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Preparing for the LL Design Conference – Part 1: Comparing Y1 and Y3

March 5th, 2015 by Pekka Kamarainen

As i have indicated earlier, the Learning Layers (LL) project is preparing itself for the Design Conference of the Year 3. This time the venue is the main Campus of the Aalto University in Espoo, next to Helsinki. This gives a chance to compare our current situation in the project with the one two years ago, when we had the Year 1 Design Conference in the Arabia Campus of the Aalto University in Helsinki. Here some thoughts of the changes between the early days and the current phase of our project.

1. What has happened in the fieldwork?

When preparing ourselves for the Y1 Design Conference we were in a very initial stage with our fieldwork, Speaking for our part – the work with the Construction sector in North Germany – we had only manged to complete in a rapid tempo the first round of stakeholder interviews and draft initial User Stories in Bau-ABC, in the Agentur and in some craft trade companies. Based on this, we organised the Application Partner Day visits in Bau-ABC and in Agentur to see the huge training area of the training centre and to see the construction site of the merging exhibition building. Altogether, we could at best destill some design issues but we were not sure, to what directions the project could move.

Now, two years later, we see that we worked out the ways forward to participative design processes, to progressive tool development and to promising pilot concepts. In the construction sector this has required several iterations and modifications of the initial design ideas but we have kept the processes going on. In Bau-ABC we have had several series of co-design workshops, capacity building workshops and stakeholder engagement events that have brought us forward. With Agentur we have had somewhat different process dynamic but nevertheless the impulses we have got from different encounters and partcipative events have pushed our tool development further as well.

2. How have we found the way to design ideas?

Looking back, we did not necessarily anticipate in the Y1 Design Conference workshops that the four parallel round tables would produce The Design Ideas and The Design Teams for the next one year plus perhaps longer. At that point we just seemed to be working with some exemplary needs raised by our application partners and tried to look for design processes that could respond to them. The dynamic of the event nevertheless gave the results of these parallel group processes a higher status than we may have expected. Moreover, when we started giving catchy names for the Design Ideas and creating a collective identity for the teams to continue, we had shaped the project in a new way.

So, we came out of Y1 Design Conference regrouped into four parallel Design Teams with more or less sectoral focus and perspective to tool development for particular needs:

  • “Sharing Turbine” based on the idea of digitising the instruction and learning materials of Bau-ABC (“the White Folder“) into digital learning resource to be shared and used across learning venues (training centre, company and vocational school);
  • “Captus” based on the idea to support the “Learning exhibition” of the Agentur for ecological construction work with the help of tools that capture knowledge and support experience-based learning in informal contexts;
  • “Pandora” based on the idea to work with local and regional interpretation of healthcare sector guidelines and support reflection on training contents and mutual advice in problem cases;
  • “Bits and Pieces” based on the idea to support real-time documentation and archiving of episodes and instances of learning, sensemaking on these elements and rearranging the them for further reflection (based on the original example of medical doctors archiving paper notes into cardboard boxes for further reflection).

Now, coming back to the current situation, we have clearly come out of these rather particularistic groupings and moved towards more scalable sets of tools and implementation scenarios.

3. How have we proceeded with co-design, tool development and piloting?

Here it is possible to give only rough outlines of the dynamic, iterative and reorienting processes that had led to the current sets of tools, frameworks and services with which we are working. In a nutshell they can be characterised in the following ways:

  • The design process that was started as digitisation of instruction and learning materials (the White Folder) got transformed into shaping of a framework (“the Learning Toolbox”) to manage mobile apps and tools for working and learning processes. Parallel to this the Multimedia Training helped the trainers to create domain-specific blogs for delivering instruction materials and learning resources. These are hosted by the common platform “”.
  • The design process that was started as specific support for the forthcoming exhibition turned into more general piloting with video annotation tools and augmented reality. For some of these pilots alternative fields and counterparts were found from other contexts.
  • The initial design idea of “Pandora” was differentiated into development of parallel tools, apps and services (“Living Documents”, “Reflect App”, “Help Seeking”). Whilst these were firstly, developed and piloted in different contexts in the same pilot region, the current work is bringing them closer to each other.
  • The work with “Bits and Pieces” has focused on different aspects and phases of the collection, sensemaking and reinterpretation processes with particular tools and software solutions . The current phase is looking for integrative approach (with links to other LL tools).

I leave my comparisons here. I may have given a somewhat idealised picture of the more complex and ‘messy’ process in which we have been working our ways forward. Yet, I believe that this picture helps to see from where we are coming and via what kind of efforts. Now we are gathering to take further steps ahead.

More blogs to come …

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