Alright, folks! I’ve got a new feature – Terminology Tuesday. As someone with a background in Linguistics, this is clearly up my alley, but it should be up yours too! Why?! Two reasons: 1 – As Instructional Designers, it is important to be able to define the terms you will be working with on a frequent basis so that you can properly explain these terms to a client instead of fakin’ it til’ you make it; 2 – As a potential client, I want to know that the cash I’m shelling out is going to something productive and meaningful to my project.
This week we’ll be discussing Storyboards and Rapid Prototyping.
Storyboarding is a process wherein a sequence for the product is laid out visually or textually. You may be most familiar with this term as it applies to animations – where the story is depicted scene by scene prior to development.
Within Instructional Design, storyboarding lays out the course or module to indicate screens, topics, teaching points, onscreen text, and media descriptions. There are many variations; however, the previously mentioned elements are most commonly represented within the storyboard. Other elements may include audio narration, assessment items, filenames for media assets, source or reference images, or screenshots exemplifying the anticipated media asset or screen to be developed.
Pros: Allows the Instructional Designer to organize the content and provides an encompassing document which may be reviewed prior to entry into an authoring environment.
Cons: Is an extra step in the development process and may be considered an unnecessary expense by clients or as storyboards do not depict the finished product, reviewers may have difficulty reviewing content as they cannot contextualize the content without seeing the final product (this is typically an issue for visual learners). Storyboarding can also hinder the ability to adequately convey branching scenarios.
Rapid prototyping is a process wherein the Instructional Designer takes the content and commits it to the chosen authoring environment to develop a prototype of the final deliverable/product. Here, reviewers can assess the prototype, visually, and propose revisions prior to the delivery of the final product.
Pros: Provides reviewers with added visual context, limits time spent developing paper-based models (e.g. storyboards), and may reduce review and revision cycles.
Cons: Rapid prototyping may not be ideal for projects developing complex interactions, as these projects may result in length review and revision cycles until the ideal design has been achieved, holding up production of future courses or modules.
Both approaches have clear advantages and disadvantages, and as an Instructional Designer, it is your responsibility to assess the content and guide your client toward an appropriate approach, based upon the client’s project requirements, scope, and budget.