Prototyping in Public

Prototyping in Public

July 16, 2018

A few weeks ago we started Praktio Proto—a project we've described as an "experiment of experiments." (That's because we're experimenting with releasing experimental, early-stage course materials for public feedback.) Already, we have seen exciting benefits to prototyping in public.

Our motivation behind Praktio Proto is to learn as much as possible as early and cheaply as possible in the development of our training products. Before we develop fancy media and a bunch of immersive, interactive activities, we want to test questions like:

  • Is this course topic (e.g., redlining, confidentiality agreements) a commercially useful one for any audience?
  • How can our content—substance and organization—be better?
  • How can our digital, interactive exercises be made more realistic?

In this spirit, the challenge for our Proto course development is to make a course as quickly as possible with (we think) high-quality substance. That means, for Proto courses, we go heavy on text and very light on video and interactive exercises. Of course, the hallmark of fully developed Praktio courses is super interactive courses with practical guidance (often in video form).

That means, for Proto courses, we go heavy on text and very light on video and interactive exercises. Of course, the hallmark of fully developed Praktio courses is super interactive courses with practical guidance (often in video form).

But videos and interactive courses are resource-intensive to build, especially relative to text-heavy courses. So Proto courses start off with a bunch of text, with maybe one or two sample interactive exercises and some side comments explaining what we'd imagine building for the fully developed course.

This approach already has proven highly worthwhile. For Running Useful Redlines, we built one sample exercise to teach users how to run a useful redline in the context of a realistic scenario. Instead of building the dozen or so exercises we have mapped out for a full module, we built one, left a side comment about our plans, and asked for user weigh-in. And we're so glad we did! 

Julian Bulaon, a practicing attorney at an Am Law 100 firm, left great feedback in the comments panel about how the exercise felt a bit stilted. And we totally agreed! We went back and forth with some ideas his comment generated and landed on an improved version of the exercise. Praktio updated the exercise in the Redlining Proto course by the following week. I'm so glad we didn't spend a bunch of time building out 10 or 20 exercises before receiving that helpful perspective.

I'm so glad we didn't spend a bunch of time building out 10 or 20 exercises before receiving that helpful perspective.

That's the thing. It's often much easier (faster, cheaper, etc.) to make rather dramatic course corrections (pun intended, I guess) at the Proto stage of the course development process than after a full-blown course is built. (We're working on other solutions to aid in this, so we can stay as nimble and responsive as possible during all phases of course production—but the fact remains, and is likely always to remain, true: the easiest time to make changes to a digital course is early in its production cycle.)

We also hope that engaging all perspectives in our course production—existing and potential customers and users, former students, practitioners at all sorts of firms and companies—will help create a culture of feedback that helps keep us in step with the needs of those on the front lines. Indeed, we reached out to Julian to get his take: “I appreciate the opportunity to share lessons I’ve learned in practice to help align new Praktio courses with practical realities and real points of confusion among junior attorneys.”

Cheers to that!

Michael

 



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