As the iterations begin, there is a continual feedback loop with the stakeholders to keep them updated and informed. In the design phase, all the various elements of the course are laid out and a “blueprint” is created. This phase helps visualize how display elements, text elements, and the navigation fit together to create the overall course.
To start off the design phase, the instructional designer chooses the instructional methods and content presentation, using the course plan as a guide. Instructional methods include expositive, application, and collaborative. Given the nature of the course, the recommended methods are a combination of the expositive method, where the retention of new information is stressed, and the application method, where learners use their cognitive skills to navigate through scenario-based exercises, role plays, or simulations. Meanwhile, the presentation of the content will vary throughout the course depending on the topics. The four different types are:
- Storytelling – content is realistically presented with actions and decisions
- Scenario-based approach – learners are put into a scenario and make decisions that shape the outcome
- Toolkit – learners can pick and choose from a list of independent topics
- Demonstration-practice – the procedure is demonstrated, then is repeated by the learners.
Once the high-level layout is set, the ID and Ux designer now create storyboards. A storyboard roughly lays out all the different visual and text elements, and any audio and video scripts for each course segment. This sequence of storyboards also shows interactions within segments and the navigation among segments. The visual elements are sketched out on paper or a whiteboard, omitting the finer details such as pictures, colors, and fonts. This is the “blueprint” of the course and it is used as a reference for the rest of the design phase and into the development phase.
Next, the designers create a prototype with the e-learning tool to test out the overall flow and functionality of the course. The prototype will be made directly from storyboard content, including interactions, momentarily disregarding fine details. The main goal of the prototype is to allow testers to focus on content errors, broken linkages among segments, and illogical interactions.
Testing the prototype should be done before the development phase begins, as it allows for quick adjustments before all the final details are created. User testing is conducted by the HFE and the ID. A summary report is written after the user engagement, and the prototype is updated to reflect the feedback received. Additionally, the prototype should have SME acceptance to ensure that the content is logical and accurate.