To Storyboard or Not to Storyboard!
“I can’t imagine creating an eLearning course without first drafting a storyboard!”
Storyboards help me define the flow of the course, scenarios, interactions, technical and graphic details, all in a single document which I can share with the stakeholders for review and sign-off. This exercise makes me feel confident to carry on with the development of the course and invest time and effort in creating the course assets. It also gives me an assurance that I have a buy-in from the stakeholders regarding the content and flow of the course.
But, now-a-days, we are observing a shift where the eLearning designers prefer to create a rapid prototype instead of a storyboard and build their courses from there, in small incremental steps.
Hmmmm… Interesting! So is it time to say good bye to storyboards and get straight into course development… I’m really curious to know that. Here’s something which points towards discarding storyboard development step from the eLearning project life-cycle and start prototyping. Read on.
Here’s an excerpt from Michael Allen’s Guide to eLearning book: “Functional prototypes have an enormous advantage over storyboards. With functional prototypes, everyone can get a sense of the interactive nature of the application, its timing, the conditional nature of feedback and its dependency on learner input. With functional prototypes, everyone’s attention turns to the most critical aspect of the design, the interactivity, as opposed to simply reviewing content presentation and talking about whether all content points have been presented.”
A LinkedIn discussion thread: “…you may want to re-consider storyboarding all together and consider a rapid prototyping approach – where you actually build the product in progressively higher fidelity iterations until it is ready to launch. You may find that this approach saves you time and can lead to more creative final learning experiences.”
Another interesting LinkedIn discussion: “The Humble Storyboard is almost 80 years old. Is it time for its retirement?”
These excerpts clearly indicate that rapid prototypes should replace storyboards in the eLearning design process. But, can it truly replace storyboards? A rapid prototype is a sketchy form of the final course and it may or may not include the entire course content. If you completely eliminate storyboard, how do you finalize the course structure, where do you add directions for graphic design and integration, how do you define the branching and ensure that all the scenarios are covered, and most importantly, how do you collaboratively work within a team to create the course.
So, here’s a question for all of us (including me): Should we continue creating storyboards for our courses or switch to rapid prototyping? Or is there some middle path?
Chime in to let me know your thoughts…