4 Obstacles Subject Matter Experts Face On A Regular Basis

4 Obstacles Subject Matter Experts Face On A Regular Basis
Summary: Some eLearning professionals might say that working with Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) is no easy task. However, it's important to keep in mind that they are dealing with their own unique setbacks. In this article, I'll highlight 4 obstacles that your Subject Matter Expert may face on a regular basis.

4 Obstacles Subject Matter Experts Need To Overcome

It's always wise to step inside someone else's shoes from time to time and see things from their perspective. You may work with Subject Matter Experts for virtually all of your eLearning projects, but are you truly aware of the challenges they are contending with? Learning as much as possible about their work process, professional philosophy, and the obstacles they must overcome can drastically improve your collaboration. As a result, both your eLearning team and your audience will benefit. Here are the 4 most significant obstacles that Subject Mattar Experts face on a regular basis.

  1. Inexperience in the eLearning field. 
    Not all Subject Matter Experts are familiar with Instructional Design models and eLearning course design. They are completely competent when it comes to their niche, but eLearning may be slightly out of their scope. Even those who are experienced in the eLearning field need to know the specifics of your eLearning project so that they can do their job effectively. Unfortunately, some Subject Mattar Experts are asked to create eLearning content without any introduction to the topic, eLearning course layout, or online learner's backgrounds. The eLearning professional simply doesn’t take the time to get them familiar with how the entire eLearning development process works or all of the steps involved. Instead, they naturally assume that the Subject Matter Expert is an expert on all things, including all of the instructional design models, theories and eLearning principles that will be applied. This is why it’s crucial to be clear from the start with your Subject Matter Expert about what they can expect, what you expect from them, and the process that everyone must follow. In fact, you may even want to hold an eLearning project kickoff meeting where you assign roles, clarify job responsibilities, and give everyone the chance to meet their new eLearning team.
  2. Busy schedules.
    Virtually every working professional is pressed for time. This also applies to Subject Matter Experts. One of the major obstacles that Subject Matter Experts face on a daily basis is finding time to tackle their to-do list, both in their personal and professional lives. Your Subject Matter Expert probably has a significant amount of work to do for your eLearning course, including research, eLearning content development, and a variety of other tasks that require dedication and focus. This is in addition to all of the other things that are going on in their lives at the moment. Therefore, eLearning professionals should try to be as flexible and accommodating as possible. If a Subject Matter Expert is dealing with a sudden emergency, then do your best to work with them and be understanding about the situation. Also, keep in mind that their time is valuable, as well. Prepare for your SME meetings in advance and create a list of questions or topics that you need to cover in order to get the most out of your time, and theirs. Let them know that you appreciate their time and effort, and you are there if they need to discuss any issues that may arise over the course of the eLearning project.
  3. They are completely in the dark about the eLearning goals and objectives.
    Subject Matter Experts should have a clear idea of what your online learners need to achieve by the end of the eLearning course. In many cases, the experts are not informed about the goals of the eLearning project before they dive into the eLearning content. This usually comes down to a lack of communication. It’s possible that the Instructional Designer simply assumes that the Subject Matter Expert knows what needs to be accomplished or didn’t have the time to clearly convey the goals. Whatever the issue might be, the Subject Matter Expert is now in the dark about the desired outcome. As a result, they are neirther able to choose the ideas or concepts that align with the goals, nor do they have the opportunity to create eLearning content that offers real value. eLearning professionals should make a point to specify the goals and objectives from day one, so that Subject Matter Experts have a clear direction and there is no confusion about what learning needs to be achieved.
  4. They don’t know how the information will be applied.
    Subject Matter Experts are expected to know a lot about their specialty. After all, it’s one of the reasons why they are such an integral part of the eLearning team and the eLearning course design process. However, this abundance of knowledge can be problematic, if the Subject Matter Expert does not know how online learners will be applying it. They must have an idea of what the online learners will be expected to do with the information and how it will be used in the real world. Otherwise, they might include so much information that it overwhelms your audience and diminishes the value of your eLearning course. Sit down with your Subject Matter Expert beforehand and get their input about what should be included and what can be omitted. Identify exactly what your online learners will be doing with what they’ve learned and how it should benefit them in their real lives. Above all else, make sure that your Subject Matter Expert is aware of who will be taking the eLearning course and has access to all of the audience research you’ve conducted. If they can get a clear picture of their target audience they are more likely to create personalized learning materials.

Of course, Subject Matter Experts all have individual challenges that they must face over the course of their professional lives. This is why you should focus on communicating with your experts and building a successful working partnership. Doing so offers you the opportunity to discover their unique obstacles, so that you can potentially give them the support they need.

Looking for additional tips on working with Subject Matter Experts? Read the article Working With Subject Matter Experts: The Ultimate Guide to discover 9 additional ways that you can collaborate more effectively with your Subject Matter Expert.