Archive for the ‘workinglearning’ Category

Learning Layers – What have we learned during Application Partner Days in Bremen (Part 3)

January 31st, 2013 by Pekka Kamarainen

I am continuing my reports of field visits that took place this week as a part of the Application Partner Days (APDs) of the Learning Layers (LL) project. This blog article focuses on the visit to the premises  of Agentur für Nachhaltiges Bauen and its sister organisations in Verden (South-East of Bremen).

As we have been informed in the project, the Agentur is part of an organisational grouping that is based in Verden and has formed a joint network to promote ecological (sustainable) construction work. Currently this grouping runs an activity centre (Ökozentrum) which provides room for craft trade companies, architect office and joint training facilities. In the year 2014 the network will have a major exhibition building that is currently under construction. The initial buildings were originally used by the German army and they have been reshaped and repurposed for training activities. The new buildings are already demonstration cases for using strawball material for constructing walls. The exhibition building is a demonstration case for wood construction with five storeys.

After a tour round the premises the hosts brought us to a seminar room and organised a major ‘carousel’ workshop. The participants were allocated to four topic tables in which a network member (or two) took the role of hosting the discussion. Each group had a large sheet of paper to make notes (or to add to the notes of the previous group) and sticker dots to mark priority areas for further discussion. After 25 minutes the groups rotated between the hosts. Altogether we managed to complete three sessions in each topic table.

The topic tables were based on the following issues:

  • Meister Manfred (Entrepreneur in carpentry and woodwork) hosted a topic table in which he informed of the development of an iPad app for his company to inform their cost calculation program of the time needed for specific jobs at the construction site. This input (supported by a parallel case of another entrepreneur) triggered a discussion on other uses of iPad (or other tablet PCs) at construction sites.
  • Architect Enno (Director of the Agentur and co-founder of the network) hosted a table in which he informed of everday life experiences about lack of knowledge sharing between contractors (entrepreneurs) and their staff (craftsmen who do the job). This input (supported by the visualisation of the user story) triggered a discussion on simple applications that would be helpful to overcome such gaps of communication.
  • Architect Ute (Member of the network) hosted a table in which she informed of the plans for the opening exhibition during the inauguration of the new building. The idea is to provide a “learning exhibition” that makes good use of live experience on site, of effective web demonstrations and active contact with different target groups (to serve them better on site and via web). This input triggered a discussion of  various groups and different needs or interests to be catered for.
  • Project managers Melanie (Bau ABC) and Tobias (Agentur) hosted a table in which they facilitated discussion on knowledge sharing, collaboration and networking in craft trades. They presented inputs on different regions and on different groupings with which they have cooperated. These triggered a discussion on factors that restrict or increase willingness to cooperation (“business as usual” or “competitive advantage with holistic solutions”).

After three rotations the carousel was finished with a brief plenary that had to be stopped abruptly because of time constraints. Yet, the discussions were kicked alive and the issues were there.

To 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 – What have we learned during Application Partner Days in Bremen (Part 2)

January 31st, 2013 by Pekka Kamarainen

As I mentioned in my previous post, I am preparing brief reports of field visits that took place this week as a part of the Application Partner Days (APDs) of the Learning Layers (LL) project. This blog article focuses on the visit to the training centre area of Bau ABC in Rostrup (West of Bremen).

As we have been informed in the project, Bau ABC is one of the two major training centres set up by the umbrella organisation of building and construction sector in North Germany (Bauindustrieverband Niedersachsen-Bremen) and it is run as an operative arm of a support association for training in building and construction sector (Verein zur Berufsförderung der Bauwirtschaft Nord e.V.). The training centre Bau ABC in the municipality of Rostrup covers a wide range of occupational fields including initial VET (Erstausbildung), continuing training (Weiterbildung), training of Master Craftsmen (Meisterschulung) and other measures to support professional development of construction specialists.

During our tour round the premises of Bau ABC we had the chance to look firstly at the workshops of carpenters (Zimmerer), concrete builders (Betonbauer), and metal workers (Metaller). In  outdoor areas we saw the training sites for groundwork builders (Erdebauer),  road builders (Strassenbauer) and borehole builders (Brunnenbauer). Then, in the next workshops we had a chance to inform ourselves more of the training of borehole builders (Brunnenbauer) and of bricklayers (Maurer). Finally we saw the special areas for security training with focus on occupational hazards that are related to explosions.

The afternoon program of the visit consisted of two parallel sessions. One session was organised as a Focus Group involving some of the research partners and a number of trainers (Lehrwerkmeister) and participants in advanced training programs from Bau ABC. This group focused on the User Stories and tried to get further insights into workplace learning and uses of new technologies. Parallel to this session there was a small ‘carousel’ workshop in which some of the technical partners hosted small tables and participants from construction sector rotated between the tables.

The technical partner teams  (Graz, Tribal, Aalto and Karlsruhe/Pontydysgu) had made their own preparations for a dialogue session. Bau ABC had provided exemplars of apprentices’ and trainees’ working and learning tasks. Based on these inputs (and on some use stories) the technical partners informed themselves of problems or challenges in construction work and workplace learning. Then the discussion geared towards looking for possible solutions – uses of technology, uses of software and uses of networks and web resources.

At the end of the day all participants had experienced manifold discussions and the participants from Bau ABC had done their best to feed in inputs, ideas and experiences. So, there was much food for thought to be digested.

To be continued …

 

Learning Layers – What have we learned during Application Partner Days in Bremen (Part 1)

January 31st, 2013 by Pekka Kamarainen

My previous posts on the Learning Layers (LL) project raised the question: “What can we learn during on-site-visits?” At that time the ITB team was busy doing interviews with application partners from the North German construction sector. The first results were rapidly prepared as draft User Stories for further analyses. In this context the quick blog articles served as ‘appetizers’ for other partners: “Here is your chance for a sneak preview before live visits.”

Earlier this week a considerable number of LL partners were visiting the training centre area of Bau ABC in Rostrup and the premises of Agentur für Nachhaltiges Bauen and its sister organisations in Verden. The visitors had prepared themselves with the help of the User Stories and the hosts had taken initiatives to bring the discussion further. So, after this shared experience it is appropriate to ask: “What have we learned during the Application Partner Days?” Obviously, this general question paves the way for a number of more detailed questions. Most of these require a closer look at the videos recorded during the sessions and at the sheets filled with notes and dots during the workshop sessions.

Therefore, I am not trying to wrap up all and everything that was learned in Bremen and in the nearby areas on the two Application Partner Days  dedicated to construction sector. Instead, with the two subsequent blog articles I to give an impression of the events that were organised and of the discussions in parallel sessions. I will also outline some questions that help us to digest the impressions on workplace learning, use of (learning) technologies and of knowledge development in construction trade. I then insert some remarks that arise from the joint discussion of the ITB team after the event. I hope these preliminary remarks help to bring our joint work further.

To 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 – What can we learn during on-site visits? (Part 2)

January 16th, 2013 by Pekka Kamarainen

In December 2012 I started a series of blogs for the Learning Layers (LL) project with the question “What can we learned during on-site-visits. In the first article I summarised my first impressions from a field visit of the ITB team to the work site of our partner organisation Agentur für Nachhaltiges Bauen. This visit (and the interviews we recorded) gave us a much richer picture of the special area ‘ecological construction work’ and of the innovations that our partners are pushing ahead in this field.

Now, in January 2013, the ITB team has started its work for LL with further field visits (including audio/video recorded interviews) to the sites of our partners in the North-German construction cluster. Yesterday I and my colleague Werner Müller visited the training centre BauABC Rostrup at Bad Zwischenahn (near Bremen). During our visit we had a quick look at some of the worksites and training workshops and carried out five interviews with seven counterparts.

It is worthwhile to emphasise that Bau ABC Rostrup is not whatever training centre in the construction sector in Germany. It has been launched by the central organisation of the construction industries and employers (Bauindustrieverband) of the federal states Bremen and Niedersachsen and it provides training services across North Germany. In some areas (see below) it serves as a nation-wide centre of expertise. In the initial vocational training serves primarily as an inter-enterprise training interface (überbetriebliche Ausbildungsstätte) that caters for such training blocks that cannot be provided by individual companies. In the continuing vocational training it is in charge of continuing professional development of skilled workers and of training for master craftsmen (Meister) and other specialists in the trade. Due to these training functions Bau ABC has in addition to its training rooms or workshops huge outdoor worksites on which different machines, equipments and construction techniques are piloted for training and development purposes. Moreover, the centre is all the time running real construction sites to convert old army warehouses into modern training facilities (designed by Bau ABC staff and built by their trainees).

Without going into details of the interviews and the points that were made, it is worthwhile to raise some points that help the other LL partners to consider, how they can best support the work of application partners – such as Bau ABC.  In this context I would like to draw attention to the following points:

1) Who are our counterparts and what is their role in the construction sector?  Firstly, we had a chance to talk with two senior Master Craftsmen (Meister) in the borehole building (Brunnenbauer). They were in charge of a whole range training activities – including initial vocational training and the trainings for advanced specialist (e.g. the training for new Meister). They were also involved in producing new learning materials and in examination boards. Then, we had a chance to discuss with two apprentices in the same trade. One of them took his apprentice training as a part of his medium-term contract for the German arm. The other one had taken this training after having had firstly a training in other trade (electrician). Finally, we had discussions with three younger master Craftsmen (Meister) who were in charge of initial vocational training for neighbouring occupational areas (bricklayers, carpenters, road-builders).

2) What kinds of occupational areas are covered by Bau ABC and how can they be linked to the LL project? A major occupational area for Bau ABC is that of borehole builders (Brunnenbauer) and groundwork constructors (Spezialtiefbauer). This trade is characterised by costly machinery and equipment and by high risks regarding the treatment of different geological layers and ground water sources. (Work in this trade has been documented by the German army with the Youtube video Wasser für Marmal.) In Germany there are not many training providers for this trade and among them Bau ABC is considered as a national centre of expertise. In the immdediate vicinity there are training facilities and work sites for the neighbouring trades, such as road-builders (Strassenbauer), bricklayers (Maurer) and carpenters (Zimmerer), who also need to have the know-how on laying the foundation of the buildings and for underground construction work.

3) What can be said about the penetration of ICT and Web technologies to different areas of construction work?  In this context it is worthwhile to make a distinction between the borehole builders (Brunnenbauer) and the more traditional crafts and trades. For the borehole builders the industries that produce their machines and are already intensively involved in the  development of ICT equipment and software. Therefore, the exhibitions of this trade are also characterised by the presence of web services and applications. In this respect the more traditional trades have adopted the use of smartphones and tablet PCs at a later date. Altogether, all of the said areas are making new experiences with the usability of ICT- and Web-based tools, apps and services.

4) What can be said of  the readiness of our counterparts to work with ICT, Web technologies and social media?  In general our counterparts were positive about testing and trying out new solutions (“Was man nutzen kann, soll auch benutzt werden.“) However, depending on their positions, training responsibilities and occupational areas the counterparts raised different issues. For some areas work the problems at worksite opened more opportunities for self-directed search for solutions (and on-site learning) whilst for other areas such problems need to be communicated further to external persons with specific responsibilities. This may reduce the range of skilled workers’ involvement in finding solutions. Yet, there were issues about taking note of different problem cases for the continuing training of specialists and of Master Craftsmen (Meister) – who complete their training programmes with practical examinations on real worksites.

Altogether, the visit and the interview sessions can be seen as  preliminary discussions that helped our counterparts to present their first situation assessment on problem-based learning opportunities in their trade and on the role of ICT- and web-based tools in making themselves aware of such learning. In this respect our counterparts are looking forward to further encounters with the Learning Layers project (e.g. the forthcoming Application Partner Days).

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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