Corporate eLearning Series: Creating Digital Learning Prototypes That Actually Work
I love puzzles. Seriously! Sometimes all I want to do on a Friday night is work on a good puzzle while eating pizza and watching SVU. (Don’t judge me.)
Creating digital educational environments is very much like putting a puzzle together: it has MANY different pieces that must be put together in the right way for it to make sense. It can be a lot of fun, but only if you can manage the pieces, communicate with the right team members, and work together.
The key is managing processes so all of the moving parts are working together. InVision is one tool we take advantage of to help us out with that. It is the world’s leading prototyping, collaboration, and workflow platform, and is integral to AMP’s process of building out a well thought out digital environment. However, a strong process needs more than just the tools to support it. That’s why we’re sharing the steps your L&D team can follow to create and launch a successful digital learning environment.
Step 1: CONTENT HACK & LEARNING OBJECTIVES DIGEST
At AMP, we can’t stress enough how important it is that we have a content hack with the client before actual build-out begins. The hack allows us to get everyone in the room (client, SMEs, stakeholders, etc.) with our digital learning team to flesh out the learning objectives, branding, timeline, and other important elements of the project. Once we all have a clear understanding of the learning objectives and course layout, we can begin to move through the process strategically and cohesively.
We strongly recommend beginning any digital learning project with a content hack. The main goal should be to get all disparate team members on the same page so learning objectives are understood and everyone is aligned on project goals.
Step 2: BRANDING & STYLE GUIDE
I use InVision to create the overall branding style guide for the project. (Not sure what a style guide is or why it’s needed? Check out my blog post here!) InVision’s branding boards provide me with different tools and built-in layouts I can use to customize and create a visual hierarchy of our client’s brand guidelines that I can share with my fellow team members.
Branding consistency is important for your digital training efforts! Be sure to collect and share branding information with relevant team members.
Step 3: DESIGN DOCUMENT DEVELOPMENT
The next step is writing up the design document. The text document outlines the design specifications, standards, and conventions specific to the digital project development. What’s really important about the design document is that it provides our development team with the overall technical guidance and functionality before “actual” work begins. Think of it as a map as we begin to merge content and design with development and functionality.
Step 4: PROTOTYPING
The prototype is a visual and operational representation on how the overall course design will look, feel and work. This is where steps one through three come together, and it’s perhaps one of the most critical parts of the entire process. At AMP, our goal is to deliver a prototype that closely mimics what the final project will look like without actually programming the digital environment just yet.
InVision allows our team to upload design files and provides us with a number of powerful tools we can use to turn static screens into clickable, interactive prototypes. That way when we go to clients, it’s a lot easier for them to experience the functionality and flow. The result is can be an abbreviated testing-launch-iteration period because of a more agile process.
The goal of this step is for your team to have a near copy of the course’s look, feel, and functionality. With a concrete thing to work off of, you should be able to provide constructive comments and notes to iteratively and agilely improve on any and all elements of the training. This step ensures that your final deliverable, once programmed and uploaded to your LMS has been thoroughly tested. When using InVision, the added benefit is that you eliminate the costs of using a developer during this phase of the process!
One of the other amazing features is real-time collaboration and commenting. Our clients can click through the module prototype and make necessary comments for any edits they may have before final approval. It isn’t until we receive approval on all content and visual designs of the prototype that actual programming begins.
These four steps are critical pieces in creating digital educational environments. Once the prototype approved, our AMP programming team is able to put all the pieces together…and VOILA! The puzzle is complete and ready for testing and launch!