I’ve been following responses to a question on LinkedIn’s eLearning Guild group about working with subject matter experts, or SMEs. Here is my response to some of the ideas other group members posted:
- Recognize that how you manage the SME will have a significant impact on the success of your eLearning project in terms of time, cost, and quality.
- Inform your SME of the goals of your project and the amount of time it will take to meet them. Provide a mutually-agreed-upon timeline for when you need the SME.
- Ask the SME whether his or her supervisor understands the time commitment the training program will require.
- Show the SME a sample of a similar eLearning project in order to educate him or her on what to expect from this project. Provide a quick overview of the complexity of the final deliverable, the team effort necessary, and especially, the importance of expert input.
- Whenever possible, let the SME react to content. Start with a rough outline that uses a lesson/topic format.
- Respect the SME’s time; come prepared with questions that encourage the SME to tell you stories. And above all, listen!
- Use a spreadsheet or Word outline template to assist the SME with writing ideas down on “paper”.
- Use a web-based team site or wiki as a document repository and as a way to keep the SME informed of all project phases and the roles of other team members.
- Aggressively renegotiate deadlines when necessary. Take the lead on communicating with the primary stakeholder when deadlines change due to SME time constraints.
- Honor the expert throughout the development process. Tell the development team about the important contributions the SME makes to the project.
Inspiration for this post also came from: the Articulate blog; from Clark Aldrich’s blog, which specially deals with immersive learning simulation and game development; and from Jenise’s Ridge view media blog.