After doing some analysis with the SME and understanding what they want, I create a Content/task document in Word  that has the outline of the topics and the descriptions of each one. I try to write the topics in the order I think they should appear. I get this approved and move on to the next step.
  2. Then I create a Design document by copying the Content document updating that with my design flow. I use the descriptions I already wrote as audio and add more audio scripts as needed. I also add places where I need to show pictures or diagrams. Sometimes I will even add the actual pictures I will use here if they need to be reviewed by the SME.  I use this document to create the course in Storyline. 
  3. I develop the course as a prototype with much of the flow, pictures, diagrams and content, review that with the SME, create revisions from feedback, and when the final revision is approved, complete the course and then schedule a user test.