Subject matter experts – time for a re-brand?

The last 20 years has seen the evolution of terminology from Computer-Based Learning to e-learning to digital learning (and beyond). One term that has been static is SME (subject matter expert). Given how much the world and technology has changed in that time, is it time for a re-think? One Big Four firm has already started dropping SME as a term for internal L&D projects.

Personally, I’m grateful to have worked with many brilliant experts and valued learning from them the ‘tricks of many trades’ to co-create learning experiences. On the occasions when SMEs have been harder to engage with, I wonder if it’s partly because the term ‘SME’ evokes unhelpful preconceptions? Would changing the name remove some of those preconceptions and accelerate progress by avoiding the need for those assumptions to be surfaced and influenced?

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