An essential tenet of our ideas about Green Light Design — especially when we are working with subject matter experts and instructors on their classes — is the idea that everyone we work with is right. Especially when we disagree with them, or they seem so obviously wrong-wrong-wrong to us, with all our experience building courses for online delivery.
It’s incredibly easy to dismiss someone’s ideas or opinions about online instruction. We regularly have people come to us with ideas about how discussion forums are useless and waste a lot of time. About how their students all cheat.
We can get frustrated with an instructor or SME’s habits and resistance to new ideas we present to them, and that’s one of the real stressors of our type of work, but it’s critical that we take the time to understand how the choices they are making are the right choices.
Our job, as instructional designers, is to take the time to set aside our own ideas and sense of what is right and really understand what it is that is right about this other person’s position. They all have reasons, each idea that feels wrong to us is based on lived experience, on trying to find the right solution in confusing, unfamiliar places, and it’s no surprise that many of these SMEs come up with ideas that are different from our own.
We can’t start to really help them until we learn from them about how they came to the methods and decisions that they’re using right now. What was the problem that drove one professor to swear off discussion forums? What sort of cheating have students been getting away with in another’s instructor’s experience?
Hear their stories. Listen to them. Take some time to appreciate what they faced and how they solved their problems. Then you can help them see the new solutions you offer.