Most of the time, the e-learning course development process is driven by instructional designers or e-learning developers working in partnership with subject matter experts (SMEs).

But what if you’re an SME who’s been put in charge of driving an e-learning course and you need to partner with an e-learning designer or developer? What do you need to know to make the collaboration process go more smoothly? Here are four key tips to get you started:

Focus on Learning Objectives

It’s human nature to want to communicate in a way that’s as detailed as possible—especially when it’s your job to train someone. But taking that approach with e-learning will result in a bloated course that leaves learners feeling overwhelmed.

Instead, focus on what learners need to know and do to learn a new skill or improve their job performance. By prioritizing essential information over ancillary or “nice to know” content, you’ll keep learners focused on the core objectives.

But don’t worry! That nice-to-know content doesn’t need to go to waste. You can ask the developer to simply move it to a glossary or “additional resources” section in the course so it’s still available for folks who want a little more information.

Keep it Real

Most people retain concepts better when they can relate what you’re telling them to their own real-life experiences. For instance, using a realistic scenario can help learners visualize themselves applying new knowledge and skills they’re picking up in your course. 

When you’re partnering with a designer or developer, it can be helpful to share the kinds of real-world experiences your learners are likely to encounter on the job, so those experiences can inform the design of meaningful interactions that will engage and challenge learners and get them thinking.

Review Storyboards Attentively 

In e-learning, creating and approving the storyboard is is a crucial step. The storyboard serves as a "blueprint" for the final course. The storyboard ensures the content is correct before the final, detailed version of the course is built. 

It's important for you to review the storyboard attentively and thoroughly; set aside time to focus in on the details. Doing so now will save you and your project team a lot of complicated rework later on. Once the course is built, changes become more difficult and time-consuming to address.

Communicate Effectively

The relationship between the SME (you) and designers and developers is critical. Here are a few tips that can help keep the lines of communication open throughout the project:

  • Establish deadlines. Have a mutually agreed upon timeline for major milestones and the final deliverable deadline. Have ongoing discussions throughout the process, so you can check in on those milestones. And of course make sure to meet your own deadlines along the way!
  • Provide actionable feedback. When you’re asked to review content and provide your comments, try to always give specific, constructive, and actionable feedback that keeps the project moving forward.  Avoid vague feedback, nonspecific critiques, or comments that don’t offer a clear call to action. These are distracting to the designer and developer and can bog down the review process. 


By following these four simple techniques, you can really increase your value and contributions as a SME and help ensure the smooth roll-out of the new training initiative.

Interested in learning more about the course creation process? Take a look at these go-to e-books:

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