The importance of SME reviews

Justine Swain | 05/31/2018

Early on in my eLearning career, I stumbled onto a valuable lesson about the design process, and I thought I’d share it with you all today. So here goes:

Skipping a review can be disastrous!

Unfortunately, I learned this lesson the hard way…
 

I was asked to help out with the build stage of an eLearning module under extremely tight deadlines. An Instructional Designer was carrying out the storyboarding process, so was I tasked as the Developer. 

As I tackled the first storyboard, the Instructional Designer in me wanted to check if the content had been reviewed by the subject matter expert (SME), but I convinced myself: “No, there isn’t time. Just go and build it.” So, I got to work.

Two long weeks later, a draft was ready for the SMEs and Stakeholders to review and approve, so off it was sent.

Can you guess what the response was? Apparently, there had been a fundamental change to the software while the storyboard was still being put together, which meant the design was wrong – all wrong! So, we scrapped the build, licked our wounds and started again from scratch. 

Unfortunately, my inexperience and naivety let me fall into the trap of not listening to my gut. As a result, I lost two full weeks of work and a whole lot of patience! So, what did I learn from this experience?

  • Review! Review! Review! It’s essential. Iron out any kinks and address any issues before you commit your time to building.
  • Self-Review. I like to put my storyboard aside for a bit, then give it another look with fresh eyes. It gives me chance to spot my own errors and adjust the flow.
  • Peer Review. Use your design team! They may see things you don’t. Plus, two heads are always better than one.
  • SME Review. This is the exciting part for me! Get your SME to take a look at your work to make sure you’re heading in the right direction. They can identify any errors or issues with the content itself. And a lot of the times, correct content directs confident design!
  • Your SME is King. They are your source of information, so use them! I think taking the time to get to know your SME is invaluable. You can gain an understanding of how they like to work and can use that methodology in your design.
  • Make your SME your ally. By keeping the SME informed throughout the design process, you’ll be on the front lines if a potential change is looming. You’ll be first to know, and you’ll always be ready for it if and when a major change actually occurs.

So, hopefully you can learn from my mistake early on in my career – and make your subject matter expert your friend from the very start.

Justine Swain

Instructional Designer at Omniplex

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