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Rapid Prototyping

The idea of rapid prototyping as it applies to instructional design, is to develop learning experiences in a continual design-evaluation cycle that continues throughout the life of the project. This cycle, known as the spiral cycle or layered approach, is considered to be iterative, meaning that products are continually improved as they cycle continues. This can be seen more clearly by comparing Rapid Prototyping with a traditional development model:

Classic Design (waterfall) Model

  1. concept definition
  2. requirements definition
  3. preliminary design
  4. detailed design
  5. code implementation
  6. test and acceptance
  7. [griping because you now realize that there was something that got left out back in step 2]

Rapid Prototyping (spiral) Model

  1. concept definition
  2. implementation of a skeletal system
  3. user evaluation and concept refinement
  4. implementation of refined requirements
  5. user evaluation and concept refinement
  6. implementation of refined requirements
  7. [etc., etc., in a continuous cycle]

Based on:

The image of a spiral is often used to express the cyclical nature of rapid prototyping or iterative design

Rapid prototyping allows the designer to start with a low fidelity medium (such as paper and pen) and move to increasingly higher fidelity prototypes as time goes on. There are two types of prototypes that can be developed:

  • Vertical Prototypes - in-depth functionality for a few features
  • Horizontal Prototypes - entire screen with no underlying functionality

In addition, there are multiple approached to prototyping:

  • Paper prototypes (example: - easy to change. users perceive that it is easier to change. Often throwing in color or artwork make a use thing that they cannot suggest changes.
  • Post-it Prototypes (example:
  • Wizard of Oz Prototyping
  • Wireframe Prototypes / Wireframing - nothing visual, just shaded blocks explaining what will be there
  • Storyboarding
  • Electronic prototypes (inspiration)


Instructional Design

Educational Technology