“Expert skill or knowledge in a particular field.” That’s the definition of expertise.
Many learning and development (L&D) practitioners landed in this profession because of their expertise. Companies often conscript people gifted in a certain area to become teachers and trainers of others. That mainly happens because learning programs are tied to a particular subject. A need arises and companies look for the subject matter expert (SME) who knows the material to teach others. It’s a natural and even logical reaction. It happens all the time in organizations. Learning departments often start by building around a group of SMEs.
As I’ve said before, there is nothing wrong with SMEs transitioning to the L&D role. Many of today’s L&D pros took this path into the learning profession. I don’t question your expertise in the subject area that you teach. That’s an important skill to have, and obviously something your organization values or you wouldn’t have been invited to lead learning programs.
However, if you’re going to own your expertise in the L&D field, you must extend beyond your subject area. You must match your subject matter expertise to instructional design (ID) expertise. Build your L&D expertise as you link your SME knowledge and ID skills.
Own Your Expertise Through ID Training
The challenge with entering L&D as a subject matter expert is your “expertise” is only in knowing the subject. Certainly, you can convey information in your subject area but are you a good teacher? Can you deliver information and learning experiences that enable people to learn material? Can you design a learning program in any subject that leads to knowledge and skill gains?
As I discussed in my previous post, L&D pros don’t know how to describe their expertise or measure their value. They fail to provide solid evidence of the value of their learning programs to their organization. They can only show that a class was developed and people attended. Without hard evidence, your peers and bosses will only view the learning function as a tool for conveying information. This tool can be easily replaced with documents, social media, or videos that provide information on a subject. When the expertise of L&D only conveys information it is easily relegated to the sidelines. It becomes the first candidate for cuts during the annual budget process.
There is science behind designing effective learning programs. You can learn the skills needed to design a learning program. There are proven ways to show the outcomes from learning. There is a competent way to measure the impact of learning on the student and your business. The secret is creating learning programs targeted to job requirements that include specific components. Experienced learning professionals use these elements to create measurable, repeatable learning programs. With measurable learning programs, you can convey when learning leads to improved performance. You can identify which methods you used to get there. ID skills are the secret to creating measurable and effective programs.
What Must ID Experts Know to Create Measurable Learning Programs?
If you want to master ID, you must know how program design impacts behavior change. Behavior change is the ultimate goal of every learning program. It provides the clearest indication that your program was a success.
You also must learn to tie behavior change to metrics. This includes how to choose the right metric to measure.
Finally, you need to learn how to quantify metric changes in financial terms. ROI calculations occur by quantifying these metrics. In this way, you determine the ROI of your learning programs.
To succeed at ID, you must master specific design skills. You must know how to:
- Create targeted objectives that include both the conditions and criteria for performance
- Align the performance, conditions, and criteria with both instructional methods and evaluations
- Understand how people learn so you choose the best instructional methods to match their learning style
- Deconstruct complicated concepts into their simplest parts to enable understanding
- Group simple ideas together so learners can master more complex methods/concepts
- Choose the best instructional methods to achieve the intended learning objectives and outcomes
How Do You Gain Instructional Design Expertise?
eParamus offers Measurable Instructional Design® Certification that transforms SMEs to instructional designers. With this certification, you’ll be able to create consistent, observable improvements on the job using your learning programs. You’ll also learn how to align training to business strategy and outcomes.
This certification includes your choice of on-site training or webinars. Our program includes continues with support, tools, and advice for 6 months after you leave the classroom. We walk through the design of one measurable program for each participant, to ensure learning and application of the concepts. Your eParamus coach reviews, analyzes, and follows up with you after measurable program deployment. We offer roll-out and communication support to help prepare your organization for measurement and using the data you gain from the program.
It’s no longer enough to simply deliver content. Businesses want L&D to be their partners in business success. Your L&D team must know the basic competencies of effective ID. They need to know and use the best practices for adult learning.
Are you an L&D pro without formal ID training? Own your expertise by becoming an instructional design expert. If you’re interested in Measurable Instructional Design® Certification, then contact us here at eParamus. We’d love to help.
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