In an eLearning training program the role of the SME (Subject Matter Expert) is quite clear: he/she shares knowledge, expertise and experience. The SME is a big help for the choice of resources and in verifying the accuracy of the information delivered. The pedagogical designer is active on the organizational part and on the pedagogical supervision of the training (he can manage the LMS for example). The collaboration of the two roles is, as we shall see, essential to create a comprehensive and engaging training program. Several steps are important to ensure a good synergy:
- Clarify the roles.
- Establish clear goals and deadlines.
- Be transparent about the eLearning program delivery process.
- The roles:
It is the one who knows about its subject the best.
The expert must be able to
- read the eLearning content,
- make a constructive feedback,
- answer the questions,
- analyze the first results.
The expert must be available in order not to block the pedagogical designer in the elaboration of the eLearning program. Indeed, the designer needs a clear and precise vision of the knowledge to be passed on to the employees.
The SME can propose an intervention in video to explain directly the most technical notions, and give examples in image, for example of specific and professional gestures.
He/she may sometimes be able to provide information about employees trained to the educational designer, which will help create a more targeted speech.
The pedagogical designer:
The pedagogical designer is there to make sure the form is understandable, accessible and enjoyable. The speech, design of the presentations and diagrams are important aspects.
He/she must therefore ensure that the collaboration is complete, to establish clear goals and deadlines. This will allow the pedagogical designer to create complete modules. Thus, after discussions with the SME, the designer can propose a complete and organized content that can be reviewed by the SME more easily.
The designer must ensure good communication with the expert to create an effective eLearning program in time.
2. So, who should do the eLearning program?
For the explanation in video, several possibilities are possible here.
- If the SME agrees to make eLearning videos, the educational designer can guide him / her on the speech to use and the form. The SME can take advantage of the visual power of videos to show examples or more complex explanations, by simply filming technical gestures for examples.
- If the SME does not want to participate by himself, some courses may be presented in the form of interviews. He can answer the designer’s questions in front of the camera and be this way even more guided.
- If the SME does not wish to appear at all in the eLearning videos, the educational designer can realize the videos once the content is validated by the expert.
Today eLearning video recording solutions are accessible to all, no need to be an actor or a professional. Thus, the flexibility is stronger and allows to adjust according to the availabilities and capacities.
3. Establishing goals and deadlines:
The business expert has a great knowledge of the subject, which he/she may even be passionate about. So it is quite normal that he/she has the desire, sometimes, to share a lot of information. It is necessary, in order not to waste too much time, to avoid this by directly setting out the goals of the training.
To do so, these information must be clarified:
- The achievements of the training,
- What information is required,
- The form in which this content is to be delivered,
- The evaluation process.
The timelines should be based on the two agendas. Indeed, the SME can not devote all the time to this work, being given that it is not his/her primary function. Establishing a date that takes both parties into account, will help to define a realistic deadline and motivate the design of a qualitative training program on time.
4. To be transparent about the eLearning program delivery process:
The educational designer also plays a role on the internal communication about the process of conducting an eLearning program. First, the SME should know how modules are developed, for example by providing learning guides, storyboards and final evaluation.
It may also be advisable to be transparent about the collaboration of these two parties with the rest of the team, in order to highlight the referents. If there is a question about the program itself, the pedagogical designer is the person who will be able to answer, if the question is about the content, it will of course be the SME. This is why video is good way to put faces on the people involved in this type of projects, and so, inform the employees about who to contact.
To sum up
A good eLearning program is possible with a good collaboration between the SME and the educational designer. We must ensure that both parties play the game and respect their roles. And you probably already understood that the better the collaboration is, the better the eLearning modules will be!