Improve Your eLearning Review Cycles with Prototypes

Written by Bill Cushard | Mar 31, 2014 11:27:54 PM

In any business that creates physical products, prototypes are used to show an early example of a product so people can visualize it. Inventors live by the prototype, producing early examples of inventions to test and to gather feedback. In product development, prototypes are critical so people can see what is being created. Why should eLearning be any different? 

It shouldn’t be.

But with traditional eLearning authoring tools, it is time consuming and difficult to publish an early version of an eLearning course for people to review. It is especially difficult for reviewers who do not have a license to the authoring software that you have. And your stakeholder will almost certainly not have the eLearning software that you use.

This is a problem that creates a lot of friction in the review cycle. Often times, in these scenarios, proper review cycles are skipped, and once the course is finalized and published, your audience complains that the course is not what they expected.

So what to do?

Live by the prototype

If you use a web-based eLearning authoring tool, like Mindflash, you can easily publish a preview version of a course in development. Then you can just send a link to your reviewers and they can review the course in their browsers. Very easy.

Show an early prototype for proof of concept

And when I say early draft, I mean it. If your eLearning course is about your company’s sales process, and one of the slides will address your four step sales process, you do not need to list the four steps on the slide. You can use placeholder text in your prototype. The idea is to give reviewers a visual of what the course will look like. So, just put a title on the slide called, “The Four Step Sales Process,” then copy the text below into the slide.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, et novum iuvaret nostrum vel, ius in omnes everti omittam. No tibique moderatius his. Everti eruditi ocurreret eu pro, eos legere postulant eu. Sit et quot summo, nemore signiferumque mediocritatem ei eam, ne mutat copiosae pro. Te nulla postea cum, ne sit reque inimicus, mel ne porro simul laboramus.

This latin placeholder text has been used in the print and typesetting industry for years. By placing this text in slides in your eLearning course, you can quickly get a prototype up for people to see. Then you can say, “OK, this is what the eLearning course will look like."

The best part about the prototype is that it does not have to be perfect.

Placeholders and prototypes

Placeholders can also work with graphics and quizzes. Let’s say you know you are going to show a graphic of real sales data. Until you get that graphic, use a placeholder image of any graph. Again, the point is to place an image on the screen of a graph (any graph), so you can show reviewers, “This is where we will place a graph of sales data for the past 12 months.” People will get it right away. They may even help you get the real graph.

Once people see the prototype, they will want to help you make it real.

How do you get stakeholders to review your eLearning courses? Share your stories below.

Bill Cushard, author, blogger, and learning experience (LX) designer, is a human performance technologist (HPT) with extensive, in-the-trenches experience building learning organizations at companies like E*TRADEAccenture, and ServiceRocket. You can follow him on Twitter or on Google+