Arms wrestling with young lady almost winning.

Instructional Designers Vs Subject Matter Experts

Saw the whole thing, dude. First the IDs were all like ‘whoa’, and SMEs were like ‘whoa’, and you were like ‘whoooa…’

To the outside observer, it may not be clear where the line is drawn between what an instructional designer does versus what a subject matter expert does.

The instructional designer is someone who enables effective learning. The Subject Matter Expert brings their authority on a topic based on knowledge, experience and understanding of the topic conceptual relationships.

Both are essential in a successful in creating a solution but roles can get blurred.  Process clarity is vital to achieving the outcomes. The dilemma and solution has been delightfully captured by Norman Lamont:

It highlights the tension between the expert’s passion for their topic of expertise; and the instructional designer trying to distil it down to the bare essentials.  However, there is no clear cut rule of who must do what.  What is clear is that you can’t skip learning design process steps and expect to have a quality result.  What are the steps?

IDSME

Task ID SME Engagement Level
Provides learner's needs
_________

_________
Low
Teaching methods
_________

_________
:
Real world examples
_________

_________
:
Misconceptions
_________

_________
:
Contribute content
_________

_________
:
Current Industry knowledge
_________

_________
:
Chunk and order content
_________

_________
Moderate
Write learning objectives
_________

_________
:
Case studies
_________

_________
:
Review accuracy
_________

_________
:
Write scripts
_________

_________
:
Write Learning design statement
_________

_________
:
Write Functional Spefication
_________

_________
:
Author courseware
_________

_________
High

Essentially, it’s a sliding scale of SME engagement – you choose who does what and when it is shared or not shared.  The top end represents light levels of SME engagement; the bottom end high levels.  In making the decision where to draw the line,  consider relative strengths of each person ~ who’s going to be the most effective at each task based on:

  • Learning development experience
  • Content expertise
  • Technological experience
  • SME engagement with the project
  • Time and budget constraints

The relationship between SME and Instructional designer has a very powerful impact on the learning outcomes – if managed right, with no arm wrestling required.

 
 
 
 
 
content
 
Arms wrestling with young lady almost winning.


   Credit:Simon van der Linden
   Source: https://flic.kr/p/9z4g9j License: CC WA ND

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