eLearning Design

Top tips for working with subject matter experts


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Top tips for working with subject matter experts

I recently hosted an Omniplex training course, Instructional Design for eLearning. On the course, a delegate asked me if I had any tips for working with subject matter experts (SMEs) – especially when migrating from face-to-face training to eLearning.

I know many of you will be in this situation at some point in your careers – so I thought I’d share my top ten tips for working with SMEs.

  1. Make sure senior management are on side. If senior management are weary of the transition to eLearning, this will trickle down throughout the team, and to the SME.
  2. Get the SME(s) on board as soon as possible. Do some basic research into their subject matter and roles, and get to know them. They need to be your new best friend.
  3. Try to produce an early demo, or mock up, so the SME can visualise the end goal early on. This will help get their buy-in, especially if they’ve been used to face-to-face training.
  4. Set expectations. Let them know what you’ll need from them – and how much time you’ll need from them.
  5. Help your SME concentrate on the learning objectives. I’ve found that SMEs sometimes want to impart too much information into the course. Try to keep them focused.
  6. Avoid giving them a demo of your authoring tool, but do explain to them your development process.
  7. If you find an enthusiastic SME in one area of your business, use them to help you get the rest of the company on board – transitioning to eLearning can be tough for many – they’re more likely to respond to someone they see as a peer.
  8. Speak to your SME. It seems obvious, but in today’s age it’s very easy to fall into the trap of sending emails in replacement of a face-to-face conversation – don’t do this!
  9. Celebrate – and share – the success of the first eLearning course you publish with your SME. They are as critical in the process as you are, make sure they get the credit they deserve.

I hope that some of these points will help you when working with SME’s, especially those of you that are new to eLearning. If you have any questions, pop them in the comments below!