Tips Newsletter – March, 2015
Prototype To Jump-Start a Large Project
In the context of large instructional design/development project, I am using the following definition taken from Wikipedia: A prototype is an early sample, model, or release of a product built to test a concept or process or to act as a thing to be replicated or learned from.
Recently DSA completed a large project for our home county in Monterey, California. The project was to design and develop a Contracts and Purchasing Academy for county personnel among 27 different departments.
Where Did We Start?
We were brought in after the completion of a Needs Analysis by the Learning and Organizational Development Department. Due to the size of the project and the urgent nature of the project., DSA was contacted for help. As you might expect, we went through all the necessary ISD steps and phases. However, to speed up the process and provide the client with a clear picture of what the proposed learning products would look like, we selected, in consultation with our client, one high priority-learning task to build out early in the project.
Learning Products for The Academy
We created prototypes of each type of learning product showing how they were inter-related. The learning products were:
- Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) (Approximately 30)
- E-learning modules (7)
- Instructor led half-day courses (ILT) (6)
The selected single high priority learning task would require all three learning products. The authentic learning task selected was “How to Develop and Write Statements of Work” (SOWs).
The lead instructional designer, while still completing a very extensive process analysis, assigned separate designers to the SOPs and the e-learning module to develop the learning products for this one high priority-learning task. The lead designer took on the ILT design and coordinated the integration and unified effort throughout.
The benefits of having this early build out (prototype) of the learning products on a single high priority-learning task were many:
- Agreement on the look and feel of the products
- Problem areas/ bottlenecks in the process identified and resolved
- Testing the products individually on the audience
- Review process is clearly identified
- Established credibility and believability early in the project
- Standardization of product formats and our processes
- Logistical needs of the project established speeding implementation
- And many, many, more.
Prototypes will show results early on in your project and help to get everyone on board. I speak from my own project history–I have used this early prototyping method many times with great success, especially for larger design and development projects. Give it a try in your next project.
Until next time,
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by subject area, and by release date.