Storyboarding OOC Week 2: tools and processes for storyboarding learning design

It’s the end of Week 2 of the Storyboarding OOC, so it’s time for another update.

New participants

We now have 137 participants registered (23 more than this time last week). New participants include a handful of students on an Instructional Design course at the University of Mauritius and their teacher, who have said they are participating in the OOC as part of an international “benchmarking” process. We’re happy to have them on the course and will try to get some feedback from them about how the OOC has contributed to their learning when the OOC is over.

Question of the week: “When do you do storyboarding?”

One participant posted in the discussion forum:

One thing I found tricky to understand from the video was that the small flip chart/post-its prevented too much information and deliberation about the substance of the course – it seemed to me like you’d have to have done a lot of pre-planning and preparation to make the storyboarding effective. So one question – when is the best time to do the storyboarding in the course design process? After you got a really clear idea of learning outcomes, aligned activities/assessment, technologies etc. So the storyboard is really just to visualise and sort of organise all the prior work? Or can it be used as part of this deeper thinking about the course?

In my answer, I said that I think the demo videos (by Gilly Salmon and team and also the ones I’ve created about using Linoit and Popplet) are a bit misleading in terms of when to use storyboarding, because we have tried to encapsulate a process that is usually spread out over many days or weeks in a 10-minute video. Storyboarding is useful right from the start of the process, and ideally the storyboard should be built up in layers, with the course team adding more detail in a fairly structured way over time. You need to make sure you can keep adding more layers of detail, so if you’re using a flipchart, this may mean you end up with a series of sticky notes stuck on top of one another in parts of the storyboard. Storyboards often spill over onto several flipchart sheets as they develop and become more detailed.

The video I created on using Popplet for storyboarding shows a fairly early stage in the process. I had probably spent about 2 hours developing the storyboard for the coures on ‘Online Academic Identity’ before making the video, so you can see my ideas were still at a very formative stage. I did all my thinking on Popplet and did not make any handwritten or other notes. On the other hand, my Linoit demo is really a summary of a process that Brenda and I have been going through since October 2014. The storyboard on Google Docs reflects this longer-term process the best. You’ll see there is a ‘Brief version’ and a ‘Detailed version’. We worked on the brief version first. The detailed version is still changing as we finalise preparations for activities and resources for the remaining weeks of the course – and you might see this version changing before your eyes if you happen to go in while we are working on it.

Tips for brainstorming when creating a storyboard collaboratively: 

There were many great tips given by participants who had experience in creating storyboards, mainly using flipcharts and coloured sticky notes or similar paper and pen tools. Here are some of them:

  • visibility: not only size of the chart and liability of the writing; but mobility  and access to the chart; people can get turned if they can’t really see or follow the build up;  (as an alternative, “bricks” on a wall with sheets of A4 and blu-tak worked really well once with a group of 15 designing a large departmental programme)
  • trying to get (at least some) sticky notes on display before they go up on the chart  can sometimes be helpful:  it will get people engaged and get the sharing started more quickly
  • try to be open, and encourage everyone else to be open to ideas that come up; but at the same time ask people to clarify, check with people are saying the same things in different ways ;
  • see it as an organic process of review and re-shaping on the go, ,  let it flow
  • as a group look for places where ideas merge and overlap and come to a common agreement about re-shaping if its needed;
  • ensure you get some sticky notes up on display before the group activity starts, to encourage sharing.
  • try and model what you need on the flip notes – it might be better to have “Students practise w BP cuff”‘ than “Blood pressure” (i.e. being clear and descriptive)
  • make sure everyone’s voice is heard; take time to consider each contribution and see how it fits with the whole plan
  • we begin from learning objectives rather than from topics and units of time – although we get there eventually
  • use large post-its and, if you can, have one or two people with neat printing who actually write down what each person wants to contribute
  • start with loose groupings as you don’t want to shut down new ideas – I always have a “sidepen” for ideas that don’t really fit but may fit later
  • take pictures of the wall or whiteboard at significant points in the development of your course

Storyboarding tools

While many people had used flipcharts and sticky notes, most felt it was time to try online brainstorming tools for greater ease of use with distributed teams, and for greater ease of storage and version control. About six people said they liked Linoit, and we had the same number of positive comments on Popplet. Two people said they planned to use Google Sheets for their storyboard. A few are experimenting with Gliffy. There was some interest in Scrumblr, but this seems to have less functionality than the others. There was some frustration from someone who struggled to get access to Linoit (password not recognised and no immediate solution offered by Linoit), and several who noted that Popplet was erratic, often not functioning on a particular browser or being unavailable at a particular time.

There were also some questions about the terms and conditions of the various online tools for storyboarding, as well as whether these tools would work on mobile devices. These are obviously important issues, and I’ll report more on them in a later post.

What’s next

In Week 3 (starting tomorrow) we will focus on developing the learning outcomes and assessment for the courses being storyboarded. Watch this space for further updates 🙂

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About Gabi Witthaus

Learning and Teaching Facilitator for School of Business and Economics, Loughborough University; also consultant (Art of E-learning). Previously Research Associate at University of Leicester (Beyond Distance Research Alliance and Institute of Learning Innovation); Distance Learning Manager at Bradford University School of Management. Masters in Training and Development (USQ, Australia); Masters in English Education (Wits University, South Africa). Currently undertaking PhD in Higher Education: Research, Evaluation and Enhancement through Lancaster University.
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One Response to Storyboarding OOC Week 2: tools and processes for storyboarding learning design

  1. Pingback: Storyboarding OOC Week 2: tools and processes for storyboarding learning design - e-Learning Feeds

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