Storyboard

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Engineering Areas
Design & Prototyping, Ideation & Conceptual design
Group or individual
Group, Individual
Amount of people
Up to 15, 15-25, 25+
Type of activity
Collaborative team setting, On-line Classroom activity, Self-work by students
Duration
Half an hour or less, Between half an hour and one hour, Between one and two hours, More than 2 hours
Type of class
Practice-based

Description

What is this technique about

Storyboarding is a technique that visually depicts a user’s interaction with your product. Storyboards consist of several steps graphically representing the person’s path to achieving a particular goal. Each step may also include specific information about what people do, feel, think or say.

The storyboard is a technique that depicts an interaction between a person and a product (or multiple people and multiple products) in a narrative form. Storyboard contains a series of drawings, sketches or pictures and words that tell a story.

Designers can create storyboards to identify how a user interface changes in response to users’ actions and show things that happen outside of the system. The good storyboards allow design teams and users to gain insight into experience streams. Usually, they are not very detailed and use the minimum amount of detail required to get the key points about the big picture.

Where does it come from 

The storyboard was originally created for use in the film industry. The filmstrip form as it is known today was developed at the Walt Disney studio in the early 1930s. Years later, large companies like IBM and General Electric developed the storyboard as a planning tool for coordinating the creation of proposals, reports, and presentations.

For which purposes it is used (why in your engineering teaching)

It is used by individuals – managers, start-up founders, researchers, entrepreneurs, project leaders, innovators – to communicate their ideas, products or findings to investors, colleagues, customers and the press.

It is used by groups – companies, organizations and teams – to help people with different thinking processes and skills work towards a common goal in their creative collaborations.

It is recommended to be used in engineering education, showing and sharing projects and designs, planning flows and processes.

There are several benefits to the use of this technique:

    • First, a storyboard helps the team to collaborate.
    • Team members put themselves in the position of their customers and see and experience the product through their eyes.
    • It enables fuses independent and collaborative work within the team, enabling participants to ideate separately but join to create a coherent narrative together.
    • Finally, it allocates resources efficiently and leads to more effective decisions.

How to use it

The techniques stems from the world of cinema where storyboards show in a visual way the scenes that need to be played out. The technique uses the same philosophy to map out a user experience or customer interaction with a product or service. Docus should be on the narrative. 

In this sensw there are several questions which can help to guide the process of creating this narrative:

    • Who is the main character, what scenario are you depicting, and what goal is the persona trying to achieve?
    • When and in what circumstances is this goal relevant to the main character of your story?
    • Where might the action take place?
    • Why do users want to achieve this particular goal?
    • How are they going to achieve it?
    • During the process, how might they be using your product?

Once the story/interaction/experience you want to communicate is decided and the meesage ot be conveyed is clear, the global story is written/drawn. Think about the steps of the story and how to convey them in pictures. It is ensured that all-important information is communicated in a simple but complete and understandable manner.

A good way is the do several interactions, make  a quick sketch and improve it, as you have tp make sure that the story is clear and the message conveyed. A good way is to pass on the drawn storyboard with its short text explanations to someone not involved in the activity and see whether they understand the story and capture the message. 

How to implement this techniques online

Digital storyboards are a great way to utilize technology in your classroom. They also provide an excellent way to allow students’ creative expression. Here are some tipos for using digital storyboarding in your sessions:

    • Brainstorming is key: students need to have a clear idea on how they want their stories to progress before they even begin. The actions which drive the story need to be defined before even thinking about sketching, text and dialogues.
    • Research: cannot do without: you need to stress the importance of dedicating sufficient time for researching the topic/theme, make sure there is time for research and experimentation in your sessions.
    • Keep it simple: An acceptable digital storyboard template should allow students to add their own characters and backgrounds. The focus is on the story, not a fancy template. Use a simple template that students can build off of.
    • Logically: Make sure students know that their digital storyboards need to be logical.
    • Catching: The first panel of a digital storyboard should grab the viewer’s attention, as is the case with any electronic media. Storyboards can begin with a question, an exciting scenario, a thought-provoking image or a lesson.
    • Self-explanatory: digital storyboard should have panels that move the story forward. Storyboards do not leave a lot of room for written word. That means that most of the reader’s information will come from the panels’ images alone.

If students are not used to storyboard methods, allow them to draw the storyboards in pairs – like that, they have more fun while discussing situations, and are less uncertain later in the presentations.

Sometimes it helps to show them an example storyboard drawn by yourself – in a not-fancy-manner, so that they will see that it is not necessary to produce paintings in Picasso quality.

There are various templates available online which you can use, some are embedded in exiting tools, e.g. MIRO or MURAL, which offer empty template to be used.

A storyboard can even be useful for yourself to design your (online) course, in this case you have to remember that the storyboard you create should include:

    1. The course’s name at the beginning
    2. The course section title
    3. The section unit title
    4. The type of unit (eBook, quiz, etc.)
    5. Graphic/Media: Images or animations
    6. Notes about the text that will be included
    7. What interactions will be added (everything a learner can or should do on the screen)
    8. What other instructions will students see, like “Click HERE to learn more.”
    9. Navigation between units (free, sequential or with prerequisites)
    10. Video script (for video storyboarding)
    11. An area for review comments
    12. When is a learning unit considered completed (when just visited or after it is completed? etc.)

Examples and/or testimonials

Dr. Patricia Wolf, is Professor WSR in Integrative Innovation Management at SDU. She has used the technique in during her work at Lucerne University, where she applied it in an interdisciplinary innovation workshop class In the 3rd semester bachelor with students who wanted to develop product innovations. The challenge was to imagine concrete situations when consumers would need an improved product, and how they would use it. The method helped the students to immerse themselves in consumer stories, to put themselves in the shoes of the consumers and to gain more in-depth insights into when and how imaginable new products will be needed and used. 

In the end, the students presented the storyboards in class, and we discussed both the content and applicability of the method. This replaced the evaluation.

The students liked the method because they could see cause and effect relationships. Also, they liked to draw – some said that it was helpful that we restricted them to maximum six pictures per story, so that they had to think about the key situations in the whole process that need to be visualized.

Tools needed

You will need a platform to share screens and communicate with the participants, such as for instance Zoom, MS Teams or similar, as well as tools for brainstorming and ofcourse tools for drawing or making cartoons, such as powtoon.

    • Miro
    • Mural
    • Concept Board

Resources

Links

Huff-Corzine, L. Storyboarding 101: Turning Concepts into Visual Forms. Institute for Public Media Arts. Available at: https://www.ibiblio.org/ism/articles/huffcorzine.html

Matt (ma8ttc). (2022, June 10). What Is a Storyboard? Definition & Examples Of This Technique. Available at: https://filmlifestyle.com/what-is-a-storyboard/

Krishnaswamy, M. (2018, March 22). Using storyboards as a tool for idea generation. Available at: https://medium.com/learn-reflect-make/storyboarding-as-a-generative-tool-c4ee075a119e

Kayes, A. (2019, October 1). The Story Behind Storyboarding And Why It’s Critical To Your Proposal Process. Key Solutions, Inc. (KSI). Available at: https://info.ksiadvantage.com/blog/the-story-behind-storyboarding-and-why-it-is-critical-to-your-proposal-process

Miro (RealtimeBoard, Inc.). Storyboard Presentation Template. Available at: https://miro.com/templates/storyboard-presentation/

Mural (Tactivos, Inc.). Meta Storyboarding Template. Available at: https://www.mural.co/templates/meta-storyboarding

Krause, R. (2018, July 15). Storyboards Help Visualize UX Ideas. Nielsen Norman Group. Available at: https://www.nngroup.com/articles/storyboards-visualize-ideas/

Papadopoulou, A. (2019, July 11). How to Organize Your Online Courses Using Storyboards. LearnWorlds. Available at: https://www.learnworlds.com/organizing-course-content-storyboards/

Videos

Jack Elkins. (2021, April 19). Brainstorm Tools: 2 Ways to Make Your Ideas Understood. [Video]. YouTube. Retrieved October 21, 2022, from https://youtu.be/KIBw-xGPtYs

NNgroup. (2019, January 11). How to Create a UX Storyboard. [Video]. YouTube. Retrieved October 21, 2022, from https://youtu.be/bNh54LNUtv8

Brigham Communications. (2014, August 27). 3 ways to storyboard your e-learning course. [Video]. YouTube. Retrieved October 21, 2022, from https://youtu.be/r9WJSgbMUI0

Papers

Landay, J. A., & Myers, B. A. (1995). Just Draw It! Programming by Sketching Storyboards (CMU-CS-95-199). Carnegie Mellon University. Human-Computer Interaction Institute Technical Report (CMU-HCII-95-106). Available at: http://www.cs.cmu.edu/~landay/research/publications/storyboard-tr/storyboard.pdf

Wahid, S., McCrickard, D. S., DeGol, J., Elias, N., Harrison, S. R. (2011, May). Don’t drop it! Pick it up and storyboard. In: Proceedings of the International Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, pp. 1571-1580. DOI: 10.1145/1978942.1979171. Available at: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/221518336_Don%27t_drop_it_Pick_it_up_and_storyboard