eLearning Storyboard Design by Thomas A. Toth

Thomas Toth
Thomas Toth

I just got back from a great ASTD-NRC presentation given by Thomas Toth of dWeb Studios, Inc. Toth spoke to us about using storyboards for elearning development.

He began by talking about the history of elearning – how it evolved from computer based training. The important takeaway was that storyboards are increasingly necessary because of the technologies available to build elearning. Storyboards are the blueprints the instructional designer creates so that a developer or programmer can accurately create the experience. A good storyboard has the following elements:

  • What the user sees
  • What the user hears
  • What the user does

When developing a storyboard, the instructional designer should focus on the experience the learner will have rather than focusing on the technology to use. The technical details can be worked out later, otherwise it can stifle the creativity process.

Toth indicated that he uses a MS Word template as his storyboard. This storyboard has the following elements:

  • Page detail
  • Screen content
  • Voice over script
  • Animation description
  • Graphics description
  • Interactivities

Toth addressed other important reasons for having a storyboard. In addition to having a blueprint for the developer, the storyboard also controls scope creep by having the client approve the design. Each screen of the project should be documented on the storyboard. The more detail you have in the storyboard, the better the result will be.

Not only did I learn about storyboards, Toth also shared links to resources that he uses, and strategies for using resources in storyboards. It was a very enjoyable presentation with lots of great discussion. I am glad I went.

As a bonus, I got to talk with Toth about his magic background… very cool.


ASTD-NRC Presentation: Developing Effective Teams Using Competency-based Approaches

ASTD-NRCI just got back from Ft. Collins, CO where I attended the monthly ASTD-NRC presentation,  “Developing Effective Teams Using Competency-based Approaches” given by Richard Barnhart. Here is the announcement for the presentation:

With rare exception in today’s world, employees are expected to work in collaboration with others to meet organizational objectives. Experience has shown high functioning teams can achieve incredible results. Yet, for many people teamwork has this mystical element – it somehow happens by magic. This workshop will explore how working together in teams can be behaviorally defined, measured and trained. Doing so allows trainers to set desired outcomes and measure the success of training initiatives. At the end of this workshop, participants will be able to:

  • Explain how competency methodology can be used in training high functioning teams
  • Use a behaviorally-anchored rating scale to assess an individual’s proficiency at working in a team
  • Assess training programs to determine if they can objectively measure increased proficiency (skill gain) as a result of training

In his presentation, he spoke about improving teams through a competency-based approach. He focused on three major points:

  1. Identifying the behaviors that make up a well working team.
  2. Developing a rating system to measure team behavior.
  3. Training strategies to change team behavior.

This was a very enjoyable presentation, and walked away with a number of great ideas.

Identifying desired team behaviors

Barnhart first explained how he had come to develop this strategy for competency-based team training. He stressed that to improve a team, you must focus on behaviors. Behaviors are what you can actually see or hear. When identifying behaviors to focus on, identify positive behaviors that you want to emphasize, behaviors that occur on a frequent basis, or behaviors that you wish to eradicate.

Behaviors can be identified through typical needs analysis methods such as observation, interviews, reference materials, and training materials. Once the behaviors have been identified, it is then a matter of rating the behaviors and  grouping the behaviors so a training plan can be established.

Developing a rating system

Once behaviors are identified, it is important that team members review and rate the behaviors. Barnhart provided two different strategies for having team members rate each behavior. Because the behaviors initially identified could be positive or negative, team members rate each behavior as not desirable to highly desirable for a well-functioning team. By identifying behaviors, the team has buy-in to the final product. The team can help determine if changes in behavior are occurring. This ends up being a self-moderating process.

Strategies for changing team behavior

The last section of Barnhart’s presentation focused on implementing a training program based on behaviors identified. It is important that the team is directly involved from the outset. If the team does not believe that the behaviors are worth pursuing, they will not make the change. Barnhart also stressed having the entire team learn the new behaviors at the same time, and incorporating debriefings into their meetings for regular course corrections.

For a short presentation, I walked away with ideas for developing and implementing a training program based on competencies. Also, lunch was great! Come join us at a future ASTD-NRC event.

ASTD-NRC Presentation: The Successful Virtual Classroom

ASTD-NRCYesterday, I had the fortunate opportunity to travel to Ft. Collins, CO to attend the monthly ASTD-NRC presentation,  “The Successful Virtual Classroom: Five Tried-and-True Techniques” given by Jenny Beer, Manager of Performance Consulting at EPI. Here is the announcement for the presentation:

Move beyond boring “slide shows” and have your virtual classroom come alive. We’ve got five tried-and-true techniques to help you facilitate an effective and engaging learning experience while also meeting the pressure to improve your bottom line. Many organizations are turning to facilitated virtual classrooms as a way to deliver courses cost-effectively to a more geographically dispersed workforce. However, even virtual training can be costly if the facilitator doesn’t transition successfully to a virtual environment and ensure that the learning actually sticks. Based on years of experience, practice, research, and client feedback, we have distilled the art of virtual facilitation into five critical success factors. In this session, we’ll model the five critical success factors, share case studies of successful virtual environments, and show you how to generate excitement in the virtual classroom while ensuring the participants can apply their learning directly to their jobs.

In her presentation, she spoke about five tried and true techniques for creating a successful virtual classroom:

  1. Apply what you already know about adult learners
  2. Control the learning environment
  3. Engage participants in the material
  4. Create a technology back-up plan
  5. Use a producer

This was a very enjoyable presentation, and walked away with a number of great ideas.

Don’t lecture

One of the first things, Beer stressed was “Don’t lecture.”  This is advice consistent with teaching adults; they prefer to be engaged with activities. So, while preparing your instruction, you need to focus on creating activities with plenty of interaction. She recommend including an activity after every 5 minutes of content delivery. This is also consistent with the idea of chunking your material. Provide your material in bite size bits rather than overwhelming students. You should include opportunities for students to provide their input as much as possible. Adult learners are bringing a wealth of experience to the table, and they appreciate it when their input is included. Finally, add variety to your class through the use of different instructors, media, and methods.

Use PowerPoint as a canvas

Beer provided great examples for using PowerPoint in a virtual classroom. Basically, she uses the PowerPoint slide as a place to collaborate; she uses it as a canvas to add content in realtime. Beer suggested that you type in different colors when adding student comments to a slide, as well as use different colors to draw on the slides. Ensure you leave a lot of white space on the slides so you have a place to add comments. As she pointed out, your slides are your classroom, use them for engagement and interaction.

Use the virtual tool for participant practice

As I listened to Beer, it seems as though she helps corporations with their training programs. She helps to train the trainer. Beer indicated she uses a virtual classrooms to have participants practice their presentations as they would give them to a virtual audience. She mentioned recording sessions as a feedback tool for students. By practicing with the virtual classroom tool, students will become more comfortable with the toolbox.

Prepare students prior to the class

When Beer delivers a class, she says she provides students with handouts and homework prior to the class. Part of the handouts are a list of rules and expectations for the class; this helps to set the stage. Homework may take the shape of readings or presentations that students must build. Her instruction is also accompanied by a student and instructor workbook. She uses icons in the book to help rapidly identify key sections such as activities, places where producer actions are needed, and content delivery. In the instructor book, the instructor and participant pages are face-to-face so the instructor knows what is expected of a student at a specific point in the instruction.

For a short presentation, I walked away with a lot of new ideas. Also, the Reuben sandwich was great! Come join us at a future ASTD-NRC event.