I currently am working on the theme that knowledge and expertise is used as currency within the workplace (as part of my dissertation). As I have been analyzing the data from my study, I realized that knowledge and expertise used as currency needs to be identifiable.
This got me to thinking about "identifiable knowledge." Notice I don't say tacit or explicit knowledge. The reason is that knowledge that can be turned into currency might be explicit, but expertise can be identifiable, yet be based upon tacit knowledge. So, by identifiable, knowledge and expertise needs to be identified by both those who have and don't have the knowledge or expertise, need to take a form (finished product, process, written documentation, behavior) that both tracks and measures the knowledge and expertise, and needs to be located in a central place or depository (i.e. computer, file cabinet, employee, group, or department) where it can be accessed.
The value of knowledge
As I mentioned before, I am still thinking through many of these ideas for my dissertation. One factor that keeps coming up in my analysis of this theme is the value of expertise and knowledge. There might be expertise, there might be knowledge. However, when knowledge and expertise is being used as currency, then there needs to be value attached to it by the "consumers" of knowledge and expertise. In the US, that currency has become even more important as the current intellectual property laws place a great economic focus on expertise and knowledge.
Who values the knowledge and expertise? According to Friere, that would be those in position of power. And as long as they are able to devalue knowledge and expertise that might threaten their authority, valued knowledge and expertise will be the currency of education.
What does this mean? It means that concrete knowledge, concrete processes, and knowledge and expertise that is sanctioned by those in power will be the basis for someone to be successful in our culture. Thus, welcome the testing and standardized educational system. As much as the media, policy makers, and politicians extort the "new skills" businesses need for our country to continue to improve in the world economy, what they are really saying is that they need a different currency (different knowledge and expertise than what is already out there). That currency will constantly be changing depending on the needs of the economy. But the system will still be the same in which those with valued expertise and knowledge (at the time) will have the ability to use that currency while those with devalued knowledge and expertise (outdated, undervalued by those in power) will need to follow the dictates of those in power (the market).
New educational model
So as I play the currency game and get credentials that I hoped would be valued, I now find that (as has happened my whole life), my expertise now is no longer valued in our economy/culture. There are no jobs for those who have an understanding of the international knowledge economy, that can teach foreign language and cross cultural communication skills, that can improve team management skills, no jobs for those that can teach better communication or writing skills, no jobs for those in adult and online instructional design (as opposed to technical jobs for elearning of which there are many jobs), and no jobs to create a new educational system.
Whereas my expertise 7 years ago when I started the Ph.D program was in demand, now it is assumed that all faculty are able to integrate technology into their teaching.
But here is the rub: there is a lot of knowledge and expertise that 1)cannot be measured, 2) is lost when it is made into something identifiable, 3) does not ad value, 4) exists but has yet to find value, and 5) is distributed.
This means that the classes that I planned for this week (as I do every week) does not have perceived value, especially in this point in time. My students don't see the amount of preparation I put into the planning of the class, aligning learning goals with class activities. It is hard to measure the amount of time I take thinking about my course and how I can teach it so the students may be able to use the skill and their experience in the future when they are faced with a similar situation.
I have also found that those within my study group who are the most successful are those that know how to identify valued knowledge to multiple groups, how to access resources, knowledge, and expertise when needed, and are flexible in the way in which they align their work with others goals. These are the skills we should be teaching our students. If we continue to focus on the currency of their future rather than how to create currency and use it, then we will end up with a stagnant economy. We will also continue to lose expertise and new knowledge as has happened throughout the ages to those with ideas before their time.
- V Yonkers
- Education, the knowledge society, the global market all connected through technology and cross-cultural communication skills are what this blog and 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. I have lived in Europe and Latin America, worked in Economic and Trade Development, Distance Learning, and for the last 17 years as an instructor teaching everything from Marketing Research to ESL to Distance Learning. I am an internationalist first and foremost.