8 Top Tips To Work With A Subject Matter Expert In eLearning
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How To Work With A Subject Matter Expert In eLearning

Subject Matter Experts help you create more meaningful eLearning content that achieves the desired outcomes. They also offer unique insight into the minds of online learners and what they need to know to accomplish their goals. However, collaborating with Subject Matter Experts can be challenging when expectations are vague and communication is closed. Here are 8 to tips to work with Subject Matter Experts in eLearning.

1. Define Expectations And Roles

Every member of your group should know what to expect, what’s expected of them, as well as the role they play in the team dynamic. The Subject Matter Expert is no exception. Meet with your SME and clarify their work responsibilities and the scope of the eLearning project. You should also tell them exactly how they fit into the grand scheme of things. For example, they are expected to narrow down the key takeaways and collaborate with your team copywriter to formulate the eLearning content. In some cases, they may even be required to create the text-based content themselves. Lastly, make them aware of the project goals so that they can focus their efforts.

2. Open Up The Lines Of Communication

There must be free flowing communication between your eLearning team and the Subject Matter Expert. They should feel comfortable voicing their opinions and concerns. Likewise, your team must be able to provide feedback to the SME in order to improve the quality of the eLearning content. Create communication guidelines that highlight the preferred contact methods and frequency. For example, every week the Subject Matter Expert must check-in or share notes with specific members of the eLearning team via email. There should also be protocols in place to resolve any conflicts that may arise.

3. Invite Your Subject Matter Expert To Team Meetings

Your Subject Matter Expert needs to be an active member of the eLearning team. Thus, you should invite them to important meetings that impact their work tasks. For example, the client alters the objectives or expands the scope of the eLearning project. Meetings also give team members the opportunity to share their thoughts and ideas on a regular basis. Consider a video conferencing tool and PM platform to keep everyone in the loop. It’s a good idea to schedule at least one or two meetings in advance to accommodate everyone’s schedule. Also, try to record the session so that those who are unable to attend still get the updates they need.

4. Welcome Their Feedback

Some SMEs may be hesitant to offer their input without being asked. However, this input may be valuable and can improve the effectiveness of your eLearning course. Ensure that your Subject Matter Expert knows that you respect their opinion and welcome their feedback. You can even ask for their input directly regarding specific course design issues. Or conduct a survey at the end of the eLearning project to see how you can improve team collaboration.

5. Acknowledge Their Efforts

Everyone needs a pat on the back from time to time. Especially when they’ve invested a significant amount of time and effort to creating top notch eLearning content. As such, you must acknowledge your SMEs hard work and praise them for their dedication to the eLearning project. A little respect goes a long way when you’re trying to form a successful partnership. Consistently overlooking their efforts might make them feel underappreciated or ignored. Even something as simple as a thank you email or shining the spotlight on them during a team meeting will suffice.

6. Give Them A Brief Overview Of The Course Development Process

Provide Subject Matter Experts with a general overview of the design and development process of the eLearning course so that they understand their role more effectively. This also allows them to get a better sense of all the work that goes into creating high quality online training materials. This is a particularly useful tip for newer SMEs who have no prior experience in the eLearning industry. You can also introduce them to each member of the eLearning team individually and clarify their respective roles and responsibilities.

7. Set Realistic Milestones And Goals

Many SMEs work on several projects at once, unless you invite them to become a full-time member of your team. Therefore, you need to set realistic milestones that accommodate for their busy schedules, as well as goals that they can break into sub-tasks and assignments. For example, they need to deliver the eLearning content for the first module within 2 weeks. Or provide their notes for the eLearning storyboard before you officially begin the eLearning course design process. It’s also wise to get their input regarding the milestones, as they are more aware of their scheduling limitations.

8. Follow-Up After The eLearning Project’s Completion

Reach out to your Subject Matter Expert after the fact and ask how they felt about the overall experience. Did they feel like they were a valued member of the eLearning team? Were they comfortable expressing their opinions? Did you clearly outline the objectives, outcomes, and scope of the eLearning project beforehand? Gathering this information serves two important purposes: Firstly, the Subject Matter Expert is more likely to work with your eLearning team again if they know their input matters. They’ll appreciate the fact that you’re following up to end the eLearning project on a high note. Secondly, it gives you the feedback you need to improve your work practices in the future, especially when working with SMEs.

These 8 tips can help you foster a successful partnership with your SMEs. Everyone is able to offer their input and work together to create more effective eLearning experiences. In addition, you can rest assured that the Subject Matter Expert will be there to offer their expertise for future eLearning projects, which saves you the time and trouble of vetting other candidates for the job.

Are you in the process of hiring a Subject Matter Expert for your next eLearning project? Read the article 7 Tips To Find The Right Subject Matter Expert For Your eLearning Project to discover 7 tips and tricks for selecting the best Subject Matter Expert for your next eLearning project, and hopefully for many eLearning projects to come.

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