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An Ideal SME and an Ideal Elearning Developer – A Wish List!

Written By Shivani Singh

An Ideal SME and an Ideal Elearning Developer - A Wish List!

eLearning designers and developers  MUST RELY on Subject Matter Experts (SME) for expert content knowledge. However, these experts often have NO TIME and little interest in eLearning development. Here is a WISH LIST of what an Ideal SME and an Ideal Developer should be like.

AN IDEAL SUBJECT MATTER EXPERT (SME) AN IDEAL ELEARNING DEVELOPER
1. Full time availability on the project 1. Makes no demands on time
2. Understands learners 2. Understands the subject
3. Conversant with traditional training 3. Replicates PowerPoint as-is
4. Knowledge of Instructional Design 4. Does not change the content
5. Knows eLearning Development Process 5. Delivers on time
6. Knows about eLearning tools 6. Develops intricate animations
7. Understands costs for media used 7. Works within budgets
8. Can write engagingly 8. Provides detailed information in courses
9. Empowered to approve deliverables 9. Understands what’s there in SMEs’ minds
10. Listens to eLearning developer!!! 10. Appreciates SMEs’ time and effort

What would you add to this list?

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  • So I read both lists and I think, I’ve not met either of these people… Few SMEs have this designation in their job title and most often see this role as something they’ve been asked (or told) to do and often at the last minute. The lDs role is simple. Take the content and work with the SME to translate it into effective learning. Good IDs are typically adept at changing content without changing meaning and simplifying the “have to know” material into digestible learning. In my 20 plus years of working with SMEs, I have NEVER encountered a SME with all or even most of the top ten attributes listed. In the end, the intended message to the learner has to be clear and it can’t be a “core dump” of every possible nugget that the SME thinks the person has to know. When we can effectively translate (with the SMEs help) the need to know content into what the learner how the learner has to use it in their job or role, we’ll most be successful in the learner’s eyes. In terms of attributes, I want someone that is:

    – engaged or has some “skin” in the game,
    – available to discuss, review, and is collaborative (give and take); full-time, not required
    – familiar with how the material relates to desired job performance
    – good at getting content approved in their organization or knowing whether the finished learning product meets the organization’s needs.

  • Ramanatha Sastry

    i read the article and i appreciate it. yes it is true. In addition i like to add that both SME and content developers have the quality of visualization of the subject matter and they must know what is know as ” Janusian method/ thinking” in subject development.

  • Yusup Hashim

    The wish list for SME is actually the list for instructional designer. One must not be confused between the roles of instructional designers abd subject matter experts. E-learning Subject matter experts must be experts in e-content, writing skills for distance learners, writting specific learning outcomes, basic knowledge of e-learning tools, curriculum design and the organisation of the content. The list for e-learning developer is ok. But should also includes graphic skills, video audio editing skills, and presentation or authoring skills. So there are three people involved in producing e-learning materials: SME, Instructional designer, and e-learning developer besides e-learning producer/projector manager. The services of the three experts may not be required for producing simple day-to- day classroom e-learning matetials.