What is possible in Storyline?

Hi I'm new to E-Learning though I've created quite a few training screencasts in Camtasia, and I'm thinking about buying Storyline. From using the demo it seems I've got all the tools to be telling a great story. Yet looking at the examples I've found I don't see that many examples of story, I see more slide based PowerPoint style content.

I've read the other post here where people have commented it's up to me using Storyline, I can do what I want, slide based on not slide based.

I want to ask the experienced users of Storyline here, are you creating slide based content because you are an E-Learning Designer, or if you didn't have E-Learning Design skills would you be doing somethnig different with Storyline? Like if you were a film or TV director wouldn't you be thinking about using Storyline differently?

I'm asking this because the question I have is how do I best train myself to use Storyline?

If I train myself in E-Learning wont I be creating slide based content? I love Nancy Duarte's books, I notice in the gorgeous TED talks the PowerPoint used doesn't look like anything I've seen in my organisations PowerPoint. And I used to do classroom based PowerPoint training, with the benefit of hindsight I shouldn't have been training people how to use the software I should have been training them in good design.

So what is good design for Storyline? Is the best training, training in how to tell a story, whether that is verbal or visual storytelling there is a structure there that I can learn.

The film or TV director is thinking about the story they are going to tell, I don't think the E-Learning Designer is. Please tell me I am wrong if you disagree.

And I would argue that I can better educate with story than I can with a PowerPoint presentation even if I've added some interactivity.

I'd be grateful of your thoughts, whether you think I'm completly deluded and should just keep reading the instructional design books and get on with my slides or whether you too aspire to or already are creating something wonderful in Storyline.

With thanks in advance.


6 Replies
Phil Mayor

I dont think it is what is good design for Storyline more what is good design for the project you are working on.

Sometimes you need to tell a story other times you need to do something else.

I wouldnt look to train in elearning (although instructional design will be helpful if nor essential). Look at what web designers are doing overall they are much better at UI design than elearning designers.  All elearning is not slide based, but a lot of people do produce slide-based elearning and this is not wrong.

Storyline is just a tool, I can and have done the same job with Keynote and powerpoint, and have implemented design form both of those tools within Storyline.

I love Nancy Duarte's book, presentation Zen, but I also read a lot of UI books.  I find inspiration anywhere I can books, films, I have been known to take pictures of shop fronts.  

On the HelathTeacher work I did the project manager had loads of experience working in TV with Nickelodeon and Disney.

The broken coworker demo in the showcase is a brilliant example of non slide based learning.

You can do what you want in Storyline but it must fit the project.

Bruce Graham


Firstly - a warm welcome to the Heroes Community, what a great question.

I think the answer depends on many factors - culture, whether you are developing for customers (and what they want...), your skills, their culture, the budget etc.

Slides are a very pervasive force in our industry - I have just had one client, (and in fact have just had to stop this post for a call on the subject!) getting cold-feet about something that is not based on bullet points. She referred to it as "...our proven style of traditional eLearning". Culturally normal, not effective.

PowerPoint can be used to tell a story - it's just that most people do not bother.

Once again welcome to the Community, and I hope we get a great conversation going here.


Michael Roach

Thanks for the example you sent me Bruce, yes that feels different to 'traditional eLearning'.

Having looked at a lot of eLearning before choosing to buy in content from vtc.com, the criteria for the choice became really it had to be video based as the feedback I got from people was they expected video. Skillsoft providing more traditional eLearning wasn't liked even though there was more content. It may be partly a generational thing certainly the 'digital natives' the under twenty-something who have never not had the Internet and search have an expectation for what their online experience is. Just has the more senior manager has an expectation for slide based content. But arguably the more senior manager is less and less older or is becoming more and more savvy to what the people they are managing want online and is effective with them.

And yes while there is also an expectation to not like compliance training, the health and safety or data protection etc., stuff. The business reality is we need that to be effective. The fact that most people click through the informaton screens then guess the quiz answers and then get a certificate is becoming less of a viable solution. The requirement for training or eLearning I certainly have is to have tested its effectiveness post course. Have I created the desired change in the business, that is an ongoing change, not temporary awareness that is quickly forgotten?

This is what a good story does. It is not what most presentations do.

Bruce Graham

Agree with all points.

Truth is that most PowerPoint presentations, (certainly the ones I have seen since it was released...) are crap.

People use it as a crutch rather than a prompt. In theatrical terms, the .ppt(x) should be the backdrop not the play. The example I sent to you COULD have been produced in PowerPoint.

A massive part of our jobs (IMHO) is to challenge the expectations of the "...senior manager". When I get handed 000's of slides I have a variety of "challenges" that I use.

Many people are scared to be different - yet fail to grasp that being different can raise you above the static levels of mediocrity that many seem to encourage. Fortune does favour the brave, and part of our role is to try and encourage people to look good.

We also need to tie "training" to "business"  - only in that way can we ever be effective. Training is just a means, never an end in itself, and most people fail to look at the desired result.

Nice to have you on board if this is the depth of discussion and understanding of reality that we are going to have with you


Nadine Lacelle

This is a great topic, and one we struggle with constantly.  It is difficult to change the overal perspective of what most see e-learning as.  If you speak with SME's, they want more and more verbal content on the screens.  If you speak with the Learning Advisors, they want more and more quiz and assessments to evaluate the learner.  I have tried countless times to think out of the box and be creative.  My motto is remains the a picture speaks a thousand words, but for our part, Mgmt does not get it.

The bottom line is to know your audience, be invloved from the get go during the needs analysis.  It is there where you can determine if there really is a NEED for e-learning, classroom based learning, or a blended model.

I agree with Bruce, that there is a fear that people won't learn anything unless it's done in the tradition 'slide-based' format, with lots of text-based information.  But it I still continue to throw at them (not literally of course), my views on what it should be, and hope that someday sr. mgmt gets the message.  But in the mean time, it's a pay check for me.

john faulkes

Another persepective from speaking to Learning people / HR people, who are so often the sponsors for a client company: they may often want any content very strictly branded and formatted to be compatible with company templates/standards etc. You may be able to make a case that your content is designed to be a little different/refreshing and it will be better for the learners if it doesn't have to 'fit' the standard modles.

Best of luck with this as they often will think no further than content = slides. Elearning is just powerpoint with a test at the end. Therefore use the required format please.