Posts Tagged ‘SME’

Online Learning Idea Book – Top 10

September 23, 2011 Leave a comment

Patti Shank has been prolific through the years in terms Patti_Shankof sharing ideas on how to rapidly create self-paced eLearning with a focus on strong instructional design. With the second edition of her book, The Online Learning Idea Book, Volume Two: 95 Ways to Enhance Technology-Based and Blended Learning, she has once again successfully aggregated actionable ideas from a variety of eLearning colleagues. Although many contributions refer to PowerPoint plug-in tools, there are also good ideas for authors of higher education courses who utilize an LMS.

Here are my top 10 favorite ideas:

  1. Frustration Check List – This is a practical check list that will encourage your development team and instructor experts to do a quick evaluation of courses under development.  Hopefully viewed as a continuous improvement exercise.
  2. My Personal Learning Network – Use Twitter’s Favorites feature to bookmark tweets by eLearning pundits.
  3. Online Classroom Clickers – What a great idea.  Use third party software to embed instant polls.  Suggested free software:, or  Also (my comment) some LMS questionnaire modules can also act as “classroom clickers”.
  4. YouTube You Talk – Create a video and post on YouTube as a learning activity.  The instructor on video presents a problem or idea.  Learners can post answers or insights in the comment box.
  5. Branched Scenarios with Three Cs – This is a template system to help with the writing and design of branched scenarios for self-paced modules.
  6. Reduce OnScreen Text – Lists several ways to reduce onscreen text.  Got it; use fewer words, animate graphics. Long live self-paced page turners!
  7. Easy Video – Apparently allows for easy creation of video and upload to YouTube and Facebook.
  8. Easy Mobile Learning Content: PowerPoint to MP4 – Rapid eLearning for the smart phone!  Screen capture technology i.e. to turn PPT into MP4
  9. Interactivity Calculator – Create a tool that helps you communicate interactivity levels or use mine at
  10. Pre-work Verification – A simple form that helps instructors confirm that students completed the required pre-workshop material.

Check out the book on Amazon.

Full disclosure: I have contributed two ideas to the book,Online_Learning_Idea_Book “Idea Title: Complexity Analysis” and “Better Collaboration with Your Subject-Matter Experts.” In Complexity Analysis, I discuss how knowing what level of complexity is needed and desired up-front helps all stakeholders understand the cost/time/resource implications of more complex projects. In my section on SMEs, I explain how two-way communication and expertise sharing with SMEs improve the quality of the final deliverable. 

Are You An Expert?

September 15, 2011 Leave a comment

Are You An Expert?: Stereotyping the SME

Tomorrow, I will be participating in the 2011 Midwest Forum on Talent Management right here in Madison, WI. The event is back for another year of discussion with nationally recognized speakers on accelerating quality company talent.

I am delighted to be speaking at this conference on engaging with subject matter experts (SMEs) as a way to enhance project development. Working with SMEs can be a challenge, and many writers and developers have a difficult time communicating with experts to acquire the information necessary to create online eLearning material. It may be difficult, but SMEs are critical to the development of your course materials.  Whether you’re managing knowledge or building talent in an organization, bottling the expertise of SMEs to build your body of knowledge is crucial.

The session will focus on ways to engage SMEs in your training project through techniques to “mindmeld” and share expertise. During the session, I will debut what I hope to be a humorous approach to talking about my model for SME collaboration by incorporating what I call “The 5 SMEs.”

A brief introduction to the 5 SMEs:

Sergeant SME – The Sergeant SME considers themselves above those packaging their knowledge. In order to share their knowledge with others, recognize the power relations between SMEs and product developers to level the playing field.

SME at Sea – At a recent conference, an instructional designer in the Navy said his SMEs are often out at sea. The comment inspired the SME at Sea, who represents those experts who are often unavailable. Maximize access to their knowledge by managing rigidly.

SME of Mystery

Mystery SME – Research shows that some experts have a very difficult time communicating why they know what they know. Finding a way to get to the core of their knowledge is a Rubik’s Cube of sorts. The challenge of working with a Mystery SME is to develop a shared language.

Stuck SME

Stuck SME – The Stuck SME is not willing to use technology or consider new ways of being innovative. In the field of building computer simulations, a formal, organized way of incorporating user testing and involving the SME will get them unstuck.

Sparkless SME

Sparkless SME – When dealing with a Sparkless SME, you will inevitably find yourself competing for the SME’s passion. The challenge is getting the SME excited about the knowledge you are bottling and sharing with others. Ignite their passion for the project by spiking momentum.

Each of these types of SMEs presents different obstacles. In my session, I will further explain how to best communicate with SMEs in an effort to maximize project success. If you are an expert, avoid falling into one of the five stereotypes by being aware of the challenges you present and understanding the collaboration process.

I am really looking forward to this opportunity to speak on this topic and be a part of this year’s event. Click here to find out more information about the 2011 Midwest Forum on Talent Management or learn more about my Mind Meld: Using & Managing Subject Matter Experts forum session.

Collaboration Between eLearning Designers and Subject Matter Experts – Part 2, Explicit vs. Tacit Knowledge

MindMeldStarting May 29th and running through June 1st, the 2011 NISOD (National Institute of Staff and Organizational Development) Conference on Teaching and Leadership Excellence will be taking place in Austin. I will be hosting a breakout session called Micro-Collaboration: Team Sharing Between Instructor and Web Developers on Tuesday, May 31st from 2:00-3:00 p.m. At this session I will be covering some great material about how to improve the results of your team collaborations as well as announcing the premiere release of my book, “MindMeld: Micro-Collaboration Between eLearning Designers and Instructor Experts.” I would like to personally invite you to come join me at the session and see why I am so passionate about this topic. Read more…

Introduction to MindMeld: Micro-Collaboration Between eLearning Designers and Instructor Experts – Part 1, the Foreword

April 14, 2011 1 comment

MindMeld Book CoverI am very excited to announce that my new book, “MindMeld: Micro-Collaboration between eLearning Designers and Instructor Experts,” is in the final publishing stages (including pre-order status)… So for the next few weeks I will be posting a series of blog entries regarding my new book and its contents. My intention for each blog post is to focus on individual chapters in the book and provide a little synopsis of them in order to bring some insight to you as to what the book is about and why I would encourage you to embrace it. Read more…

More on SMEs – A Compilation of Blogs about Subject Matter Experts

March 22, 2011 Leave a comment

As you may already know, I have been writing blogs and articles about how to improve relationships and collaboration with SMEs for some time now. Over the past few years I have gained a lot of insight into keeping the momentum going with your eLearning projects by engaging your SMEs more effectively. With my session on micro-collaboration coming up this week at the Learning Solutions Conference & Expo, I thought I would rewind a bit and highlight some of my past posts on subject matter experts. If you have a moment, you can read up and gather a bit on my thought process.

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Learning Solutions Conference – Team Sharing to Build Highly Interactive Activities

Learning Solutions Conference

The extremely popular Learning Solutions Conference & Expo is quickly approaching us this month, so I thought I’d take a moment to mention a few things about the conference and give a sneak preview of my presentation that I will be giving on March 23rd at 10:45am entitled, “Micro-collaboration: Team Sharing to Build Highly Interactive Activities.” If you are not already registered to attend this event, I recommend looking into it. The attendance for this conference is expected to be huge; the Hilton in the Walter Disney World Resort has already sold out! If you are interested in taking a look at why you should attend and what types of offerings are available, visit the Learning Solutions Conference & Expo website. Read more…

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Communicating with Subject Matter Experts

September 13, 2010 Leave a comment

Many eLearning writers and developers struggle with communicating with experts to acquire the knowledge necessary to develop highly interactive online learning activities. Experts are busy, in demand, and rarely are compensated for their work and advice on your eLearning project. After researching several projects over the last year, I’ve assembled five main factors that eLearning managers can utilize to encourage more subject matter expert (SME) involvement. In the graphic below, you can see these five factors that I have added on top of Samuel Bacharach’s Momentum Model; I believe this adaptation presents a more cohesive understanding of the collaboration process with SME’s. Read more…

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Getting the SME to Share Expertise for eLearning: Understanding “Type”

I noticed Jane Bozarth’s blog posting concerning a lively discussion on “Tips for Working with SMEs?” My blog post on handling subject matter experts back in January also seemed to stimulate discussion. I am currently working on my PhD. dissertation proposal on contributing factors to expertise-sharing between the SME and the design team. Project success depends on several factors, starting with achieving respect between the two parties. This goal is best attained through mutual understanding. The SME should be educated on the process and technicalities of interactive computer program design and execution. The development team member bonding with the SME starts with a better understanding of the types of expertise. Respect can then move beyond mere protocol.

In the book Expertise in Context, edited by Paul J. Feltovich, Kenneth M. Ford, and Robert R. Hoffman, Chapter Six author Robert J. Sternberg outlines what constitutes an expert and provides nine views of an expert: Read more…

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Tips on Handling Subject Matter Experts (SME)

January 8, 2009 Leave a comment

I’ve been following responses to a question on LinkedIn’s eLearning Guild group about working with subject matter experts, or SMEs. Here is my response to some of the ideas other group members posted:

  1. Recognize that how you manage the SME will have a significant impact on the success of your eLearning project in terms of time, cost, and quality.
  2. Inform your SME of the goals of your project and the amount of time it will take to meet them. Provide a mutually-agreed-upon timeline for when you need the SME.
  3. Ask the SME whether his or her supervisor understands the time commitment the training program will require.
  4. Show the SME a sample of a similar eLearning project in order to educate him or her on what to expect from this project. Provide a quick overview of the complexity of the final deliverable, the team effort necessary, and especially, the importance of expert input.
  5. Whenever possible, let the SME react to content. Start with a rough outline that uses a lesson/topic format.
  6. Respect the SME’s time; come prepared with questions that encourage the SME to tell you stories. And above all, listen!
  7. Use a spreadsheet or Word outline template to assist the SME with writing ideas down on “paper”.
  8. Use a web-based team site or wiki as a document repository and as a way to keep the SME informed of all project phases and the roles of other team members.
  9. Aggressively renegotiate deadlines when necessary. Take the lead on communicating with the primary stakeholder when deadlines change due to SME time constraints.
  10. Honor the expert throughout the development process. Tell the development team about the important contributions the SME makes to the project. Read more…
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