Archive for the ‘workinglearning’ Category

Learning Layers after the Aachen Integration meeting – Part 3: The Aachen Theory Camp (working group)

April 10th, 2014 by Pekka Kamarainen

My previous posts to this series have focused on the the Aachen Integration Meeting of the Learning Layers (LL) project. Part one gave an overview on the results of the Integration Meeting. Part two provided insights into the plenary session of the Aachen Theory Camp (a special event in the meeting). This post gives a report on the results of group work – Working Group 1 on Workplace learning. 

(I am much obliged to Gilbert Peffer who took photos of the flipcharts and Debbie Holley who took minutes on the spot – yet the accents and conclusions are mine.)

I would summarise our work with the following points:

a) The task: We discussed the presentations of the plenary and the way in which the different perspectives (or schools of thought) can be taken into account in the LL project. In this context we acknowledged the diverse positions, frameworks, and theories – some contrasting each other whilst others being complementary to each other. We also noted that some are more underpinned with empirical work whilst others were at higher level of abstraction. From these starting points we worked towards a joint understanding, how to make good use of the different background theories.

b) Approach to theory v.s. theories : We debated the issue ‘unified vs. pluralist view(s)’ as possible way(s) forward. We drew attention to the fact that some of the theories/concepts were not addressing conflicts of interest (or power relations) in working life. As a contrast, others saw them as key issues. Therefore, some theories provide a basis for ‘management tools’ whilst others give insights into conflicts that prevent innovations or lead to unexpected consequences. Taking such tensions into account we pointed to possibilities for drawing together the work from case studies or surveys, from qualitative or quantitative perspectives.

c) Implications for methodology v.s. methodologies: In this context we discussed the parallel use of data from the empirical studies of WP1 and from participative co-design processes and stakeholder talks. We also discussed, in which way the LL project can clarify its commitment or affiliation to ‘action research’ (as indicated in the deliverable of the WP7).  We noted that there are conceptual and epistemological tensions between ‘design research’ and (classical) ‘action research’ that are being debated in the literature. We also noted that there are German conceptualised traditions of ‘accompanying research’ (Begleitforschung) that refer to innovation programmes on Work & Technology or to model/pilot projects in vocational education and training(VET) that are less known elsewhere.

d) The issues of Intervention and Impact: In this context we had a discussion, in what ways the LL project is expected to show impact as Research, Technology & Development (RTD) project. We all agreed that there was a consensus on working with participative design processes and the interventions were essential for the knowledge development approach. However, there were differences between university traditions and/or evaluation procedures, to what extent researches should prioritise impact on theoretical level (academic publishing) or impact on practice (getting evidence on project-generated changes in working life).

e) The issue of desired outcomes in the field: In this context we discussed the prospect of changing attitudes to knowledge sharing. Here the key issues were “tolerance of uncertainty”, “willing to share” and “ability to share knowledge”. The strategies to promote such changes were linked to phrases ‘mindlines not guidelines’ (in the healthcare sector) and to the capability for social shaping of work, technology and environment (Gestaltungsorientierung) in the construction sector. In this way we tried to link the efforts to promote new competences/ capabilities in using Web 2.0 technologies (in the context of work or workplace learning) to the empowerment of users.

f) The conclusion: The group supported the initiative to continue with Theory Camp session(s) in the Bremen consortium meeting. We proposed the following title: “The Impact of the Learning Layers project on Theory and Practice”. We discussed some ideas that can be taken as topics or cross-cutting themes:

  • Connections between learning processes at the level of teams/ groups, organisations, networks, clusters and (‘learning’) regions;
  • Readiness for sharing knowledge; sharing in networks and/or in multiple networks;
  • Promoting new capabilities – the role of networks, organisations, teams and peers;
  • The role of intervention research approaches (action research, accompanying research, design research etc.) in working with and conceptualising such issues.

This is as far as we got in Aachen. The discussion on the follow-up is going on.

More posts to come on the next steps …

Learning Layers after the Aachen Integration meeting – Part 2: The Aachen Theory Camp (plenary)

April 10th, 2014 by Pekka Kamarainen

In my previous post I discussed the achievements of the Aachen Integration Meeting of the Learning Layers (LL) project. Now I shift the emphasis to the Aachen Theory Camp that was organised as a special event within the meeting.

Background of the Theory Camp: The need  to reflect on the theoretical foundations was raised by the reviewers comments in the Y1 review meeting in Barcelona. In particular these comments pointed to the theoretical assumptions regarding the Social Semantic Server. Also, other issues were raised – e.g. the project was asked need to clarify its commitment to ‘action research’. In the next consortium meeting in Innsbruck we started preparing a “theory camp”  workshop for the Aachen meeting. The dedicated workshop in Innsbruck had a more specific look at the SSS but later on further topics were raised for a broader Theory Camp that looks at the project as a whole.

The Theory Camp Plenary: As a result of the preparation phase we had a list of Wiki articles (see the  embedded links below) and corresponding ppts in Google Drive folder (see the link at the end of the list). For the plenary session these were grouped into following sets of contributions:

Learning and Practice

Collective & Networked Learning Theories

Organisational Learning

Generation of Meaning

Knowledge Representation

(See the presentations in https://drive.google.com/#folders/0B79ULHQp1d2BSzdLeGF5UVlNOEk.)

Reflective commentary: As the list above shows, we had quite a number of short presentations with few quick questions. Most of the discussions took place in the parallel working groups afterwards. In the plenary session the ITB team was responsible for the themes “Workplace learning” and “Work process knowledge”. Both presentations attracted attention and gave rise to further questions regarding the status of these concepts and of the practical implications.  I will get back to these issues in my report on the working group in which I participated.

More posts to come …

Learning Layers after the Aachen Integration meeting – Part 1: Overview and conclusions

April 10th, 2014 by Pekka Kamarainen

Some busy weeks have passed since the Learning Layers (LL) project had its Integration Meeting in Aachen at the end of March. Before the Easter break it may be useful to look back what we achieved and what issues we raised for follow-up.

This post will sum up what I considered as progress in promoting integration across the Learning Layers project. There will also be some critical issues to be taken into account in the follow-up. In the next posts I will discuss the Theory Camp event and how to build upon it in the next phase.

Here some remarks on our progress with promoting integration in the project:

a) Promoting technical integration: Altogether the technical integration sessions raised awareness of the offerings of the partners responsible for the infrastructure. For other partners, the decisions on Layers Adapter (single login to LL apps/tools and joint data-mining on the use of them) are also of interest.

b) Technical support for Development Projects: The meeting increased mutual awareness between the Layers Developers’ Task Force (LDTF) and Development Projects and made transparent what kind of support can be given when up-to-date information is available. In particular the Learning Toolbox was redefined as an integration project that makes use of different LL tools that can be integrated at different stages of the project (some sooner, some later). This opened new possibilities for earlier demonstrations.

c) Work with sustainability scenarios: So far the sustainability scenarios have been developed somewhat separately from each other. Thus, the reporting on them was not unified. Now, after the Aachen experience, it is possible to plan a session that gives attention to the whole range of scenarios and works through the SWOT-analyses.

d) Cooperation across sectoral Development Projects: The Aachen workshop brought the DPs together to look at possibilities for mutually complementing pilots and demos (involving also external actors). This is vital for the development of Captus, AchSo!, Learning Toolbox, Reflect and the exhibition tools. This can be supported by the BauBildung.net and by coordinated development of customised training models for Bau ABC, NNB/Agentur and craft trade companies.

e) Cooperation with empirical studies: The Aachen workshop was a clear step forward in the discussions, how to get parallel interviews and stakeholder talks better coordinated. In particular there was an effort to develop new ways to utilise of prior knowledge, earlier interviews and documents encounters in the interpretation of interview data (on networks and their role in promoting learning). However, these discussions left open issues on, how to analyse changing practices in networks or the potential of networks to promote innovations in working and learning.

f) Work with the Theory Camp approach: The Aachen Theory Camp became a larger and more popular event than expected. Moreover, participants raised needs for further Theory Camp activities from the perspective of interventions, identifying (real) instances of change in sectoral practices and valuing the (conceptual) impact on theory and practice as merits of the research partners. This needs to be taken into account in the planning of the next project consortium meeting in Bremen.

g) Co-design and evaluation issues: The above mentioned discussion (on interventions, identified changes and impact on theory and practice) is essentially linked to the goal-setting for participative design work and to the related evaluation concept. So far the discussion on the evaluation approach has been somewhat disconnected from the design teams and/ or development projects. The Theory Camp discussion gave impulses to discuss the approach taking into account the empowerment of users (Mindlines, Gestaltungsorientierung).

More posts to come …

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