Storyboarding is like planning before creating an online learning course. It’s important because it helps us organize and visualize how the course will look and what will happen. It is a visual representation of the story, helping creators plan and organize their ideas effectively. Whether you’re a project manager, instructional designer, learning experience expert, graphic designer, or content creator, understanding and implementing storyboarding best practices can significantly enhance your project’s quality and efficiency.

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What Is a Storyboard and Its Benefits

A storyboard is a visual representation or sequence of drawings, sketches, or images arranged chronologically to outline and plan the scenes, actions, and composition of a film, animation, or any visual storytelling medium.

An eLearning storyboard functions as a comprehensive guide utilized by eLearning developers to outline the visual, textual, and auditory components, interactive features and course navigation for an eLearning module. This invaluable tool serves as a foundational blueprint, aiding eLearning developers in shaping the content and design of their eLearning courses.

Benefits of Employing an Instructional Design Storyboard

Designing a storyboard may initially appear as if it’s introducing an additional layer of complexity into the course development process. However, think of it as harnessing the power of a proficient project management tool. In the long run, this strategy will conserve your precious time and enable you to reach the most effective solutions without tedious trial and error.

When you embrace an instructional design storyboard template, you open doors to various advantages:

  • Guided Focus on Research-Backed Best Practices: Your training endeavors will remain anchored in well-established and research-backed training techniques, ensuring that your content is of the highest quality.
  • Comprehensive Coverage of Vital Information: Your audio and visual content will seamlessly encompass all critical aspects, leaving no room for omissions or oversight.
  • Streamlined Production Process: By adhering to the storyboard, you significantly diminish the likelihood of revisiting and reshooting content during production and post-production phases, thus saving time and resources.
  • Enhanced Learning Experiences: The storyboard becomes a blueprint for crafting engaging exercises, quizzes, and activities that foster the retention of newfound knowledge and skills, making the learning journey more effective and enjoyable for your audience.

Creating Engaging eLearning Content: Storyboarding Best Practices

Mapping Out Your Storyboard

According to Edgepoint Learning, 40% of Fortune 500 companies employ eLearning for professional development, and an impressive 72% of American organizations perceive eLearning as a means to gain a competitive edge. When planning an eLearning project, it’s important to clearly understand the scale and scope of the information you must include in your storyboard. This will help you ensure your storyboard is comprehensive, accurate, and meets all stakeholders’ needs.

Here are some steps you can take to determine the size and breadth of the information for your storyboard.

  • Define the Structure of the Project Team

    To create a storyboard that meets everyone’s needs, it is essential to identify all stakeholders and participants, and clearly define their roles. This will help in determining the information you need on your storyboard.

  • Conduct a Feasibility Assessment

    Before you start storyboarding, take some time to understand the tools and skills available to your team. This will ensure your thoughts make sense and fit well with the project.

  • Execute Exhaustive Instructional Design Preparatory Work

    The learning activities included in a course should be carefully considered during the course design process. These activities should be engaging and relatable to the learners and sequenced in a way that builds on each other. It is also important to find out what exercises the client has in mind so that these can be incorporated into the course design.

  • Determine the Appropriate Tool for Your Needs

    Storyboarding has a no one-size-fits-all approach. It all comes down to what you like and what your project needs. Some use Word or PowerPoint, while others prefer the authoring app. Sometimes, client or project demands dictate the tool. Apps like Storyline 360, iSpring Suite, and Adobe Captivate save time by starting directly in the tool and avoiding content transfer later. Investing time and effort in the planning stages pays off, reducing costly reworks. These four steps set the stage for your storyboard construction.

Designing Your Story’s Visual Framework

It’s time to combine all your ideas into a visual plan. This is a great way to express your creativity. To create your storyboard, you need to:

  • Utilize a Template of Your Choice

    Consider avoiding unnecessary duplication of effort. If you already have a template, you’re fond of and comfortable with, it’s a good idea to use it. On the other hand, feel free to peruse these complimentary storyboard templates if you need one. You can use them as-is or customize them. Additionally, you can reach out to the supportive individuals in the Articulate community on the eLearning Heroes forums. They will likely offer some helpful storyboard templates promptly.

  • Employ “Goldilocks” Methodology for Precision

    It is important to find the right balance between providing enough information for people to understand their roles and responsibilities while not overwhelming them with too much detail. Don’t drown your audience in too much detail, but provide enough information to keep them in the loop. It is crucial to consider the needs and preferences of the person or team in charge of bringing your course to life. If you are comfortable with animations, you can skip detailed explanations. However, if a developer takes the reins, it’s wise to be specific and elaborate, so that they nail your creative vision.

  • Consider Including a Visual Map

    When dealing with complex course content and branching scenarios, consider creating a visual map to help your team grasp the learner’s journey at each decision point. Visual maps are often more intuitive than sifting through spreadsheets. You can create this map in Storyline, using squares for slides and arrows for branching, or utilize Storyline’s branching features and take a screenshot of the “Story View.” This makes the course structure easier to understand for your team and helps them work together more effectively.

  • Utilize Reference Labels for Enhanced Storyboarding

    Assign a unique reference label to each slide, be it numeric, alphabetical, or alphanumeric. For example, start with ‘L001,’ then ‘L002,’ ‘L003,’ ‘L004, ‘ etc. This labeling system will simplify matching your storyboard to the slides in your course prototype, especially when changing the slide order. Remember, you’re not crafting the entire course content; you’re creating a detailed outline to shape and define your course’s scope and structure.

Using Your Storyboard

A storyboard is a handy tool that doesn’t necessarily get discarded after you make it at the beginning of a project. Create a visual representation of your course with a storyboard. This will help you visualize the course and plan the content and activities.

  • Facilitate a Collaborative Document Review and Approval Process

    Share the storyboard document with your team to check and approve it together. This will help the team agree on how the project should go and sort out any problems with the plan before starting, which is easier and cheaper.

    If you’re using Storyline 360 for your plan, you can put it on Review 360 so your team can review it and give their thoughts. If you use a tool like Word with a “track changes” feature, ensure it’s turned on before sending the plan to your team. That way, you can see any changes they make easily.

  • Integrate Client Responses

    Review 360 does not need to ask reviewers to consolidate feedback; it’s already in one place. Consider switching to collaborative tools like Google Docs or Google Slides with visible comments for efficiency, preventing multiple versions. Gather feedback all at once by a set date, avoiding prolonged and vague review processes.

  • Identify Channels for Efficient Progress

    You need not strictly adhere to the storyboard’s linear progression when preparing your course. Instead, identify distinct sections and develop them simultaneously, potentially assigning team members to different segments. Efficient task management can allow for concurrent progress.

    Completing your eLearning storyboard provides a comprehensive view of your course’s design, saving time by offering a clear content and structure roadmap. Let your storyboard streamline the initial work, making later course development easier and more enjoyable.


In the early stages of crafting an eLearning module, you might stare at a blank canvas, wondering where to start. Designing an eLearning module involves handling many elements, from lesson structure to engaging activities and recording course content. That’s why many learning leaders choose storyboarding to simplify the process. Think of it as your course creation compass, guiding you through the details while keeping your grand vision and objectives in focus.

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