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Visualize This! Using Storyboards in Your Learning Project


Wed Jul 08 2020

Visualize This! Using Storyboards in Your Learning Project

“Every talent development professional who is developing a visual learning product—such as a video tutorial, short animation or motion graphic, interactive media sequence, e-learning module, or virtual reality learning event—needs to know how to create a storyboard,” writes Martha Stott in “Storyboarding: The Power of Planning.”

Storyboarding is part of the preproduction process of creating the visual learning product and helps ensure the ordering of the scenes make sense, allows collaboration among stakeholders to make sure everyone is in agreement relative to the project, and can save a lot of time.


In planning your learning product, keep in mind:

  • Your Audience: How much knowledge does your audience have about the topic? What technology are they used to using, and what device will they use to access the learning product?

  • The Learning Objective: As a result of your project, what will learners know or do differently after they have viewed your visual learning project? In determining the objective, dig deep to find the cause of the challenge preventing business success.

  • The Project Due Date: Always build in a cushion for your learning project to account for snags that slow down progress. When you first begin to storyboard, it’s especially important to give yourself, your subject matter experts, and your stakeholders extra time to get used to the process.

Storyboards and the materials you use to create them don’t need to be complicated. Stott offers this advice she gleaned from Joanna Cyprys, video producer and media manager at 8x8, a global high-tech unified communications company headquartered in San Jose, California. Cyprys recommends, “Start with an outline. Jot down ideas. Free-flow write, and then refine it.”

While there are many digital tools that you may choose from to create your storyboard, sticky notes also work and are easily rearrangeable when you opt for changing the order of events in your learning project. Each sticky note, in this case, would represent a key idea or element of the project. Index cards are another analog method to use.

Alongside the key ideas for the project should be ideas on action, camera angles, music or other audio, and dialogue or narration. Listing these elements can be done via a simple template with three columns: step, image, and script.

Once you have crafted your storyboard, take another look at it. Are there missing steps? Does the sequence make sense? Have someone else review the work as well to gauge their reactions to these questions: Are the visuals engaging? Is the dialogue crisp? Is the learning objective met?


The completed storyboard will help stakeholders envision the final visual learning product. It gives them something to react to. As you share the storyboard with others, there likely will be disagreements among stakeholders so be prepared. Talk through those disagreements and, in the end, realize you may not please everyone. If you’re confident in your design and can explain the rationale for the way you’ve chosen to move ahead, go for it.

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