Starting May 29th and running through June 1st, the 2011 NISOD (National Institute of Staff and Organizational Development) Conference on Teaching and Leadership Excellence will be taking place in Austin. I will be hosting a breakout session called Micro-Collaboration: Team Sharing Between Instructor and Web Developers on Tuesday, May 31st from 2:00-3:00 p.m. At this session I will be covering some great material about how to improve the results of your team collaborations as well as announcing the premiere release of my book, “MindMeld: Micro-Collaboration Between eLearning Designers and Instructor Experts.” I would like to personally invite you to come join me at the session and see why I am so passionate about this topic.
I am very excited to announce that my new book, “MindMeld: Micro-Collaboration between eLearning Designers and Instructor Experts,” is in the final publishing stages (including pre-order status)… So for the next few weeks I will be posting a series of blog entries regarding my new book and its contents. My intention for each blog post is to focus on individual chapters in the book and provide a little synopsis of them in order to bring some insight to you as to what the book is about and why I would encourage you to embrace it.
As you may already know, I have been writing blogs and articles about how to improve relationships and collaboration with SMEs for some time now. Over the past few years I have gained a lot of insight into keeping the…
Many eLearning writers and developers struggle with communicating with experts to acquire the knowledge necessary to develop highly interactive online learning activities. Experts are busy, in demand, and rarely are compensated for their work and advice on your eLearning project. After researching several projects over the last year, I’ve assembled five main factors that eLearning managers can utilize to encourage more subject matter expert (SME) involvement. In the graphic below, you can see these five factors that I have added on top of Samuel Bacharach’s Momentum Model; I believe this adaptation presents a more cohesive understanding of the collaboration process with SME’s.
I am a dissertator at the University of Wisconsin, and my research topic is on “Factors that enable collaboration between the IDD (instructional design and development) team and the subject matter expert.” I have written a series of blog entries on the various expertise sharing factors, which I have discovered (slow drip style) can be utilized by eLearning managers. While conducting my research, one interviewee said bluntly: “the amount of collaboration really comes down to the personality mix of team members.” Well, yes and no. “Personality style” and “influencing style” of the group leader(s) and team members does play a role. But the topic of team member “style” is not specifically part of my research.
At the recent eLearning Guild’s Learning Solutions conference in Orlando, I presented a session on how managers can enable greater subject matter expert collaboration with design and development teams (IDD). I was excited to see a packed room with a very attentive group of eLearning project managers and instructional designers.
Adding to the inspiration were the two conference keynote speakers (Sir Ken Robertson and Jonah Lehrer), who also addressed the value of understanding the tacit knowledge that experts may know but find hard to share. Jonah Lehrer, author of How We Decide, talked about his flight simulator experience and the importance of understanding how emotions and hidden patterns play a big part in an expert’s decision-making process.
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.