Wednesday, June 11, 2008

To, The Respected SMEs ... With Regards


For elearning practice SME is an important pillar to build an effective course. He is one player who can make or break the whole vision. So how do we treat an SME in real life? We give them a special place. We ask them specific stereo type questions. Subconsciously, this fear that s/he may not run away leads to a very formal behavior from our end. Trust me, formal behavior can never be human and warm. Air hostesses/ cabin crew serving at flight are great example of formal and learnt behavior. All of them greet us with same plastic smile and same facial gestures. Does it make us feel warm or have a relationship, binding, or ownership? NO not at all. Becoz their job ends with the journey.

But in elearning relationship has to be established. It is a long term relationship. Just validating the course material in time should not be the end objective. While dealing with SMEs, it is crucial to build a warm and human relationship. It is essential to make them comfortable enough that they start talking about their experiences. It should be passed on to them that the end learning from this course is the objective. SME can provide various other practical or on ground realities about the subject. He is also the right person to tell about the areas where students tend to feel uncomfortable in the course. His on ground experience in the field can lead to better learning and assessment strategies. Same shall be conveyed to the SMEs. He should be made part and parcel of discussions where ever possible. We should keep him posted about development of the course. Let him/her feel the pain and joy of the work in process.

One of my observations is that there is a belief that SMEs are not paid well enough. So they are not dedicated enough. As far as my experience and understanding about academician goes, they like to share there wide experience on the field. They are in academics becoz they love to teach. They love their subject; they want to see more and more students and professional in the same field. SME is with most updated information on the subject. Do we leverage on these points?

They are surely a different cadre of people- they are intellectuals of the society. They have devoted their lives to their passion- their subject. But how can we optimum utilize their knowledge? Let see, if the following factors help us:
• Be a good listeners.
• Allow them to talk and discuss about the subject and their experiences. Let them share their passion about their subjects.
• Try to bring shared ownership with them.
• Don't ask stereo type questions.Try to be more human and spontaneous.
• Write the areas of queries/ concerns, but don't read out questions like an automated machine.
• Study the subject before you get into discussions. Lack of basic knowledge of the subject will lead to a put of the SME.Basic knowledge of subject will lead to spontaneous interaction.

Definitely, there must be much more areas of improvement, which remain untouched in this article. I hope to hear those factors and areas from you all...

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