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The role of SMEs in Designing Your elearning

When creating elearning training for a new process, for new hires, or inform your employees on policies and procedures, one of the challenges is to make sure that the information that needs to be conveyed is correct and consistent. Potential elearning content may come from several different sources, from people and/or documentation. The most valuable source of information on the content you want to produce is a Subject Matter Expert, or SME.

A coordinated team of instructional designers and SMEs is a powerful combination that can work together to create incredible elearning!

Here are some tips on how this team can be most effective at working together.

1. Be specific in each of your roles

Of course, the SME is the subject matter expert, but the instructional designer (ID) is responsible for adapting their material into an elearning format, by organizing it into logical sections and making it digestible to the learner. Generally, SMEs have participated in training via classroom teaching, so in order to work well with the ID the SME needs to understand why the ID has organized the elearning course content they way they have.

2. Have a plan

Continuing from above, the SME and the ID have to create clear learning objectives and agree on the order of priorities for what the learner needs to learn. It’s also important to make a project plan and set times for content review meetings and signoff dates, and a system for tracking progress.

3. Create the elearning!

Of course, that’s easier said than done. Your SME only has a limited amount of contact time with the ID to convey everything necessary for the course content, so make good notes or recordings of the meetings so the ID can review the material when the SME is unavailable. It is also important for the SME to help filter the information into essential, important, and good to know levels of priority during those meetings, and to create a useful summary of the content for the ID to create a storyline, interactions, and exercises or simulations for.

For more on how to adapt your classroom training into a more efficient and engaging elearning form, contact us at or at 1-888-961-6011!

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