Visual Storytelling using a Photo Collage (E-Learning Challenge)

This e-learning challenge was first posted on the E-Learning Heroes blog on March 21, 2014.

visual storytelling

Challenge Link

The challenge for the following week was to design an interactive story around a photo collage. However, the essence of this challenge is really to move beyond the typical linear bullet point format (that we often revert to out of habit) in favor of a visually driven non-linear format. As I’m writing this from the vantage point of a business-focused developer, I tried to re-imagine a way to introduce employees to important personnel within a company. I thought using a split-screen with a photo collage of key personnel on one side and a hierarchical job-tree on the right would be a cool way to get employees up to speed quickly and efficiently.

The project was mocked up in Keynote ( and programmed in Articulate Storyline. All of the images were just exported and/or copy and pasted from Keynote to Storyline. Once everything was aligned and looking good, I placed rectangular hotspots (no fill/no stroke) around my pictures, and linked each one via a trigger to a separate layer that highlighted each person from my photo collage. Finally, each layer has a close button on the callout that takes the user back to the main menu. Pretty simple!

The benefit to using an approach like this is that users are able to make a number of connections quite quickly using several different methods of reinforcement. For example, the pictures are sized according to that person’s rank in the company, and equal ranks are assigned the same  color. Even little design thoughts like this make a big difference in the learning experience for the user, and can make the rather mundane task of learning names more interesting and productive.

So, what are your thoughts? Where are some other places a photo collage could be used in an e-learning course? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below, and happy building!