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The Rise of the AI-Augmented SME

For instructional designers, the traditional process of relying solely on human subject matter experts (SMEs) can be time-consuming, frustrating, and sometimes costly. Yet working with SMEs is critical for creating effective training content. SMEs provide the in-depth knowledge of the topic that instructional designers need to develop accurate and comprehensive learning materials. 

Enter the AI-augmented SME—a revolutionary option powered by advanced natural language AI that can augment and streamline the SME process. By tapping into vast datasets and language models, these AI assistants can provide on-demand subject matter expertise, fill knowledge gaps, and answer queries in real-time.

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Here’s how an AI-augmented SME can transform the instructional design workflow:


1. Rapid Knowledge Acquisition

Instead of lengthy meetings, back-and-forth emails, or messaging with human SMEs, instructional designers can quickly learn about complex topics by querying AI. This accelerates the research and content-gathering phase, enabling designers to work more efficiently.

Tip: Always ask the AI to cite its sources. 

2. On-Demand Expertise

Scheduling conflicts or availability issues with human SMEs are no longer bottlenecks. AI is always ready to provide expert insights, clarifications, and explanations, allowing instructional designers to maintain a smooth workflow.

3. Consistency and Accuracy 

Since the AI is trained on vast datasets, it can ensure consistency in terminology, definitions, and explanations across different learning modules or courses within the same domain. This minimizes errors and contradictions that can arise when relying on multiple human experts.

4. Cost Savings

Leveraging AI can potentially reduce the need for extensive human SME involvement, leading to cost savings for organizations, especially when developing large-scale training programs or frequently updating content.

However, it’s important to note that AI-augmented SMEs are not meant to completely replace human experts but rather to complement their contributions.

The role of seasoned instructional designers remains crucial in curating, synthesizing, and presenting information in a pedagogically sound and engaging manner. The human SME is still necessary for content review, feedback, and to ensure accuracy. 

As AI language models continue to evolve and improve, the AI-augmented SME will likely become an indispensable tool for instructional designers, enabling them to create high-quality training experiences more rapidly than ever before.

The rise of the AI-augmented SME is part of a broader trend of AI assisting and enhancing various professions, including instructional design. By embracing this technology, instructional designers can future-proof their workflows and deliver exceptional learning solutions that meet the ever-growing demands of the modern workforce.

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