The Subject Matter Experts
Online training is a practical and popular way of educating workforces on a wide range of important topics. Recent analyst predictions pegged the total “E-Learning” market to reach $457B by 2026. The online training experience now starts with children in grade school using Learning Management System (LMS) applications to supplement and enhance in-class instruction. Corporations, government and non-profit organizations have also adopted the LMS approach to deliver training to their employees. The range of training topics is vast from customer service, task learning, cyber security, health and safety, respectful workplaces…the list is endless. There are many different “flavors” of a LMS, however the most common denominator of all successful online training systems is high quality content.
State of the Industry
The learning experience that a modern LMS strives to deliver is ease of use, engaging for the student with meaningful content and interactivity, and finally provides many knowledge checkpoints along the way. Short of having a real teacher providing the educational experience, online training is an excellent alternative.
There are many providers of online training in the market today selling courses. Probably the most challenging task in choosing an online learning path for an organization is determining the quality of the course content. It makes sense that the first evaluation checkpoint to consider for quality is determining the origin of the content…who authored this course?
The majority of suppliers of online courses today unfortunately do not attribute the course content to any source. Marketing descriptions about topics covered and the benefits are provided, however the crucial information telling the learner who has written the content is absent. Consider this a potential warning sign when purchasing online training.
Subject Matter Expert
We all can agree that when enrolled in a math class, you want to be taught by someone trained in math. Why should any online training course be any different? Learners should be confident that when purchasing, the course should have been created by a Subject Matter Expert (SME) in the field.
This brings forth the obvious question – what defines an expert in a field? Unlike our math teacher example, many subject areas of training did not arise from a well defined academic field. For example if the course is about customer service, almost anyone could claim to be an expert in this area. Another example would be wilderness bear safety for workers, you won’t find a graduate program in a university for this area. The good news is a lack of academic credentials does not mean that true experts don’t exist. There are simple ways to determine who reasonably qualifies as an expert in a particular field. Here is a checklist to review to provide assurance:
- Experience — a Google search quickly reveals how many years a SME has been working on a particular topic and what relevant academic qualifications they have.
- Active in the Community — how active is the SME participating in webinars, lectures and as conference speakers related to the topic.
- Expert Witness — has someone else defined the SME as an expert? Have they been called to testify in judicial proceedings as an expert witness having been vetted by the legal community or peers?
- Business Standards — does the SME actively work with commercial clients in areas such as policy development or incident investigation? If the answer is yes, they are likely current on what the standards of training are today.
- Advising the Legislative Process — depending on the topic, many SMEs are involved with advising government and shaping legislation in the area. Although not always common, this type of experience on their CV is a very positive sign.
Corridor Interactive was founded on the realization that content in an online course must be authored by a subject matter expert. Employees deserve to learn from experts who provide accurate instruction to keep them informed and safe in the workspace. This is the fundamental value that SMEs at the top in their respective field bring.
Active SMEs provide dynamic content to reflect work standards that are in a constant state of evolution. For example the nationwide legalization of cannabis in 2018 dramatically changed the understanding for both employers and employees of how this affected workspaces. Having a SME fully versed in the impacts of this legislative change and proactively updating the Drug and Alcohol training series provided a tremendous resource for workplaces to manage this new reality.
Dynamic content updates for judicial, legislative or employment standards changes keeps training courses from ever having a “best before” date. It is a guarantee to customers of training content that reflects the situation today. SMEs who are actively involved with policy development for their respective fields are a tremendous resource for companies looking for assistance with designing policies to meet their unique situations. The close relationship between your internal policies and the training programs you deploy to make these policies successful is another key benefit of working with SMEs.
Regardless of how visually appealing or interactive an online training program may be, if the source material is lacking substance and reliability or has passed its “best before” date, the result for learners will be poor. Regardless of where you source online training from, investigate and ask questions about how the course was created. We all remember the day when the Math teacher was unexpectedly absent and the English teacher was pressed into teaching the class, check out our Buyer’s Guide for more tips to on how to source high quality employee and supervisor training solutions that represent your company’s culture, goals and objectives.