Archive for the ‘workinglearning’ Category

Learning Layers – Review meeting gave a push to Year 3

December 12th, 2014 by Pekka Kamarainen

This week we had the Year 2 Review Meeting of the Learning Layers (LL) project in Luxembourg. As usual in the European Union FP7 projects, we had our preparation days and then presented our work for the reviewers.

Whilst the Y1 review presented one work package after another, we had this time a more integrative approach. Our presentations had been structured as contributions to three integrative themes:

a) Theoretical integration (or theoretical approaches working together);

b) Integration via sustainability scenarios (covering the pilot sectors Healthcare and Construction and the complementary work with Managed Clusters);

c) Technical integration (which covered integrative work via architectures, tools, services, development processes and the role of Social Semantic Server).

From the ITB perspective we were happy to present a report that drew attention to the empowerment of our application partners via joint development of Learning Toolbox, joint multimedia training and joint outreach activities. We were even more happy to show that our partners in Bau-ABC Rostrup are taking the ideas further with their own initiatives. Concerning the tools, we were happy to see the most recent progress with the Learning Toolbox. Also, we were happy to use the videos from Bau-ABC and to show the trainers blogs that are now accessible via the platform baubildung.net. If we were asked to show that something is moving in our field of application, we could show a lot.

On the whole the reviewers were happy to observe a lot of progress and the project working better together. Also, the questions that they had raised last year had been responded in an appropriate way. Yet, they had some concerns regarding project coherence. Partly this was raised at the level of theories and concepts. Partly this was raised at the level of tools and software solutions. The consortium was challenged to prepare a critical path analysis in order to highlight its core activities. Parallel to this the project was challenged consider, what is the relevance of the activities that are not included into the core activities. In this way the project was got an extra push for the the year 3 activities.

At the moment we are digesting the messages that we delivered and the feedback we got. For me personally this is the end of the working year 2014. I wish all a happy Christmas time and a good slide to the New Year .

More blogs to come in 2015 …

Layers and cluster visitors: What did we learn in Bau-ABC today (Part 2)

December 5th, 2014 by Pekka Kamarainen

In my latest post I firstly told, why the fieldwork of the Learning Layers (LL) project has had less visibility in the recent weeks. Our reporting duties and some backstage work with the tools have filled the agendas. Therefore, a new round of pilot workshops had to postponed to the beginning of next year. In this respect we were happy to make a field visit to Bau-ABC with our visitors from the Norwegian cluster organisation Tretorget. In my first post on our visit I gave a brief report on our cluster talks with the visitors. In this post I will report on our talks with apprentices and trainers in Bau-ABC.

 Talks with apprentices

Since our Norwegian visitors represented a cluster in wood industry, our primary target was the workshop and the training area of carpenters. When approaching the area, I recognised some of the apprentices as ones who had participated in June in the Demo Camp event in Bau-ABC. They also recognised us and greeted us as old acquaintances – and wanted to know, how the project is going on. Therefore, I started talking with apprentice Ahmed (born in Germany but with family roots in Libanon and Syria). In particular I was interested to find out, how he and his fellow apprentices perceived the blog of their trainer Markus Pape, the Zimmererblog. (See also my previous posts on the trainers’ blogs and on the video presenting the blogs.)

Ahmed made the following remarks:

1) The very fact that their trainer has made all instruction materials for apprentices’ projects available via his blog is very much appreciated. The apprentices feel that they get access to relevant contents via their own media (smartphones, tablets or laptops).

2) The way that the blog has structured the materials of different years of training gives a better overview and the apprentices can relate different contents to phases of training.

3) The fact that they have such a learning resource from the training centre makes it easier to tackle with the learning contents provided by the vocational school. (In general apprentices have been less motivated in school-based learning.)

4) The problem with this web-based learning resource is that it can only be used when you have access to Internet. This is already a problem in several training areas of Bau-ABC and even more at the workplaces.

In the light of the above Ahmed and his fellow apprentices were looking forward to further progress with developing web-based learning resources. In particular they are eager to start piloting with the Learning Toolbox in their projects.

 Talks with trainers

During our visit at the carpenters’ workshop our talks with the trainer, Mr Bruns, focused on their domain. In our next station, at the well-builders, we had a quick talk with the trainer Lothar Schoka. He told us of the recent progress with the Facebook group of the well-builders (using photos and short videos). Inspired by the success of this group they are also developing their own blog (which has not yet become public but is in the pipeline).

At the end of the visit I managed to meet trainer Markus Pape and talk with him of the next phase of developing the blogs. We had reached an agreement to migrate the first pilot blogs to the BauBildung.net platform to promote synergy and mutual support. Also, via this move we want to enable feeding metadata from the blogs to Social Semantic Server and back to Learning Toolbox. This perspective is inspiring and we are looking forward to it.

Finally, I need to mention the transition that has taken place in multimedia training. Whilst we have so far been running these events as LL project workshops organised by Pontydysgu and ITB, the Bau-ABC colleagues have now continued this with their own peer tutoring and peer training activities. In this context they are now discussing the use of different web resources, the importance of Creative Commons and of Open Educational Resources. To us, the R&D partners, this is a step from the project activities towards sustaining the learning gains and new practices. And for our cooperation this gives a challenge to proceed further with the piloting and outreach activities.

More blogs to come …

Layers and cluster visitors: What did we learn in Bau-ABC today (Part 1)

December 5th, 2014 by Pekka Kamarainen

During the last few weeks quite a lot of effort in the Learning Layers (LL) project have been put to reporting and drawing conclusions from the Y2 activities. Also, a lot of effort has been put to the technical development of the tools. This might give a false impression that our fieldwork in the construction sector pilots has gone to standstill. We wouldn’t accept this interpretation. Yet, since we have not been able to organise major events, it is difficult to give a picture, what is going on  in the field. (For several practical reasons we had to postpone a new round of field workshops to the beginning of the year 2015.) From this point of view we were happy to receive visitors from the Norwegian Tretorget cluster organisation and to make a joint field visit to Bau-ABC with them. Below, in the first post I presents some observations from the cluster exchange session of our visit.

Layers meets the Norwegian cluster Tretorget

In September some partners of the Learning Layers had participated in the European Clusters’ Matchmaking Conference in Berlin. There they had organised a seminar on the project and participated in bilateral matchmaking talks with interested cluster organisations. The contact with the Norwegian cluster organisation Tretorget was made in this event. Tretorget is a regional cluster in the area of Lillehammer and it promotes innovations in wood industry and in using wood in building and construction work. As a follow-up to the Berlin conference they were making visits to other cluster regions, including the North German pilot region of Learning Layers. The major event during their stay was our working visit to Bau-ABC, during which we had talks with Melanie Campbell and visited some of the training workshops, in particular the carpenters’ workshop and the well-builders training area.

Cluster talks – insights and lessons

Much of our talks was exchange of information on each others’ organisational frameworks, regional environments and of the main activities. Although we had to spend much time to explain our different action contexts (and boundary conditions), we found quite a lot of points for mutual learning. Furthermore, we noticed that this discussion drew both parties’ attention to some issues that we or they had not considered very thoroughly before.

For us – the LL partners – it was helpful to discuss the evolution of the Tretorget cluster organisation as an iterative process with several setbacks and reorientations. Now, we could see that it has reached a stable phase – both as a cluster organisation based on wide membership and as a sustained consultancy service. For us it became clear that there is no ‘one perfect way’ to become a mature cluster or to scale up innovations. Instead, their success was very much dependent on circumstantial factors like timing, setting the right priorities for networking and pursuing the goals despite obstacles. For the visitors it was interesting to see, how consequently Bau-ABC emphasises the training of skilled workers – both in the initial training for labour market and in the continuing training for advanced professional positions. Here, the visitors made the point that their members and clients had mainly focused on higher education and continuing professional development of HE graduates.

We agreed to continue exchanges and look for opportunities to develop cooperation. At the moment it would be premature to anticipate possible next steps. Yet – the talks were inspiring and emphasised the relevance of linking clusters from third regions to exchanges with the LL pilot regions.

More blogs to come …

Dissemination of the LL fieldwork and R&D activities in construction sector

December 1st, 2014 by Pekka Kamarainen

Reecently I have written short news updates to the Learning & Working Newsletter on the Learning Layers (LL) project. I have firstly sent a short news article on the update of the LL websites for user engagement (both EN and DE language versions). Secondly I have sent a short summary on our contributions to educational research conferences. Since they give a quick snapshot what we have done recently and links to further sources, I will share this information also via this blog.

Updates on the fieldwork of the EU-project Learning Layers

The EU-funded research & development project “Learning Layers” supports the development of learning at workplace with mobile technologies, digital media and web tools. The project has recently updated its websites with articles and videos on the fieldwork in the pilot region for construction sector (North Germany). The articles describe the development of the new design idea “the Learning Toolbox” and the outreach activities in different events, e.g. the Brunnenbauertage and NordBau trade fairs and in different workshops with apprentices, trainers and companies.

The videos from the training centre Bau-ABC give a picture of trainers’ and apprentices’ involvement in the project and their views how to use the Learning Toolbox. The English versions of the articles and videos with English introductions are available here http://learning-layers.eu/construction.

The German versions of the articles and videos with German introductions are available on the restructured German website of the LL project http://learning-layers.eu/german/aktivitaten.

Learning Layers work presented in ECER’14 Porto and in the WERA focal meeting Edinburgh

The EU-funded research & development project “Learning Layers” (LL) has presented its interim results in recent educational conferences.

In the European Conference on Educational Research (ECER 2014) the LL project organised two major sessions:

  • the Research Workshop “Interactive Innovation Research in VET and Working Life: Lessons from Dutch and European Projects” and
  • the Symposium “Construction 2.0: Concepts, Challenges and Chances for Research & Development Dialogue”.

The contributions to the research workshop will be published in a joint article of Joanna Burchert (ITB), Aimée Hoeve (HAN) and Pekka Kämäräinen (ITB) by the International Journal for Research in Vocational Education and Training (IJRVET).

Following papers of the symposium will soon be available available in the ECER VETNET proceedings of the year 2014:

  • The Role of Accompanying Research and Participative Design in the Learning Layers Project” by Pekka Kämäräinen, Ludger Deitmer and Lars Heinemann (ITB) and
  • Work Process Knowledge meets Mobile Learning – Insights into Design Process of the Learning Toolbox” by Pekka Kämäräinen, Joanna Burchert (ITB) and Graham Attwell (Pontydysgu).

In the WERA Focal Meeting 2014 of the networks of the World Educational Research Association the following research paper was presented by the LL project: “Scaffolding Competence Development through Mobile Technologies“ by Ludger Deitmer and Lars Heinemann (ITB).

More blogs to come …

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    Figures from the UK Higher Education Statistics Agency show that in total almost 11,500 people – both academics and support staff – working in universities on a standard basis were on a zero-hours contract in 2017-18, out of a total staff head count of about 430,000, reports the Times Higher Education.  Zero-hours contract means the employer is not obliged to provide any minimum working hours

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    Resistance decreases over time

    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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    According to Pew Internet 95% of teenagers in the USA now report they have a smartphone or access to one. These mobile connections are in turn fueling more-persistent online activities: 45% of teens now say they are online on a near-constant basis.

    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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