Dealing with subject-matter experts for eLearning courses is a regular sight for an instructional designer. The subject-matter expert or SME is an integral part of your course, and this person works behind the scenes gathering relevant content for your eLearning course.
An SME can be anyone from a software engineer to a research analyst. Many times, it’s hard to decode what an SME thinks; this leads to anxiety and confusion which is reflected in your eLearning course. As hard as understanding an SME maybe, it’s not impossible! Let’s have a look at a few tips to decode your SME’S brain.
Be Ready – Before you even schedule a meeting with your SME, you have to be ready to ask the right questions in order to get the right answers. For this, all you need to do is be ready! Read the content provided by the SME before the meeting and comprehend as much as you can. Do some research, go on the Internet and read about the basic concepts of and ideas on the concerned subject. Remember- don’t try to outdo the SME as he is the king of the content. All you need to do is be a little knowledgeable in the subject matter in hand, and once the SME knows that you are as passionate as him about the subject, he will share all the information with you keenly.
Be Steady - Now that you’re in the meeting with your SME, you need to be ready with an in-depth questionnaire. The reason for having a questionnaire is that the SME may have a tendency to go off track and talk about information that isn’t relevant to your course. Ask specific questions to emphasize the “need to know” information rather than “nice to know” information. You can also ask open-ended questions, if you need interesting stories or case studies for the course. Always ask about the performance mistakes made by the learner; this helps you get a clear understanding of the learning outcome.
Be Set – You’ve done your homework and asked everything you needed to know. But, before you end the discussion with the SME, it’s your turn to talk. Once you have all the information you need, there is only one thing left to do – repeat, repeat and repeat! Summarize the information provided by the SME, and take a final confirmation. This is also the best time to clarify any gaps in or doubts you have about the content.
And GO! – With these points, you are all set with your final course content. So, what are you waiting for? Go! Get started!
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