Archive for the ‘workinglearning’ Category

Learning Layers – Impressions on the Y1 Review Meeting (Part 3: Feedback and our responses)

December 16th, 2013 by Pekka Kamarainen

The posts of this series are about the Year One (Y1) Review Meeting of the Learning Layers (LL) project that took place last week. In the first two posts  I discussed the event as such and our inputs (as team presentations). In the final one I will discuss the feedback that was given and how we respond to it.

I am aware of the fact that the reviewers need still some time to finalise their comments. Therefore, it would not be appropriate to try to give a comprehensive summary (before the review panel has completed its own work). However, already at this stage it is possible to pick up some messages that are not controversial and pieces of advice that can be taken on board without further delay.

Below I present some comments of the reviewers that focus on the research, design and development activities.

1. Coherent approach to theories, designs and prototypes: The reviewers appreciated the knowledge of relevant theories on technology enhanced learning, workplace learning and learning in informal contexts. Yet, some of the reviewers drew attention to the fact that the designs and prototypes are based on specific assumptions on learning. The project was challenged to discuss these underlying assumptions and consider the compatibility between the conceptual orientations and the designs.

2. Commitment to action research in an explicit and reflected way:  The reviewers noted that the project has made in several deliverables commitments to action research. Yet, the relations to different traditions of action research have not been discussed thoroughly and the methodological implications are not clear. The project was challenged to organise a workshop to make the relations to different traditions and its own methodological commitments more explicit. (Here, attention was drawn to transdisciplinary action research as a strong emerging approach.)

3. Balance and coherence between different activities: The project had demonstrated a wide range of activities. This was appreciated but at the same time the reviewers pointed to the risk that the activities remain parcelled and disintegrated. In particular they emphasised that research data should not be collected for the sake of showing data. The project was challenged to demonstrate, how the collection and analysing of data supports the design and development activities.

4. Documentation of co-design and stakeholder engagement activities: The project had demonstrated a great number of events with sectoral stakeholders and their organisations. Yet, the role of such activities and the progress with the counterparts had not been clearly reflected in the deliverables. It seemed that the dynamics of the activities had been lost in the logic of reporting on the basis of work packages. The project was challenged to document the processes and the results more explicitly (not only in terms records and minutes of meetings).

At this moment I can raise some points for discussion, how the project can respond to these comments:

ad 1) Coherent approach to theories, designs and prototypes: This is clearly an issue for the whole consortium and needs a proper conversation in a near future.

ad 2) Commitment to action research in an explicit and reflected way: This comment meets our own self-assessment. In the joint meetings of the ITB and Pontydysgu teams we had already agreed to organise a joint workshop to promote dialogue between (classical) action research, accompanying research (DE), interactive research (NL) and design research (WP2).

ad 3) Balance and coherence between different activities: This comment also meets the situation assessment of several partners. Already during the review meeting we started a discussion, how to arrange the collection of research data in a more synergy-promoting and coordinated way. We also took note that the different dynamics of design activities in the two pilot regions should be taken into account in the scheduling of data collection.

ad 4) Documentation of co-design and stakeholder engagement activities: This comment draws attention to the risk of paying too little attention to the process documentation when prioritising research results or progress in design and development activities. This meets the situation assessment of the sectoral partners and the coordinators of sectoral activities. In many respects this issue is connected with the need to clarify the commitment to action research.

I think this is enough at the moment. We will discuss the feedback and our responses in greater detail when we have the report of the reviewers.

The discussion 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 – Impressions on the Y1 Review Meeting (Part 2: Our inputs)

December 16th, 2013 by Pekka Kamarainen

The posts of this series are about the Year One (Y1) Review Meeting of the Learning Layers (LL) project that took place last week. In the first post to this series of blogs I discussed the event as such. In this post I will focus on our inputs and how we presented then. In the next ones I will discuss the feedback that was given and how to respond to it.

I do not try to give a comprehensive overview on all presentations that were given by the project consortium. Instead, I will focus on the following ones:

  1. The presentation of the North-German partners on the Construction pilot region [05] and
  2. The presentations of the Work Package 7 team [13-18] on stakeholder engagement, open innovation and scaling up.

ad 1) The presentation on the North-German Construction pilot region [05]

In our presentation we provided firstly insights into the pilot region, partner organisations and domain-specific issues to be considered (building and construction work as mobile work with high risk of occupational hazards and specific emphasis on process innovation). We then moved to the challenges for sectoral R&D work, research methodologies used (including the ‘rapid ethnography) and the role of interviews, user stories and personas). We then moved to the overview on the design process, the role of different workshops and the progress in two design teams (Captus and Sharing Turbine) and then via interim results to tensions and and possible measures. At the end we outlined a picture of Y2 activities based on the key role of two major pilot activities, the support from empirical research and stakeholder engagement as well as further support from joint training activities and affiliated projects (e.g. the Layers PBL projects).

This presentation is available in the shared Google Drive, please click the link here.

In this context it is worthwhile to emphasise that both the finalisation of the slides and the presentation itself were chaacterised by intensive teamwork. This was not just a matter of few researchers putting the slides together and sharing the task to present with others. The final version was reworked during the rehearsal and the application partners (from Bau ABC and Agentur) played their roles as presenters very prominently. In this way we managed to perform as a team that played the ball to each other (Melanie Campbell, Ludger Deitmer, Stefan Thalmann, Pekka Kämäräinen, Melanie Campbell, Tobias Funke and Pekka Kämäräinen). Thus, we gave a joint presentation on our common experiences in a process that we have been planning, implementing and shaping together.

ad 2) The presentations of the Work Package 7 team [13-18] on stakeholder engagement, open innovation and scaling up

The contribution of the Work Package 7 team was a complex set of presentations that moved a coherent story forward (with different sets of presenters/panelists that gave short inputs):

  • Scaling up – A Strategy and its Implementation – the core of the story (Graham Attwell and Gilbert Peffer)
  • Creating results through open innovation – including the affiliated pilots (Graham Attwell, Patricia Santos, Merja Bauters, Ralf Klamma and Gilbert Peffer)
  • Engaging stakeholders and building capacity for adoption and impact – providing insights into networks and scaling up measures in the pilot regions (Graham Attwell, John Bibby, Paul Carder, Melanie Campbell, Ludger Deitmer and Gilbert Peffer).
  • Working towards sustainability – providing scenarios of sustainability based on support from different stakeholder communities (Tor-Arne Bellika, Gilbert Peffer, Melanie Campbell, John Bibby, Ralf Klamma and Graham Attwell).
  • Wrapping up – with Roadmap for Y2 (Graham Attwell).

This presentation is also available in the shared Google Drive, please click here.

This latter presentation was even more strongly characterised by teamworking to give a coherent message of research, design and development work that relies very strongly on the involvement of sectoral partners and committed researchers/ technical support.

It is worthwhile to have a closer look at the message that was presented. It was also appreciated in the meeting.

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 – Impressions on the Y1 Review Meeting (Part 1: The event)

December 16th, 2013 by Pekka Kamarainen

Last week the Learning Layers (LL) project had the Year One (Y1) Review Meeting in Barcelona. In the first post to this series of blogs I want to take a look at the event as such. In the following ones I will discuss our inputs, the feedback that was given and how to respond to it.

The panel of reviewers had already examined the Deliverables of the Y1. Now the face-to-face meeting provided an opportunity for the consortium to set accents and to give live impressions on the work. For the reviewers this meeting provided the possibility to ask questions and give direct comments on specific issues. Altogether, the review is completed with a written report. Thus, we should wait for the report before we make very specific conclusions. Yet, it is appropriate to make some preliminary remarks on the event, on our contributions and on the dialogue that took place in Barcelona.

Firstly, it is worthwhile to consider the event as a learning opportunity for the project consortium. We had agreed to work with a common storyline – instead of presenting the work packages in a compartmentalised way. Therefore, we needed the two days’ rehearsal to link the contributions from work packages, pilot regions and design teams to each other. It really helped us to get an idea, how our presentations can refer to each other and how we can get the messages stronger.

Secondly, since the presentations had been rehearsed, we were in a better position to listen to the feedback, respond to questions and take the comments on board. Also, we were in a better position to start our on reflection, how to adjust our activities on the basis of useful advice from the reviewers.

I think this is enough of the event itself. Now it is time to look back, what we presented and what kind of comments were given.

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 are we achieving with our fieldwork of Year 1 (Part 4: Concluding remarks)

December 8th, 2013 by Pekka Kamarainen

In my first post to this series of blogs I raised he question: What are we achieving with the fieldwork activities of Year 1 in the Learning Layers (LL) project?  In the two subsequent posts I gave an account on the developments in the co-design activities and in the training activities.

In this post I want to make three concluding remarks to complete the picture that may otherwise look a bit inward-looking and self-sufficient:

1) It is necessary to pay more attention to external support activities that can enrich the co-design and training activities – in particular the so-called Layers PBL projects;

2) It is necessary to have a closer look at the studies on regional innovation policies and the role of organised clusters (that are being carried out by the WP7 team).

3) It is necessary to pay attention to the potentials of and challenges for accompanying research.

1. Concerning the external support activities it is essential to note the valuable contribution that is provided by student groups working in the “Layers PBL” projects that work with particular tasks/apps proposed by LL partners. At the moment we have such projects working in several universities (HSKA, RWTH, Metropolia UAS). In the co-design activities and training activities of the year 2 we can count on the possibility to integrate their results into project work and to initiate new ones.

2. Concerning the studies on regional innovation policies and organised clusters, we have hosted several working visits of the WP7 team and attended to several sessions of stakeholder talks. We have also got several reports on other working visits of the WP7 team. This all has brought us closer to the understanding of regional and sectoral potentials and how to use ‘scaling up’ opportunies that are supported by other funding programmes. This is particularly important when we see the chance to involve other innovation regions with similar initiatives.

3. Concerning the role of accompanying research it is worthwhile to pay attention to the twofold relation of such research and the design/development activities. Firstly, the researchers have to be sufficiently closely involved in the design and development processes to sense the changes (progress or obstacles) in the process dynamics. Secondly, the researchers have to keep a relative distance to be able to document and analyse the developments (without being overly guided by their first impressions). In this respect the LL activities pose additional challenges to carry out the twofold duties of accompanying research in a balanced way.

I think this is enough on these issues at this moment. After the review of the Year 1 activities we need to get back to these issues when launching the Year 2 activities.

The discussion 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 – What are we achieving with our fieldwork of Year 1 (Part 3: Training activities)

December 8th, 2013 by Pekka Kamarainen

In my first post to this series of blogs I raised he question: What are we achieving with the fieldwork activities of Year 1 in the Learning Layers (LL) project?  In my previous posts I gave an account on the developments in the co-design activities of the LL design team Sharing Turbine (mainly taking place in Bau ABC).

In this post I will complement the picture with a similar account on training activities in the construction sector during the year 1 of LL project. Here again, I will focus mainly on training activities that have started to take shape in Bau ABC (but not exclusively on the host organisation). Concerning the development of training activities  I would formulate the following thesis:

In the training activities of the year 1 we have shifted the emphasis from ad hoc training measures towards a more comprehensive (but transparent) approach. This gives the participants a broad overview of web tools and enables quick trials. This helps them to select their own priorities and make their own plans for further learning and utilisation in their own area.

Looking back at April and May 2013, when we started the early pilots training activities, I have to admit that we were rather cautious . We had good reasons for this, since the co-design activities were only in the beginning phase and we indeed tried to avoid over-ambitious openings. Yet, we understood that we need to develop some kind of project-specific training initiatives to improve our user-skills in web and multimedia (jointly).

So, the ITB team prepared a Webinar for NNB/Agentur to support firstly the staff and later on the network members in ecological construction work. Also, some demonstration sessions with basic applications (e.g. Bosch app, Evernote) were organised with interested craft trade companies. Moreover, some agreements were reached with training providers for craft trade companies to support their training events. However, these initiatives did not raise a wide interest. We were still at the advent of linking training activities to co-design initiatives and to active utilisation of new tools.

The next step in developing training initiatives was taken in an ad hoc meeting in June 2013 (organised alongside the consortium meeting in Graz). One of the ideas put into discussion by this meeting was to organise Do-it-yourself workshops in Bau ABC to create users’ own apps. During the summer months this idea was reworked towards a Multimedia Training approach. The First Multimedia Workshop (moderated by Jenny Hughes from Pontydysgu) provided an orientation to different ways to create apps or to use services and tools in a customised and user-adapted way. This workshop had already a strong hands-on emphasis but it mainly served the purpose to outline the learning pathways forward.

The Second Multimedia Workshop in November (also moderated by Jenny Hughes) was already planned as the second in a series to be continued. This workshop consisted of several short sessions during which the participants trained with similar tasks but using somewhat different software in different groups. The programme started with easier exercises (setting up individual twitter accounts, making word clouds with wordle etc.). Then the participants prepared glogsters ands padlets to present text and multimedia content on the same page. Then cartoons, animations and videos were used to present task implementation in construction work (measurement). In the next phase several other applications were demonstrated with the help of the website of TACCLE2 project (that promotes multimedia competences of teachers and gives advice to develop their own web contents). In the final phase the participants trained with WordPress and developed their own blogs to bring together results of the previous sessions.

In the concluding session the participants (including the director of Bau ABC) committed themselves to continue with a series of such workshops. Pontydysgu volunteered to install a dedicated WordPress site for the training and provide links to relevant contents on the TACCLE2 website. In addition Pontydysgu volunteered to shape the training programme as small modules with tutorials and tasks that support self-organised learning. The participants agreed to continue independently with the proposed tools and to prepare for the next workshop their individual plans for further learning and for domain-specific use of tools.

In a flashmeeting for planning the Y2 activities this development of the training approach was given a new dimension when the participants of the meeting saw the continuation as a joint opportunity to develop wider participation. Also, the development of the WordPress site and modules was seen as a strategy for outreach to craft trade companies and for shaping customised training packages.

I think this is as far as I can follow the development of the training concept for construction sector. As I see it, this process has moved from smaller opening steps towards a collaborative and participative shaping of a training programme that can be scaled up in the coming years. Also, my impression is that the first steps have been paved by such ‘user engagement’ that leads to empowerment of learners and capacity building in the organisations involved.

However, this is not the whole story of the process dynamics (of “growing together”, of “hatching out” and of reaching out beyond the initial pilot contexts. Although I may have limited possibilities to report on other supporting activities, it is appropriate to bring them also into the picture by a concluding blog post.

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 are we achieving with our fieldwork of Year 1 (Part 2: Co-design activities)

December 8th, 2013 by Pekka Kamarainen

In my previous post I raised he question: What are we achieving with the fieldwork activities of Year 1 in the Learning Layers (LL) project? I outlined an argument that we are experiencing a process dynamic in which several activities are growing together and that the engagement of our sectoral partners is growing into new dimension. Now it is time to give some evidence.

I will start with the co-design activities in the construction sector and focus on the developments in the LL design team Sharing Turbine and on the fieldwork in Bau ABC. Here I would formulate the following thesis:

In the fieldwork for Sharing Turbine the role of Bau ABC staff has changed from ‘end-users’ (who give information and test prototypes) to active participants who contribute actively to the development of prototypes.

When I look back at the reports on the co-design workshops in April and May 2013, I recognise the phase of identifying problems and mapping possible points of intervention. The overarching agenda of Sharing Turbine (digitalisation of the training and learning processes based on the White Folder) seemed like a big package that overwhelmed us. We needed more insights from the ground – from apprentices and trainers, whose work we tried to support with digital media and web tools. Therefore, the workshops were characterised by “problem-fishing” – drawing storyboards of work processes in companies and in the training centre. We started to get a picture of gaps of information/communication and situations in which use of digital media could really help. However, the parallel work of the supporting partners (outside the pilot region) with ‘use cases’ and wireframes was not directly linked to these workshops.

When I look at the reports on the co-design workshops and to working meetings in June 2013, I recognise a turning point in the process and a regrouping of actors involved in it. At that point the problem-fishing was still continued with the apprentices but the work with the staff of Bau ABC (trainers and managers) started to take a new course. Whilst we still kept the overarching agenda of the Sharing Turbine, we agreed to select a focal area for ‘rapid prototyping’. We chose the area of laying pipes and sewage (Rohrleitungsbau) and started looking more closely on the project tasks in that area (in order to develop digital support and mobile apps). For this pilot work we agreed to use the name “Rapid Turbine”. In this phase the staff of Bau ABC was actively involved in making the decision on the pilot area and selecting project tasks for design work.

When I look at the reports of the co-design workshops and working meetings from August, to November 2013 , I see a clear change in the participation of Bau ABC staff. By this time the colleagues of Pontydysgu had developed several proposals, how to insert data into the Rapid Turbine application and tentative solutions for “Help” function. Now trainers and managers were actively debating, which solutions would contribute to sustainable learning gains (and which would likely to lead to copy-paste ‘learning’  without real learning gains). These discussions were about small details, but yet there was an air about keeping the overarching learning goals (the holistic craftmanship) in the picture. In a similar way the discussion of the “Help” functions gave a differentiated picture of tools for those who are about to fail (“Don’t panic”) and of tools of those who want to deepen their understanding (“Learn more”).

I think I have said enough of the developments in the co-design activities. Here I have shared my impressions of the deeper level of  participation that is coming into picture. In order to get an insight into activities that are growing together, it is necessary to give a similar account on training activities of the year 1 in construction sector.

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 are we achieving with our fieldwork of Year 1 (Part 1: Overview)

December 7th, 2013 by Pekka Kamarainen

In my previous post I looked back at my blogging on the Learning Layers (LL) project during its first year of activities. I explained how the most recent weeks have been characterised by reporting and preparation for the Year 1 review. I also made the claim that our fieldwork has progressed from a transition phase (August/September) and made clear steps forward. Now it is time to have a closer look at what has happened and why I give it such an importance.

However, before we go into details, it is worthwhile to clarify on what basis I am making these comments and what status I assume them to have.

Firstly, I do not try to give an overall picture of the LL project as a whole – and not even on the work in the construction sector. During the recent months I have been mainly involved in the cooperation with Bau ABC (with focus on LL Design team Sharing Turbine and its prototype Rapid Turbine). Thus, I have not been able to follow parallel developments as thoroughly.

Secondly, my role has varied in different activities – sometimes I have been in charge of the interpretation but most often I have been the one to make notes and reports. Thus, I have had to keep an eye on the whole process and the details as well.

Thirdly, I am not trying to write these comments only from the perspective of ITB but looking at the fieldwork as our joint effort – the research & development partners, technical support partners and application partners working together.

I formulated deliberately my question as follows: What are we achieving with our fieldwork of Year 1?I didn’t ask: What have we achieved …? What is the great difference ? Does it really matter, how the question is posed. To me and to us it does. The latter question draws attention to the results but leaves aside the process, how they have been achieved. The question that I have raised draws attention to the process and results as preconditions for each other. In this respect, what we see as results now, may not be the whole truth of the achievements, if the process has more potential and is only becoming mature.

Finally, I do not wish to give a list of separate achievements or indicators of improvement. Instead, I try to give a picture of (initially) separate initiatives and activities that are growing together as mutually supporting processes. Moreover, I want to give a picture of growing user engagement. Here we can give examples of the empowerment of trainers as contributors to participative processes – as dialogue partners in design sessions and as peer learners and peer tutors in training activities. And finally, what we have been seeing in the recent phases, is the growing interest to involve others once the activities are getting consolidated.

In the next blog articles of this series I will focus on the following activities and demonstrate, how they exemplify the process dynamics that I have outlined above:

 a) The developments in the work of the LL design team Sharing Turbine and in the work with the Y1 prototype Rapid Turbine (see the next blog post – Part 2);

b) The developments in the training activities – progress from singular initiatives towards a coherent and scalable training concept (see the following post – Part 3.

I stop my introductory remarks here and try to get to the two above promised blog articles without further delay.

To be continued …

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

One year Learning Layers project – One year reports on “Working & Learning” blog

December 7th, 2013 by Pekka Kamarainen

I have just checked the reports (= podcasts) of the Pontydysgu colleagues from Online Educa Berlin 2013. This reminded me that it was about one year ago and exactly during that conference that I started my new career as blogger on the work of the ITB (Institut Technik & Bildung) team in the Learning Layers project.

Looking back, I see that I have covered different periods of the Learning Layers project and of the work of our team:

In November 2012 I wrote some blogs with which I worked myself in into the project (by looking at lessons from predecessor projects (e.g. expertAzubi and TACCLE2) and raising some common issues regarding our work with partners in construction sector.

In December 2012 I started producing reports on site visits to our application partners (Bau ABC in Rostrup and Agentur/Netzwerk Nachhaltiges Bauen in Verden) and to partner enterprises. My question was: “What do we learn from site visits?”

In January/February 2013 there were reports on the Application Partner Days. At that time most of the consortium came to site visits as well and we had series of workshops. These were followed by blogs that prepared our contributions to the Design Conference (that took place in Helsinki in March 2013). My questions were: “What have we learned from Application Partner Days?“How do we take our lessons to the design activities?”

 In March 2013 there were reports on the results of the Helsinki Design Conference and further thoughts, how to get the local design activities organised. My question was: “How can we get the initial design ideas properly grounded?” 

In April/May/June 2013 there were less blogs but far more field activities and internal reports. The blogs written in June provided an overview of this phase in general, the workshops in Bau ABC (involving apprentices and trainers), the parallel activities with Agentur/NNB and with craft trade companies. The final blog of this phase gave insights into the stakeholder talks in the pilot region and into the explorations of our partners (CIMNE, I-Perform) on organised clusters and their roles in different European regions. My question was: “What are we learning in the current phase of our fieldwork?”

 In July 2013 there were no blogs due to summer holidays. Bau ABC was closed and most of the ITB team was on holiday as well. Yet, something was moving ahead with the pilots and with the design work.

 In August/September 2013 there was a new high season of manifold workshops. In my blogs of August I tried to put the newer developments into concept with my question: “What kind of transition phase are we going through in our fieldwork?” I discussed new developments in the design work (“Rapid Turbine prototype), in the workshops (shift of emphasis to design and training) and in stakeholder engagement (more direct dialogue on the LL project work and stakeholders priorities). Then, the flow of blogs was interrupted by a period of conference travels and the LL consortium meeting in Pafos.

 In September/October/November 2013 there has been a high season of preparing deliverables and other contributions to the Year 1 review. At the same time we have made important progress with workshops – in particular in developing the Multimedia training approach for construction sector. Sadly, there was no time to comment these steps with blogs – we were absorbed by the main duties.

Now, that we are heading towards the Year 1 review meeting in Barcelona, I find it appropriate to have a closer look at the recent progress in our fieldwork and how it is reflected in different activities.

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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