Congratulations, You’re an SME. Now What? 5 Key Tips to E-Learning Success

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) and graphic designers. But what if you’re an SME who’s been put in charge of driving an e-learning course? What are the things you need to know to make the course development process go more smoothly? Here are five tips:

  •    Focus on the key learning objectives. Many SMEs want to put the “kitchen sink” into e-learning. That approach will result in an overloaded course that leaves learners feeling overwhelmed. Instead, think about what those taking the course need to know in order to learn a new skill or improve their job performance. Determine up front what’s essential for the core content and what can be moved to a glossary or “additional resources” section.
  •    Share real-world scenarios with designers and developers. Most people retain concepts better when they have real-world examples to which they can relate. Nowhere is this more relevant than in e-learning development. Keep your focus on what learners should be able to DO when they’ve finished the course. Not only do actual scenarios help developers visualize how learners will be able to apply new skills and create effective interactions that meet that goal, but having real-world examples helps graphic designers give the course a real-world feel so learners feel it’s relevant to them.
  •    Take time to storyboard and prototype. As with most projects, planning ahead is worth the trouble. In e-learning, it’s important to get things right before a developer completes a full-blown, detailed version of the course. Thinking through the information up front and making sure everything you need is included will result in stronger interactions that strengthen the course experience. And that means greater course effectiveness in the end.
  •    Get on the same page from the start. Make sure you’re clear about specific graphic concepts or course elements. For example, when it comes to graphic design, “playful” or “fun” might not mean the same thing to you as it does to your designer. And when you’re working with an instructional designer and you have a specific scenario in mind, make sure to go over the details. That’s another great reason to create storyboards and prototypes before you set your designers and developers loose to complete the full course project.
  •    Keep the lines of communication open. The relationship between the SME (you) and designers and developers is critical. Make it a priority to have ongoing discussions throughout the process, so you can check in about key milestones. From the start, establish a mutually agreed upon timeline for major milestones and the final deliverable deadline. And of course, make sure to meet your deadlines along the way!

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

This is the third in a series of articles focused on helping you create great relationships with your SMEs. Check out the first two articles:

What do you think? We’d love to hear your questions and comments about working with SMEs in the comments below. Remember to follow us on Twitter and come back to E-Learning Heroes regularly for more helpful advice on everything related to e-learning.


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