E-Learning: Managing Subject Experts
As a project manager in charge of designing an e-learning course, there is only so far any amount of training or experience can go before the raw content is required to be implemented. For the course to be successful, the close collaboration and communication with subject experts is absolutely paramount. Working with professionals from the field you are designing the course for is an integral part of the process, allowing you to build a greater understanding of the demands of their industry and as a result design a course entirely suited to their needs.
PRINCE2®, the acclaimed project management methodology, is ideal for subject experts to apply their knowledge to the course production process. Below we have listed a number of reasons why utilising the skills of your subject experts is paramount to the construction of a successful e-learning programme.
The biggest criticism directed at e-learning courses is that information is presented in a template and as a result lets a lot of needless information filter through into the finished article. The key is to ensure that relevant information is not just presented in a way that looks good aesthetically but presented in a way that allows the learner to process it easily. By adopting a more engaging approach, your success levels will increase noticeably.
For example, presenting real-world situations that are relevant to their sector or role are ideal ways of achieving this. Your subject experts will have an acute knowledge of what scenarios will benefit the skills of the learners, so it is crucial to harness their experience during this process.
As a project manager, it is easy to rely on your own experiences as your number one point of reference when it comes to making decisions. It is one of the cornerstones of successful management techniques, and the way we learn from our successes and mistakes ultimately allows our projects to flourish if we approach them in the correct way.
However, too much emphasis on your own intuition can create an extremely pressurised environment within a project, and this is no different when it comes to e-learning. Courses need to be created solely with the learner in mind, and the diversity of your potential clients may mean your experience isn’t transferrable to the task at hand. A subject matter expert, along with communication set up between your team and learners who have embarked on similar courses to that you are designing, will provide you with an opportunity to get a better feel for the course design as a whole.
Too much detail can often be impeding when it comes to learning. Designing a huge course that covers all possibilities may mean the overall objectives of the e-learning scheme are diluted. The last thing you want is learners to become disheartened and end up reading the answers from a textbook or a cheat sheet. The best way is to release the information in smaller chunks. This way it’s more manageable for all parties involved, as resources are distributed as and when they are required.
The easiest way to do this is to think back to when you were at school. Remember all the time and effort made by teachers to design their own courses to try and inspire students into learning, and remember how many lessons fell flat at the feet of disinterested students. While it is unlikely your audience will be as temperamental as teenagers, it’s crucial to try and immerse yourself in what motivates your audience.
Your subject experts will be integral to this process. Whether it’s to improve company performances, better existing skills or improve morale within a team, without having any inside knowledge of your audience you will be putting the company and the learners themselves at a serious disadvantage.
E-learning is full of potential pitfalls, but through careful preparation they are easily avoided. At PRINCE2, one of the key aspects of our processes is to ensure communication between all parties is always kept at the optimum level. For more information on how our methods are applied to e-learning course creation scenarios, contact one of our team today.