7 Tips To Find The Right Subject Matter Expert For Your eLearning Project

7 Tips To Find The Right Subject Matter Expert For Your eLearning Project
Summary: A Subject Matter Expert has the potential to become a valued member of your eLearning team, but only after you conduct a thorough vetting process. In this article, I'll share 7 tips to help you find the perfect Subject Matter Expert for your next eLearning project, and hopefully for many eLearning projects to come.   

How To Find The Right Subject Matter Expert For Your eLearning Project

Subject Matter Experts should serve as an invaluable source of knowledge, insight, and advice. Their experience and expertise can make the difference between an enlightening eLearning course and one that misses the mark. However, if you don't take the time to find the perfect Subject Matter Expert for your next eLearning course, you might end up with one who hinders your work process instead of helping you through it. They must be able to communicate effectively and collaborate with the rest of your eLearning team, as well as clearly articulate their thoughts in order to create memorable eLearning content. Here are 7 tips and tricks for selecting the best Subject Matter Expert for your eLearning project.

1. Look For Subject Matter Experts Who Take A Hands-On Approach

A Subject Matter Expert should be fully prepared to dive into the topic with you in order to create the highly informative and engaging eLearning content.  Instead of simply sitting back and delegating all of the tasks to their eLearning team, they take a hands-on approach and offering their guidance every step of the way. Ideally, you should look for a Subject Matter Expert who is proactive and ready to offer their input when the need arises. In short, they should be an involved member of your eLearning development team rather than a passive observer who occasionally provides feedback.

2. Determine The Quantity AND Quality Of Their Experience

You should always consider the length of their experience, but the breadth of that experience is of the utmost importance. Both the quantity and quality must factor into your decision-making process, as it gives you a good indication of whether the Subject Matter Expert has relevant expertise. They may know everything there is to know about a general topic, but does their knowledge extend into your specific niche? Do they have a background in developing eLearning content, or does their experience restrict to academic writing or consultancy?

3. Ask About Their Work Process

Truly experienced and knowledgeable Subject Matter Experts should be able to outline every step of their work process, such as how they conduct their research and how they choose the key takeaways. Remember that the Subject Matter Expert will work closely with your eLearning development team. As such, they'll need to mesh with your current work process and adapt based on the needs of the eLearning project. Flexibility is, therefore, a necessary trait. In addition, if they do have to delegate certain tasks to other eLearning team members, they must be able to explain the various stages involved so that others can follow suit.

4. Verify Their Credentials

It's perfectly acceptable to verify a Subject Matter Expert's references and credentials before making your final decision. Check out their website to see if they've posted an eLearning portfolio or at least examples of their past work. Read articles, reports, or books that they've written to get a feel for their expertise and writing style. Enroll in an eLearning course that they've helped to develop. Watch a video or webinar that they've hosted. The goal is to learn as much as possible about who they are, on a professional level, and what they can bring to your eLearning project.

5. Test Their Communication Skills

You should have an open line of communication with your Subject Matter Expert. Ask them about their preferred contact method and how quickly they typically reply to messages. Send them a few questions before the interview and pay attention not only to how they respond but also their timeline. Do they reply within an hour with well-constructed answers, or does it take them 48 hours to respond? This is particularly important if you are working on a rapid eLearning course, as the time window is narrower. For example, a Subject Matter Expert who isn't available during weekdays probably isn’t a good match for an eLearning course with a quick turnaround time.

6. Invite Them To A Team Meeting

Interviewing your Subject Matter Expert candidate and asking them questions via email can give you a general idea of their experience level and knowledge base. However, inviting them to a team meeting will reveal important details about their character and collaboration abilities. For example, if their personality clashes with other members of your eLearning team you may want to think twice about hiring them for your eLearning project; unless, of course, you want to spend a significant amount of time resolving conflicts. Ultimately, the Subject Matter Expert you choose should have all the traits you are looking for, such as patience, empathy, and determination. They must be able to respect the opinions and thoughts of others, and have problem-solving skills that can help them overcome common obstacles.

7. Assess Their Ability To Articulate The Subject Matter

Knowing the information is one thing, but being able to convey it clearly is quite another. When all is said and done, your Subject Matter Expert must articulate all of the core concepts and ideas so that you can pass them onto your audience. Above all else, the information must be in a format that online learners can understand, instead of complex language that frustrates your audience. For example, eLearning content that is riddled with complicated jargon may be suitable for experienced online learners, but beginners may find it too difficult to understand.

Bringing the right Subject Matter Expert on board is crucial, regardless of how large or small your latest eLearning project might be. Use these 7 tips to ensure that you find the best candidate for the job and possibly even turn it into a long-term collaboration. Keep in mind that it's also essential to give them the respect they're due and appreciate their hard work. Otherwise, you might lose a valuable eLearning team member when all is said and done.

Subject Matter Experts can also be a valuable asset in your next client meeting. Read the article 7 Tips To Get The Subject Matter Expert Involved Ιn Your Next Corporate Client Meeting to discover useful tips for getting your Subject Matter Expert involved in the meetings with your corporate client.

Are you currently looking for the ideal eLearning professional? Let eLearning Industry help you find eLearning professionals in our resume database or by posting your job request!