If you are offered a Peppermint Bark or a Coconut Macaroon Flavored ice-cream, and if you have not tasted it before, what would you do? If you are like me, who normally relishes classic flavors such as Banana Split or Cookies and Cream, you would think twice before trying anything new, won’t you? If I were you, I would first taste a small portion, check if it suits my taste and then go in for a regular scoop.
Prototyping in eLearning is pretty much the same. You have your regular templates and design that all your eLearning courses follow. You know the classic type. Now, after viewing dozens of courses with the same design and templates, your learners are going to be bored and uninspired to take to new courses. You will need to experiment with something new. But how would you decide what’s going to work for you? If your eLearning developer suggests something new, you would want to test how it looks like before finalizing the order, right? That’s when you would ask for a prototype from your eLearning developer.
Theoretically speaking, prototyping can be called an iterative process that is part of the analysis phase of eLearning design and development. It helps the end user or stakeholder to take a look at how the end product, that is, eLearning course looks like and validate the design as one that is acceptable and is in accordance with their expectations.
When Can You Ask for A Prototype for ELearning Courses?
Here are a couple of situations when you can ask for a prototype from your eLearning developer.
- Trying out an eLearning vendor for the first time: When you have not worked with a particular vendor before and would like to make sure they meet your requirement, you may ask them to submit a prototype before proceeding with full-scale development. This enables you to gauge their competency or quality of work and make suitable changes early on in the developmental cycle.
- Exploring a new learning strategy: When you have changed or altered a learning strategy and need to see how the new strategy is going to work in the course, you could use the help of a prototype. You may have used simple page-turner courses until now and would like to add more interactivities or scenarios into the course. You can get a prototype developed and seek feedback from users on their reaction to such courses.
- Choosing a new authoring tool: New and more powerful authoring tools are being developed each day and you may not want to be left behind. When you are trying out a new authoring tool and are not sure about its interface/look and feel and comfort factor, getting a prototype designed using the new tool could be useful. The result might help you reaffirm the decision to go with the new tool or you might choose to stick to your old authoring tool.
Developing prototypes does involve investing some amount of time and resources, but it is an investment worthwhile because it has many advantages. I will explore the benefits of going in for a prototype in my next blog. Can you think of other instances when prototypes would be helpful? Do share your experiences in the comment box below.