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This content is taken from the The University of Nottingham's online course, Designing E-Learning for Health. Join the course to learn more.

Skip to 0 minutes and 6 seconds Storyboarding in a health context. Hi, I’m Kirstie Coolin, the E-Learning and Media Manager for the HELM team at the University of Nottingham. In this presentation, I will take you through some key points and tips to help you deliver your storyboard.

Skip to 0 minutes and 25 seconds In week two, you chose your learning aim, your single learning goal. This is your starting point for creating your storyboard. Hopefully, you also discussed your aim with other learners over the last week and have had some good feedback through the peer review on the particular learning aim that you settled on. This week you will work on your storyboard using the methods and tools that suit you. We will consider these later. We would also like you to discuss your experiences developing your storyboard in the forums with us and also with other learners.

Skip to 0 minutes and 58 seconds You may also have found another course participant with a similar interest or learning aim, and if it suits you, you might find it helpful to work together either virtually or in person. If you would like to, we would also encourage you to share your storyboard with us and others on the course via web link. See the instructions in the course for how to do this if you’re not sure. Finally, please use this week to talk with each other and learn from each other. What is a storyboard? You may be familiar with storyboarding as a process associated with film or television, and you may have used them before to create E-Learning.

Skip to 1 minute and 35 seconds They’re typically a set of boxes that represent a sequence of events, and that you can write, type, or draw in. Then you can add some text to describe what is happening. Importantly, storyboards are tools that can be worked on collaboratively. Storyboarding is a process that can unlock creativity and ideas in the participants. In our methodology, storyboarding is a separate step that comes before the actual specification for the learning resource. Storyboards have a beginning and an end, and they help you to clarify the steps that you want your learners to undertake to achieve their learning goal.

Skip to 2 minutes and 13 seconds What do you need to create your storyboard? When we develop our storyboards, we use large sized laminated storyboard templates that can be wiped clean, either during the storyboarding process and afterwards for reuse. You can download a copy from the course page if you would like to use it for your storyboard task. You might also want to use Post-It Notes or colourful pens, whatever you’ve got at hand. The process itself centres around the focal point of the storyboard artefact. The discussion and the hands-on interaction are conducive to idea generation and promote group working. In HELM, we use a technology neutral approach, so we don’t actually use any technology, any apps, computers, or software in the storyboarding process.

Skip to 3 minutes and 1 second In our workshops, we want all participants in the storyboarding to feel that the process is accessible to them and is not constrained by any technological tools.

Skip to 3 minutes and 12 seconds We encourage participants to think big an be as wild with their ideas as they like. We find that it is always easy to work backwards from a very wild idea, but still manage to keep the pedagogy in the finished resource, regardless of what technology we finally used to create the resource. We get better results doing it this way rather than the other way around, where the idea has been moulded to the technology at this early stage.

Skip to 3 minutes and 38 seconds While you might like to use our template for your storyboard, we would very much like to hear from you. If you have ideas or approaches you have found useful, please post in the discussion forum and tell us and your fellow learners what approach you use and how you found the experience.

Skip to 3 minutes and 55 seconds Keeping focused. Storyboarding works best when you have a single and tightly defined learning aim. You need to have a clear picture of what the student needs to know after they have completed the RLO. Always have your audience in mind throughout the entire design process. If you think you’re learning aim may be a bit ambitious for one storyboard, then don’t be afraid to rationalise it. There may be more than one storyboard and, subsequently, more than one RLO within your learning aim. Quite often, we find that what we thought was one learning aim actually turned out to be several related ones. And from this we can actually develop a family of RLOs all relating to the same topic.

Skip to 4 minutes and 44 seconds The importance of participation. Within HELM, we tend to run workshops with either one group of people storyboarding together or several groups within one room. With Fern’s RLO workshop, we had four groups all working on the same learning aim, and all groups came up with very different ideas. The challenge then for Fern was to choose which one to use. However, in this situation there are often one or two storyboards that stand out that we can then take forward to develop. Also, where there are several groups, you might want them working on different learning aims. It really depends what’s practical in your situation. Sometimes though it’s more appropriate and practical to have just one group working on a storyboard.

Skip to 5 minutes and 28 seconds Getting a group together, particularly a diverse group, can be time consuming, and it’s tempting to think that it would actually just be easier to get on with it on your own. However, having a group people from different backgrounds with particular experiences is extremely beneficial. Our workshops often include a mixture of service users, clinicians, members of the public, as well as students and lecturers. You need to make a decision about how your group is constituted, whether you want a homogeneous or heterogeneous group. Will you have a mix of stakeholders, practitioners, students or group made up of just one particular group of stakeholders?

Skip to 6 minutes and 7 seconds Think, too, about the power relations within a group, and how you can ensure that the group dynamic is such that participants are comfortable telling their stories and that their voices can be heard. You don’t want anyone in the group feeling inhibited or constrained about speaking up. Facilitation is also important. Step back and let people share their experiences, But in a way that they feel safe to do so.

Skip to 6 minutes and 34 seconds Involving people with first-hand experience of a subject is particularly powerful within the health sector. Service users, patients, carers, families, or clinicians would all have their own experiences to share, which will make the storyboard, and hence, the RLO a far more authentic learning experience. We at HELM have used this approach a lot, and it works. Here’s an example of use of metaphor that came directly from a participant’s own experience. The C2Hear project involved colleagues in HELM and at the National Biomedical Research Unit. We developed a set of learning resources to help people to use their hearing aids.

Skip to 7 minutes and 11 seconds Our storyboarding workshops included people who had experienced hearing loss, who shared their own insights into the difficulties they had with their hearing aids when using them for the first time. The ideas they brought to the group helped to shape the stories and metaphors that were then used in the final resources. One participant, a hearing aid user, told the story that when he first had his hearing aid fitted, a flushing toilet sounded as loud as Niagara Falls. Using metaphors in your storyboard is a powerful way to engage your audience. Why not try this when developing your own storyboard?

Skip to 7 minutes and 48 seconds For your task, creating a storyboard for this course, it may not be possible to get a group together. But if you can, even with one or two others, perhaps from the course or in your own setting, it would be a good experience for you to see how this approach could work. Who are your learners? Throughout your storyboarding process, think about the learners who will ultimately be using your resource. You may have an idea of who these will be. You may not even yet know. Ask yourself what do you want your learners to know at the end of your resource that they didn’t know at the beginning? Bear in mind, also, that you need to keep your audience engaged.

Skip to 8 minutes and 26 seconds Grabbing their attention and keeping them interested will help them engage with your resource and, therefore, the learning goal. So give them a reason to look at your content. Getting started with your storyboard. It is important that throughout your storyboard development you maintain a focus on your chosen learning aim and what you want your audience to learn. If you storyboard starts to look quite large or complicated, then you may actually have more than one aim. So be prepared to be ruthless and trim the aim down. Decide what the main areas are that you want to cover. The storyboard template will help you think, also, about the sequence and the structure of your resource.

Skip to 9 minutes and 6 seconds But consider, too, what you want your learners to be doing. What activities would help them to understand the learning goal? Consider the pedagogical model or models that might help to reinforce the learning. Will there be any sort of assessment of the learning goal?

Skip to 9 minutes and 24 seconds Give your storyboard a beginning and an end. Try to begin your storyboard with an engaging message or visual. This helps to hook the audience into your resource and spark their interest. Perhaps begin with a question or challenging quote, or think of a particular theme that runs around the storyboard.

Skip to 9 minutes and 45 seconds Starting your storyboard. In our RLO about sepsis, we began with a statistic about how many thousands of people die of sepsis every year. We illustrated this at the start of the RLO with a football stadium to give learners a visual idea about what these numbers would look like. This way we captured the attention of our learners. And we start with the purpose of why we created it, which is to raise awareness about sepsis and how serious it is as a topic.

Skip to 10 minutes and 17 seconds Stories and personal experiences work well, as does using familiar analogies and examples from your own setting.

Skip to 10 minutes and 27 seconds Considering images or other media. When developing your storyboard, you might want to think about using images or other media, such as video and audio. Do the images or media have a purpose? Be imaginative about how you want to present things, and consider the impact that visual elements can have, such as to illustrate, engage, or challenge the learner. Some methods we have used are cartoon photo stories, photo albums, first person audio and locations.

Skip to 11 minutes and 0 seconds Interactivity in a learning resource helps engage the audience and to cement their understanding of the subject area. Include in your storyboard whatever interactive elements you think would support the resource. These may be quizzes, ideas for show video clips, drag-an-drop. Be as imaginative as you like at this stage. Some examples of these may be short multiple choice questions, drag-and-drop exercises, short answers, or reflection. Note, too, this is not the same as creating a game. Interactivity is to engage and support understanding. And also, use it appropriately and sparingly, thinking of what your audience will learn, its experience will be. Don’t be constrained by technology at this stage. Again, you can always work back and think how you can achieve it later.

Skip to 11 minutes and 48 seconds Ending the storyboard. We like to end our resources on a positive note. Health subjects can sometimes be harrowing, particularly those that involve personal stories or experiences.

Skip to 12 minutes and 2 seconds What will the learner now be able to do or know as a result of your resource? What positive impact might it have on a topic that you were designing within? Often as well, in health care, people want to show what not to do in a particular setting, but showing examples of good practise can positively reinforce your learning goal. There may also be a form of assessment or reflection that you would like your learners to undertake. It’s really up to you. Just to summarise then, some practical tips. Some groups get straight into the creative aspects, drawing and getting something down. Others like to think and discuss before writing their storyboard. You might worry that you are not good at drawing.

Skip to 12 minutes and 44 seconds Don’t worry though. You don’t need to be an artist. It’s the ideas that you can then take forward into the next phase when you develop your specification. You’ll learn more about this in the next week. Again, if you do get stuck think about a familiar metaphor or story. Choose a theme perhaps. Think about some topics around this. Sometimes a story or narrative based around a person works very well. And particularly for a health related topic, personal experiences can be very powerful. So this stage, don’t worry about what technology you have available, or what development skills you have to hand.

Skip to 13 minutes and 19 seconds This isn’t about designing the final resource, but it’s rather about getting the stories and activities across that support your learning aim. Now, over to you. Let your imagination take over, and we look forward to seeing your storyboards and hearing about your experience over the process.

Storyboarding in a health context

Storyboards are a useful process in any subject area and especially so for health when used in a workshop or participatory setting.

In health, our E-learning and RLOs are much more authentic as learning resources when they draw from first hand knowledge and personal experiences. For our students the RLOs often bring to life the stories and experiences of service users and clinicians so students can experience these directly, thereby enriching their learning and understanding.

Key features of our storyboard processes are that they are:

  • participatory;
  • technology neutral;
  • accessible.

Always remember to keep in mind the key learning aim and the audience who will be using your resource at all times.

Be Wild!

When developing your storyboard, don’t worry about what technology or resources you have available. Don’t worry if you are not an artist.

Be as creative as you like: use metaphor, stories, scenarios or whatever you think will help to get your learning aim across to your audience.


Discussion points

  • What storyboard ideas do you have for your learning aim?
  • Feedback on others’ ideas in the comments. Perhaps there is someone looking at the same learning aim as you? Why not follow them?

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This video is from the free online course:

Designing E-Learning for Health

The University of Nottingham