Wednesday, April 18, 2007

S.M.E. = Simply Making Excellent (Progress)

At the end of March, subject matter experts Jerry Vance, Sharon Casto, and Sharon Cook visited the MSHA team from Beckley, W.V. I feel that this meeting had been the most productive and helpful of all three SME meetings we've had throughout the course of the academic year. I was also humbled when they discovered a few mistakes in my scenario, like something I'd copied and pasted wrong or an image of a metal/nonmetal miner (we're developing training for underground coal miners). This visit really reinforced reinforcing the necessity of SMEs on any design project. They also inspired us, giving us more sources of relevant media. Though I'm not an expert on mining, I'm finally feeling comfortable with the material and terms like "mantrip" and "SCSR" are becoming part of my everyday language.

Also, I see how important it is to meet with the SMEs in person. There's only so much that can be done through a phone call or e-mail. When my team was face to face with the SMEs, things came together--instead of working disconnectedly and asynchronously, ideas were freely tossed around and that collaborative experience became a very valuable enhancement to the development of our training system.

On April 4, after a day full of delayed, overbooked, and missed flights, the MSHA team arrived in Provo, UT for the ID + SCORM conference, where we presented "The Challenges of Using SCORM Compliant LCMS to Implement an Online Training System for Underground Coal Mine Supervisors." Indeed, there were challenges! I learned the importance of good practice ahead of time, and that you can't always depend on a planned schedule to have enough time to get the job done. All in all, the team came together very well and made the most of the situation to present a profound lesson in developing an online training system while being constrained by an uncooperative LCMS. We learned that other designers were facing the same challenges regarding meeting Section 508 guidelines and deciding on granularity metrics of a SCO--how small is the smallest learning object or piece of useful standalone data in a training system?

We're nearing the End of Immersion. And, as I'm guessing this happens with nearly every design project, we're feeling like "If we only had more time..." My team is filled with so many creative ideas and the skills to implement them, but we're running out of time. On May 10, 2007, we present the final product to our client. Stay tuned.

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