Join Jolie Miller for an in-depth discussion in this video Fast-tracked outline development, part of Instructional Design Essentials: Working with SMEs.
- If you've ever had a good friend help you clarify what you really want in your life, you've likely experienced the power of asking questions. I started re-purposing this idea for instructional design outline development years ago when I was working with SMEs who had a tough time translating conference content into written online lessons. In this example, I'm the learner asking open-ended questions on the topic and inviting the SME to teach me the high level basics, and as I do that, I'm building an outline on the fly. Later, I share it back with the SME for review and edits.
I've found that this condenses the time spent outlining content from what might be hours of back and forth collaboration into a call that might take 20 to 60 minutes max and gets all the work done. Well-crafted questions are open-ended and meant to invite exploration of a topic. Think the five w's and one h, who, what, when, where, why, and how questions, rather than yes or no questions. They bring clarity to the person answering them and give the SME new opportunities to think of their content differently.
You'll practice doing some of this in your kickoff and can continue it to outline the content for your SME. The trick is that you know enough about the SME's content to ask these questions, but not so much that you've formed these hard and fast opinions. I want you to be open to where the conversation takes you and adopting the perspective of the learner. Here are some examples. In the exercise files for this course, I provided you with some sample fast tracked outline development questions, introductory questions, mid-outline questions, and final questions.
So starting off here, I might ask things like what are the biggest pain points about the content? Where do people stumble? Is there an over-arching system or process you might use to explain this content? As you go through the process in your mid-outline, when in doubt about what to ask, probe with those five w's and one h as your guide and don't be afraid to ask what comes next or to say hey, you lost me there, can you kind of tell me a little bit more about how we jumped from this point to this point? Once you've finished up your question asking, it's important to ask final questions such as what are we missing? Did we leave anything out? What will I be able to do when I'm done going through the content we've created? This can often provide insights into weak spots.
Once you're done talking, share the outline back with your SME for reviews and edits, and it should be fairly fast to wrap it up. Using a shared document helps a lot here so you can see each other's edits and leave notes. You can see here I'm on the fast tracked outline development outline that Jeff and I put together for this course. This outline is a really good example of the power of fast tracked outline development. You'll see that there's a blend of some of the topics that Jeff had put in his and some of the ones that I had put in mine, and together we're working to build a better outline in a really condensed time format.
This process is my steady go to when I'm working with authors who are time crunched or unsure of how to chunk their content. To learn more about asking the questions that make this possible, I highly recommend you check out Lisa Gates's Conflict Resolution Fundamentals here in lynda.com's library. In this course, she calls this kind of questioning diagnostic questioning and she walks you through using questions to get to clarity and agreement.
The course also shows you how to set up project schedules, overcome common obstacles, and use a variety of approaches to ensure that the content you build together will be stronger than the content either of you would build alone. The lessons are framed by a fictional ID/SME relationship that models how the two partners work together to create a customer-service training session.
- What is an SME?
- Understanding how designers and SMEs interact
- Getting to know the SME
- Building a schedule
- Outlining the content
- Managing deliverables
- Retaining the SME's voice
- Incorporating feedback
- Launching the content