Why eLearning Professionals Should Use Prototype in eLearning
Many eLearning professionals steer clear of prototyping because it not only takes money and time, but it also adds one more step to the already complex eLearning design and development process. However, prototyping does offer a broad range of benefits that make it well worth the investment. Here are just a few reasons why you may want to think about using a prototype in eLearning.
- Clarifies objectives and goals of the eLearning project.
Developing a prototype in eLearning before creating the finished eLearning deliverable allows you to clarify any misunderstandings or ambiguities. Rather than guessing at what the client wants or what the learner needs, you can gain a better understanding of what the objectives and goals are for the eLearning project in advance. A prototype in eLearning gives you the opportunity to ensure that your eLearning course is going to do what it's meant to do, according to the requirements of the client or your audience. You won't have to worry about any miscommunications standing in the way of your eLearning development process or be “on the fence” about which learning activities should be included. Using a prototype in eLearning makes everything crystal clear, including the expectations of your client.
- Pinpoints shortcomings of the eLearning course.
When you develop a prototype in eLearning, you have the rare opportunity to troubleshoot the deficiencies of your eLearning course well before launch. You can identify possible problem areas and figure out how to address these challenges at the beginning of the eLearning design and development process, instead of waiting for the first round of feedback or performance analysis. You can also determine whether or not the eLearning authoring tools and the Learning Management System(s) you are planning to use will help you to achieve your learning goals, or if you should opt for other eLearning solutions when creating the final eLearning deliverable.
- Simplifies the eLearning review process.
Rather than spending a great deal of time on the proofreading and editing process, you can devote more of it to perfecting and polishing the final eLearning deliverable. Typically, a review process that's done near the end of the project timeline can be time-consuming, given that it's the first time your clients see their eLearning course. However, if you give them a prototype early on, they can fine tune its various components, making the final review process more streamlined. As such, you can focus on developing the eLearning content and the learning activities, given that you won't have to set aside as much time for the review stage that comes just before rollout.
- Allows eLearning professionals to create more accurate estimates.
Prototyping gives you the ability to estimate more accurately how much time you'll need to spend on the development and design process, as well as how much you will charge the client. You can also determine which team members you will need to get onboard, based upon their skills and talents so that you can get to work as quickly as possible once the prototype has been approved. Another side benefit of this is that you get the chance to perfect your time management and hence, rest assured that you're being paid for your time and services, because you aren't underestimating the time or resources you'll have to devote to the project.
- Increases client satisfaction and improves the learner experience.
Developing a prototype in eLearning helps the clients feel more involved in the process. Instead of just sitting on the sidelines waiting for the final eLearning deliverable to be unveiled, they play an active role in the design process by offering their feedback and input. Additionally, the clients will have a better understanding of all the work that went into the process, and will be more likely to appreciate the talents and skills of the eLearning professionals involved.
- Facilitates a free-flowing exchange of ideas.
Prototyping adds an extra level of collaboration that is beneficial for all parties involved. The clients benefit because they can share their opinions and, ultimately, get an eLearning deliverable that meets their needs and expectations. There is a free-flowing exchange of ideas that enables them to voice their concerns and address any questions they might have, which builds a sense of confidence and trust between them and the eLearning professionals. In addition, the learners can achieve their learning goals and objectives more effectively because the eLearning course has been perfected throughout the various stages of the design and development process. And, lastly, the eLearning professionals benefit thanks to the fact that they get the invaluable input of their clients, who know their audience and the subject matter in a great detail, which helps to create more powerful and successful eLearning deliverables. Not to mention, that when the eLearning project has been completed, the eLearning professionals typically won't have to spend as much time demonstrating it, given that the clients are already aware of the key functions and features.
Keep in mind that the prototyping process may require a fair share of trial-and-error and numerous rounds of feedback, but ensuring that your client and your audience, of course, get the best results out of your eLearning course will make it all worthwhile. It will also help to improve your eLearning firm's image, thanks to the fact that you've proven that client satisfaction is of the utmost priority.
Are you looking for a comprehensive "must-have" eLearning checklist for your next eLearning Course Design project? In the article The Ultimate eLearning Course Design Checklist, you will find a checklist that every eLearning professional should have on hand, especially since there are so many steps involved in the eLearning course design process.