In my previous post I started a series on the contributions of the Learning Layers (LL) project to the European Conference on Educational Research – ECER’14 – in Porto, Portugal, last week. In this entry I will focus on our main contribution – the LL symposium with the theme “Construction 2.0: Concepts, Challenges and Chances for the research & development work in the Learning Layers project”.
We had prepared this session to give an overview on
- the R&D work in the construction sector as dynamic participative design process,
- on the specific design issues that require mediating between work-related challenges and mobile learning and
- on the challenges regarding ‘scaling up’ of innovations.
The first paper – authored by me together with Ludger Deitmer and Lars Heinemann – had the title “The Role of Accompanying Research and Participative Design in the Learning Layers Project”. Our key messages can be summarised in the following way:
1. Key message: Initial shaping of the project concept of Learning Layers: In the initial phase the key achievement of the consortium was to overcome one-sided technology-push approaches and simplistic assumptions on the adaptability of web tools and software solutions that seemed context-relevant. The interim conclusion for the whole project was to launch participative design processes with relatively open innovation agendas and to allow several iterations. The interim conclusion for the ITB team was to support the interaction of different parties and to facilitate their search for specific solutions.
2. Key message: Building on prior accompanying research in innovation programmes: When looking back to prior experiences with accompanying research, the ITB has built upon the work in the networked innovation programmes (Work and Technology, New learning Concepts) in which the coordination units supported knowledge sharing across the projects and the outreach activities. The interim conclusion for the ITB team was to look for opportunities to engage professional organisations and networks on the participative design process and to promote targeted outreach activities.
3. Key message: Adjusting the documentary and interpretative contributions to the process dynamics of participative design: During the design process (with manifold workshops) the ITB team has been responsible for the real-time documentation of the events and subsequent interpretation of the steps taken. In this way the research team has provided a basis for joint reflection and process-awareness across different parties involved. The interim conclusion for the ITB team is that such material provides a basis for deeper conceptual interpretation of the design and transfer processes.
4. Key message: Adjusting research interventions to further development of design and transfer processes: In general, accompanying research is being legitimated as evaluation measure. Yet, in the light of the dynamics of the design process – and taking into account the goals for scaling up innovations – it has been appropriate to delay the evaluation measures.The interim conclusion for the ITB team is that the evaluation activities need to grasp the initial pilot contexts, the potential transfer contexts and the role of multipliers and peer tutoring and/or peer learning.
The second paper – authored by me and Joanna Burchert – had the title “Work Process Knowledge meets Mobile Learning – Insights into conceptual backgrounds and sectoral challenges within a participative design process”. In this paper we focused on the legacy of the Work Process Knowledge network (see also my contribution to the VETNET opening colloquium) and the newer insights into mobile learning technologies. The recapitulation on the theme “work process knowledge” drew attention on the (informal) learning gains in organisational innovations. As a contrast, the newer discussion on mobile learning tends to be overshadowed by technology-push approaches and there are fewer insights into work contexts – and they tend to address motivational aspects. Here, we drew attention to the feedback we had got from apprentices and from company representatives at different phases of the participative design processes. As a conclusion, we pointed out to the need to analyse more the risks and conflicting interests that are at stake when introducing the LL tools into work organisations. Here, we saw the analogy to the case studies of the Work Process Knowledge network.
The third paper – authored by Gilbert Peffer and Tor-Arne Bellika – had the title “Designing and organising for scale – Experiences from a large-scale TEL project”. This paper provided a wider overview on the whole LL project in its full complexity and addressed different aspects of scaling that we can take up. It explored some threads in the literature and some paths easily available for the LL pilots.Then it started working with a conceptual (synthesis) model that covers different organisational levels and brings into picture our outreach activities (including the work with managed clusters outside the pilot regions). Based on this introduction the paper looked closer at the design processes with Learning Toolbox as a progress from disconnected insular pilot to an open and expansive innovation agenda. In a similar way the paper outlined the work with cluster organisations.
I think this is enough of our input to the symposium. I will get back to the discussion in a later posting.
More blogs to come …