How do you prototype?

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I recently read an article on Allen Interactions’ website, Four Tips to Create the Perfectly Imperfect e-Learning Prototype. The article centered on four key prototyping concepts:

  • Speed
  • Room for failure
  • Simplicity
  • Participation

Speed and simplicity are related, in that good prototypes should be developed quickly, and should omit most extraneous details about the design and the details of how things will work. Don’t overdo it.

The article also focused on leaving room for failure – welcoming it, in fact – because that allows room for lots of different ideas to surface.

Finally, participation deals with keeping your circle of approvers small, and limited to those who have been most closely involved with the project.

Prototyping can take many forms, from simple paper sketches to fairly well developed components of larger modules (and anything in between, of course). Quick, simple prototyping is something that many instructional designers struggle with. On one hand, you want to sketch and try out new ideas – but the overachiever in you feels vulnerable when sharing ideas that are experimental or not fully developed.

So what do you feel most comfortable with, and what do you do in your own practices? Does it depend on the project, or do you have a favorite approach? Let me know what you think.

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