Personalisation: Is Expertise Irrelevant?
By Peter Kent
The notion that expertise is dependent on the quality and timeliness of information that a professional is provided is a key concept that has to be addressed as we head down the personalisation route. Teachers are highly skilled professionals. However, their ability to display their expertise, to provide each student with the instruction and guidance that they need, and to do this on a daily basis is limited by the information, or lack thereof, they have access to.
In London, traditionally trainee cab drivers are required to undertake ‘the knowledge’ before they are given a taxi driver’s licence. It was initiated in 1865 and has changed little since. These potential cab drivers ride around London for an average of 34 months on motor scooters following maps, learning the streets of London and the best routes to take from one location to another. Once completed the taxi drivers of London have an expertise almost unparalleled within the world.
However, if I were to blindfold a London cabbie and then take him to a random street within London and then asked them which way I should go in order to get to Earl’s Court or Canary Wharf – well, it would be doubtful that they could tell me. North, south, east or west? They could guess and have a 1 in 4 chance of getting us off in the right direction. Maybe they use imprecise strategies such as listening for sounds, or paying attention to certain smells to improve their chances. However, without the information of where they are to begin with, the expertise of a London cabbie quickly becomes irrelevant. Clearly the more information we give our London cabbie, the better his ability to give me directions, the more he is able to demonstrate his expertise.
While we have used the example of a London cabbie here, the same is true in many other professions. We cannot expect meteorologists to accurately predict the weather without giving them information about the current weather conditions. Hospitals are continuously monitoring relevant vital statistics from patients so that doctors and other medical professionals have access to rich and comprehensive information around the current medical status of their patients. Hospitals collect and collate this information to ensure that doctors are able to perform to the full extent of their expertise; indeed they have an obligation to do so.
Only when it is possible for teachers to have visibility over student learning, on a daily basis, will it be possible to for teachers to design and implement precise personalised learning for students.
About the Author:
Peter Kent is Head of Strategy and Operations – ANZ at Promethean, Canberra Australia. Kent’s education career included primary school principal and vice principal positions. He is the author of numerous education texts and articles. Peter was awarded The Australian Government Endeavour Award in 2010, an International Competitive Merit Based Award that seeks to recognize individuals that provide significant international leadership within their chosen field. The award was conferred based on his significant contribution and leadership with regards to the use of technology to enhance education. In that year, he was the only recipient from the field of Education. Peter is a regular contributor to Connect Learning Today.