In this lesson we will focus on collaboration with the Subject Matter Expert.

Project Team Collaboration

In the ancient history of digital media -- in other words the late 80's to early 90's -- it was common for a one person, a super-producer, to single handedly create a high quality media product. However, creating effective digital media products in today's marketplace is becoming an increasingly difficult prospect for one person. Regardless of how much division of labor is applied, team members will likely play more than one role. Only in the most monolithic media development houses are the duties so divided that no team member has more than one area of expertise and no tasks are shared. The extreme cases where one "producer" juggles all the responsibility - - from art design and creation to programming -- result in an inferior product, an extended development schedule, or a burnt-out employee. In the cases of contracted media product development, the client may be asked to play certain and various roles by the vendor. The vendor conversely will be asked, required, or possibly demanded, to assume a set of roles and responsibilities. Development teams are notoriously eclectic bunches. The team can widely vary between self-taught members and those with academic credentials such as TAFE qualifications in instructional design, psychology, programming, art, and other areas of study.

Click here for an outline of the roles and responsibilities of digital media practitioners involved in product design and development. In this lesson we will focus on collaboration with the Subject Matter Expert.

Designers (Graphic, animators, instructional, etc.) will often have to work with people who have expert knowledge of the product that is being designed and developed. These experts are known as Subject Matter Experts and are referred to as SMEs. Their expertise is required to provide advice on the subject matter and to identify sources of content that are appropriate, relevant and current. The designer’s expertise is used to present the content to meet the needs of the client.

The subject matter expert (SME), contributes the core content and original materials along with being available for information acquisition through formal or informal interviews. She/he provides access to source materials and reference items such as books, articles, videotapes, and static art. In the client/vendor model, the client assigns this person as one who can give guided tours of facilities, explain processes, create flow diagrams, provide sample dialogue, and shape simulated settings. It is the responsibility of the SME to reviews design documents, scripts, and the final deliverable for accuracy. In an elearing project the instructional designer (ID) is the training expert and the SMEs are the subject experts, SMEs provide (or advise and suggest) the content to be used while the ID arranges that content into material that can easily be learned:

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SMEs are responsible on what tasks to include, the steps that are to be performed, while IDs are responsible on how that material will be presented (demonstrate practice - test). SMEs are responsible for providing technical-jargon, while IDs decide if that jargon needs to be explained. SMEs are responsible for what is acceptable performance, while IDs decide how that performance will be evaluated.

SMEs should be involved in all stages of the project, as follows: 1. Scoping - SMEs provide valuable insight into the requirements for training and the scope of knowledge required to perform the task being covered. As you scope the project with your client, involve the SMEs to assist in defining the knowledge and skills required. 2. Project Kickoff - Ensure the SMEs are listed on the project team and their roles are explained to the client and other participants. 3. Knowledge Acquisition - The SMEs will run this part of the project, bringing the content and suggesting resources. 4. Storyboard - SMEs will participate as content reviewers. 5. QA Testing - SMEs will test deployed content to ensure proper flow. 6. Deployment - SMEs standby when the course rolls out to ensure there are no further revisions that require their input.