One recipe for rapid prototyping

You’ve probably found that rapid prototyping approaches, like recipes, often need to be modified according to  tastes  and to circumstances (both your clients’ and your own).

Rapid prototypes are essentially mock-ups of a learner  interface with sufficient bells and whistles to allow you to test

  • system usability
  • instructional effectiveness

The important point of a rapid prototype  is to determine whether the completed project (as you envision it) will meet desired performance objectives. Before investing in the human resources and all of the assets needed to deploy the completed program, it’s important to allow a test population of users (and SME’s) to kick the tires. Ideally, you’re able to obtain feedback during multiple stages of the project.

Juggling the steps of ADDIERapid prototyping can require juggling different steps of the ADDIE process simultaneously, and ideally involves course correcting and improving your design at multiple steps. Thus, in contrast to a traditional ADDIE  model, feedback is obtained before the development and implementation stage.

Tempting as it may be with the time pressures involved, skimping on the analysis phase is not a good idea. Communicating with your client and making sure your course/training is really learner-centered at the outset saves you a lot of headaches in the long run and more importantly, ensures that your program is really useful.

Analysis is important:

  • to check your interpretation of needs
  • to identify if training is really the best way to achieve those needs
  • to flesh out objectives that address those needs
  • to identify what learners need to do to perform
  • to identify what learners need to know to perform

However, you may find that your analysis continues into the design phase and development phase as you continue to receive input from your clients and learners. If clients are impatient with the very idea of analysis, just call it something else but do it!

Prototyping platforms/tools can include:

  • storyboarding
  • slide shows
  • animated prototypes
  • Web site wireframes

I’m a fan of using Captivate for rapid prototyping because it allows me to give my test users and clients a sense of the interactive functionality of the learning experience I’m proposing. I can also provide training notes as rollover captions or as audio.

An example of a rapid prototype for a pharmaceutical compliance program can be accessed here. The goals of the program are described in this short module.

What are your favorite ways to develop a rapid prototype?

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