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  • Hayley Sayre

Measure Twice, Cut Once! Taking Advantage of eLearning Templates

Do the words, "let's start from scratch" give you a shudder of anxiety? Have you ever spent a ton of time on a project only to realize you need to go back to the drawing board and begin again? If so, read on to see how the humble template can save the day!


"By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail." - Benjamin Franklin

The Paradoxical Efficiency of Slowing Down

Sitting down to tackle a fresh project can be exciting, and it's often tempting to dive in headfirst and start turning your sparks of creativity into the finished product as quickly as possible. However, there are some great reasons to slow down and move more methodically through the process. Starting out by creating a storyboad and script might feel like it's slowing you down (and to be fair - it just might!) but these extra steps can actually save you a lot of time in the long run.


I have been creating educational materials for years, and this has been a lesson I've learned firsthand. I have found that creating and using my own storyboards has saved me countless hours of time making projects from scratch. Storyboards help you map out a visual plan for your project in a structured outline. Not only do these help you to approach your project

with a detailed and organized plan, but they also provide a way to efficiently and clearly share your plan with colleagues and stakeholders. This can save you the headache (or heartache) of encountering disagreements or mistakes later in the game, and the need to go back to make major edits to a final draft.


Stepping now into the world of eLearning, I am excited to learn more about creating scripts. Whether your project includes spoken and/or written narration, getting the language, vocabulary, tone, and pacing right is critical to a successful course. Since we've been exploring branching scenarios, this is particularly important. In a scenario-based course, there are so many possible pathways that you can't possibly end up with a coherent, engaging, and effective story without setting up a carefully planned script. [1]


Searching For Storyboards

Storyboards and scripts may be your new best friend, but why reinvent the wheel when you can simply find these tools online? One of the best parts of eLearning is the robust community of designers, many of whom are all too glad to share their treasure trove of resources with you! You'll be glad to know how easy it is to find a wide variety of high-quality eLearning templates with just a few clicks. Whether you need a simple or a complex template, with or without images - the right tool is out there for you. Your needs will almost certainly change from one project to the next, so getting comfortable searching for templates online is a great skill to have! One of the places I always like to start is the "Downloads" section of the eLearning Heroes community. Treasure awaits you! You'll see a ton of available storyboards and templates perfectly tailored to what you need.

Template Examples

Example #1 is from Jeanette Brooks in the eLearning Heroes community. This is a simple storyboard that offers plenty of room for adding details including text, media descriptions, scripts, and any notes for your team members or stakeholders. This storyboard offers a nice balance of offering plenty of room for detail while still being easy to review and quick to fill out - it would be a great choice for ironing out plans with your SME! Depending on how many branching options or visual examples you'd like to include, this one might feel a little cramped.


Example #2 can be downloaded from the eLearning Art site. While the previous storyboard might not be the best choice if you want to add additional elements beyond text and links, this layout offers a little more flexibility and space. One strength of this storyboard is keeping the focus on what the learner will see and hear, which will help to clarify the presentation plan with your stakeholders before putting together the final project. There is room to add media examples and plenty of room for development and navigation notes. Keep in mind some sound advice from Tim Slade on sharing visuals with your stakeholders; "if I can get them focused on the content and not worry about the visuals, the better off it is for me," [2]. He argues that visuals can often distract from the learning content, so limiting media examples might help you out as you share your initial storyboards with your team.


Keep in mind that you can tailor any of the storyboards you find to your needs! You're the boss, applesauce - don't be afraid to edit headings and make room for what is most important to you and your team.


References

[1] Pappas, C. (2021a, May 12). 9 Tips To Write Narration Scripts For Branching Scenarios In eLearning. eLearning Industry. Retrieved February 15, 2022, from https://elearningindustry.com/tips-write-narration-scripts-branching-scenarios-elearning


[2] Slade, T. (2018, August 31). Why you should start with an elearning storyboard. YouTube. Retrieved February 10, 2022, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gF-REyym-GU



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