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Why So Fast?

“In times of rapid change, experience could be your worst enemy.”           – J. Paul Getty

Picture this scenario:  You are a respected chef.  You invite 10 people over for dinner.  You ask each of them their vision for the perfect dinner.  You get 10 different answers with some similarities in ingredients.  You must now try to achieve a meal that will result in every person feeling you not only listened to their opinion but created a satisfying end for their taste buds.

But wait!  There’s more!  You have half the time than normal to put the creation on the table AND all 10 people will join you as you cook, fully expecting to prepare the meal with you.  The 10 have varying experience in the kitchen, and some of them will require instruction and clarification from you as you work.

Does your experience tell you this fast-tracked, collaborative approach will this result in a disaster or a triumph? Could you as the ‘expert’ have created the perfect meal for each on your own?  Will the participants feel that being a part of the process made the food taste better?  If the same group of people got together the following week under the same conditions would the meal improve?

This is how I view rapid prototyping as it relates to instructional design. I see it as spending less time thinking and more time doing.  Like the chef in the scenario above, if you are use to the ‘traditional way’, rapid prototyping probably feels frustrating and disorienting in the process.  The mindset that experience brings may stifle your ability to be open to something new.  What appeals to me about this model is the learning while you are doing – with other people.  Quite social constructivist.

In looking further into the concept of rapid e-learning design, I discovered Upside Learning, a series of blog posts that, according to the author, “cover varied topics around rapid eLearning including authoring tools, effective techniques, and decision considerations. Some of the posts are on specific tools (like Articulate) but generally you will find them equally useful for any rapid tool/framework you use. And there are also some posts which may influence your decision to use rapid development approach.”  I also looked for products  to assist with the ‘rapid’ part, and was intrigued by Rapid Intake. This seems to be a good vehicle for taking existing content and integrating more interactivity – a better alternative to most.

Steve Jobs said, “Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.” I might add to this statement — for everyone involved.  So if the idea of rapid prototyping is to develop learning experiences in a continual, collaborative design-evaluation cycle, next week’s dinner will be all the more tasty – Bring it on!


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