Technologist

Prototype

Now it’s time to try out your chosen technology and design a prototype of your creation. Prototyping can sound daunting if you think of it in relation to engineering or lab work. But at its basic level, it involves putting a small tangible creation in front of your users instead of talking about abstract ideas. It can result in much richer feedback from the people that matter to you and your work. The basic steps are:

  • Design
  • Share
  • Refine

Experimentation and play are essential for getting to know a tool and discovering what works well within a design. But when it comes creatinge something entirely new, it’s best to approach it with a well-thought-out vision of what you want the end result to be.

If you select a technology from one of the resources included in one of The How To’s, you will have access to its guided lessons and activities that will help you get started. If you decide to explore new terrain through a tool or technology from within our Great Tool List, you will have to do a bit more planning.

The Tech Creation Planning Document is an example of one way to map out the planning process, but you might want to develop your own planning notes based on your preferences.

Design

Now that you’ve mapped out a plan, how do you actually want to prototype? We suggest one of two ways:

  • Dig in to the Tool
  • Use Creative Materials

Dig in to the Tool

If you decide to take the leap and start working with the tool, keep in mind that this requires dedicated time. If it’s your first time using the tool, go through any tutorials provided, or search for some online – undoubtedly there are others that you can learn from. Also reassure yourself that this prototype does not need to solve the learner challenge entirely – perhaps it is just one aspect of the challenge that you’ve uncovered. Start small. That’s the whole idea behind prototyping – you create what is known as the “minimal viable product”.

Use Creative Materials

You can always take a cautionary, but equally valuable approach by mocking up your prototype using whatever creative materials you have on hand. Paper, post-its, pipe cleaners, etc, can be used to create the prototype and help you think through the process. A great example of a simple prototype using creative materials can be found at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-SOeMA3DUEs

Share

Share your creation with peers or learners and obtain feedback. Ask them the following:

  • What worked?
  • What didn’t work?
  • What questions do you have?
  • Do you have any ideas for me to consider?

You may want to use the Design thinking Feedback grid pdf form – it’s fillable or you can print it out.

Refine

Based on their responses, you can now take the necessary steps to synthesize that feedback in order to refine your creation. And it’s important to recognize that often it isn’t practical or beneficial to fix every perceived issue from your users. You might want to take the feedback received and prioritize it based on feasibility and how it works to evolve the best solution for your learner challenge.