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The L&D Forum

Hi Everyone

I am currently working on a project that looks at how we can assist and support Subject Matter Experts (SME's) in training delivery.

My role depends heavily on the use of SME's to help facilitate/deliver training and I'm interested to know how other companies support their SME's to become comfortable with this?

I appreciate that SME's differ quite drastically so the support will need to be tailored to each individual but my hope is to put together a 'toolkit' that can be adapted for each SME's needs and wondered what your recommendations would be to include?

Any insights are very much appreciated.




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  • Hi Sarah,

    I've had a fair amount of experience doing this sort of work with SME's in different organisations and I've had some good results from the approach I settled on. This was a mixture of theory, practice and feedback spread over two days. Day 1 would almost always cover theory that was most relevant to the group's needs. Day 2 would largely be focussed on them 'having a go' at running a short piece of training with some feedback from myself and others in the group linked into the topics covered on Day 1. 

    This approach needed some care and empathy. Most people dreaded the thought of having a go but would come back afterwards and say how useful they'd found it. After their slot 'having a go' I would facilitate a discussion on what we liked about their style and tips to improve. As a group we collated these tips and discussed at the end. We concluded with each individual formulating their own action plan on things they would take away.

    On the theory front, there's a couple of things that I found those inexperienced would benefit from. One common flaw for people is to go into 'presenting' mode, shovelling information at people. I found that spending some time discussing Edgar Dale's 'Cone of Experience' helped. Whilst I'm not a huge fan of how this theory has been mis-represented over the years, it does get people thinking about how they can make learning far much more engaging than presenting to people. It got them thinking about different ways to encourage learning.There was often a nice link into questioning skills. Those that are inexperienced in this field often give information rather than get people thinking and of course turning a presentation into a discussion is more likely to engage people. It was always quite revealing to see how people had become quite closed in their questioning style, where of course a learning environment often benefits by being more open and collaborative.

    I know you mention a 'toolkit' whereas I've focussed more on a training event so maybe this wouldn't work. On the toolkit front, perhaps something that allows people to share and discuss resources ongoing so it's more of a fluid, growing resource than something that is produced at a fixed point in time.

    One idea would be to create a flipbook for them using Flipboard. If you haven't yet seen the 21st Century Learning Professional Magazine we create you'll find it here. Works great on a mobile: https://flipboard.com/@mikecollins7dke/the-21st-century-learning-pr...

    Let me know your thoughts Sarah. Interested to hear more.


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