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Working with SMEs

Reflection on Chapter 13: How Do I Work With SMEs?

It seems like the best chapters in this book have been saved for the end. I'm certainly finding them to be more applicable and helpful for where I am right now and the direction I want to be headed in the near future. To this point in my job at Stride, I have largely been focused on migrating and rebuilding old courses into a new platform. While I have been working with SMEs on these courses, it's not quite the same as it will be when I build original courses in the future.

Dr. Hobson spends this chapter talking about the importance of creating a setting proper boundaries and guidelines from the onset of a project to provide the SME and the ID with an equal voice to create the best possible learning experience for students. Having a good relationship with SMEs is so important that Hobson states, "A true instructional designer is a relationship manager."

To ensure the working relationships starts off right, Hobson encourages his readers to:

  • Find the SME on LinkedIn and look over any of their past work you can find to see what's important to them and gain an understanding for their terminology

  • Explain what your role is as an instructional designer on this project

  • Ask them about their preferences for communication

  • Provide them with work samples and walk them through your design process

  • Set deadlines and schedule recurring meetings according to the project's scope

  • Provide feedback to the SME

With those insights in mind, here is the reflection question for the thirteenth chapter:

While it's crucial to know how your SME likes to work, it's also important to know your own style. How do you prefer to work on projects? Describe your work preferences for timing, communication styles, meetings, tools, and anything that comes to mind.

I don't know if I would say that I have preferences for timing, which will likely be determined by the scope and the timeline of a given project any way. I'm comfortable with a variety of tools for communication and collaborating on shared documents, though Google is my favorite for its ease of use and being an integrated tool. My main preference when it comes to tools is consistency across projects. Having to use either Zoom or Teams is fine, but having been in a situation where I was using both platforms for separate wings of a business was less than ideal.

While I lack strong preferences with timing and tools, I do have preferences for communication styles. There is nothing I hate more than phone calls and voicemail messages. Okay, that's a lie, but the list of things that are worse phone calls is short. I prefer quick, informal exchanges when possible (via text or messages on Slack, Teams, Google Chat, or other communication platform) and video calls for meetings (though in-person meetings will be nice when we're finally passed this COVID mess).


Hobson, L. (2021). What I Wish I Knew Before Becoming an Instructional Designer. Independently published.

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