The new journeyman: The role of an expert learner in eliciting and transmitting skilled knowledge

WOOD, Nicola (2009). The new journeyman: The role of an expert learner in eliciting and transmitting skilled knowledge. In: Undisciplined! Design Research Society Conference 2008, Sheffield Hallam University, Sheffield, UK, 16-19 July 2008.


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This paper presents interim research findings of a project which seeks to elicit the skilled knowledge of master craftsmen through use of an expert learner (Horne) acting as intermediary between the craftsmen and a designer (Wood) creating a multimedia resource to support those wishing to learn the skill. It builds on previous research that evolved a set of principles for the design of multimedia learning materials (Wood & Rust 2003) and moved on to develop techniques for elicitation of expert knowledge from craft masters (Wood 2006).

The skills involved in undertaking such craft practice involve a high degree of tacit knowledge which is internalised and frequently difficult for the craft expert to articulate. The expert learner has the ability to learn new skills with minimal instruction then articulate those skills before they become too internalised. The role of designer is to assist with this articulation and develop interpretation suitable for transmitting the knowledge to novice learners.

This research focuses on the skills of traditional custom knife makers in Sheffield; Horne has worked alongside two traditional craftsmen, video recorded by Wood. Together they have collaborated to analyse the recordings and develop learning materials to disseminate the craft skill. These are currently being developed and tested using a small group of learners with some one-to-one teaching followed by self-directed development work using an on-line resource.

The main finding for this stage of the research was that, as Horne had relatively recently acquired this knowledge, it had not become too internalised and she was able to rapidly adapt her understanding of it to improve transmission to the learners in a manner that had not been demonstrated by more experienced craft practitioners. The interactions between Horne and the learners were mediated by Wood, facilitating reciprocal reflection between the them and designing ‘bridges’ to help transmit the knowledge to future generations of learners.

Multimedia Design; On-Line Learning; Tacit Knowledge; Craft Skills; Knowledge Elicitation

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (-)
Depositing User: Ann Betterton
Date Deposited: 20 Jul 2009
Last Modified: 18 Mar 2021 14:07

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