Archive for the ‘workinglearning’ Category

Learning Layers – What can we learn during on-site visits? (Part 1)

December 20th, 2012 by Pekka Kamarainen

My latest blog postings on Learning Layers focused on lessons to be learned from predecessor projects. We still need to follow that track. There is surely something to be discussed when we get statements from colleagues who have been involved (and taken the opportunity to think aloud about their learning gains).

However, now the current phase of the Learning Layers is pushing forward the on-site visits and the work with interview materials. At the moment we are just making the very first interviews and the editing of recordings and the detailed analyses are on the agenda in January 2013. Yet, already at this point it is worthwhile to consider, what we (as researchers) can learn during the on-site visits when talking to people who know their trade (and the issues  to be studied)  via their own practical experience.

Three members of the  ITB team visited earlier this week our Application Partner organisation “Agentur für Nachhaltiges Bauen” in Verden near Bremen. We didn’t have much time to look around at their exhibition areas or at their test sites. Yet, we got interesting insights into the wide area of  ‘ecological construction work’.  Here some points as starters while waiting for the analyses and the Application Partner Days (that provide an opportunity for more partners to make such on-site visits):

 1) Who are our counterparts and what do they represent: We were told that we would be having interviews with a student (doing his Praktikum at the Agentur) and with two architects. During the discussion we learned that they all seemed to have a background as skilled workers (and eventually as master craftsmen – Meister) in the construction sector before starting their studies. Thus, their learning histories and occupational careers combined practical work experience and academic studies.

2) What is “ecological construction work” about: Another issue to be considered was the diversity of approaches to ‘sustainability’ and ‘ecological construction work’. Some approaches emphasise sustainability without thinking that much on ecological impact of preparatory processes, logistic chains etc. Some approaches are very thoroughly committed to ecological materials and to construction tehniques with minor ecological consequences. These different positions may also have implications on the use and acceptance of mobile devices and ICT in general.

3) What is the relation between ‘competitiveness’ and ‘knowledge sharing’: Our counterparts gave us a colourful picture of constraints to share knowledge (and make the construction site work together) and to keeping one’s professional secrets to themselves. Both pressures are there – at the individual level and at the level of organisations. It was interesting to discuss, what kind of experiences and observations our counterparts had made about readiness to share knowledge (and with whom, in particular).

4) What works in knowledge transfer and what doesn’t: Each of our counterparts had made experiences of the use of different media to support knowledge transfer.  They drew our attention to personal trust and to social relations (how to get good communication work) above any ranking of possible (old or new media). Yet, they had interesting views on, what kind of media are OK for certain target groups and what might not be considered OK.

5) Cultural changes – readiness or resistance: The pioneers of ecological construction work had made a lot of experiences with changes in construction techniques – both regarding the resistance and regarding the readiness to accept new ideas once you had tried. This was also important for the discussion on usability of web tools and services.

I could go on with this list but prefer to stop here. As I said before, these were just first impressions and rather vague answers to the question, what we as researchers can learn during on-site visits.

The story will be continued …

Acknowledgements. This work is supported by the European Commission under the FP7 project LAYERS (no. 318209), http://www.learning-layers.eu.

Learning Layers – Learning lessons from prior projects – part 2

December 10th, 2012 by Pekka Kamarainen

My previous posting for this blog (with reference to the Learning Layers project) dealt with the issue “Lessons from prior projects”. I drew attention to several video interviews that I had prepared for another European cooperation project (Coop-PBL in VET). My colleagues in the learning Layers project might consider that the material might be a bit remote to the ongoing project and to the current working issues – maybe, maybe not.

With this post I want to draw attention to the work of an immediate predecessor of the Learning Layers project as regards the work with the German construction sector. The German project Vila-b (Virtual learning in construction work) explored the usability of mobile devices in the context of continuing training for construction workers. The video interviews with researcher Sven Schulte (ITB) make transparent the project concept and users’ acceptance of new media.

In the first video Sven tells about the approach of Vila-b, of the measures to ensure user engagement and of the conclusions, how to make such projects relevant for users.

http://vimeo.com/55277044

In the second video Sven tells about the challenges for getting construction workers interested in using web support. He also draws attention to progress that has been made in the meantime with technologies (e.g. smartphones) and software (e.g. apps). His main point is that active mentoring at workplace has been crucial for supporting workplace learning (in general) and the use of web-based support.

http://vimeo.com/55277043

With these videos I hope to bring  the lessons from prior activities closer to our ongoing discussions on current challenges and tasks.

To be continued … 

Acknowledgements. This work is supported by the European Commission under the FP7 project LAYERS (no. 318209), http://www.learning-layers.eu.

 

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