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Learning Layers – How do we take our “lessons learned” with us to design activities? (Part 1)

February 28th, 2013 by Pekka Kamarainen

So far the Learning Layers (LL) project has been working with initial interviews, drafting user stories and with field visits that validate the picture – the Application Partner Days (see my prvious posts). Now it is time to take further steps to design activities. The opening event will be the Design Conference in Helsinki next week.

The LL teams of ITB and Pontydysgu have prepared this step with reviewing the material that has been used for the user stories that focus on construction sector. We have tried to put the individual cases into wider contexts and look, how particular design ideas would meet the needs and interests emerging from these wider contexts.

In the first phase we have done some contextual mapping to identify sets of working and learning contexts (Entwicklungszusammenhänge) that are not necessarily visible in individual user stories but become transparent when you construct a group picture of several stories and exemplary situations. Below I give some insights into working  issues and challenges that arise from such wider contexts:

 a) Contexts of induction, counselling and further qualifying: When studying the stories from ecological construction work, we have noted that the leading organisations have to take wide responsibilities in the induction and further qualifying of the new staff. In the same way they have to act as counsellors and advisors of new crft trade companies that want to speacialise in this field. The lack of institutions and resources in research and (higher) education and training requires more efforts from actors in the field. This is a major challenge for mentoring, tutoring and continuing professional development. Here, we have several design issues coming up regarding the use of web.

b) Contexts of sharing information and knowledge – from particular construction sites to wider forums: Other exemplary stories have drawn our attention to rather simple gaps of communication and to limited access to (digital) documents at construction sites. This may cause problems between planners and skilled workers who carry out the tasks. Whilst these could be helped with simple applications, our partners have warned us that knowledge development may not be a matter of collecting experience from individual cases. One of the challenges in ecological construction work is to clarfy, which solutions may be appropriate for certain sets of cases and inappropriate for others. Such level of knowledge sharing and mutual critique requires forums that are characterised by mutual trust and commitment to common cause. Here again, we have several design issues coming up.

c) Contexts that require new information and solutions for making learning gains available for further use: Some of the user stories gave examples of problem situations in which new information was needed on new materials or new regulations for special installations. In such cases the craft trade companies had to carry out searches and to make the results available across the company. In some cases there appeared to be a general pattern that could be identified and made available for a more generals service across companies (e.g. by training organisations or by joint associations or umbrella organisations). Here we see design issues and questions on responsibility for joint services.

 d) Specific challenges in the field of borehole-drilling and well-building: The field of borehole-drilling and well-building (Brunnenbau bzw. Spezialtiefbau) is characterised by specific risks both regarding health and safety and regarding possible damages caused for the environment and materials. Therefore, the industries are engaged in developing applications and web services. Yet, the examples reflected in user stories and APD workshops show that there are possible gaps and needs for double-chacking (that require attention from the craftsmen). Another aspect is that the health and safety traininf is very well regulated but follows a traditional pattern. Therefore, use of web services and new media could enhance the training and the required health and safety awareness. Here again, we see several design issues coming up – linked to the question of responsibilities and conformity with given regulations.

These remarks give insights into the challenges that the LL project is facing in the next step. In my next posts I try give some answers, how the challenges could be responded by our work with design ideas and with the developmental strategies that our application partners have brought into discussion.

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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