Now you can do your job!
The greatest reward of adopting this approach to writing lessons is that you can now complete the primary duties of an ID: you can focus on the actual design of the learning experience. You can spend your time where your expertise will truly have a greater impact on the learning solution. You can concentrate more on determining what learning activities, scenarios, technologies, tools, instructional strategies… are best suited for the learning solution.
100% more accurate!
Since the SME is writing the lesson, then your lesson content will be 100% more accurate than if a non-SME were writing it. You no longer have to worry about deciphering and researching the accuracy through mountains of content; you have the SME to do that. Remember, they are a SME… they know their area of expertise… otherwise they wouldn't be a SME. ;-)
Better, faster and cheaper!
This is every project managers favourite thing to hear! And with this approach it is pretty much guaranteed. Let me explain; since the SME is writing the lesson and the ID is designing the instruction to support the lesson, regression and rework will be kept to a minimum. This is because the skills of the ID and SME are better aligned to complete the task of producing the lesson. The ID concentrates on the design of the instructional activities and the SME focuses on the accuracy of the content. In the end, this approach leads to a shorter production time, a lower cost of production, and a greater instructional experience for the learner!
SMEs are expensive
SMEs can be very expensive. If they are writing the initial lesson content then they are required to complete a much higher level of effort than say if they were just conducting a SME review of the lesson. This means that your PM or yourself will have to pay them more for their services. Having said that, the cost associated to the amount of rework, regression and development for having a non-SME write the lesson is much higher in the end.
SMEs are scarce
Another problem with SMEs is they are scarce. Depending on the industry you are designing learning solutions for, it may not be easy to find them mainly because not everyone is a SME. For example, there are far less pilot SMEs with tens of thousands of flight hours on a variety of commercial and military aircrafts as compared to high school social science teachers.
“I am God!” syndrome
When working with SMEs, especially those who are new to learning and development, there is always a likelihood for this phenomenon to occur. This takes place when the SME believes they are correct and you must do and build the lesson exactly as I say; you get what I call “SME creep”. When you have the SME write the lesson first; you are increasing the probability that your SME dictates the entire design of the learning solution… And then your lesson ends up being a 200 slide deck without any interaction… Remember, you are the ID!
If you do decide to have a SME write the initial lesson content it is important is to have good communication with your SME. You need to clearly explain the expectations of learning solution and what instructional strategies and tools will be used. The SME will know what the final product will look like. You may also want to consider using rapid prototyping tools such as Lectora Online, which allows online collaboration for the SME and the ID to producing the lessons.
In the end, you need to weigh out your options in terms of SME availability, budget, deadlines, lesson content before deciding if you want to have the SME write the initial lesson draft. From my experience, if you can have the SME write the raw lesson content first; I highly recommend it.
Well I hope you enjoyed this post and that it helps shed some light on the question as to whom should write the lesson. I would love to hear your experiences with dealing with this. Just shoot me a message.
You can also follow me on Twitter at @AlainVanThiel.
Stay tuned for more posts!