Four Phases for Prototyping
In our work, we’ve identified four kinds of action or phases of prototyping. The phases we have for
learning are exploring, studying, prototyping, and researching. An example of prototyping through these
phases at ASB is the Internships program.
Exploring - The R&D task force first read about internships across a selection of texts and sources. They
began exploring internship programs at other schools and universities. Learning during this phase often
includes expanding knowledge of the scope and variation of practices, becoming aware of key practices,
practitioners, and resources.
Studying - The task force begins to study relevant literature, continues to gather information from other
schools, and considers a broad selection of existing internship programs, and assembles their findings and
recommendations. Learning during this phase often includes discovering elements and conditions at the
root of successful practices and identify models and practices that match specific needs or desired
Prototyping - The R&D task force designs a small prototype and test runs it. Learning during this phase
often includes learning the skills of adapting concepts or models to create the prototype, identifying initial
prototypers, and articulating and communicating to key constituents throughout the prototyping process.
Researching - The task force uses survey instruments and/or focus group interviews to understand the
impact of the prototype on teaching and student learning. The data is used to either design and run
another iteration of the prototype or scale the prototype to test run the practice with another audience.
The data collected is used to make recommendations about the practice or approach.
Always Beta Prototyping
"The Hacker Way is an approach to building that involves continuous improvement and iteration. Hackers
believe that something can always be better, and that nothing is ever complete." - Mark Zuckerberg
Schools have an ethical responsibility to provide thoughtful high quality learning for students. A less-than-quality prototype that has a negative impact on students is not an option in schools. This is why always
beta prototyping is a vital methodology that ensures ethical prototyping in schools. Always-beta
development is a term that comes from the software industry and indicates both a finished product and
a product that is under construction (Wikipedia, 2013). The product is “complete” but there is a promise
of continued development. In schools, always beta prototypes must have the quality of a finished program
or practice, as well as the expectation that the prototype will continue to develop, deepen, and evolve
Further supporting prototyping as an ethical practice in schools is John Hattie’s research linking innovative
efforts to achievement; “...a constant and deliberate attempt to improve the quality of learning on behalf
of the system, principal and teacher typically relates to improved achievement. The implementation of
innovations probably captures the enthusiasm of the teacher implementing the innovation and the
excitement of the students attempting something innovative. Often this has been explained as an
experimental artifact in terms of a Hawthorne effect. No matter the reason, it appears that innovation per
se can have positive effects on students’ achievement. Teachers who constantly question "How are I