Monday, July 13, 2009

Building a Camel

"You put together a committee to build a horse and get a camel."

That is what I have been going through with my SMEs. I had the right subject matter experts (SMEs), all with the expertise needed, and not too many to be productive or reach a reasonable consensus. Somewhere along the line they took it upon themselves to invite more into the mix  and now reaching a concensus is becoming difficult.

The bigger problem is they all want to throw more content into the course. The SMEs want everyone to be subject matter experts too. While the learners need the skills to do to do THEIR job effectively, not to master all the skills they are not expected to ever apply.

Today the SMEs surprised me. They wanted to push the training up 3 weeks due to an earlier than expected system release. This is the first time I have ever experienced an early system release. Usually these are delayed, maybe on time, but never early. Anyhow, what is an e-learning guy to do?

It was an opportunity to make sure we built a horse!

Here is what I did:

  • Shaved 1 week from the amount of time participants have to take it prior to the system release. This means I have 2 weeks less development time and participants have 1 less week to take the course. It's a compromise between the learners/participants and me, and the SMEs still get to keep there training prior to the system launch date. I hate giving participants less time, but it is a necessary evil.

  • Revisit the storyboards and determine what can be eliminated from the course that is not essential to participants being able to use the new system. This will accomplish the following:

  • Shave a lot of development time off. Especially if it includes eliminating unnecessary simulations. I know for a fact there are numerous topics, demos and sims that are what I call "nice to knows." It is great to provide background info or more about the system's inner workings, but for the sake of time on our part and the participants part too, they can use the system effectively without this some of this info. And believe me, my audience will appreciate a succinct course, while still being able to learn exactly what they need in order to use this system.

  • Redesigning some of the interactive sims (try me sims) into demos (show me sims) instead. The very simple tasks will transfer and be retained just as well with out the practice, in my opinion. I will still invest the time needed to develop the interactive "try me" sims for the more complicated tasks.

Yes, it is a pain to have less time to develop this course, but at least it can be a more succinct, focused and hopefully a more effective course.

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