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e-Learning Design: SME vs ID

Bridging the gap between Subject Matter Expert (SME) and Instructional Designer is crucial. When putting together an e-Learning course, an organisation's main focus should always be to create the best course possible. This means using appropriate means (people, equipment and other resources). I like to use an example of a three person e-Learning development team. As an initiator it's easy to get wrapped up in the excitement of creating an e-Learning course yourself. Everyone has their own skill-set and being able to delegate is an essential part of working in a team environment.

We need to understand the lifecycle of e-Learning development to understand what part you play. Often in small teams, there is a need for overlap. An example of a three person development team, would include: an SME working with an Instructional Designer and using an e-Learning Designer to complete the trio.

As an SME who has identified a need for an e-Learning module to be produced, you will need to first decide if you have a clear vision for the learning. You also need to understand that you might not be the best person to create the actual course, simply because your skills are elsewhere. You would not expect a graphic designer to join the company and start producing balance sheets and invoices. So to create the best e-Learning course you need to enlist the help of an Instructional Designer who will be able to make the learning engaging and meaningful. You may also need an e-Learning/content designer who will create all the assets and visuals and help with testing etc.

Three important questions:

What does an SME do?
An SME is a person who has in-depth knowledge of a topic, business or solution.

What does an instructional designer do?
An Instructional Designer designs instructional materials. They help people make sense of these materials and online resources. His role is to transform information into a clear and meaningful content, as well as to point learners in the right direction.

What does an e-Learning developer do?
An e-Learning developer builds the e-Learning course into the authoring tool. The e-Learning developer may also be responsible for creating the assets and material to be used within the e-Learning course. They will also create other forms of media such as graphics and media.

e-Learning development no matter how big or small needs to be thought of as a project--everyone has a role to play. Sometimes there is an overlap of skills. The fact of the matter is that each project is unique and teamwork is only as productive and meaningful as the team that knows where they sit in the process. Knowing what you bring to the table is vital to a successful e-Learning design project.

Louise Theodorides, Sports Coach UK, Instructional Designer (e-Learning)

Follow: @IMLouiseTheo