Tips for Elearning Online Course Developers – How to Deal With Subject Matter Experts

Subject matter experts or SMEs play a crucial role in the development of elearning online programmes for employees. They, after all, direct which skills and materials trainees must learn. That is why training solutions developers must work closely with SMEs to ensure that the right contents are delivered to the learners the right way.

On the other hand, working relationships between SMEs and technology enhanced learning course developers are not always smooth sailing. There are times when content experts bring challenges to the project because although they have mastered their field, their knowledge about effective instructional online learning design is limited. This limitation in terms of structural knowledge causes them to develop materials that cannot be readily converted to content for online trainees.

But this challenge is not one that can’t be solved. Through proper communication of a course in miracles objectives and requirements, both developers and content experts can get the job done without too much hurdles. Here are some tips to foster smooth working relationship with SMEs:

1. Orient them on the basics
Understand that although they are so called experts, they still grope in the dark when it comes to things and matters outside their sphere of knowledge. Make sure that they understand the demands of the project and the type of content you need from them. It would help them develop suitable contents if they know the how’s, why’s, and what’s of instructional design for TEL. There is no need to immerse them in the entirety of the subject; just give them those information that has something to do with content design.

2. Make them understand that classroom teaching is different from elearning online
Most often than not, these content experts are also classroom teachers. This is why when they develop materials for the programme they tend to create something that works for instructor-led classroom, which does not necessarily work for online courses. To avoid this, emphasize the difference between the traditional classroom and the online education environment. Make them understand the nature of trainees who are going to learn from the materials that they will develop. These simple pointers can help them make their outputs more effective.

3. Collaborate closely with SMEs
Collaboration is key. Just like in any project that requires teamwork, communicating and cascading clear objectives is important. Coordinate with them about their work and if they have met the objectives of their tasks. Conduct meetings and brainstorming sessions on how to make the materials even more effective. Listen and take note of their opinions because if problems arise, it would be easy to put the operation on the right track if you know which point of view they are coming from.

4. Give constant feedback
It is advisable to give constant feedback instead of simply annotating on submitted elearning online materials when crunch time comes. Set a timetable for deadlines and outputs to ensure that you have time to give recommendations while SMEs have time to implement the changes you have requested. Setting up a timeline of action items will make the work less stressful and at the same time, raise the quality of work the team produces.

Jennifer Franco is a creative writer, teacher and freelance language editor currently completing her master’s degree in Language and Literature. She writes about a wide spectrum of topics including humanities, loan modification, art, literature, and issues about Philippine call center.


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