Transferring Expertise: The Best Way to Move Tacit Knowledge

Nancy Dixon, conversation matters, Jan 20, 2015
Commentary by Stephen Downes

"Even given a long history failed attempts to "capture" expertise," writes Nancy Dioxon, "we just can’t seem to get past this idea that an expert’s mind is like a filing cabinet where we can just wisk out a file and hand it over to someone else." That's why the picture of education and learning as knowledge 'transfer' is wrong. Sadly, I don't think Dixon proposes a better theory over the old one. She has the right idea - "experts, as well as  the rest of us, store what we learn, not as lessons or answers, but as fragments or bits and pieces located throughout our minds.`But she has the wrong model: "think of an expert’s mind as a box of Lego pieces." Why is this the wrong model? Because we're right back to the 'storage' model of knowledge, using a lego box instead of a filing cabinet. But having said that, I think the "see, do, teach" model she describes is a good one. By seeing and doing, we don't try to transfer knowledge, we instead attempt to grow knowledge. We create something new instead of merely replicating the old.

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