How to storyboard your e-learning courses

You can storyboard your e-learning courses by making sure to scope out from start to finish, what the course looks like, what the general content is to be included, interactions, branches and linear and non-linear components. Once this has been accomplished, make sure that SME’s and stakeholders review it so you can make changes throughout the planning phase. The finished storyboard should be a mixture of text and imagery that shows anybody exactly what they will experience when working through the course, and what the path of the course looks like.


The thing about storyboards is that there are various ways to accomplish it. One of the best books that can outline this, is Tim Slade’s “The Elearning Designer’s Handbook“. This great piece of work shows you how to tailor your storyboard to e-learning courses, and how to portray your course in the medium of visuals and written instruction. 

How to storyboard your eLearning coursesA storyboard is similar to slides in that pictures are above, with text below to describe what’s happening. The pictures can be real photographs, icons, digital images, or anything else that portrays what is happening according to the descriptions underneath each one. 

Because of the combination of words and pictures used in these boards, it is easier for students to learn the material and get a better idea of what you’re trying to teach them. All students learn better with visuals added to the course materials, and this is just what you’re doing when you use storyboards for your e-learning course.

Of course, there are other reasons to choose to devise storyboards for your online courses, and one of the best reasons is that it allows you to layout your course one piece at a time.

By the time the board is completed, you’ll be able to look over it carefully and check it to see if you’ve missed anything important. As you’re developing your course, you’ll naturally be referring to the course materials during the process, and having the course laid out on a storyboard, frame by frame, so to speak, lets you compare that board to the printed course materials so that the two of them match.

At this point, you can easily go back and fill in whatever information you left out – be it a picture or a description, so that you can complete the board and match it up with the written course materials.

Another advantage to one of these boards is that it gives you a simple, fast way to let others review the material you’re planning on teaching. You can run the material by some experts if you like, and they can check it without reading a bunch of soft printed material. 

The board makes it easier for them to review the information to ensure everything is correct, and nothing is missing. You’ll have a much easier time getting an expert to go over the class material when it’s in the form of a storyboard!

Related: How to Create a Storyboard for e-Learning Content

Getting Started: Is it Difficult?

If you’ve decided your e-learning course needs a good storyboard, how do you get started?

Even if you decide to do it yourself, you can get a lot of the tools and help you need simply by going online. 


One great example of this is the e-Learning Designer’s Academy website, run by Tim Slade, which features numerous courses that will teach you step-by-step how to create the perfect e-learning course, including information on making a great storyboard.


These days, you can create very professional-looking boards of all types and sizes thanks to numerous online resources, many of which seem to make the boards for you practically.


Some of the resources that make storyboarding much easier include the following:


Storyboarder is a free tool that makes creating storyboards much easier. You can download it from the company’s website, and you can get to work on your board immediately. It doesn’t even require that you be a real artist to create boards that are neat and professional-looking. Some of its many tools and advantages include:

Check out Charles from Wonder Unit

  • Drawing Tools

    A total of six straightforward drawing tools, including a light pencil for your rough drafts, a hard pencil for drawing fine lines, a pen to use for most of your work, a brush for the proper tone, note pen to write all of your notes, and of course, an eraser to eliminate your mistakes and start over again.

  • Adding boards

    The ability to add a board with the click of a mouse. It couldn't be any easier with Storyboarder. Just add a board, draw, add another, duplicate, rearrange, copy, paste, and start all over again. The entire process is a breeze.

  • Dialogue & Actions

    Super easy to add dialogue and action. You can add metadata for a particular board on the right panel and enter shot type and timing information. In other words, adding dialogue and action is now easier and faster, not to mention neater, than ever before.

Best of all, the program provides you with a large display of the boards and offers features such as your brush tools, which are at the top left-hand side of the

screen; your drawer of the different boards you’ve created, which is below the sketch pane; and the metadata panel, which is to the right of the sketch pane. You click on the tool you need to use it, and at the top right-hand side of the screen are your Photoshop tools, which you’ll use to do all of your editings.


Storyboarder is a fantastic tool that helps you create the perfect storyboard every time, and is fast, simple to use even for non-technical people, and best of all, completely free.


If you’ve never heard of Plot, (15% discount with this link) –  you’re not alone, but you’ll be grateful someone introduced you to it. The program advertises itself as the “fastest online storyboard creator,” and indeed, this is a high-speed and straightforward tool that even people who have never created a storyboard before can be designing boards with it in just seconds. 


For now, the price for given services is $10 per month, but the company says it will increase the price in the future as more features are included with users who enrol now being grandfathered in so they don’t have to pay the higher prices in the future.


The program is laid out on your computer monitor and has point-and-click sections such as setup, draw, collaborate, and export. Under each one of these sections are additional features, and they are super easy to understand, making it simple for even non- artists to get a great storyboard in the end. It is perfect for freelancers, teachers, and in-house teams who need professional-looking boards. It is an excellent tool for e-learning courses, projects involving animation, television and film projects, corporate presentations, and many others.


  • Importing

    Plot allows you to easily import scenes with elements of your script(s) with just a keyboard shortcut. You can also use the drag and drop feature to import all images with come in date order, which you can then add to specific scenes as you see fit.

  • In-built drawing & editing tool

    Another significant element is the ability to open up your imported images in Plot's drawing tool, where you can edit, resize, and change the original image, save it, and it will update automatically in your scene.

  • Mobile Responsiveness

    Another handy feature is the program is fully mobile responsive, meaning you can work on your storyboard from any device, desktop, laptop, tablet, or cell phone.

  • Templates

    With Plot, you can stop using storyboard templates that may or may not make it easier for you to create a beautiful project, and it allows you to organize your ideas quickly and easily without having to accommodate the often cumbersome and tedious editing process involved with templates.

The company also offers a free version if you’d like to try it out, which allows for one project with up to eight scenes. Indeed, it is super easy to research this program and give it a try. It is very likely a program you’ll stick with, especially with the company’s improved features will undoubtedly deliver in the future.

Although Plot is not free, we think that the costs involved are totally worth it. It allows you to create high-end, film industry quality storyboards and for that, we have no problems paying for that level of quality and finesse.

Let Ant Pugh tell you about Plot

Adobe Photoshop

Everyone’s heard of Adobe Photoshop, and even though it costs a bit more than other similar programs – around $100, in fact – it merely does everything you need this type of program to do. 

  • Overview features

    The platform is available on both PCs and Macs. In addition to storyboarding, it allows you to create collages and memes for social media, create projects that you can use to order photos and gifts, and even create projects using extensive special effects, so they look amazing every time. Regardless of the project, you're working on, if you want it to come out looking professional in every way, this is the program you need to make that happen.

  • Ease of use

    It is easy to use because it provides step-by-step instructions for every project you work on, yet it still allows you to add a personal touch to every one of those projects. With Photoshop, you get drag-and-drop capabilities for editing, crisp images, bright and vibrant colors, and fast and simple ways to lighten up a photograph, add a caption, or change the design or color of an object within the picture.

  • Design, arrangement and editing

    It also makes your editing process much less complicated, giving you the tools, you need to quickly alter something when you change your mind about a project's overall look or one of the project's aspects. You'll spend less time editing and more time developing your ideas and creating masterpieces than you did in the past. It also allows you total control over every aspect of your project, regardless of its size, so that every one of your projects turns out exactly like you hoped it would.

Storyboard tutorial from Shot, Drawn and Cut


So, there you have it, three varied platforms to use for storyboarding your courses, but each comes with their specific pros and cons. 

Related: 12 Tips To Create Effective eLearning Storyboards

Storyboarder is a terrific choice if you need a free, simple, and easy to use storyboarding tool which you can use with the click of the camera app on your phone. It pretty much gives you everything you need to map out your course content to understand how your concept will turn into a reality.

I like Plot. Yes, it will cost a bit more than Storyboarder (which is free), but it is definitely worth the investment with the additional features. It is a fully mobile responsive platform that allows you to quickly and easily create your script into scenes, making this a great choice if your needs in a storyboarding platform are more advanced. 

Photoshop will take longer to produce due to it not being a dedicated rapid storyboarding program. Still, it will give you a much more robust design outcome and is worth considering even if used in conjunction with other programs e.g., such as Storyboarder and Plot. 

Related: The 3 Types of eLearning Storyboards & When to Use Them

Hopefully, this helps you in your decision. I have used all three, but I am using Plot to design my storyboards for my courses, which suits my needs perfectly. 

Let me know if you have any feedback, and what storyboard platform you decided to use. 

Happy boarding.

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