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5 Tips to Work with SMEs to Enrich Your eLearning Design

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5 Tips to Work with SMEs to Enrich Your eLearning Design

If you have liked any eLearning course in the recent past, I am sure you liked it because it was simple and easy for you to learn something. It was effective because you could learn quickly. How do you design and develop such eLearning courses? The answer is the more depth you have about the subject, the easier it is to teach it creatively. As a learning design expert, obviously you cannot have depth on all subjects.  Hence, the need for specialists – the Subject Matter Experts – SMEs as we call them.

SMEs are highly knowledgeable people in their respective domains. They are not learning experts, but they have in-depth knowledge of the subject you wish to design eLearning for.

The best training and learning experience occurs when you emotionally, intellectually and physically get involved; and this can happen only through storytelling. SMEs are great experts in storytelling. They love to share all their knowledge on the subject.

Here are some ways to gather information from the SMEs that can help you create a great eLearning experience for the learners.

  1. Listen: People love talking. Ask the SMEs to teach you the subject as they teach in the classroom. Don’t restrict them in the boundaries of an outline. Just let them share what they would if they have to impart this knowledge. Then, ask them to share their stories and experiences. This may take a couple of hours; it can happen in a stretch or in multiple sessions. One of the SMEs, who I work with to develop product training for medical devices, loves sharing about the product and he is so passionate about it that the minimum time he spends on a conference call is about 3-4 hours.
  1. Educate: When you have spent enough time listening to the SME, you should educate him on the eLearning process, learning outcome and audience.
  • For example, if we are developing a course for new hires and the learning outcome is that we create awareness on the subject, we don’t need to add the complex and advanced knowledge on the subject.
  • We also need to educate the SMEs on how to motivate the learners online and the differences between classroom training and eLearning.
  • Also, share the adult learning principles and various learning styles.
  1. Extract data by asking questions: Now that the SME has good knowledge of the eLearning process, it is time to ask relevant questions based on your knowledge gained till now. Interviewing is an art, if done well, will help you create a good eLearning course. Ask as if you are a learner and if you don’t learn the subject, you will fail in it.  The more curious you are to learn, the better questions you can ask and help the SME give you the right content.
  1. Agile process: Work with the SME in an agile way. Based on what he explained, create a learning experience and share it with the SME. This will give him ideas on how best we can teach that subject and accordingly he will share the content with you.
  1. Appreciate: Last but not the least, appreciate the time spent by the SME in developing the right eLearning course. If you build good relationships with the SMEs, the chances that your course turns out to be a winner are quite high.

Hope this tips will help you work seamlessly with SMEs to create an effective eLearning solution and achieve the learning outcome.  Have anything to say? Please do share!

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