What do you think prototype is?
In my opinion, a prototype is the example of model of the actual product or in other words it is the ideas of new product before releasing the final form of the actual product.
What form does it take?
It can be found in many type of forms and it can be in a physical form or digital form. The example of physical form is the model that has been built from cardboard or paper. The example of digital form is wire-frame or storyboard.
Example of prototype of chair that has been built from cardboard.
The example of wire-frame of Facebook website.
If we create a physical prototype we need some hand-tools and get our hands dirty. For example is we get some pencil and a piece of paper and start sketching and drawing while for the digital form prototype we need some software development tools to develop the dummy system which is the prototype that looks like the real system.
What is it used for?
The prototype is used for test an idea in an existing system or before real system is established and at the same time is to gain some feedback from other people when we show our prototype to them. Other people can suggest any improvement for our actual product.
What it's purpose?
In my opinion, the purpose of prototype is to prove whether the components that will also be in the final system will work together as expected.
When would you create one ?
When we get a clear idea what kind of 'thing' or product we want to build or develop and we can start make a research and we can start express our idea in the piece of paper such as do some sketching.
What does it mean in the context of your studies?
What does it mean in the context of my studies is to develop my understanding about the prototype and implements it by developing my own prototype.