What is a script?
The most simplistic definition of any script is “a full textual description of how the entire future course will look and work”.
A script has two main objectives.
First, a script of a course contains all the intended learning material. At the script stage, it is necessary to understand what knowledge and skills will be developed during the course and in what way, then to make decisions concerning the addition or reduction of the materials and/or changing the way of the material presentation.
Secondly, a script is the most detailed technical reference for all technical performers of an e-course, i.e. designers, illustrators, programmers, because it contains textual description or visual outline of how separate screens of the course should look and function.
Thus, a script is a comprehensive document, which should be created prior to the beginning of course development. Similar to any other technical specification, agreed upon by both the sides, a script is the key to fast and efficient course development.
Different script formats
A script can be presented in different formats. Most of them are intuitively clear. For example, a video script is in the form of a storyboard (pencil sketches of the key scenes with text description of what occurs in them). At the same time, a dialogue script consists of the prepared text voice with all phrases, peculiarities of pronunciation and requirements to the speakers’ voices.
A script of an e-learning course itself is usually provided as a PowerPoint presentation that describes all the slides of the course in the form of an outline with comments. The built-in functions of Power Point, such as shapes, pictures, notes, captions, text formatting, etc., which describe the content of the course slides, appearance and program possibilities to be used.
Comments in the scripts can be placed either immediately on the slide or in the Slide Notes field, which should be kept in mind when checking the script.
How to check the script
The basic rule to keep in mind is that nothing in the script is the final version. The script is just a technical task, and at the end of the development, naturally, it will co-opt both graphical and software implementation,.
When checking the script, it is important to pay attention to the following:
1) Are all training materials included into the script? To check whether anything of the previously passed materials is missing or, maybe something useful has not yet been sent to the Contractor?
2) Is the presentation sequence and logic correct? The majority of the courses are subject to a certain logic of learning, i.e. “build-up” technique. This point should be checked separately so that to avoid rearranging of the semantic units at the end of the work.
3) Have the methodologists simplified the original material correctly if it is specific or complicated? This is especially necessary if the course is highly specialized.
4) Does the script comply with the Company standards? If the course contains dialogues, do they meet the rules of communication adopted in the company? If there is any description of clothing, office space, items with the company logo do they fully correspond to the Company corporate style?
5) Does the way of the material presentation correspond to the target audience? Usually, this issue is clarified at the very beginning of the negotiation process, but it will be useful to check again whether the audience have enough skills to work with programs to cope successfully with one or another software element.
The importance of careful study of the technical notes in the script should be emphasized. For example, any course element, which has a button to switch between different texts or images is usually described in a few slides of the script. If the description of this item is “skipped” there will be confusion.
Script reference chapter: What it is and why we do that
As a script is a specific and important document, any discrepancy between the Customer’s and the Contractor’s understanding concerning the script content and expected results after rendering (i.e. creation of all graphics and illustrations) and assembly (i.e., technical implementation) should be eliminated before sending it to the technical staff.
For the purpose, the so-called reference chapter is used. It is a kind of a script extract that both the parties discuss in detail and clarify any questions or doubts.
The purpose of the reference chapter for the Contractor is to agree with the Customer not only upon the description of the future course, but also upon a convenient presentation of the subsequent chapters of the script.
Respectively, the purpose of the reference chapter for the Customer is using it as an example to find such a form of the script which is comprehensive for them and easy to use efficiently without wasting time in long discussions and excludes double interpretation.
After the reference chapter approval, all the subsequent sections of the script will be performed using the reference chapter as an example. It will speed up the approval process and make the interaction between the Customer and the Contractor more transparent and, ultimately, will lead to successful development of the course.
The approved script is a key factor of successful course development
A script is the final document before the designers and programmers start their work. Since its approval by the Customer and up to the first version of the course, the Contractor will be doing a huge amount of work.
The corrections and improvements being a normal stage of any development still do have their limitations. To avoid extra work, increase of expenses and time limit risks both the sides should treat the script approval stage with the utmost care.