Volunteer Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) on an eLearning Development Project: The Effect on Timelines, Quality, and Project Management

Volunteer Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) on an eLearning Development Project: The Effect on Timelines, Quality, and Project Management

Jackie Dobrovolny (Triple Play: All Bases Covered, USA), Marianne Horner (Colorado Center for Nursing Excellence, USA), Lee Ann Kane (Independent Researcher, USA), Margaret Miller (Colorado Christian University, USA) and Travis Chillemi (Pixel Nine Design, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-4237-9.ch015


Representatives from eight different organizations collaborated to develop a self-paced elearning course to teach preceptor skills to staff nurses in various healthcare organizations. The course employed a constructivist theory of learning and simulated many of the conversations and relationships staff nurses experience when performing preceptor responsibilities. Three of the four subject matter experts were volunteers and never compensated financially for their work on the course. The project manager used an iterative instructional design model and a generic project management methodology. The team considers the project a success because the course is complete, albeit two years later than scheduled, and generating a small amount of revenue. Additionally, the team progressed through the four stages of team development, reaching the “performing” stage, and the course is part of an effective three-pronged solution to avert a potential nursing shortage in the state.
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Organization Background

There were eight different organizations involved in this project, whose goal was to implement an online, self-paced course to teach preceptor skills to staff nurses. Two of the organizations were involved in the funding. One of the funding organizations and three other organizations provided subject matter expertise. The sixth organization is currently selling seats in the course and distributing it to students. The seventh is the contractor who provided the project management and instructional design services for the course and the eighth is the subcontractor who developed the course. Next see specifics on each of the eight different organizations.

  • Organization #1: A local community college who was involved in the funding of the preceptor course.

This community college had a grant to expand and enhance their nursing program. There were several deliverables for that grant, one of which was a self-paced, elearning course to prepare staff nurses to assume the role of preceptor. The target audience for this self-paced, elearning course was to be staff nurses in the specific healthcare agencies where the community college nursing students performed their various clinical rotations. The community college wanted to insure their students were working with qualified preceptors in each of their rotations. This community college was instrumental in facilitating the contract with the organization who currently distributes the preceptor course, i.e., the LMS Company (Organization #6).

  • Organization #2: A non-profit, statewide nursing workforce center that was involved in the funding, design, and development of the preceptor course.

The mission of this organization is to proactively identify potential workforce challenges in healthcare and specifically, nursing. This organization then brings together community partners, who are stakeholders in these challenges, and facilitates discussions regarding possible solutions. These community partners become the project committee, which oversees the funding, development and implementation of the solution(s). One of the major roles of the workforce center is to bring together parties who otherwise might not work together to resolve these healthcare challenges.

This nursing workforce center had a grant to investigate and address a potential nursing shortage in the state. One of the three interventions was a self-paced, elearning preceptor course.

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