It seems to be a fairly simple concept – effective training should be provided by Subject Matter Experts (SMEs). They bring knowledge, expertise and, most importantly, credibility to the topic at hand. They also bring ‘real world’ experience that should help to bridge the knowledge gap for learners that can, sometimes, be pretty vast between the discussion of theory and the application of that theory.
Using an obvious example, if a trainer was hired to teach trainees how to play hockey, they would have to show people how to skate, pass the puck, and handle the stick. An effective trainer would not be someone who could just ‘talk’ about these skills or describe how to play the game. They would actually need to be a skilled hockey player themselves and be able to share what it feels like to learn and perform at a high level of expertise.
This concept seems to be taking hold in formal training processes, including post-secondary learning organizations. It is not enough for a professor to provide theory, they must be able to bring some subject matter expertise into classroom learning in order for students to make the link between theory and ‘real world’ application.
A recent article in The Globe & Mail, highlights the effective use of subject matter experts in traditional business school environments.
This article brings forth the wonderful opportunity that business executives can bring to formal learning settings. It also presents the changing perspective that not all knowledge should be vested in one person at the front of the classroom in a formal learning organization. It is clear that the more we can bring in the expertise of others into the creation of effective training models, the richer the shared learning becomes for everyone.
- Thinking about your own learning experiences, how did you learn to drive a vehicle?
- What theoretical concepts did you have to learn?
- What were the practical steps that you had to learn in order to actually drive the vehicle?
- Who taught you how to drive a vehicle and what expertise did they bring to that learning process for you?
- Have you been inspired by any SMEs during the course of your program studies? Who were they and why were they inspirational?
- Why does ‘real world’ application matter for effective training and learning?