Working together with content experts using 6 building blocks

Rinke Huisman

An online training has many advantages in comparison to offline learning – regarding multiple aspects. We already wrote blogs about the possibilities of virtual reality, micro-learnings, storytelling and gamification in your online training. You seldom see these elements, or only in an analogue form, in offline trainings. This doesn’t work the other way around: not every part of an offline training is useable for the digital world. The creators of e-learnings are very aware of this. As a creator you have to work together with content experts, who are expert on the theme of your e-learning. This can result in difficulties in agreeing on the form, content and scope of the training. How do you ensure that you make the most of the content using powerful work forms? We provide you with a few building blocks for a good cooperation:

How do you ensure that you make the most of the content using powerful work forms? We provide you with a few building blocks for a good cooperation:

1. Role assignment

Communicate clearly from the start how the roles are divided. The content experts will provide the content, monitor the frequency of coverage of certain topics in the e-learning and if the learning content is explained correctly. The e-learning developer makes didactic choices and should justify why the information is placed in a certain form or order. This is the most sensitive topic between the e-learning developer and the content expert and therefore often a point of discussion. Both should keep the goal in mind: how do we convey the content to the target audience in the best way possible, in an accurate and relevant manner of the right level? This is a benchmark you should continuously use to value your e-learning. Both of you are essential for the process, by good cooperation you’ll use your expertise optimally. See the value of each other’s knowledge and plan a meeting once in a while to ask each other specific questions so you understand one another better – something that will be beneficial to the e-learning as well. 

2. Method

Good communication beforehand is key. Indicate to the content expert, when possible beforehand, which content forms you can or cannot use. The content expert can take this into account while collecting information. Don’t make it too complex, but ask the expert for example to already divide the content into categories. For example: which info is appropriate for flashcards and which for a quiz? Is it not possible to indicate this beforehand, and do you receive the content without for example these categories? Ensure that you indicate very specifically after processing the information what you still miss and for which content form, so the content expert can work on this with a certain focus.

Another good tip for a strong preparation is organising a writers workshop. It saves you, as the e-learning developer, lots of work when the content expert has already took writing style, motivating the reader and making texts attractive into account. Moreover, such a workshop offers the opportunity to get to know each other better. 

3. Test criteria

Make sure it’s clear beforehand which test criteria are important for this e-learning. Will the participants obtain a certificate? Do they need to set learning goals themselves? How will the new knowledge be tested? Is some content more important than other? Dependent on these requirements, certain topics should reoccur more often or certain content should be classified as extra. Discuss this with the content expert and design your e-learning based on this. 

4. Remove the barriers

In the past year the fear for online tools luckily decreased enormously. Sometimes it’s still quite a barrier for content experts to work online. Reassure someone immediately when this happens. You’ve worked with this before, you’re responsible. It’s a beautiful chance to renew the training and it offers plenty of advantages. The more enthusiastic someone is about the online working hub, the more cooperation you’ll get in the mutual collaboration. Make sure you know beforehand how much online experience the content expert has, so you can anticipate on this. When the content expert also plays a role in the supervision, then you’ll discuss the specific approach that online supervision needs. For example, more creativity and more improvisation capacity, less control and more and shorter contact moments and more custom work. Stress the advantages again, such as more insights in the learning behaviour.

5. Testing

Provide the content expert with access to the test hub (not the development hub). This gives them the opportunity to get a clear image of the final product. This often brings rest and trust in the collaboration. Moreover, clear examples can help sometimes to tackle persistent beliefs.

6. Ambassadors

Perhaps this is the most important tip: view the content expert as an ambassador for their profession. Their enthusiasm and experience are essential to create strong e-learnings. Use that passion and predilection for the profession and encourage them to convey this to a new generation content experts. You’re both of great importance to make a success of the e-learning and a good cooperation is key in this.

Get to work!

Using the building blocks listed above, your cooperation will certainly be a success. One last tip for you as e-learning developer: just do it! Put the provided content in a training and show it to the content expert. Often this already results in enthusiasm, trust and conviction, which will give the cooperation a boost!