How to transform your subject matter experts into content authors

Your subject matter experts (SMEs) are brimming with useful information—so why not allow them to author and deliver learning content?

There are plenty of practical reasons to create a direct link from your experts’ knowledge to your learners’ brains. By letting your SMEs take the reins, you’ll boost the productivity and output of your L&D function, taking the edge off your instructional designers’ workloads without a drop in content quality.

The only caveat, of course, is that your SMEs need to be equipped with the right authoring solution. If it’s too elaborate, your experts might struggle to operate it—and if it’s too basic, your learners will notice that the training wheels are still attached!

Read on to get a sense of the features you’ll need to transform your SMEs into auxiliary content authors and discover why the process matters amid challenging economic conditions.

Supplementing your L&D team in economically tough times

Even when you put aside the learning benefits that come hand-in-hand with expert-authored learning content, there are significant budgetary incentives for converting your SMEs into content creators.

We all know that, when economic times are tough, L&D departments can be a little bit more susceptible to budget cuts or freezes than some of the more obvious centers of revenue generation. That’s not to say that L&D doesn’t have a positive impact on the bottom line. As our friends at Watershed point out, there are plenty of meaningful metrics that can be used to measure L&D success in business-friendly terms, including increased retention and better qualification rates. That being said, the fact is that L&D teams may have to make the most of limited resources.

In this light, SME content authors take on an extra layer of appeal. As internal employees, they don’t require too much outlay—and, as experts in their fields, they’re capable of creating authentic and authoritative content.

This SME-led model of course creation, which designates instructional designers the role of quality assurance reviewers rather than authors, is a compelling way for L&D departments to maintain the volume and quality of their learning output.

Of course, this cost-effective strategy hinges on the ability of SMEs untrained in fields like instructional design to create compelling, memorable, and attractive content. That’s why, in the face of economic uncertainty, choosing the right authoring tool takes on a new level of urgency.

5 key authoring tool features that facilitate SME-led eLearning

If your authoring tool promotes ease of use and an intuitive user interface, you’re already halfway toward ensuring that your SMEs can quickly get up to speed on the practicalities of course design.

If you want to go one step further and turn your SMEs into content-constructing powerhouses, capable of taking an idea from conception to completion, you’ll want to keep an eye out for the following five features.

1) Visual themes

Your SMEs are already walking encyclopedias, so they don’t necessarily need help with written insights—but they do need help presenting their writing in an attractive, engaging, and brand-compliant manner.

With a visual theme library to hand, your SMEs will have no trouble producing professional-looking content. Plus, if you’ve got multiple SMEs working on different projects, your theme of choice will provide consistency between your different courses, no matter how fresh-faced their authors are.

Visual themes put your brand’s stamp on your content. Check out some examples:

Better branding: 8 pointers for your eLearning courses

2) Course wizard

We all know there’s nothing more daunting than a blank screen. That’s why the right authoring tool will instead present your SMEs-turned-content-authors with a screen offering step-by-step instructions on structuring your course (and implementing one of those all-important visual themes mentioned above).

3) Course duplication

By granting your SMEs the power to copy and paste specific screens or duplicate entire courses, they won’t even need to engage with your course wizard. In fact, with a little foresight, it’s simple to create a template course that your SMEs can duplicate and adapt to their purposes.

This painting-by-numbers approach to content authoring will ensure that your SMEs produce well-crafted courses every time.

4) Drag-and-drop editing

As your SMEs become more comfortable with the process of content authoring, they might want to add their own touches to your existing templates (all housed safely within your established visual theme, of course!).

An authoring solution that offers drag-and-drop functionality will allow your SMEs to add their own interactions like quizzes, assessments, and display conditions.

5) Direct publishing

If you’re looking to free up some serious time for your L&D team, you might consider allowing your fledgling content authors to not only create and edit courses but even publish them to your LMS. In Gomo, for example, you can publish courses as SCORM packages or directly to Bridge LMS.

Direct publishing will be well within the capabilities of SMEs who’ve already benefited from the user-friendly features above—they’ll doubtlessly have ample confidence to take self-authored content through to the final stages. Direct publishing allows your L&D team to outsource key learning projects and place them fully in the hands of the SMEs who understand them best.

Want to learn more about publishing your content? You’re in the right place. Read on:

How to master eLearning content distribution with Gomo

About the author: Simon Waldram

As Product Manager at Gomo, I’m passionate about delivering value at every interaction and to increase sustainable proven value for our customers and business.

I have extensive experience of working within both the commercial and educational sectors, and approach all projects with a strategic mind.

This combination of education and commercial experience has enabled me to stay at the leading edge of emerging technologies to ensure that customers are provided with a framework for success.

Looking to put SMEs at the heart of your authoring process?