WHAT is it?
"Prototyping is the iterative development of artifacts – digital, physical, or experiential – intended to elicit qualitative or quantitative feedback." (Geehr, 2008)
The act of prototyping implies "building", testing, and iterating and is, itself, both a flaring and a narrowing process. The flaring represents the proliferation of low-resolution prototypes developed as different aspects of the prototype are evaluated and the narrowing represents the refinement of the lower resolution models into increasingly complex and resolved models.
WHY do we teach it?
After the ideation phase, you have a mountain of ideas, some of which you'd like to pursue. Prototyping allows you to fully explore all of those concepts you want to evaluate. You prototype because you need to explore your options -- to try things and fail, further informing your design process. Prototyping is a way to do your due diligence on the concepts that came out of ideation. Get your hands dirty! Click that mouse! Bias toward action! If a picture is worth a thousand words, a prototype is worth a thousand pictures.
HOW do we teach it?
The "how" is largely dependent on the type of project you're working on. Building something physical? You should probably start by sketching, making low-resolution models out of foam core and hot glue, etc... Designing a classroom space? Make a small model. Approximate furniture with found objects. Find some users to test it out. There are myriad methods you can employ in your concept exploration -- but there are a few rules of thumb to follow:
The prototypes themselves aren't valuable -- at all -- but your learnings are. Treat them as a means to an end and not the end result.
Don't get emotionally attached to what you create. It'll only hinder your process.
Bias toward action! When in doubt, make something. Just do it! Thinking = Doing.
Use some of the free tools and more free tools to mock up/rapid prototype your classroom
Try 3D, Cartoons, Video or Storytelling
Make 3 or 4 slightly different versions to test
Try using some sustainable materials
Show your mock ups, designs and stories to your peers and people outside school
Observe their reactions to elements of your designs
Create a quick survey to gather feedback using Socrative or Poll Everywhere
Resources & tools
WHAT is it?
The test mode is another iterative mode in which we place our low-resolution artifacts in the appropriate context of the user’s life. In regards to a team’s solution, we should always prototype as if we know we’re right, but test as if we know we’re wrong—testing is the chance to refine our solutions and make them better.
WHY teach it?
To refine our prototypes and solutions. Testing informs the next iterations of prototypes. Sometimes this means going back to the drawing board.
To learn more about our user. Testing is another opportunity to build empathy through observation and engagement—it often yields unexpected insights.
To refine our POV. Sometimes testing reveals that not only did we not get the solution right, but also that we have failed to frame the problem correctly.
HOW to teach it?
Show don’t tell. Put your prototype in the user’s hands. And don’t talk (yet). Watch how they use (and misuse!) what you have given them; how they handle and interact with it; listen to what they say about it, questions they have.
Ask users to compare. Bringing multiple prototypes to the field to test gives users a basis for comparison, and comparisons often reveal latent needs.
ID a variable. Identify what’s being tested with each prototype. A prototype should answer a particular question when tested.
Resources & tools