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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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Ask the SME whether his or her supervisor understands the time commitment the training program will require.
  4. 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.
  5. Whenever possible, let the SME react to content. Start with a rough outline that uses a lesson/topic format.
  6. Respect the SME’s time; come prepared with questions that encourage the SME to tell you stories. And above all, listen!
  7. Use a spreadsheet or Word outline template to assist the SME with writing ideas down on “paper”.
  8. 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.
  9. Aggressively renegotiate deadlines when necessary. Take the lead on communicating with the primary stakeholder when deadlines change due to SME time constraints.
  10. 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.