Developing a Prototype

The Value of Training Prototypes

A training prototype provides a preview. It shows what the final course will look like when it is complete. Both training specialists and clients love prototypes. Until this point, people have been envisioning the course materials in their minds. In this step, the training specialist builds a tangible sample that everyone can see and discuss.

Training prototypes often vary in scale and complexity. For some inhouse, the prototype might be just a few template pages. Other inhouse might need detailed step-by-step storyboards. The course's format often influences the type of prototype the training specialist will create.

  Course Format A Possible Prototype
1 Classroom Training Led by an Instructor Sample pages (templates) from the learner and instructor guides
2 E-learning (CBT and WBT) Storyboards that show text, images, layout, animations, and voiceover instructions
3 Blended Learning Samples pages and storyboards
4 Web-based classroom Sample pages from the learner and instructor guides
5 Job Aids Mockup that shows the design and layout

ILLAFTrain's training specialists build prototypes that fit the type of course they're developing. Simple inhouse don't need massive prototypes. However, when a project grows in size and complexity, prototypes help people envision the final deliverable.

Course Templates and Prototypes

Some large companies have created standardized templates for all their print and e-learning inhouse. These templates provide a consistent look for the company's training message and reinforce the company's branding. With these templates, people don't have to reinvent the wheel for each new course.

However, the training templates can become limiting and restrictive. Our training specialists have seen companies whose in-house brand guidelines actually inhibit learning. If a company uses standardized templates, they need to be flexible enough to allow inhouse to deliver their content successfully.

Many companies do not have standardized in-house training templates. When that's the case, our training specialists can use one of ILLAFTrain's in-house templates or create a custom template for the course.

The Prototype Review Process

In the simplest format, the training specialist and the client meet to discuss the prototype. Sometimes, this review process is as simple as a one-on-one meeting between the client's representative and the training specialist.
We've also worked with clients who require a number of different people and groups to approve the template. For example, the marketing department might want to confirm that the template conforms with branding guidelines and the legal department might want to ensure that the template properly protects the company's intellectual property and marks. It's really a matter of how the client structures its business and its decision-making process.

A Sample Prototype

Let's look at a sample prototype process, based on the experiences of our training specialists. Many training projects have a simple prototype review process. However, in the corporate world, the prototype process can quickly become quite complex.

In this example, ILLAFTrain's training specialists will create an e-learning project for a financial services company. The online course will teach employees how to comply with a new federal law that protects consumers' private data.

The company wants the e-learning module to follow the company's branding guidelines but also wants a fresh look. The instructional designer and graphic designer review the brand manual and design a template that shows the course's interface and navigation. In addition to the client's project leader, the marketing department asks to review the template.

Once the template has been approved, the training specialists create e-learning storyboards for the entire course. These storyboards show slide-by-slide what the course will look like when its complete. They are similar to the storyboards that directors use when planning a movie. It's generally easier to change these mockups than to change a fully programmed course.

The training specialists and the client then meet to discuss the storyboards. The client's subject matter experts review the storyboards to ensure the content is accurate and complete.

Since this training project touches on legal compliance issues, the client's project manager sends the storyboards to the company's internal legal department for review and approval.

Once the training prototype has been approved, it's time for the training specialists to develop the actual course materials.