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Learning Layers – the role of competence centres as multipliers of innovative practice

November 22nd, 2012 by Pekka Kamarainen

Yesterday I wrote two blog articles based on the videos that the ITB team and the partners in Leeds produced at an early stage of the Learning Layers project. Now the project has officially started and we are going through several meetings, flashmeetings and skype meetings. In this phase we are learning more of each other and – as a consequence – we have to broaden our picture of the users, their expectations and their possibilities to contribute to the project.

So far my first blog article has discussed individual users (medical doctors in Leeds and craftsmen in electric installations in Bremen) as the starting point. My second article shifted the emphasis from individual users (and their workplaces) to their professional communities or networks and to enrichment of shared knowledge.

With this article I want to shift the role to “competence centres” (in German Kompetenzzentrum) and to their role as multipliers of innovative practice. Here I refer to the ideas that have been presented by Melanie Campbell who represents Bau ABC (one of the application partners of the LL project). I am aware that Melanie is preparing a more elaborate presentation for the Online Educa Berlin but I want to draw attention to some ideas already at this stage.

Firstly on the role of Bau ABC in the construction sector. It is easy to get a false impression that it would only be a more advanced vocational school or college (for apprectices) or a training centre (for adult learners on short courses). In this respect the range  of training activities of Bau ABC is wider and it caters for different target groups. In the initial vocational education it serves as an inter-enterprise training interface (Überbetriebliche Ausbildungsstätte). In the continuing vocational training it serves as a provider for different competence-giving and certified programmes. For this purpose it has huge training sites in which advanced training programmes (for various occupations) can be implemented in circumstances that are similar to real construction sites (instead of retreating to mere classroom simulations). And altogether, it serves as a nodal point for continuing professional development and as promoter for knowledge transfer from training contexts to everyday life practice.

For the Learning Layers project it is interesting to note what kinds of target groups can be approached via such competence centre and what kinds of working, learning and transfer processes they can bring into picture. (Here I am referring to the ideas that Melanie and other discussed freely in our skype meeting, we need to discuss this further.)

  • Meister (Masters of craft) who are in charge of training in special occupational areas (e.g. die Brunnenbauer). Here we can assume that there are no markets for highly commercialised learning materials. Therfore,  training and learning processes have to rely to a major extent on  work process knowledge gained through work experience. How can this kind of knowledge best be mobilised and shared?
  • Apprentices (Auszubildende) that select special areas of construction work tend to be highly interested in their occupation and try to adopt the role of explorers (asking for interpretation why things are done this way and putting the ‘normal practice’ in question). During their apprenticeship they attend in regular cycles Bau ABC and can be addressed at different phases of their learning careers.
  • Skilled workers in Meister training programmes (or in other similar programme) are also going through transition in their career and are acquiring new competences. During their training they are confronted with challenges, how to organise group work and mutually linked work processes. Also they attend Bau ABC in different phases of their training.
  • Pioneers in using ICT, Web and new media – here we are talking of individual trainers and guest instructors in different occupational areas. In the beginning phase of the project it became clear that there are already several pilot initiatives that have been tried or implemented in small scale. However, there is neither an overarching coordination nor a technical infrastructure (system architecture) that would enable good synergy across different initiatives. Therefore, inquiries on users’ needs or expectations should also take into account such developments.

I stop my list here. As I already said, Melanie Campbell will give more precise information and insights to these issues in the coming days (in particular via her contribution to Online Educa Berlin). Yet, I considered it appropriate to discuss the potential role of Bau ABC as a major regional competence centre as multiplier of innovative practices. As we have discussed it, we see different possibilities to go further but we have to start from the beginning steps.

This was an addendum to the issue “user stories”. But we are not through. The story goes on …

 

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