Programs update

Your IDL SIG has a great lineup of webinars planned for the winter. SIG members attend our webinars for free and have access to a complete library of past webinars as a benefit of membership. Register now for our webinars and make a serious investment in your #techcomm career.

March 19

It's time to get your networking game on in time for #STC20!

Engineering Your Networking Experiences webinar with Kelly Schrank

"Engineering Your Networking Experiences" webinar with Kelly Schrank

Storyboarding Instructional Design

By Nicole Wylie


Instruction designers (ID) develop educational experiences. This task comes with the challenges of developing a product that is user friendly in a timely manner. Storyboarding is a tool that instructional designers use to deliver instructional designs and experiences through a linear sequence of images. These images visually predict and explore a user’s product experience. Storyboarding can aid to streamline the creation of instructional products. Ideally storyboarding is the solution for instructional designers to enhance their workload; however, that may not be the case. It is important to compare the benefits of storyboarding to the disadvantages, allowing instructional designers to determine if the process will benefit them.

Advantages of storyboarding in ID

Storyboarding is known to solve problems that instructional designers face in their everyday workload. The two main problems ID faces are:

  1. Slow turn-around time.
  2. Lack of guidance from subject matter experts (SME).

A solution for both of these problems lies within storyboarding.

Slow turn-around time

Instructional design involves two groups of people—IDs and SMEs. Both parties have very different jobs and are required to find common time to work on a project, causing difficulty in collaboration. This process becomes increasingly difficult when both parties come from different departments or companies. Traditionally, once an ID project has begun development, changes are difficult to make due to the nature of the project, causing an slower output when designers have to backtrack.

Storyboarding is a way to streamline a lengthy communication and development process by creating a visual representation of the learning process. This allows a SME to look at an instructional product and point out errors, and places in need of improvement. A storyboard structure will limit communication errors that will hinder the development process. It is easier to change content in a storyboard, than in an instructional product. Before finalizing a product, this is the most efficient way to work out any issues an instructional designer may face after development has begun.

Lack of guidance

Due to the communication issues instructional designers face with SMEs, there also is a lack of guidance on the content they are developing. Instructional design is a field where many of the developers on not well versed in the content they are creating. With that, their SMEs often don’t dedicate time for questions and clarification. Storyboarding can help with that process.

By creating a visual map of your instructions, it is easy to point out areas where you need clarification, or issues in the users learning process. By having this map, you can easily share where you need guidance with little explanation. This can also help the designer develop questions that will help the overall process before a meeting, to ensure there isn’t an overwhelming need for back and forth the SME may not have time for.


With the advantages of storyboarding to develop ID there are also disadvantages to the process. As the solution solves major issues in the process it develops others.

The two main issues surrounding ID and storyboarding are:

  1. Lack of software.
  2. Linear output.

For storyboarding to work there are assumptions about the ID development process that may not be true.

Access to storyboarding software

For professional instructional designers a company will give them a set of tools needed to do their jobs correctly. Seldom will an organization feel it is beneficial to invest in storyboarding software and training to develop content. With that, there is no software dedicated specifically to ID. The designer would have to invest their own money in it, and use a program that is made for film. That step would cause further issues as one member of a team would be working separately. Unless storyboarding is a solution a company is invested in or the designer is freelance, the process will not work.

Linear output

Storyboarding is a linear process causing a linear output. This approach to learning can hinder the user’s experience. A concept may be best presented in a matrix fashion where learning points can be cross-referenced or taught parallel to one another, in order to enhance an understanding of concepts. The design is not always going from point A to point B.


Storyboarding can be a useful tool in the world of ID but it is not for everyone. If a designer is creating a learning process that is best developed in a linear fashion, while having access to the correct software, it can help the ID development process in a positive way. Creating a storyboard when it does not best fit the learning plan can cause issues in development and user interaction. It is up to the designer to research and determine what development practice is best for them to make the most impactful user experience.


Sunil Kumar B. “Creating e-learning Content Storyboard Based on Instructional Design Principles”. 2013

Cultta, Richard. “storyboarding”. 2018


Nicole is currently completing a Graduate Certificate in Technical Communications at Seneca College, after receiving an undergraduate degree at York University in Professional Writing. She is excited to transition into the field of Technical Communications. Outside of writing, she is interested in Art History and enjoys reading.

IDL SIG Treasurer’s Report – Q4

By: Jamye Sagan, IDL SIG Treasurer

The SIG continues to maintain a healthy amount of funds for 2019. As of October 31, we have $1,759.15 in our account.

The SIG did not incur any expenses during August, September, and October. The SIG made a modest profit from Viqui Dill’s October 1 webinar and may also make some profit from the remaining webinars offered this year.

In November and December, the SIG anticipates the following expenses:

  • Speaker honoraria for the remaining webinars this year
  • STC student membership reimbursements for students whose works were published in IDeaL
  • Virtual Open House door prizes

The SIG is also currently working on its budget for 2020. Our team reviews the budget to ensure funds benefit as many IDL SIG members as possible.

If you have any questions about SIG finances, please email me at

Jamye Sagan
Jamye Sagan

Jamye Sagan currently serves as treasurer for the IDL SIG, and is a senior member of STC. She served as a co-manager of the SIG from 2010-12.

At work, she uses her tech comm skills to make sense out of the seemingly senseless. At play, she uses sticks and hooks to transform yarn into pretty objects.

Manager’s Report – 4th Quarter 2019

By: Marcia Shannon

By the time you read this edition of the newsletter, 2019 will be days away from closing. I hope you packed this year with adventure and hope, with more good times than hard times. Mine was, thanks to a growing participation in SIGs and Chapters.

At IDL, we started this year with the Student Essay Competition judging. It fascinated me to see fresh perspectives on many technical communication topics from almost-ready-to-launch new professionals. If you are not familiar with the competition, go to the Students tab on the IDL SIG website, where you can find information, including  a webinar and slides. The deadline for entries is February 22, 2020. You can download the entry form and instructions from our site.

If you know students who would benefit from a membership in STC and the IDL SIG, be sure to steer them to the site. If you are an educator in the technical communication field, promote our competition in your classes, whenever you can.

As IDL SIG manager, I learned a lot more about GoToMeeting than I ever expected. Between connectivity issues with my service provider and some hitches and glitches with GoToMeeting, the early meetings this year were difficult to complete. We got those problems resolved and began planning our table at Summit 2019. IDL was well-represented by speakers in several of the Summit tracks. Some Summit presentations will be repeated as IDL programs into next year so watch for announcements. Sign up even if you cannot attend the virtual presentation because you will receive a link to the recorded version after the presentation date Check out the website for information on upcoming presentations. Remember, this continuing education perk is free to SIG members.

Something I learned at Summit is that it takes more than a couple folks to represent the SIG during the Communities Showcase. We need volunteers to spend about 30 minutes at our information table, talking up the benefits of our IDL SIG. We also need volunteers throughout the year to back up our current leaders. As much as we enjoy what we do we want to share the fun with as many of you as possible. If you make New Year’s resolutions, consider volunteering for IDL. We need you.

My most personal benefit of being involved with the knowledgeable, dynamic, supportive SIG leaders is that of being accepted to speak at Summit 2020. I received a lot of encouragement to be brave and submit an entry, so I did. I smiled for a whole day when the acceptance email arrived.

We are preparing our 2020 budget right now. The more members we have, the more funding we receive from dues which means we can spend more on promoting IDL by bringing in speakers and holding competitions and even enticing Summit attendees with a bit of swag. Be sure to include IDL in your 2020 membership and encourage others to choose us as well.

My favorite motto remains “Never party alone.” With more volunteers, we can have a 2020 full of interesting IDL activities. I hope you will be part of the action. Best wishes that your holidays are joyful and your new year sparkles and shines.

Marcia Shannon
Marcia Shannon

Marcia Shannon was secretary from 2016 to 2018, assistant co-manager for the SIG in 2018, and transitioned to co-manager in 2019.

Seventh Annual Virtual Open House

In November, the IDL SIG will host our seventh annual Virtual Open House.

As a virtual community with members spread out around the world, it can be challenging for us to cultivate a sense of community. The Virtual Open House enables current (and future) IDL SIG members to learn more about our community and the services we offer by attending the live event, or by viewing archived events via the student database. In addition, attendees get to meet members of the SIG leadership team and chat with fellow members.

Even if you cannot attend live, you can still join the party once we release the recording.