Archive for the ‘workinglearning’ Category

Learning Layers videos from Bau-ABC presented for a Norwegian audience

October 17th, 2014 by Pekka Kamarainen

Day before yesterday I published on YouTube  a set of Learning Layers (LL) videos (with English subtitles) from Bau-ABC . Here the link to the YouTube channel via which they were published:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCNsA37YN2C4HZEwN10HqPOw

Today these videos had their premiere in front of a qualified audience from Norway. A delegation from the Norwegian college Fagskolen Innlandet (Rector, Vice-rector and ca. 50 lecturers) had visited enterprises in Bremen during two days. On their final day they had a special session with ITB, with focus on Learning Layers. Given their tight schedule, I was alone presenting the project and its recent achievements (in Norwegian).

After having given a brief introduction to ITB (as an institute), to its international projects and to the Learning Layers (as a project) we focused primarily on the Learning Toolbox. Here, the most effective way to communicate was to show the short videos from Bau-ABC. We had a look at the apprentices’ projects (Video 3), work situations on construction sites (Video 4), clips that highlight Health and Safety issues (Video 5), special demands arising from storage of tools (Video 7) and the results of Multimedia training in Bau-ABC (Video 1). Altogether, this session with short videos gave the visitors a lively picture on, what is happening in the LL project and how our application partner Bau-ABC is working with us.

After this presentation we had an interesting discussion. The rector drew my attention to the fact that the Fagskole is a two-year long college that provides higher vocational qualifications for professional who have gone through initial vocational education and have gained work experience. Fagskolen Innlandet caters for a wide range of occupational fields, including construction, industrial maintenance, automation etc. – but as well business administration and healthcare. In addition, a large proportion of the students is participating as part-time students using e-learning provisions. (Partly their training is comparable with the professional upgrading programs of Bau-ABC, partly with that of some German Universities of Applied Sciences.)

In the discussion I had to answer to several well-targeted and well-formulated questions:

Firstly, some of the lecturers were interested on the pedagogic implications of introducing the Learning Toolbox (LTB). Here, I referred to the conceptual background of the Bau-ABC White Folder in the culture of action-oriented and self-organised learning (Handlungsorientiertes Lernen). I told them of several workshop sessions and on the trainers’ discussion in the Video 2. In these discussions trainers have stressed the LTB as support for self-organised learning and professional problem-solving.

Secondly, some of the lecturers were interested on the organisational consequences of introducing the LTB. Here I could refer to the issues our Bau-ABC colleagues have raised on their access to Internet from working areas, to the availability of mobile devices and to the technical support for wider range of internet users. The Bau-ABC colleagues have addressed this in their concept to install a “Living Lab” unit, based on a mobile container with specific Internet access and support arrangements. At the level of craft trade companies there are also similar issues with which our partners are working.

Thirdly, some of the lecturers were interested in issues on industrial culture (steep or flat hierarchy) and on communication with contents that are manageable for craftsmen. Here again, I could refer to examples of our partner companies and to their initiatives to get the filtering and reduction right when making contents available online. Also, I could give encouraging examples of participative development and design work.

Altogether, the presentation was well received and the Norwegian colleagues were clearly interested in our work. So far they had not been strongly involved in European cooperation but there might be a chance to further cooperation with spin-off ideas arising from the work of the Learning Layers project.

PS. Just when I had returned to ITB, I had a chance to give another demonstration session to our visitor, Prof. Jürgen Radel who had been formerly working as an international HRD manager in a Bremen-based logistics company but is now working as professor in a University for Applied Sciences in Berlin. He was also interested to see, what we are achieving in our project and was very impressed of the LTB and on the trainers’ blogs (as outcome of the Multimedia Training). In return he gave a demonstration on his online learning materials (including videos) on Moodle. We agreed to exchange information our progress.

I guess this is enough to show that the work with the Learning Layers videos has been worthwhile. I am looking forward to next opportunities for such exchanges.

More blogs to come …

Further thoughts on the short videos from Bau-ABC for the Learning Layers project

October 16th, 2014 by Pekka Kamarainen

Yesterday I published on YouTube seven short videos (with English subtitles)  that were filmed in Bau-ABC to demonstrate the achievements of the Learning Layers (LL) project. Here the link to the YouTube channel via which they were published:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCNsA37YN2C4HZEwN10HqPOw

During the final editing phase I had plenty of time to think about the importance of this material for the LL project. Therefore, I would like to share these thoughts with this blog post. I have already given an overview on the content of these videos in my previous post. Therefore, I prefer to go directly to the points that I want to highlight when looking at the whole set of these videos as testimonies of our partners in Bau-ABC on the achievements and prospects of the work of the LL project in their working environment:

1. The Multimedia Training has impact

Already the first video demonstrates that the Multimedia Training has had real impact. The most obvious example is the Carpernters’ blog – Zimmererblog. With this blog trainer Markus Pape has organised the whole range of initial training projects (from year 1 to year 3)  in his trade. He has also attracted international interest and the number of hits (now over 4700) is highly respectable. But it is equally important that similar initiatives (with blogs or with separate web pages) have been launched in other trades as well and that the feedback from apprentices – who have been able to use their smartphones to access the material – has been positive.

2. The Learning Toolbox (LTB) can be used to support both learning and occupational work

The third video explores the use of the Learning Toolbox (LTB) in an apprentice’s project, whilst the sixth video documents instruction on a specific workplace (and discusses the use of LTB).  The fourth video demonstrates uses of LTB in different working situations. The fifth video highlights the role of LTB in creating awareness for Health and Safety issue – both in the training workshop and in real work situations.

Altogether, these videos demonstrate multiple uses of the LTB for different purposes. Thus, Learning Toolbox is not merely a toolbox to support the training in Bau-ABC (in a local context) but a toolbox to support working and learning in construction sector occupations.

3. The trainers and apprentices are engaged in developing and commenting the Learning Toolbox

In the second video four trainers make comments on the importance of the LTB. In particular they highlight the role of LTB in supporting self-organised learning. Also, they draw attention to the possibilities to make the obligatory documents more interesting to the apprentices (by allowing them to add photos, cartoons or videos). The trainers are clearly willing to enter the next phase – to introduce a functioning LTB in selected apprentices’ projects – as we can see from the “Bonus Track” part of the video.

The third video shows a dialogue between Melanie Campbell and apprentice Martin on the uses of LTB in training. We have several remarks from him. In his final remark (not included into the short video) he expresses the wish to have LTB to use during the preparation for final examinations.

In the seventh video we have a particular working context – the storage of chains for construction vehicles. Here the trainer shows a particular possibility to use the LTB for identifying different chains. Here, new technologies (scanning the RFID chips) linked to LTB could help to track their technical data, safety features and maintenance data. This, however would require further steps in the development.

4. This all is based on previous work with the “Sharing Turbine” and brings the design idea further

Altogether, it is important to note that the initial design idea “Sharing Turbine” has not got lost. Instead, the progress with the trainers’ blogs shows that the info sheets and worksheets for apprentices’ project can be delivered via web. Also the examples on using LTB in different situations show that the apprentices can integrate digital media, web tools and mobile technologies to their work. Furthermore, the work with instruction videos (“Tricks of the trade”) arises from the phase of “Rapid Turbine” and has been carried on to work with Learning Toolbox.

5. This all is work for wider range of users to join in during the next phase of piloting

What has been delighting, is the fact that the colleagues in Bau-ABC have not kept the project and the benefits to themselves but are looking for wider outreach and wider engagement of their partners. This has been apparent during the trade fairs (Brunnenbauertage, NordBau – see my earlier blogs). We have also made progress with our contacts with craft trade companies and our counterparts have also shown interest to engage their partners into discussion on Learning Toolbox (e.g. the company K) or drawn our attention to the potential of LTB to support mobility of apprentices and trainees from other European countries (e.g. the company W). And finally, our work with managed clusters brings into picture a wider circle of users (as the recent messages from Gilbert Peffer demonstrate).

I think this is enough of my further thoughts. We have got something important moving and together we can keep things moving.

More blogs to come …

Seven short videos from Bau-ABC for Learning Layers project available on YouTube

October 15th, 2014 by Pekka Kamarainen

With a series of earlier posts I tried to make transparent, what kind of messages were to be found from the long video (in German) produced for the Learning Layers (LL) project by our colleagues in Bau-ABC: http://youtu.be/Z2JoZSn4PyY

Now, with the help of the friendly advice from Graham and supported by the quality check of Werner I have edited the rich material into seven short videos with English subtitles. Below, I give a brief overview and the links:

First video: LL Multimedia Training and Impact

In this video Bau-ABC trainer Markus Pape presents his Zimmererblog (the Carpenters’ blog) as a results of the Learning Layers’ Multimedia Training. Then, the parallel efforts to create blogs or web pages are discussed by two other Bau-ABC trainers from different trades – Kevin Kuck (Bricklayers) and Lothar Schoka (Well-builders).

 Second video: LTB Development and Implementation

In this video four Bau-ABC trainers discuss the development and implementation of the Learning Toolbox (LTB). They consider the support for self-organised learning, the benefits for apprentices. In particular they emphasise the necessity to get feedback from apprentices who have used the LTB in real work situations. They also stress their willingness to start using the LTB in selected projects. In the Bonus Track Lothar Schoka sends special greetings to the developers of the LTB.

 Third video: LTB for Apprentices’ Project

In this video Bau-ABC apprentice Martin demonstrates how a typical training project is carried out with the support of instruction sheets and worksheets from the White Folder of Bau-ABC. Then he discusses with project manager Melanie Campbell (Bau-ABC), how LTB can be used as support in different phases of the project.

Fourth video: LTB for construction work 

In this video Bau-ABC apprentice Arnold shows how he can use the LTB to support him in managing the heavy excavator that he is driving. In the second part  of the video Markus Pape demonstrates how  LTB can be used by a group of apprentices who are building the scaffolding for a construction site.

Fifth video: LTB for Health and Safety

In this video apprentice Martin discusses with Melanie Campbell, how the LTB can be used to raise awareness of Health and Safety issues in the training workshops while working with training projects. In the second part of the video the apprentices who are building the scaffolding demonstrate their safety gear. Then Melanie Campbell and Markus Pape discuss how to place the specific Health and Safety information into LTB.

Sixth video: LTB for instruction at workplace 

In this video Bau-ABC trainer Stefan Wiedenstried instructs apprentice Tim in measuring and preparing the slope in road-building – a trick of trade for lifetime as he calls it. Then he discusses with Melanie Campbell how such instruction videos should be placed in the LTB. At the end we see a glimpse of an older instruction video.

Seventh video: LTB for storage of tools

In this video Bau-ABC trainer Rainer Schütte shows how LTB can be used by training centres and companies as support for the storage of tools. He makes a request for a special app that could read the technical data and the safety features from the RFID chips. In the other part of the video apprentice Martin and Melanie Campbell look how the search for materials works with QR-scanner.

This is the overview of the short videos extracted from the rich material filmed by our Bau-ABC colleagues Melanie Campbell and Kerstin Engraf (who also did the original editing). With these clips we want to demonstrate how many uses our partners see for the emerging Learning Toolbox – both in training and in work situations. Also, we see how the Multimedia Training and peer tutoring have equipped the trainers to work independently as creators of web-based learning resources for their trade. Altogether, we think that these testimonies from Bau-ABC convey a clear message that they have got something moving with the use of digital media, web tools and workplace learning.

PS. I was assuming that I was publishing on the Learning Layers YouTube channel but it appeared that I was using my own YouTube channel.

More blogs to come …

Thoughts on the Day of German Unity – Part 2: My memories of my visits 1989-1990

October 3rd, 2014 by Pekka Kamarainen

In my previous blog I started writing out  memories on the process that led to Germanunification in the years 1989-1990. This is my contribution – as a Finnish expatriat working in Germany – to the celebration of the national holiday – the Day of German Unity. But, as I mentioned in my previous blog, these events have a more personal meaning than news from foreign countries. It so happened that during the turbulent October-November days 1989 I was on a a five weeks’ study visit in Germany. And in the beginning of October 1990 I was again in Germany as a participant of a conference that was organised during the days of the unification. In the previous blog I have tried to reconstruct the chain of main events. Now I try to refresh my memories on how I observed the events when travelling round Germany in 1989 or witnessing the day of unification in the middle of a German conference.

1. Memories of the period October-November 1989

I had planned a five weeks’ tour starting from North Germany (Bremen, Hamburg), then continuing via Kassel and Göttingen to the Ruhr area (Dortmund, Düsseldorf), then having a stop in Bonn, making quick  visits to Karlsruhe and Frankfurt, then spending a Week in München (Munich if you insist) and then spending the last week in Berlin. My aim was to get to know the main research institutes in the field of vocational education and training (VET), industrial sociology (social shaping of work and technology) and educational policy research (with emphasis on VET). From this perspective the trip was successful – I got a lot of fresh insights and made several good contacts. In particular, my long-term cooperation with Institut Technik & Bildung (ITB) started from that visit. But in this blog I do not wish to go to those aspects of my study visit. Instead, I try to reconstruct how I experiences the turbulent times in the German-German history while travelling in Germany when great changes were on the way to happen.

During the first weeks in North Germany the most striking news were the arrival of the masses of refugees that were evacuated from the embassies where they had been camping. It was striking, how great their expectations were on their personal future, now that they had managed to escape and start a new life. However, they had to adjust themselves to rather inconvenient temporary accommodation before they could get settled. Also, getting used to market economy with consumer goods richly available – but with market prices – was not easy for all. People told stories of young men who had just got their first jobs and immediately tried to order top class BMWs.

During the next weeks’ travels from Kassel to the Ruhr area and to Bonn the news focused more on the mass demonstrations in different cities of the German Democratic Republic (DDR). Also, we started to get insights into the difficulties caused to the DDR economy and society by the mass exodus of people to the west. Key functionaries and key professionals had left their posts and fled away – the organisations were struggling to cope with less people available. In particular in the healthcare sector this started to be a problem. At the same time the ones who continued with protests became more determined.

During the visits from Bonn to Karlsruhe and Frankfurt I heard the first news on changes in the leadership of DDR. The top man in the leadership, president and party leader Erich Honecker had stepped down. Yet, it was not clear, whether this would be just a minor face lift with some of the oldest representatives of the ancien regime stepping aside, whilst younger technocrats would try to save the regime.

During the week in München the uncertainty of the future course was still there. There were new waves of refugees via embassies. The demonstrations were continued with growing number of participants. And some other key persons in the leadership of DDR stepped down. Yet -what was to be expected. My host organisation, the sociological research institute ISF had planned a comparative project on industrial relations and working conditions in several countries and they had invited a promising young researcher from DDR to join in the consortium. She was also invited to give a speech on this topic in an event of the Civic Academy of München. Her speech was received well and the discussion started exploring other issues of public interest. When asked directly of her opinion on the recent events, the speaker shocked her audience by stating that she will not return to DDR. She had no confidence that the things would turn better.

During the week in Berlin I got the chance to understand what it means to live in a divided city and in an insular city that has been surrounded by walls. Indeed, the Berlin wall was there and you had to climb to the terraces on the western side to see the Brandenburg gate and the sites in the East. The protests kept going on and the West-Berliners were getting sure that the regime in the East is losing control. A taxi-driver’s comment was symptomatic: “They have mismanaged their economy and the political leaders have no control. If they get a chance for free election, they will vote for unification.” At that time many key persons in the protest movement were still hoping to find an alternative course for their DDR – not to push through a unification with the superpower in the west.

Few days after my return to Finland the ancien regime lost the control irreversibly, the wall was opened, the offices of the secret service were abandoned and the demonstrators caught the last agents that were trying to delete documents. And the big wheels started rolling towards the unification.

 2. Memories of the conference trip to Magdeburg in October 1990

Almost one year later I had a chance to visit Germany again. I had a chance to participate in the German umbrella conference on pedagogics of vocational education and training (Hochschultage Berufliche Bildung). Originally this conference was supposed to take place in a West-German university. However, the designed host organisation had to give up the plan. Therefore, the national organising committee made an arrangement with the University of Technology in Magdeburg to organise a West-German conference in DDR. This was understood as a a friendly gesture to support the gradual coming together between the two German states after the wall had been opened.

However, real life was much faster than anyone had anticipated. The process of gradual coming together turned into rapid unification. To the great surprise of the organisers they had to cope with the decision that the final day of the conference would be the day of unification – and a new national holiday for the unified republic. The organisers decided that they will celebrate unification by continuing the conference as had been planned.

When I arrived in Magdeburg I realised that the conference was heavily overshadowed by the forthcoming unification. The mode of unification was to join the DDR area as new federal states into the Federal Republic of Germany (BRD). In this way the Federal legislation will come into force in the new states. This caused a lot of anxieties among the people who had to cope witt legal and organisational rearrangements. These discussions overshadowed many of the sessions. The East-German participants tried to highlight what they felt was appropriate in their system of VET. The West-German participants tried to show solidarity and understanding. They also were pleading for flexibility and creativity in the the process of systemic transitions in the field of VET.

Due to the timing of the conference it got some attention from top-level policy-makers. The last Minister of Education and the last Secretary of State of DDR were attended the conference and completed their missions in these positions. The Federal Minister of Education of BRD had promised to attend during the opening panel discussion. He arrived – just in time – and gave a speech with which he indicated, who is the new master in the house and whose rules count from now on. Then, contrary to his promise, he apologised that he had to leave at once because of an important appointment in his West-German home town. So, he missed the speeches of the Minister and Secretary of State of DDR (who gave their last speeches in these positions).

On the way back from the conference I and the other Finnish delegate experienced a complete traffic chaos in Berlin. We were supposed to have plenty of time from the railway station Berlin Schöneweide to the airport Berlin Tegel. But the streets were full of people who wanted to get to the City centre to witness the special session of the parliament in the Reichstag building and/or the nearby events. Also, when we finally got to the airport, the plane was kept waiting because the Members of Parliament kept coming on charter planes to attend the session. Finally, we got a permission to fly away (but we missed our connecting flight and got an extra dinner in Hamburg, courtesy to flight company). In the meantime the prominents had their celebrations in Berlin. The picture that was taken on that evening was symptomatic – we see the Mayor of West Berlin, Mr Momper, the old Chancellor Willy Brandt, the Foreign Minister Genscher, the Chancellor Kohl, his wife Ms Kohl, the Federal president Mr v. Weiszäcker waiving their hands – and just fitting to the picture the last Prime Minister of DDR, Mr de Maizière. The new era had been started.

I guess this is enough with these memories. I have had to witness important events from close vicinity. Little of this could be understood immediately on the spot. The big picture could only be reconstructed afterwards. It is time to end these stories now that the Day of German Unity is turning into evening.

The story of the day is told. More blogs to come on working issues …

Thoughts on the Day of German Unity – Part 1: The chain of events 1989-1990

October 3rd, 2014 by Pekka Kamarainen

Today Germany is celebrating the Day of German Unity (Tag der Deutschen Einheit). As we are having a day off from work, I found it appropriate to refresh my memories on the historical events in the years 1989-1990. In the first blog I try to summarise the chain of events that led to the end of the division of Germany into two states and to the rapid unification. To me this national holiday also brings back memories of me first two visits to Germany that coincided with these remarkable days in the German history. Therefore, in the second blog I have a look at my own journeys in Germany and try to memorise, what I could observe at that time. (And since I was both times travelling on working missions, I feel that it is appropriate to post these under the heading “Working & Learning”.)

 1. DDR 40 years – the unpopular regime and its unpopular anniversary

The first thing that comes back to my mind was the preparation for the 40th anniversary of the German Democratic Republic (DDR). The old regime wanted to have a celebration that goes “by the book” – as it has been scripted and without anything that scratches the image. Yet, the atmosphere was getting bad, the economic circumstances  did not confirm the optimistic picture given by the official statistics. And, furthermore, the dissatisfaction of ordinary people becomes manifest in many ways. Finally, the celebrations take place with all the military parades and processions of the youth organisations. BUT, the youngsters do not celebrate the old guard of the regime – the praise the guest of honour: the reform communist Mikhail Gorbatshov. And he had a message to his hosts: “Those who come too late (to carry out necessary reforms) will be punished by real life.(“Wer zu spät kommt, den bestraft das Leben!”)

2. The refugees vote with their feet

The most striking news of the autumn were the stories of people escaping DDR in masses. First Hungary had opened its borders to Austria and a great number of citizens of DDR had used that route to West. When the old regime tried to prevent people travelling to Hungary, the new waves of refugees took the course Prag and Warsaw and climbed over the fences to the embassies of the Federal Republic of Germany (BRD). The situation was inconvenient since the number of these refugees grew, the circumstances in those ‘refugee camps’ on embassy grounds became unbearable and the diplomatic tensions grew. Finally, a compromise was found to send these refugees to West-Germany via East-German territory with special trains. The West-German foreign Minister Genscher came to the balcony of the West-German embassy in Prag to announce this: Ich bin hier angekommen um Ihnen mitzuteilen, dass morgen Ihre Ausreise …” (He never had the chance to finish his sentence once he had spoken out the German word for permission  to travel out. The cry of joy from masses gathered on the embassy grounds was tremendous.

3. The citizens’ protests grow into peaceful revolution

But not all dissatisfied people were ready to leave their home country – as they still felt like that for the GDR. New forms of citizens’ protest and opposition had grown up. Already during the municipal elections there had been activists networks that had managed to monitor the count of the votes and to reveal the manipulation of the results. In a similar way the Monday demonstrations started to demand that the state should respect the civil rights that had been written into the constitution. When the demonstrations started to grow bigger, the participants felt empowered and made clear their commitment to their claims: Wir sind das Volk! Wir bleiben hier!.”

During the 40th anniversary the secret service (Stasi) and the police tried to get an upper hand by using violence, but it was already too late. Soon the demonstrations became integral parts of the daily life and the old regime had to find other answers. All of a sudden, when the peaceful demonstrations had grown over any expectations, there was no authority to order violent measures when the demonstrations shouted: “Keine Gewalt!”

4. Collapse of the old regime and the final concessions

It had already become clear that the days of the old regime were numbered. The country was experiencing an economic  collaps that was aggravated by the masses escaping to West. The government had lost its legitimacy and couldn’t keep itself in power. As its final efforts the old regime tried to survive with the help of facelifts and concessions. Firstly, the most prominent representatives of the old guard were forced to step down and their ‘crown princes’ were brought into the lead. Secondly, some major concessions were announced. The most important was the reform of the laws on travelling abroad. Shortly after the changes in the leadership, the Central Committee of the ruling party had a meeting in which the new law had been outlined – which would enable free travelling to West Germany for the citizens of DDR. A rapid press conference was announced and the  party official authorised for making such announcements was called to chair it. He had rushed from another meeting and had just got a short briefing note. In the press conference he was asked, when this reform will come into force. He had to guess and he assumed that it will come into force immediately, without any delay: “Nach meiner Kenntnis ab sofort, unverzüglich!” Again, this was a statement that turned out to be historical.

5. Tor auf! Tor auf! – Mauerfall!

The news of this press conference and of the statement of the authorised official spread throughout the country. All over the country and in particular in Berlin the border controll checkpoints were surrounded by exited people who demanded the right to visit the West. The border control officials had no information and no instructions. And – what was even worse – they did not find their superiors or the supreme authorities to give them guidance. There was no one left to answer, what to do with crowds who demand them more and more impatiently to open the gate: Tor auf! Tor auf!

The original plan of the old regime was to let people travel out freely but to stamp their DDR passport with a stamp that declares their passports invalid. Freedom to go, but not to return back. However, no one had thought that the events would take such course as they did. After few people had been fet go via border control with their passports stamped invalid from now on, there was no way to control the masses. The gates were opened and the masses were free to visit the West. West-Berlin got crowded by huge masses from the East – using public transport or driving their Trabant cars – the Trabis. And the West-Berliners join the celebrations – from both sides of the wall, people climb up on the wall to dance and celebrate – in the very places that had been the symbol of the divide. It was the collapse of the Berlin wall – Mauerfall.

 6. Big wheels start rolling – towards the German unification

After these events there was no coming back to ‘normal business’ any more. The old party structure, the secret service and the government apparatus had all lost their legitimacy. The hardliners of the old regime were moved away, whilst the realists sought dialogue with the opposition to enable the political transformation. New elections for the parliament were arranged under new legislation that brought new parties into picture. The new parliament and the new government took the course towards unification – firstly the currency reform brought the D-Mark into DDR. Then , the political processes were preparing for the unification of the two states by integrating the DDR region as new federal states to the Federal Republic of Germany.

Bigger wheels were of course rolling at the international level. The allies of West Germany had to convinced that the unification will happen and they have to accept the growth of weight of Germany in the EC and in the NATO. Also, after the collapse of the eastern military and economic block – there were concessions to be made to the Soviet Union. The retreat of the Soviet troops from DDR had to be rewarded. Altogether, the way to unification was paved by the treaty of the old allies of the World War II who gave up their role as patrons of the post-war Germany.

7. The Day of German Unification

When all the preparatory measures had been taken, the date for the unification was set. It was a matter of importance for the citizens of DDR that the unification will take place before the 41st anniversary of DDR. They didn’t want to witness any more anniversary of the division of Germany into two states. Thus, the unification took place on the 3rd of October 1990. And the parliament of the unified Germany celebrated this event in a special session in Berlin in the traditional Reichstag building – there, where the dividing wall had been torn down and no more signs of division were to be left visible.

The unification was celebrated but the return to new normality was not an easy ride. However, now that 25 or 24 years have passed of those days it is easier to look at what all has been achieved. Yet, the Germans do not forget that easily the memories of the divide, of the revolutionary transition and of the hard years of growing together. These are the issues that come up when the Day of Unification is celebrated – now the 25th time.

The story will be continued …

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    Separate figures that only look at the number of people who are employed on “atypical” academic contracts (such as people working on projects) show that 23 per cent of them, or just over 16,000, had a zero-hours contract.


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    Interesting research on student centered learning and student buy in, as picked up by an article in Inside Higher Ed. A new study published in PLOS ONE, called “Knowing Is Half the Battle: Assessments of Both Student Perception and Performance Are Necessary to Successfully Evaluate Curricular Transformation finds that student resistance to curriculum innovation decreases over time as it becomes the institutional norm, and that students increasingly link active learning to their learning gains over time


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    Research published this year by Vitae and the Institute for Employment Studies (IES) and reported by the Guardian highlights the pressure on post graduate students.

    “They might suffer anxiety about whether they deserve their place at university,” says Sally Wilson, who led IES’s contribution to the research. “Postgraduates can feel as though they are in a vacuum. They don’t know how to structure their time. Many felt they didn’t get support from their supervisor.”

    Taught students tend to fare better than researchers – they enjoy more structure and contact, says Sian Duffin, student support manager at Arden University. But she believes anxiety is on the rise. “The pressure to gain distinction grades is immense,” she says. “Fear of failure can lead to perfectionism, anxiety and depression.”


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    Roughly half (51%) of 13 to 17 year olds say they use Facebook, notably lower than the shares who use YouTube, Instagram or Snapchat.

    The survey also finds there is no clear consensus among teens about the effect that social media has on the lives of young people today. Minorities of teens describe that effect as mostly positive (31%) or mostly negative (24%), but the largest share (45%) says that effect has been neither positive nor negative.


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