In simplest terms, “rapid prototyping” is a technique of quickly assembling a module that can be tested with participants, SMEs, and training staff early on in the ISD process. The evaluation of the prototype examines such items as how well the learners respond to the creative metaphor, were the learning activities effective, and how well the module performs on the selected medium. Based on the feedback, the design can be revised and another prototype developed. This iterative process continues until there is agreement on the prototype.
The “rapid prototype” phase is integrated into the ADDIE model after the design phase, which enhances the ISD process by involving stakeholder feedback earlier on in the process. Rapid prototyping offers a means to test ideas and elaborate alternatives assuming that the final design will not be the first product. By using this technique insights are made, communication is clearer, and refinements and elaborations are made earlier in the process, thereby saving much rework. In the end, a detailed design document and prototype are the best insurance policies against last-minute changes.
You’ll notice from the graphic above that the darkness of the circle represent the typical emphasis put on a particular phase in the ISD process. The goal should be for equal emphasis across all phases, which will ultimately create higher quality learning products more efficiently.