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Understanding prototypes (lecture)

Aims and Rationale

The main scope of the Deliver stage is about channelling all the knowledge gathered in the previous three stages into the design of the prototypes. This activity represents the spring board for putting into practice the digitally-mediated ways of enabling ICH self-documentation consistently with the typical use and understanding of technology of the members of the chosen community. The prototypes are a natural consequence of the design process, which has seen the collection of data about users and their contexts during the ICH-HCI workshop, the analysis of this data in the Thematic analysis, the targeting of the users in the Creating personas, and definition of solutions for the design in the Questions for the design.

Therefore, the aim of this activity is to introduce students to prototyping. It is represented by a lecture that will cover all the main aspects of prototype construction within a user-centered design.  To enable students to fully apply the ideas introduced in this introductory lecture to prototyping, the lecture should be followed by a dedicated activity – called Designing prototypes – that sees the student working on low-fidelity prototypes.

Learning Outcomes and Associated Areas of Knowledge

Recognise the importance of prototyping within a user-centered design

Identify ways of implementing prototypes that reflect the users’ needs and expectations

21st Century skills

  • Technological Fluency



How to

You can download our suggested slides and edit them according to your needs. These slides are made available via a Creative Commons Licence.

Alternatively, you can create your own set of visual aids based on this activity guide and the slides

However, we suggest that the following points are not overlooked:

  • Conceptual model of the technology;
  • Metaphors;
  • What prototypes are and what they are for;
  • The difference between low-fidelity and high-fidelity prototypes;
  • Compromises in prototyping;
  • Some principles for the construction of prototypes.


Students may find it difficult to use metaphors from their own fieldwork to convey a certain meaning in their designs and use it for artistic purposes. We recommend helping them with examples and explaining the potential misconceptions for using the wrong metaphors.

Assessment for Learning

Prototyping action represents a practical consolidation of most of the previous knowledge and skill construction facilitated by the previous activities. Before the students reach this point however, the lecture can provide students with a grounding in understanding prototypes.

The topic and sequential placement of this lecture ‘sets the scene’ for subsequent hands-on design work by teams of students. The lecture will provide opportunities for the students to recognise the importance of prototyping to enact design work informed by student learning thus far. It will also help students identify way of implementing prototypes.  The extent to which student achieve the learning outcomes associated with this activity will be more prevalent in the next ‘doing’ phase. Question and answer sequences during and after the main lecture can be used as comprehension checks for some of the main ideas introduced

Assessment 'How to'

Before moving into the Designing prototypes activity – where the students will have the chance to put into practice their knowledge and understanding – you might find it important to review the conceptual designs written by the students during the Questions for the design activity. This is to address ahead of time any potential incompatibility with the users’ perceptions in terms of mobile technology and interests in ICH of the community she/he belongs.

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Download Word File of activity in English


  • Ensure that the prototypes construction is solidly grounded into the lessons from the previous stage.

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