E-learning courses are developed for the learners. The ultimate aim of any course is to meet the learners’ requirements. However, as the course progresses the focus shifts from learners to SMEs. This is due to a lot of interactions we have with SMEs that make us forget the target audience.
So my question is how many instructional designers are actually designing eLearning courses solely for their learners without their focus being distracted?
To equally satisfy SMEs and your learners here are a few tips.
Learners learn to meet their goals: As the name suggests, ‘Subject Matter Experts’ are experts who know their subject in and out. But coming to the learners’ side, they all have predefined goals and objectives set on what and how much they should learn. One of the principles of adult learning theory is that adults are goal oriented. So it is very important for an instructional designer to make the content learner-friendly. The best way to do this is by asking plenty of questions.
This can be done by a simple trick. Put yourself in the learners place and ask questions and identify how much you understand the content, under the given time constraints. The same questions can be clarified with your SMEs. This helps you to align the content with the learners’ needs.
Learners are not experts: SMEs are the Wikipedia of their own subject who have abundant information with them to be passed on to the learners. SMEs give the content and material according to their expertize level. Again comes the need of an instructional designer, whose responsibility is to present the content in a simpler manner so that the learners can understand it better.
Proper chunking, excellent visualization, right balance between onscreen text and audio are some ways in which content can be made simpler for the learners.
Add realism to your courses: Ask the SMEs for some real workplace incidents. Include them in you eLearning courses as scenarios. It makes the course realistic and the learners get connected.
For example, for one of our Supply Chain Management courses, there was a scenario in which materials did not reach the customers from stores. This led to a complete chaos and on proper analysis it was due to a fault found in the material-handling department. All this was shown in a complete scenario-based set-up. This helps the learners to build skills like problem solving and decision making.
With the help of the above few tips and with the aid of an instructional designer, the gap between SMEs and learners can be minimized as it is rightly said by Albert Einstein that, “It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge.”
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