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Why Prototyping Is A Must: 3 Reasons Why it Is So Important In E-learning

When I say prototyping, what is the first thing that comes to your mind? Is it a consolidation of 5-6 slides, a representation of the visual, textual, and functional elements of the e-learning course?

Let me share with you the way I see prototyping. It is not merely a consolidation of 5-6 slides but a technique used to understand the client better.

The more successful you are in understanding the client the better the chances of completing the project successfully.

3 Reasons Why Prototyping Is So Important: 

1. Nurture the creative aspect of the content

The main purpose of prototyping is to showcase how something will work or, in later stages, what the design will look like, even before developing the entire product. Now, when we are doing the prototyping, we have the chance to think out-of-the-box. We can nurture the creative aspect of the content without doing it mechanically.

While doing so, it is very important to choose the correct content that you can demonstrate well. A good practice is to focus on the 20% of the basic elements (say interactivities, assessments, etc.) that will be used 80% of the time in the e-learning course.

There is an important point to note here. Prototyping should be “DO it Soon, Do it rough, Do it often” type; therefore, we should NOT be a perfectionist in most cases (the basic mistake we do it here) and we should leave room for failure.

Even Michael Allen recommends using your creativity to develop the first prototype, and while developing the second, do not include the ideas used in the first.

2. Understand the client without being physically present with them

At the very beginning, I stated my way of seeing prototyping as a technique to understand the client. Even, the SAM model (Successive Approximation Model) recommends performing repeated small steps, rather than performing perfectly executed giant steps; and the process demands that we get the sign off from the client for every small move and only then proceed to the next. Thus, through the development of prototypes, we are actually enhancing the communication between the stakeholders of a project, which is very important aspect for the successful closure of a project. We are in a better position to understand the client’s expectations early in the project without being physically present at the client’s cubicle.

 It is true that even the slightest doubt at the beginning of the course development might result to serious problems and lead to lot of iterations; so you have to accept the truth that prototyping is one of the best methods to provide a clear direction before we actually start working on the main product.

3. Avoid confusion with the difference in culture 

In our e-learning project, we have to work with clients who belong to different cultures, castes, creed, and have different perspectives and backgrounds. Thus, a lot of cross-cultural confusion is likely to happen and this could dampen course development.

For example, if you were to prototype an e-learning course on workplace environment, and if your stakeholder belongs to Japan, the image that they prefer is a group of workers and you can show feelings and weaknesses through your image. On the contrary, if the same course belongs to an American stakeholder, the image selection should be individual, macho, and you have to hide feelings and weaknesses.

Thus, this entire conundrum can be solved at its earliest through prototyping.

I would summarize that prototyping should not be seen only as a microcosm representative of the visual, textual, and functional elements of the course but as an enhanced way to understand the client and ensure a quick project closure.

Hope you enjoyed reading this post!

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