In this case study the discuss how we help the subject matter experts in a client organization of ours, in course design and online training development, including implementation on their LMS. Our client was FCM, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, an organization that supports more than 2100 communities in Canada to access government funding and support to address today’s challenges. To make certain FCM is leveraging the capabilities of their LMS and ensure it is aligned with a long-term vision and being utilized by all audiences FCM hired us to provide recommendations on the LMS purpose and objectives with framing for long-term strategic decisions.
The discovery project, which was based on workshops and interviews, in addition to document research, led to seven specific recommendations. One of these recommendations was to secure the needed support for training development. We had identified that the FCM staff are mainly subject matter experts lacking experience in areas of instructional design and course authoring. They were very clear on how to provide face-to-face training. But the transition to online was a challenge. This project was to remedy the situation. FCM wants to support them so they can utilize the learning management system to scale learning content available for internal staff.
Following the discovery phase, the internal capacity development department reached out with a request to train and mentor four staff members, plus an additional staff member from another department on the design and development of one course per person.
Throughout the project, we dealt with a number of challenges. The group of subject matter experts had different necessities with different course topics. Each needed a different approach to translate the content into online learning. Although SMEs had some experience in delivering face-to-face courses, they were new to the learning management system. As we experienced throughout the program, they have challenges setting priorities and reaching deadlines, as they had to balance course design and development with other job responsibilities.
My role was to first customize the program to the needs of the organization and the participants. According to these needs, provide learning content and mentorship that helped participants to develop their curriculum. I facilitated all training sessions and one-on-one mentorship sessions. I set the direction for research conducted by my assistant trainer. And to provide development guidance, I reviewed the client’s LMS and provided high-level training for implementation. As part of the project, I also relayed needs regarding the LMS to the LMS administrator.
Big Leap Bootcamp®
The Big Leap Bootcamp® is a custom mentorship program that takes the participants through different stages. To set up the clients for success I first conducted a discovery and customization phase. Once the program starts we complete a learning style self-assessment activity. The core of the program follows the seven necessary steps for effective course design. The program is delivered in group and one-on-one sessions supported with ongoing communication using the tools the organization is most familiar with. In this case, it was MS Teams and SharePoint plus Zoom.
Discovery and Customization
During the discovery phase, we customize the program based on the business objectives aligned with the organization’s long-term goals, and the managers’ vision, which helped me to understand the needs and desired outcomes for this particular team. We then developed a milestone plan and schedule aligned with the time availability. At this stage, we also set the schedule and program details.
To kick start the program with the participants we first offered a self-assessment of the preferred learning style to the participants, opening the perspective to the differences in learner expectations. This also helped them discover the impact of their personal learning style on course creation.
Seven Step Process
The program itself was designed around the seven steps of designing effective learning content, starting with getting clear on the audience and defining course objectives, then drilling down the learning objectives of the course and drilling further down to a modular level. After this, it’s important to give the course a reality check before identifying an inventory of existing materials and interactive elements.
Access to Mentor and Resources
In this program, these SMEs participated in group sessions where new concepts were provided. There were also assigned activities to do prior to the next session. In the one-on-one sessions, the participants had specialized coaching and received personalized feedback on the responses to the homework assignments. I provided a wide range of resources and extended guidance on how to create learning content and implement the course on the LMS so they can also learn from others and share experiences. They have dedicated attention to their own progress and the time to solve specific questions. All sessions were held on Zoom and we used Microsoft Teams for asynchronous ongoing support and distribution of the resources, which added to their ability to reach out for support and get immediate feedback. We also collaborated with the LMS administrator for additional support on the LMS Training and to provide feedback for future template development.
This program resulted in much-improved confidence in course design and development by all participants. Each individual has a clear idea of their target audiences for their program and their needs. They created a detailed curriculum outline for their course that has been discussed and approved with their manager. Each participant has experienced how to build content in their LMS and set up the course outline in the LMS. They developed some components of their course including voiceover PowerPoint videos and interactive H5P content. Each participant has greater awareness of how their development decisions impact the learner experience. Despite the fact that implementation of the course content was out of scope, each individual has been able to build at least parts of their courses on their LMS. And as a group, they developed some common standards of course design. The client was pleased with the outcome of this program which allowed the subject matter experts to create the course and be equipped to do this again in the future. Course participants rated the support received from us as a five out of five across the board. Do your subject matter experts struggle with course design and development? Please reach out. We would be honored to support them.
Do you have subject matter experts who struggle with instructional design and course development, we’d be happy to help. Ask us about our Big Leap Bootcamp® designed to guide a team of internal experts through curriculum design and course development.