My L&D department at the moment is perceived to 'own' all the elearning content that is produced.  We spend much of our time chasing SMEs for information, then inuptting the changes into our elearning software. 

We want to change so that the content owners are the SME's within the business, and the L&D department adds the elearning / technical expertise. 

To do this we are changing to using Articulate as our elearning package so that it is much easier for the content owners to edit their content.  However it will be a big culture change, from training SMEs in how to write training content (rather than marketing content), how to use PowerPoint, how to work with us differently

Has anyone made this transition (or is thinking about doing so) - and if so do you have any suggestions, tips, pitfalls to avoid!

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Hi Nicola,

We are moving to this distributed model for performance support but not for 'traditional' elearning modules.
My first priority is to establish perf support for SAP, the solution I will be using is uPerform so I will have a number of SME authors to train who will then do the bulk of the process recording which will then be workflowed up to us where it will be published using templates to control the look & feel and even the language and glossary definitions.

The key thing for me is the ability for end users to comment and report content when it is incorrect or becomes outdated, thus removing the horrific environmental scanning responsibility from L&D.

I know this doesn't really help you but I guess I would recommend providing strict templates for the SMEs to complete.  You in L&D know how to present the content, you just need accurate and relevant content to present (including hints & tips & 'war stories').

If you could create a simple mechanism for end-users to report issues that would be incredibly useful to stop you needing to chase your tail as you described in your post.

Of course if you really are referring to courses as opposed to process related performance support I would withdraw all of my advice, standardisation of elearning content isn't a good idea IMHO!.


Let us know how you get on.

Hi Nicola

We've embarked on a simlar project recently for Camtasia, Articulate and Adobe tools. This may fall into a number of streams.

1) Helping the SME's themselves. Simliar to Mark below, we have developed an e-learning toolkit describing tools, capabilities and the type of work they're suited to. In addition, some best practices giving design tips etc. and some tool/system walkthroughs so they can build content by following a storyboard. Where possible this is done using the tool they'll be learning about - e.g. Camtasia modules on how to use Camtasia.

2) The L&D team themselves. Depends on how well they respond and embrace change for instance. There may be a couple of people who need some coaching and support, so they understand the different focus of their role. We have developed a consulting skills and business adviser skills package for our L&D team so they focus on adding value to the business in different ways.

3) Stakeholders. We have also encountered pockets of the business who are used to this being part of L&D's role in the past, so have had to have a number of meetings to change perception and mindset; outlining what we do and don't offer. For some this has been a phased approach and hand holding exercise over time, so people aren't 'left in the lurch', whilst the transition is made.

Hope this helps but let me know if you'd like to talk further.


Hi Nicola

The concept of user generated content is an extremely powerful one; but its successful implementation is non trivial and relies on both culture change and good governance rules.


As  a starting point I would adopt the champion/ challenger approach - and that involves:-

* Getting a good structure for the domain;

* Seeding the domain; and

* Setting up governance through establishing the appropriate roles:-

   * Domain Champion,

   * Domain Contributors, and

   * Domain Users


Once this is in place the Champion/ Challenger approach really helps; this argues that whatever is there at the moment is the correct version - unless anyone knows better; and if they do it's they put their improvements to the Domain Champion who rules whether the challenger replaces existing content.


The fundamental purpose behind this approach is to leverage the collective intelligence within the enterprise (and/ or extended enterprise depending on the sensitivity of the domain) for the common good. Fortunately, we left behind the concept that "knowledge is power"  in the last century!


One issue to watch our for is that trainers (whose key value-add is their content expertise) become facilitators (whose main value-add is knowing their way around the knowledge/ skills repository plus interpersonal skills) - and many of them will find this a difficult transition.


Hope that helps

I really like this way of putting it.

"Once this is in place the Champion/ Challenger approach really helps; this argues that whatever is there at the moment is the correct version - unless anyone knows better; and if they do it's they put their improvements to the Domain Champion who rules whether the challenger replaces existing content."

I'll be using that in the senior leadership team briefings, thanks Alan.

It certainly avoids all issues of face-saving issues!! The winner in all of this is evolution and excellence!

We've been looking at this for years, the top advice I'd give is to create standards - standard template, standard instructional design format, and have your team review content and do the final publishing so it isnt widely varying in type, complexity, length, and instructional format.  SMEs are often great teachers, but sometimes not - so its very valuable for you to provide consulting and standard tools for SMEs...

Hi Nicola, we adopted Articulate at our organisation  just over a year a go , to produce courses in house and modify elearning courses produced by third-party suppliers. We have had issues with the use of Articulate within our network and launching the course from a scorm tracked DLE. Most software that is sold as easy to use for non - tech people, that statement I feel is not entirely true, and I have been using elearning development software for a number of years now.

We have issues with courses crashing when they first load, which then means learners have to force the browser to close or restart the machine. Generally on the second attempt to run the course, the course then tends to load ok, this load issues is well documented on the net and some of the forums, but with no obvious solution. We tried all sort of remedies but nothing seemed to work, after spending countless hours testing. Articulate also use something called absolute file paths which makes archiving development files and updated (renaming the files e.g. version 2.0, 3.0 etc) problematic. We still use it but only to update courses, and we will possibly shelve it as we have been investigating other authoring tools. My point being no authoring tool does what it says on the tin as easy as it is supposed to? As for update content we tend to work with the SME’s and will update content on the fly with the SME.

We also use Learning Pools AT5 authoring tool, as part of the subscription package we have, on first glance it doesn’t appear as Visually whizzy as Articulate, but its a lot easier and quicker to use, and to train non-tech staff to use, so they can quickly produce their own courses, which are then QA’d by us, the elearning team. AT5 has some good instructional design activities and can support flash for off the shelf or bespoke flash interactions, video etc.


Hi Nicola,


You've already received many good ideas however there's an angle that I think needs further consideration . . . Your SME's are just that; they are experts in the subject matter and not training experts.  By giving them a tool (no matter what this is) and asking them to update their training content is, in my opinion a recipe for disaster.


As an SME the last thing on my mind would be the production of training materials.  If I was (for example) a mechanical engineer then all my focus is going to be about doing my job (for which I will be assessed and no doubt paid according to my performance) - not about doing yours.


Unless the employment infrastructure (pay, rations, reward etc.) is aligned to the SME's producing training content then the SME's just won't produce the materials you require.  This is a path I've been down before and the arguments went on for ages - especially the one about "Why the heck should I do your job?"


So, I'd strongly suggest that the employment infrastructure is correctly aligned.  If it's not then I'd certainly get the SME's to own their content, with the L&D people making sure it's presented in the correct manner.


This is a very complex area which doesn't have just one answer or option so please do come back with further questions.





I agree on this: a good tool does not make you a training expert.


Besides all these good ideas, do no forget that SME are often the best expert in the local business groups. You are facing a real business problem: claiming time from business people. So act in a business way:

  • Make the business managers aware of the needs and show them why you need their people (in fact time)
  • Get their formal buy in: ask to appoint people from their business (they will appoint the less good people). So bring in your ideas about the people you want
  • Get it formalized: the business manager should adjust the new tasks in the job profile --> responsible for maintaining and developing course content (in hourse per week/month). Try to get in their bonus schemes too (if applicable)
  • Make clear arrangements how you allocate the business resources (formal procedure for claiming resources) --> do not surprise business managers with such claims, be predictable (resource planning)
  • Inform business management about progress and the performance of their people



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