Getting started on an e-Learning project can sometimes be more intimidating than building the course itself. We typically begin with content of some kind…be it in the form of a PowerPoint from an Instructor-Led Training (ILT), a .pdf of an instruction manual, or a paper workbook. If we’re lucky, we might also have a style guide or some notes from the Subject Matter Expert (SME) about expectations. But how do we turn those artifacts into a course? And more importantly, how do we keep everything straight once we start on the project? This leads to a frequently asked question in class: “How Do You Organize Your Courses?”
Using a storyboard is a great way to not only have a chance to review/edit your content, but it can also help you keep everything in order once you start developing the course. As you may know, Storyline has a number of ways it can make your life easier…the first way being its automatic numbering feature with scenes. Once you have a storyboard in hand, simply create new scenes to serve as content holders for your course. These will become slides eventually, but by creating the placeholders, you’ve ensured proper numbering.
Tip: Don’t forget that you can make any scene in your course the starting scene by going to Story View, selecting the scene, and then clicking on the Starting Scene button in the Home tab. As you can see in the example below, this is very helpful if you have numbers in the titles of your scenes. This is a way to make sure your custom numbering and Storyline’s numbering stay consistent.
In the real world, things happen. Content gets added at a later date or maybe you accidentally skip a scene in your storyboard, and the next thing you know, things have become out of order (aka, misnumbered). Renumbering scenes is a little different than rearranging slides, which can be done by dragging and dropping to the location you want. Renumbering scenes is just as simple, but often times, people don’t know the trick. Let’s take a look.
In the example below, you will see the Topic 3 currently sits before Topic 2 in our Story view. Due to Storyline’s automatic numbering, “2 Topic 3” and “3 Topic 2” can lead to a little confusion.
We need the two scenes to switch places. To accomplish this, select the “3 Topic 2” scene, right-click, and select Cut.
Next, select the “1 Topic 1” scene, because Topic 2 should be placed after Topic 1. Right-click again, and select Paste.
Once Topic 2 is pasted after Topic 1, voila…your scenes will be numbered properly!
Is it really as simple as a cut/paste? Yes. It’s just that simple!
Project File Organization
One of the giveaways we provide in class is a sample folder structure for organizing all the files that are utilized in a project. Here’s what it looks like:
- Archive: Any files you’ve used at one point but are no longer used for this course. This might include previous versions of an attachment or older images.
- Attachments: Anything you plan to add to the Resources tab in the player.
- Audio: All audio/music files used in the course.
- Course_Files: Any .story files of the course. This might include templates and older versions of the course. I tend to save a daily version of my course during the development phase, just in case. Imagine this: you are asked to delete a slide in the first review, but then in the final review, someone decides that old slide was the right one after all. Instead of trying to rebuild it from memory, simply import that slide from an older version of the course. You’ve just saved yourself quite a bit of work (thanks to Storyline’s easy importing feature)!
- Images: Any images that were created special for this course or copyrighted images given to you by the SME (i.e., ones that cannot be used in any other courses). The bulk of your images will be in your main Pictures folder, of course (and don’t forget to organize those as well)!
- Publish_FINAL: The FINAL output file of your course and the .zip file to load into your LMS. I also tend to add my FINAL .story file to this folder as well, because remember, if you ever want to edit the course in the future, you must have that .story file.
- Script: Any time you’ve published to Word. This might be a document for your SME to review or the script for your voice talent.
- Source_Files/SME_Materials: Any files that the SME has given you to create the course. This could include content, a style guide, etc.
- Videos: Any videos used in the course.
I’ve added a few other folders to my template file structure including: Edits (feedback from SMEs), Fonts, and Storyboards. Feel free to make the structure your own…just make sure you have one!
Organization will not only empower you as the developer, but it can help your entire e-Learning team. Should a coworker ever need to assist with a project, it will be much easier if you’re both using the same file structures and development methods. Additionally, if you ever need to update a project that you may have worked on years ago, you’ll know just where to find everything.
I always tell people in class, “Be cognizant of where you are,” but it’s also important to know where you’re headed. Now go forth and do good things with your Storyline courses! Develop with confidence knowing that all is in order.
“We’re all stories in the end. Just make it a good one, eh?” ~The Doctor