What Should Subject Matter Experts Know About e-Learning?

What Should Subject Matter Experts Know About e-Learning?
Summary: Do subject matter experts really dislike e-learning courses? Are they just too busy to work on them? Or maybe they just don't know what is e-learning and what do they have to do and how?

What Should Subject Matter Experts Have To Do In An e-Learning Project and How?

I honestly believe that most subject matter experts are not willing to work with e-learning designers, not because they don’t want to create an e-learning course, but because they don’t know what they have to do and how. Most of them work in a very traditional way of doing slides, writing texts and workbooks. An e-learning course, however, is not another form of face-to-face training. It is in fact a new format with its unique requirements and specifications.

So, when I am told that some subject matter experts don’t like working on an e-learning project, in most cases, I am sure that the reason is the lack of e-learning project knowledge and experience. Before we start working with subject matter experts, we have to train them or at least inform them about what they should do and how.

The best way to show subject matter experts what you are expecting from them is to create an e-learning course about the process of e-learning course development. There, you should explore the subject matter experts’ duties and responsibilities on the project, as well as  those of e e-learning designers. Have you ever watched the backstage from a movie? They show how the movie was made, what effects were used, and many other interesting things. Likewise, here is what we can do to inform subject matter experts:

  1. An e-learning module about e-learning projects and development process of an e-learning course.
  2. An e-learning module about the best practices of the e-learning course development.

We can also add an e-learning module about how e-learning works in our company and answering common questions they may have.

While an e-learning course may be time-consuming to develop, we can always use a quicker way to inform the subject matter experts and develop the «Tips and Tricks on e-learning for Subject Matter Experts». A well-designed PowerPoint or a leaflet will work as well.

Here is a list of some essential questions to cover:

  • What is an e-learning course and what are the main differences between e-learning and face-to-face training?
  • What is the role of a Subject Matter Expert and why is it so important to the e-learning course development process?
  • What is expected from Subject Matter Experts in an e-learning course development project?
  • How to effectively work with external providers and what these providers can expect from Subject Matter Experts.
  • How much time Subject Matter Experts need to devote in the e-learning course development process.

Subject matter experts start at the wrong point. They try to incorporate all their knowledge to the e-learning course and, at the same time, they believe that everything is necessary. Too often, their objective is «people have to know the subject» and they try to give as much content as possible. However, they have to focus on performance objectives, to create a list of "to-do’s" and then gather only the necessary content that will help learners reach their learning goals. They have to focus on examples, cases, and practices.

Subject matter experts are crucial for a high-quality e-learning course. Helping subject matter experts understand what they have to do and how will save a lot of time.