It has been a while since my last blogpost. Last month, I had the great honor of writing four guest posts on the topic of mLearning for ASTD. Furthermore, I have been studying hard to complete my postgraduate studies, which made me step aside from some other projects for a while.
Having said that, last week I came across a very interesting discussion on the eLearning Heroes site and I thought it would be a great opportunity for me to share with you my favorite tools for storyboarding.
1- Desktop Applications
As I said in that forum thread, the new Articulate Storyline is a wonderful tool to show the general structure of your courses. The Story View displays the overall project organization, making it very easy to identify scenes, information flow, different relationships among pages (screens) and so on. In addition, I can use annotated screenshots to communicate my ideas more effectively.
Mind Maps and PowerPoint
I have also used mind maps and diagrams created with a free online tool called diagram.ly and also commercial software, such as MindManager. The mind map you can see in the slideshow below was created with diagram.ly and it is based on Tom Kulhmann´s useful suggestions on building branched eLearning scenarios. This approach has proven to be very useful for coming to an agreement on fundamental aspects before developing a functional prototype in PowerPoint.
This is a quite simple and free application to create a non-linear story that allows you to graphically organize how your scenarios will unfold. You can read Cathy Moore´s impressions about Twine here and watch this video to get started. In the flowchart view, each page or scene is displayed in small boxes that are linked according to the learner´s options. So as you write your story, you build a map of possible paths. The final output is a single web page that you can share with stakeholders and something that works as a functional prototype too.
This is a free tool that was included in Craig Weiss´ recent list of course authoring tools and allows you to write audiovisual scripts, plays, comic books and film storyboards. You can include your own pictures and sketches together with written descriptions of your scenes, scripts, notes, directions and so on. I have just started using this product but it seems to be a robust pre-production system with standard script formats, media integration and possibilities for collaboration. You can download it here.
2- Free iPad Apps
I have left the best for last. Most people think that mobile devices are just great for content consumption at the exact moment of need. However, I believe that mobile devices make me more productive and creative and this is why I love CREATING content by using, particularly, my iPad.
In my honest opinion, intuitive drawing apps that have been created from the ground up for natural touch gestures are great for idea generation as they stimulate the usual way our brain works for making connections. Apps like Paper by 53, Bamboo Paper and SketchBook Express help me capture and sketch my ideas as well as create and explore UI/UX designs, graphics and data visualizations and a new course structure and navigation.
This is a more sophisticated app than the previous three, but if you want to free your imagination and find new sources of inspiration, it is worthwhile to try it. You can create hand-drawn animations by using different tools like brushes and palettes as well as professional animation resources like frames, skins and close-up view. You can even create an animation and embed it in your eLearning courses since it can be exported as a YouTube video.
By far, this is my favorite app for storyboarding. If you lack drawing skills or just don´t have enough time, this is a great tool for quickly drafting and presenting your ideas. You can position and rotate 3D characters and objects in all directions, include text blocks and speech bubbles, insert photos in every shot or scene, add notes and even record audio. You might find the free version a little bit limiting but you can purchase packs and develop a whole story right there on you iPad.
I know that sometimes we are snowed under with work and we can´t try every single tool out there or explore new approaches that may seem time-consuming at the beginning. However, I think it can be worth renewing our design kit once in a while in order to become more innovative and resourceful as we broaden our repertoire of skills.