Persuading subject matter experts to write for scenarios

elearning developers

Working as elearning designers and / or elearning developers, we come across many different types of business who want online learning creating or face to face training, converting to online learning.  From what I’ve seen the message still isn’t getting through that people learn from involvement and decision making and not from reading pages and pages of Content. I saw it yesterday (literally) and I’ll see it tomorrow. So how do we persuade subject matter experts (SMEs) to write differently?

Every training intervention has a reason and it’s usually a problem. Businesses don’t spend money on training unless they have to. E.g. A food manufacturing manager needs to educate staff on food hygiene – otherwise customers will more than likely acquire food poisoning. A NHS manager has to train 500 nurses to use a new type of thermometer – otherwise patients may be ill and go undetected. Everything’s a problem and problems need to be fixed.

So, tell your SME that.  In fact first, ask them what problems will be solved by the training – why are they being asked to write the training Content? Then tell them to write as though they are going to fix the problems.

For example as a food hygiene employee, what problems are likely to emerge? Tell them to write a scenario to fix each potential problem, for example,  a customer has become ill. How can that of been prevented? What should be done to ensure it never happens again? What decisions should be made – what are the right and wrong decisions? Ask them to take the learner through the process but ask them to write the Content as a scenario in a non-linear fashion. To fix the problem, what is the correct route – the right decisions, and what is the incorrect route – the wrong decisions. Ask the to write it like a branch of a tree but ask them never to create more than 3 branches – from experience, after 3 or 4 it becomes too complicated to design and build.

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