Why you should turn your SMEs into content reviewers (and how to simplify the review process)

Your organization assembles individuals working at the very top of their fields. Drawing from years of experience, high-level qualifications, and the very latest information, these subject matter experts (SMEs) have minds filled with knowledge that could add essential detail, structure, and context to your expertly authored eLearning content. However, your specialist colleagues are likely to be busy—so how can you leverage their knowledge for your L&D efforts?

By casting SMEs as reviewers, you can leverage the power of their expertise and bolster your content’s credibility without making huge demands on anybody’s time.

In this scenario, your instructional designers can take care of the heavy lifting involved in course authoring, ensuring that you’re not asking too much of your SMEs. At the same time, you’ll still significantly boost the quality of your eLearning courses by ensuring that your learners are exposed to the relevant, accurate, and up-to-date information they need in order to flourish.

If you want to solidify the time-smart advantages of casting your SMEs as reviewers, you’ll benefit from equipping them with an intuitive authoring tool. Plus, you might find yourself able to offer an extra incentive or two with a deeper understanding of the benefits involved in eLearning collaboration—for every stakeholder involved. So, what are the benefits on offer? And what kind of tool can help you realize them? Let’s find out.

The learning benefits of cross-team collaboration

In discussions about cross-functional collaboration, analysts are quick to point to increased innovation as a key benefit of bringing together multidisciplinary teams. That’s a principle well worth applying to the collaboration that comes with mixing instructional designers and SME reviewers.

After all, innovation clearly has a place in effective learning. It’s been shown that innovative teaching methods can positively impact teaching quality in a classroom setting, and it’s not unreasonable to assume that this dynamic has applications in the world of professional development, too.

As such, enlisting SMEs as reviewers shouldn’t be seen solely as a dry exercise in correcting errors in learning content. It’s a cross-team collaboration in which mingling perspectives and specialisms produce new ways of articulating and presenting vital information.

The benefits don’t just impact your learners, either. Bringing together SMEs and instructional designers can improve the working lives of both parties.

Enhanced communication skills for SMEs

One of the challenges involved in persuading SMEs to participate in eLearning is to establish what they’ll get out of the process—and there are a few answers to this question. For some SMEs, it’s enough to know that their expertise is recognized and valued. For others, there will be something fulfilling about impacting the professional development of their colleagues.

But what about the development of your SMEs themselves?

By acting as a reviewer of your eLearning content, your SMEs will gain opportunities to hone and practice useful skills. For example, they’ll be called on to explain complicated concepts to an audience that lacks the level of knowledge your SMEs might take for granted among their own peers and networks. This kind of communication is a valuable soft skill with all sorts of applications in and beyond the workplace.

They’ll also be exposed to the inner workings of the instructional design process, in terms of both the strategies designers use to create memorable content and the technology they use to bring it to life (more on that in a moment!).

The list goes on, incorporating other possibilities like project management and evaluation skills, but the point is simply to reiterate an idea that’s been around since the philosopher Seneca, who said: “While we teach, we learn.”

Increased knowledge for instructional designers

Collaboration isn’t a one-way street, which is great news for your instructional designers. While your SMEs are busy sharpening their communication skills, your instructional designers will be exposed to deep expertise on the learning programs they’re tasked with.

By observing (and absorbing!) your SMEs’ feedback, insights, and discussion, your instructional designers might just gain a more well-rounded understanding of their subject matter—which can only strengthen their ongoing L&D efforts.

Choose an authoring tool with these 5 collaborative sharing and reviewing features

Recognizing the benefits of SME collaboration is a great first step, but turning your experts into eLearning reviewers is a practical process that requires the right tool. A cloud-based, collaboration-focused authoring solution will include a range of features that facilitate SME appraisals without intruding on the busy working lives of your expert colleagues.

Here are five collaboration essentials that any authoring tool worth its salt should offer.

1) Comments and feedback

The first step on the road to creating SME reviewers is to make sure they’re able to leave comments and feedback.

That’s why you’ll want to make sure your authoring tool has the capability to assign reviewer access to a given course, allowing SMEs to straightforwardly offer feedback on each screen—perhaps in the form of tasks to be assigned to your designers.

2) User roles and permissions

With a cloud-based authoring tool, you’ll have no problem ensuring that your SMEs can dive into courses and start leaving comments—but that ease of access shouldn’t mean that just anybody can waltz in and start tinkering with your Likert scales!

As such, you’ll want to ensure your tool’s collaboration features are accompanied by robust user role protocols, allowing your SMEs—and everybody else—the right level of access.

Sometimes you only need an SME to quickly cast an eye over a soon-to-be final product.

For these rapid-fire reviews, there’s no sense in having time-pressed SMEs traipse through your full authoring environment or sift through unrelated projects in order to leave detailed follow-up tasks. A share link will take your SME straight to the course they need to see, cutting through the noise and allowing them to spot opportunities for last-minute tweaks.

4) QR code-based previews

If you want useful feedback from your SMEs, your course previews need to reflect the final version as closely as possible. When you’re preparing courses with responsive design in mind, that means allowing your SMEs to access smartphone or tablet versions of your content.

A QR code preview will achieve exactly that—with one quick scan, your SME will receive the context they need to make informed assessments of your course content.

5) Live delivery

When they’re looking to update an existing course with the up-to-date information locked inside their heads, your SMEs will sometimes spot changes that don’t require the involvement of an instructional designer—so why involve an LMS administrator?

If your tool is capable of instant content updates, your SME won’t have to. Live delivery ensures that the changes your SMEs make to course content can instantly appear in your LMSs without your SMEs taking on the additional task of learning to be LMS administrators.

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.

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