Ken Allen had an interesting post recently about expertise . I have become very interested in expertise as its definition within a group seems to be a key element in collaborative writing and knowledge creation.
Specifically, how "expertise" is defined varies among group members based on their professional development, the politics of the organization and department, and their own epistemology (often a result of schooling, culture, and reference groups).
The problem is that defining expertise is often implicit. As a result, when interacting with others, decision makers will impose their own definition of expertise if they don't first interact with those who will be impacted by their decision. If a decision maker's definition of expertise is different than the stakeholders, there will be discontent and the appearance that the decision maker is inept (after all, s/he should not make "stupid" decisions based on "false" data).
This is especially true when there are multi-generations. Some of the older expertise may be undervalued by younger stakeholders and some of the younger expertise may be undervalued by older stakeholders. Rather than merging the expertise, taking out the best for the situation, one or the other will be discounted.
This recently happened to me (and it is not the first time). As an expert on instructional technology, with a deep level of experience in multiple contexts, you would think that a school would reach out to have my input on instructional technology and its instructional design. Instead, my daughter worked on a distance learning component of her school (high school level) yesterday, experiencing a number of factors that are common mistakes made by first time distance learning instructional design. As I mentioned before, this is not the first school to discount my expertise because I am a parent (you wouldn't understand, you only have college level experience, you're a parent...not a teacher).
I am disappointed because I expected more from the school as it is an alternative school. However, upon reflection I realized that there are different definitions of expertise working here and that admitting a lack of expertise is a difficult as redefining "expertise" and "knowledge". There needs to be tools, especially in the current "objective" standardized educational system the US has been moving to, to allow for new ideas, new ways of doing things, but also the maintenance of old ideas and ways of doing things that may still work in different situations. One advantage of the current technology is that there is a more permanent record of not only new ideas, but old ideas as well. I need only peruse my blog as I develop my syllabus for next semester and see what worked, what didn't, and what situations I might need to deal with next semester.
I am especially concerned with the current recession, as the 50+ workers are being laid off, that some of the time tested ways of doing business will be thrown out (the good with the bad) and the same mistakes will be made (and covered up). Let's hope that the amount of expertise that is out there will be used rather than wasted.
- V Yonkers
- Education, the knowledge society, the global market all connected through technology and cross-cultural communication skills are I am all about. I hope through this blog to both guide others and travel myself across disciplines, borders, theories, languages, and cultures in order to create connections to knowledge around the world. I teach at the University level in the areas of Business, Language, Communication, and Technology.