4 Replies
Saenna B Ahman

Congrats to you for taking that step, Lisa! We have done some of that among our team also, and often it is a great way to speed the development process along. In my situation, we learned that it was overkill to do a lot of educating about ADDIE because it felt too theoretical or academic to the SMEs that i work with. We had better luck avoiding instructional design "lingo" and instead we adapted some of Cathy moore's approach of 'action mapping' . You can read about that here: http://blog.cathy-moore.com/2008/05/be-an-elearning-action-hero/ and also here http://blog.cathy-moore.com/?s=information Essentially we distilled the action mapping concept into a quick 5-minute presetation, and when an sme is ready to start developing, we have a kickoff meeting with them to give them our "action mapping pep talk" and presnetation, basically to help them see that course development is not about jamming loads of text and "information" into a course.

It also helps to frame things in a way that appeals to whatever they value. usually time and money are good levers. For example, we worked with a group of sales leaders to create a sales training, and we positioned the training like this: "Let's see how we can build this course to help your sales reps become 100% proficient in the LEAST AMOUNT OF TIME  so tha t they can achieve their highest revenue goals, quicker."  Which made it easier to strategize with them... in fact the sales leaders themsleves were saying stuff like "what is the bare minimum, the absolute essential stuff that must be included in the course?" Everything else (the ancillary stuff) we turned into job aids or quick-reference guides.

I hope that helps. I think the biggest roadblocks with heavy SME involvement is that tendency to "bloat" the course with a lot of unneeded content. And also the tendency to focus on "information" rather than skill-building. If you can avoid those potential snares, you will be in great shape. good luck!! Let us know how things go!

Natalia Mueller

Great tips, Saenna!

SMEs are definitely fantastic resources. The biggest challenges I've faced with SMEs developing training is also that tendency to include far too much and the misconception that if they just tell the learner everything there is to know about a topic, they will walk away knowing how to use it.  

 I really like Saenna's solution of setting them up from the start with the mindset of strategy, while still giving them a place to put all of the extras they want to share. 

One more thing to watch for, oftentimes SMEs are so entrenched in their area of expertise that they don't realize the terms and language they use every day are new or unfamiliar to learners. I have found it helpful to establish an editing system where someone outside of the SME team reviews the material while it's still in script form. The less familiar the reviewer is with the subject, the better. 

Along with the Cathy Moore resources Saenna shared, I also like to give anyone new to developing courses her Dump the Drone presentation AND Tom K's rendition that includes the same content, but also shows a variety of design elements that help make a course more compelling. 

Good luck!

Saenna B Ahman

YES Natalia I'd forgotten about Dump The Drone - must bookmark that one!!!

I thought of one more thing that might help ... and this is a little bit of an "art form" i guess... but the more you can become a Partner to your SMEs the better. By that i mean, help them to 'own' the project  and make them feel like they are the ones who are not just championing it, but are accountable for the results. Sometimes this means really taking a back seat in terms of "who gets the credit for the project success" -  which in a way is kind of unfortunate because for all practical purposes it will probably be YOU who actually steers the ship and sees the project through to successful completion, lol. So you can see why I say it's an art form. Getting the SMEs to be invested in the success - but also helping them to "let go" enough that they let you "do your thing" as far as instructional design, visual design, and so on.

ALso something as simple as a "credits" page somewhere in the course, where you list the smes, can be a nice way of creating both recognition and accountability.  (maybe as a toolbar tab at the top of the player - I have used an Engage faq interaction for this and it turned out really nice).

Bruce Graham

As above!

All great advice.

You HAVE to remind SMEs, (and make sure they understand...) that they are "experts", others are not, and that is often not the point of the training.

You may need to play to the SME strength (vanity?), by seperating "Just in Time" training (what you want - the course content), with "Just in Case" training, (what they often try and fill the courses with).

Of course, the experitise contained within "Just in case" training content CAN be met, and given it's rightful place in the learning experience - with the Attachments function

@Saenna makes a great point - remember, while THEY are the experts on the content, YOU are the expert in training people. Remember what YOU bring to the table, (know your stuff/adult learning theories etc...), and  then you can counter them point-for-point if required and egos escalate. Make sure they know that you, not them will be guiding the whole experience.

At the end of the day, you are representing the LEARNERS AND THEIR MEASURABLE NEEDS,  not  "...the history of the SME's specialist subject since the World began" "

Bruce