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Learning Layers – How do we take our “lessons learned” with us to design activities? (Part 3)

March 2nd, 2013 by Pekka Kamarainen

In my previous two posts I discussed the current transition of  the Learning Layers (LL) project  from fieldwork to  design activities. I raised the question, how the emerging design ideas would best meet the needs and interests of our application partners in the construction sector. In  this respect I drew attion to two strategic frameworks for pooling design ideas and linking them to their own developmental initiatives. In this post I want to draw attention to more  specific design design ideas and to challenges we need to take into account:

a) Digital learning logs or e-portfolios for apprentice training (and workplace learning)

One of the observations during the fieldwork was that the documentation of learning progress in the apprentice training for German construction industries and trades is carried out manually (the white folders). Likewise, there is a lack of good models for presenting evidence on prior experience-based learning in the context of regulated continuing training (e.g. the Meisterschulungen). In a similar way, companies have difficulties in ducumenting their organisational learning. All this speaks for development of e-portfolios and learning logs. Given the multitude of existing models, ther is a need for overviews that make transparent different basic models, criteria for using them (e.g. for assessment, recognition and professional development) and institutional and organisational boundary conditions for implementing them.

b) Software solutions for harvesting informal learning

Current software development brings forward solutions tham make large-scale collection of evidence on (informal) learning possible, e.g. the so-called Tin Can API or Experience API. These would provide a basis for learning analytics and datamining on work-based learning across different databases. Although this discussion is at present at an early stage, it is necessary to pay attention to this prospect (either as a spin-off development or as a neighbouring field of work). At any rate it is essential to consider, how complex action-oriented learning (based on occupational standards) can be made transparent with such software solutions. Likewise, it is essential to analyse, how current methodologies for analysing and measuring holistic competences could be linked to such software development prospects.

 c) Linking physical artefacts with learning applications

One of the observations was that there is a rapid progress in using QR tags to share information on physical artefacts in construction work. Yet, there are several communication gaps and logistic problems that demonstrate that such potentials have not been exhausted. Therefore, there is a need to develop complementary models (such as image recognition apps) that could more direcly be linked to (digital) learning resources that inform of appropriate tools and materials in the respective jobs. Here, it is necessary to draw conclusions of the unsuccessful piloting with earlier equipments and applications (e.g. the digi-pens for construction sector). Moreover, there is a need to get an overview of emerging technologies (QR-tags and complementary apps).

 d) Support for user-generated learning materials and multimedia resources

This prospect came up during several field visits. Many problem situations could be overcome and many communication gaps could be bridges with short videos or other multimedia contents. Many training centres, professional networks and supporting bodies could be in the position to produce, collect and enriuch such contents. However, it is one thing to enable a wider range of users to produce such user-generated contect and another thing to integrate such contents into well-organised, well-checked and updated knowledge resources.

I stop here although the list is not exhaustive. My point is to give a picture of some design ideas that emerge from the working and learning contexts that we have studied and can be discussed alongside the overarching  ideas of “learning exhibition” or “open learning centre”.

The discussion needs to be brought forward in the forthcoming Design Conference and in the next phase of work of the LL project.

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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