eCoaching Tip 96 How Expert Resources can Support Learning

February 8 2012

eCoaching Tip 96: How Expert Resources can Support Learning

We’ve talked before about how we can help our learners develop expertise.  And you may remember that two core requirements for developing expertise is that it takes time and practice.

Yet we have a problem, as providing the special kind of “deliberate” practice needed for developing expertise can be a challenge, particularly in online environments. One familiar teaching strategy is using cases and scenarios. Another great strategy that is not so familiar is using expert resources.

This tip suggests ways to use “expert” resources as one strategy for designing “deliberate practice” into your courses. While it is not truly possible to provide deliberate practice, as ideally, it is customized to the learner, there are ways to approach it. An added benefit is that many expert resources feature current experts in audio and video, providing a wonderful diversity of learning experiences.

Included in this tip describing two expert resources is an outline of a learning strategy for using these resources.  Be sure to explore at least of these resources. You may find just what you have been looking for!

How Expert Resources can Provide Deliberate Practice

Experts’ stories and narratives give us insight into the complex representations of knowledge that experts use when solving problems. These complex mental representations go far beyond the bare bones of abstract knowledge often presented in textbooks.

These knowledge representations include the historical, social and practical context within which knowledge is applied. Thus access to experts’ narratives and stories provide access to complex real-world contexts that engage, enthuse and challenge learners.

Access to these complex narratives also makes it possible for students to further individualize their own learning as well (Brown and Duguid, 1996).  So using expert resources can help us approach the customizing challenge of “deliberate practice” experiences.

What Does this Mean for My Course Assignments?

You as the designer of learning, the designer of practiceexperiences, can guide learners to the types of experts and deliberate practice with which your learners can best delight and grow.

Here are two great expert resources for you to consider.  Websites of professional organizations are also great sources for expert resources, such as webinars and expert stories.

Now for the two great expert resources that you can quickly access and explore: Fifty Lessons ( and the TED conferences and discussions (

Fifty Lessons. (

Fifty Lessons is a database of video clips just keeps growing and now boasts more than 1200 video lessons from 250 global business leaders discussing their real-life experiences. These video lessons can be used in many ways in your courses — to introduce and reinforce key concepts, as catalysts for discussions and to provide almost unlimited opportunities to get inside leaders’ heads and their stories(Note: Since this tip was written, this database was purchased by Skillsoft. Samples are available, however, that provide informatioo about the type of content possible with short video segments.)

The five-minute long videos feature CEOs, board members, and founders of companies such as Microsoft, KPMG, Domino’s Pizza, ServiceMaster, Marriott, The Body Shop and Williams-Sonoma. What is very valuable is that often there are four to six clips from the same leader providing multiple instances of that person’s thinking and decision rationales.

These videos, by their very nature, include historical, social and practical contexts for using the core knowledge that learning outcomes generally strive to focus on.

Using Video Clips for Deliberate Practice

Here’s one way to get started with experiences that support deliberate practice and incorporate knowledge into practical real life contexts.

  1. Assume the following: You have a learning outcome in your course that aims to develop a management skill in an area such as change, innovation, leadership, ethics, or global business. Most management skills require experience and a base of knowledge about the field.  If your learners are extreme novices, identify a set of potential executives for your students to ‘meet’ via the videos in this resource.  You might select three to get started. Then select one of the questions or ideas for action. These questions can be the basis of one of your discussion forums.  Be sure to make use of the valuable ideas for action, and questions to ask that accompany each video.

After the students have viewed/studied/discussed one or more of the videos, have them work in ad hoc teams of two or three— as suggested in Tip 92 — to discuss a business action or possible new scenario, integrating information from the videos, their discussions, core required readings and other research.

If your learners are more experienced, and there are specific business segments and leaders or scenarios that they want to develop more knowledge of, learners can explore more related videos of the experts and integrate that information as well.

Here are a couple of example topics to get you thinking:

TED Conferences and Discussions: Ideas worth Spreading (

The TED (Technology Entertainment and Design) conferences are a second “expert resource” not to be missed. They are called “riveting talks by remarkable people, free to the world.” And this is quite accurate. TED talks – limited to a maximum of 18 minutes — address an impressive array of topics within the research and practice of science and culture.

If you haven’t experienced these TED talks as yet, do take 14 minutes and listen to this following expert talk by Clay Shirky on “Why SOPA is a bad idea”  (SOPA is short for the Stop Online Piracy Act that is in the Senate.) If you have been listening to the news, you will know that a SOPA is being protested by over 7000 web sites worldwide and included a blackout led by Wikipedia on January 19, 2012.

Here are a couple of possible expert starting points:

TED conversations — an online forum — provide a way for wider audiences to participate and interact with others. The forum for SOPA is particularly active.

How to use these expert talks to support learning?  These talks provide insight into the thinking of these experts and provide significant, meaningful and current topics to evaluate and assess from the vantage point of the course knowledge.

Background and Theory on Deliberate Practice

Before closing, here is a bit of background on the concept of deliberate practice and how it is different from simple practice.

Here is a definition of deliberate practice from K. A. Ericsson, one of the leading researchers in this field. Ericsson and his colleagues define deliberate practice as “those activities that have been found to be most effective in improving performance.” (1993). That definition may not be all that helpful, so let’s continue.

Deliberate practice has also been defined as “intense, prolonged, and highly focused efforts to improve current performance.” (Colvin, 2008) Note the emphasis on performance in both these definitions. So in using expert resources, it will enhance learning if we assign students to tasks that require “doing” and “performing.”  This can mean analyzing, speaking, writing and creating as suggested by the higher levels of Bloom’s taxonomy.


Are you one of the SLPA faculty who is using the Fifty Lessons resource?  If so, would you be willing to share your use?  If so, please email me with your name and your course? Or alternatively would you post your name/email and your course in the SLPA faculty webinar site in the SLPA faculty blog?

Or if you are using other expert resources, maybe you could post a one-two sentence of the resource that you are finding helpful in “getting into experts’ heads” and thus into their thinking processes and social context of their knowledge.


Boettcher, J. V. (2009) Best Design Practices: Expanding Media Choices. A SLPA Faculty webinar from February 18, 2009 available in the SLPA faculty site under the webinars menu link. More about the Fifty Lessons resources is highlighted here.

Brown, J. S., & Duguid, P. (1996). Stolen Knowledge. In H. McLellen (Ed.), Situated Learning Perspectives (pp. pp. 47-56). Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Educational Technology Publications. Retrieved May 25 2013 from

Colvin, Geoff. (2008) Why talent is overrated. CNN Money. (October 21, 2008)  Retrieved February 3 2012 from

Ericsson, K. A., & Charness, N. (1994). Expert performance: Its structure and acquisition.American Psychologist, 49(8), 725-747. Retrieved May 25, 2013,from

Ericsson, K. A., Krampe, R., & Tesch-Römer, C. (1993). The role of deliberate practice in the acquisition of expert performance. Psychological Review, 100(3), 363-406. Retrieved May 25, 2013, from

Ericsson, K. A. (2000). Expert Performance and Deliberate Practice: An updated excerpt from Ericsson.   Retrieved May 25 2013, from

Ericsson, Anders K.; Prietula, Michael J.; Cokely, Edward T. (2007). The Making of an expert.  Harvard Business Review(July–August 2007). Retrieved May 25 2013  from Excellent focused article providing summary of expertise and what it means for teaching and learning.

Note: These E-coaching tips were initially developed for faculty in the School of Leadership & Professional Advancement at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, PA. This library of tips has been organized and updated through 2016  in the second edition of the  book, The Online Teaching Survival Guide: Simple and Practical Pedagogical Tips coauthored with Rita Marie Conrad. Judith can be reached judith followed by

Copyright by Judith V. Boettcher