As a learning company, here’s a question we’re asked often at Inno-Versity: How do you have all the knowledge required to develop materials for the huge variety of clients with whom you work? The simple answer is, we don’t.
Many people aren’t familiar with the fact that instructional designers work closely with someone known as a content owner, expert practitioner, or most commonly, subject matter expert (SME). Generally provided by the client, these people are selected because they possess the specific technical knowledge that we need to produce the excellent learning materials.
If you’ve been in the instructional design world for as long as we have, you understand this relationship is critical. It can make or break the timeline, budget and success of a project. Yet, this person is often ill-prepared and perhaps even chosen solely based on the availability of their schedule.
On a recent project involving 18 different stations with the same number of first-time SME’s, we decided to first spend a little time educating those SME’s on their role in order to create the most productive relationship.
Feel free to use any or all of this information the next time you have to work with a SME or you’re asked to be one. Specifically, we recommend that you focus on the takeaways listed at the end. As educators, we understand being a SME involves a lot of high-level thinking and these types of mental exercises require planning ahead.