In the last post, we talked about storyboarding. In this post I want to get into prototyping. While storyboards are very useful for visualizing a course, they only work well for linear courses. Because many eLearning lessons are non-linear, storyboards can be rather confusing to both SMEs and programmers. Sometimes it is excessively difficult or even impossible to describe all the interactions, non-linear navigation, scenarios, simulations, and other media-rich content in words. Storyboards do not always allow to fully capture all the nuances of the design, especially when it comes to games and interactions. Therefore, many instructional designers turn to rapid prototyping to develop an interactive model of their eLearning course.
In addition to all the information found in storyboards, prototypes contain the overall course layout including buttons and navigation.
There are three prototyping styles:
- Nonfunctional prototypes – Do not have any functional elements but still have the look and feel that effectively communicates functionality of the future course.
- Semi-functional prototypes – Contain interactions and can be used as screenshots in storyboards.
- Fully functional prototypes – Include most of the content, interactions, and assessments and clearly demonstrate the functionality of the entire course.
Just like with storyboarding, there is no single way to prototype. Therefore, you should choose the prototyping approach that works best for your specific needs. There are many different tools that can be used to build prototypes; Articulate Storyline and Adobe Captivate are just some examples.
If, however, rapid eLearning tools are not available, you can use PowerPoint to build your prototypes. ISD specialists who are technologically savvy and want to create a fully functional prototype with advanced interactions can turn to Adobe Flash to lay out their lesson. Prototypes are not meant to be complete. Their sole purpose is to visualize the functionality and usability of the course.