How to Transition from a SME to an Instructional Design Expert

Long-time SMEs can transition into instructional designersL&D departments everywhere overflow with instructors who know their subjects. We often refer to these experts as a SME (or subject matter expert).

In fact, many L&D practitioners entered the field because of their technical expertise.

In a pinch, a SME is often recruited as training creator. Why? It’s often because a  company needs a learning program focused on a particular subject. The natural answer was to enlist the people who knew the subject best.

Technology led to the need for more adult learning.

For many, using SMEs as trainers was the quickest solution to an obvious problem. Many businesses followed this practice in the 1990s and 2000s. This act transitioned a short-term solution to a long-standing practice.

Why did this expansion of the learning profession happen in those decades? It went hand-in-hand with the tech boom. The speed of technological change required equal speed in adult learning. Employees needed focused knowledge faster than ever to keep pace with their jobs. And, technology allowed us to create and share information faster than ever.

So, many in our profession arrived without formal training in learning development. Early opportunities came with only one demand: Know the content you are teaching. The skill of creating effective learning programs was secondary to knowing the subject itself. The focus was on delivery. It was not on an effective program and not on business results.

The Great Recession revealed serious faults in the learning profession.

In the late 2000s, a confluence of factors revealed flaws with this approach.

First, in 2007-2008, the Great Recession hit, impacting nearly every industry. The recession stretched every department. Only must-have projects received funding. Funding relied on proving a positive outcomes to the business.

At the same time, our abilities to extract data improved. Departments supplied data that backed up both the expenditure and the ROI measure. Measurement became central to every department.

That’s not to say measurement hasn’t always been important to business. It has. The difference was that data gathering became faster, easier, and more precise.

Marketing, sales, shipping,  and production—all showed precise measures. All proved how they contributed to the business. But which department failed to meet these demands? Learning and development.

Why? Many businesses assumed linking learning to ROI was impossible. They saw learning as something that could not be quantified.  Yet, in recent years, that assumption proved false. Today businesses insist on effectiveness measures before spending budget on L&D.

Why this is a problem for a SME without an ID background.

Many current training practitioners remain untrained in formal instructional design (ID). There is a shortage of those who understand the science behind ID. There are also limits to the understanding of how training supports businesses. Fortunately, this is a fixable problem.

How can you fix this lack of knowledge?

As is so often the case, learning programs are the answer!

eParamus offers Measurable Instructional Design® Certification. With certification, a SME can gain ID skills. With the right training, anyone can master how to develop learning programs correctly.

You’ll learn how to create consistent, observable improvements on the job. You’ll also learn the key to aligning training to business strategy and outcomes.

Our certification includes the following:

  • 3 days of on-site classroom training or 4 1/2 day webinars
  • Expert design support of one measurable program for each participant (typically 90 days)
  • Review, analysis, and follow up after measurable program deployment
  • Roll-out and communication support to help prepare your organization for measurement

This intensive program provides even after you leave the classroom:

  • We work with you after the class, through completion and deployment of your own measurable program
  • Our tools support the entire process including design, deployment, data collection, and analysis
  • We work together to prepare your organization for measurement, including communication and roll-out planning

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.

Do you lead an L&D team? Are you a SME who lacks formal ID training? Transform from a SME to an instructional design expert. If you’re interested in Measurable Instructional Design® Certification, then contact us at eParamus. We’d love to help.

Photo copyright: wavebreakmediamicro / 123RF Stock Photo

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