What are prototypes?

Prototypes are functional, interactive sketches that help you design meaningful learning experiences.

Why bother with prototypes?

Prototypes help instructional designers focus on the learner experience early in a project, rather than get bogged down in content details.


Prototyping is learner-centric and can answer questions such as:

  • What behaviors are most important?
  • Are the activities effective at building the required skills?
  • Are the activities motivating?


In contrast, traditional storyboards content-centric and answer questions such as:

  • Are all topics covered?
  • Is the wording correct?
  • Are styles and graphics attractive?

Won’t prototyping slow me down and increase my costs?

No, for two reasons:

  • Prototypes are created and evaluated early in the design process. By obtaining feedback when it’s easy to make adjustments, prototyping means less rework in the production phase.
  • By taking a learner-centric approach to design, you’ll find that much of the content you might normally place in a course can be provided in a simpler format outside the elearning, such as in a job aid or reference document. Here’s a great job aid from Cathy Moore to help you decide when elearning is appropriate.

Prototype examples

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