Planning the e-learning course you have in mind is perhaps one of the most challenging tasks that you face. While you understand that it is not a good idea to start typing the script without having a skeleton structure to follow, it is hard to find the proper way to map your road. The ultimate tool that can help you in this situation is the e-learning storyboard. The trick is to find or create the appropriate template and learn how to utilize it effectively.

Using E-Learning Storyboard Templates

Experts in the field, including David Becker and Marisa Keramida, compare the e-learning storyboard to an architectural plan, necessary for the construction of any new building. The instructional designer uses the storyboard to present all the details that the e-learning course shall include – content, audio and video files, images, interactive elements. A correctly drafted storyboard is the backbone of each project and ensures that everyone involved in the course creation stays on track.

Some find this part of developing the e-learning course the most exciting, others find it overwhelming. The truth is that it is one of the most challenging tasks and requires a lot of effort up front, but it is an important and useful part of the course development process. The two main questions that the instructional designer has to answer when creating a new e-learning course are “What” and “How.” What the content of the new course will be and how is it going to be presented to the learner. The storyboard gives an answer to the “How” question. This is the document that presents your concept to the client and is the blueprint for the final product to be developed.

There are three steps to follow when creating an efficient storyboard:

  1. Collect all the necessary information
  2. Decide on the content
  3. Describe the content in details

In the first stage, you need to collect as much information as possible that will help you create the storyboard and the e-learning course. You need to know what the objectives of the course are, who is the target group, what are the goals to be reached at the end of the training, and which approach will achieve that. You also need to find the most appropriate storyboard template for this project or create one yourself. The format may be one you prefer or one the client has requested.

The second stage is to decide on the exact content of the course and determine the outline and sequencing. Then you need to fill each slide or page of the storyboard template you have chosen with each objective of the training that you identified in the previous step. Now, you can brainstorm about the best way to achieve these objectives. Think how the learning objects will appear on the screen in order to be able to jot it down on the storyboard. For example, in order to achieve objective #1 I need a video example, in order to achieve objective #2 I need a power point presentation, for objective #3 the best approach is to include a quiz, etc. Once you are ready, make sure to check once again how the objectives are ordered in your course and whether you need to change their place, add or delete any.

Once your skeleton is ready, you need to add some flesh to it. The third stage of your storyboarding includes describing in detail each specific activity included in the course. At this point you can check if there are any materials from previous courses that can be included in the current one. If there are any, make sure to describe them properly, so that the development team has clear instructions to follow. Make notes about the exact script of audio narration, describe the multimedia or graphics that should be developed, mark the length of text you would like to appear on each screen, interactivity, introduction, navigation, and all other details necessary for the successful development of the e-learning course. Your storyboard should be a one-stop-shop that includes all the aspects of the course creation.

With all that said, there is also one tip to keep in mind: try to be as concise as possible and keep things short and simple.

Free E-Learning Storyboard Templates

In order to use a storyboard template you need to find one that matches your needs. There are a great variety of free templates that you can download from the Internet and adjust them to your project. There are many formats that can be utilized to create an e-learning storyboard template. The choice depends on two factors:

  • Your personal preferences
  • Your client’s preferences

If you feel better working with tables you can use a storyboard template created as a Word document and include as many columns and rows as you need. One of the most preferred approaches is to create your storyboard as a Power Point presentation because of the functionality this software offers. You can add images and notions on the slides and put all the explanations in the notes below. Besides some of the best e-learning authoring tools will allow you to incorporate the Power Point in your actual course if it is needed or appropriate. An Excel spreadsheet can also be utilized as a storyboard template. The best scenario is, of course, when your client’s requirements coincide with the template format you prefer using.

For your convenience, we have found 3 lists of free e-learning templates that you can download and use for your next course creation.

  1. eLearning Brothers offer a free instructional design storyboard template that you can download. You need to sign up for a free account and it will take you to the “Freebie” section in the library, where you will find the template. There is also a video on how to use it, which is a great help.
  2. eLearning Industry founder Christopher Pappas has compiled the ultimate list of free storyboard templates for eLearning. Even though the list was made a few years ago, the templates offered are still quite useful.
  3. E-Learning Heroes also offer a gallery of free storyboard templates that you can use.

You can try different types and approaches for your storyboarding and even come up with your own templates. Feel free to share them with the community and enrich the depository to facilitate other instructors in their struggle to master the usage of e-learning storyboard templates.

Planning your e-learning course properly is half the battle to successfully presenting it to the market.

Consider other options as well to increase your learners’ engagement and improve the retention rate such as e-learning localization. You will find out that the company training you have been preparing will only benefit from this.


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