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First cycle of Multimedia Training in Theme Rooms – Part 4: Interim reflections of participants

December 6th, 2015 by Pekka Kamarainen

With my three previous posts on the EU-funded Learning Layers (LL) project I have written a series of reports on the Multimedia Training of the training centre Bau-ABC with the concept “Theme Rooms”. The concept was initiated by the training staff of Bau-ABC.  In my first blog I reported on the preparations by the LL teams of Bau-ABC, ITB and Pontydysgu) . The second post focused on the work with the theme ‘Social media’. The third post focused on the theme ‘Preparing  Digital Learning Materials’. The final fourth part gives a report on the joint interim assessment event of the participants in Bau-ABC Rostrup (with video connection with the group in ABZ Mellendorf).

Here it is worthwhile to mention that this interim assessment was clearly an event of the Bau-ABC trainers to assess whether the November workshops had provided the kind of learning experience that they had outlined with the initial ‘Theme Room’ concept.  In this respect there was a clear difference to the earlier Multimedia Training initiated by the LL project partners – to support the advanced trainers as testers and multipliers of LL tools. Now the groups involved all training staff and the aim was to get all participants into a learning process that enables them to use digital media, web resources and mobile technologies as means to support vocational training and workplace learning. Here some main points on the discussion:

a) The learning experiences in the groups

On behalf of the organisers Melanie Campbell opened the event, gave an overview of the concept of Theme Rooms and on the adaptation for November workshops and on the goal-settings. Then she invited participants from different groups to give feedback. The participating Bau-ABC started with comments on their special learning experiences and with positive feedback on the learning climate in the groups.  Here, it was worthwhile to note that several positive comments came from participants who clearly indicated themselves as less advanced learners. Director Emke Emken (in the role of a participant and learner) emphasised the importance that everyone had a chance to participate as a peer learner and to learn more in one’s own pace (Lernruhe). In this respect there was no pressure to pretend to know more and to show more than one was able. Also, in the group process we could encounter technical difficulties and other hurdles without getting frustrated.

b) Feedback on practical arrangements

Concerning the practicalities, we had several comments. Firstly,the timing of the sessions on Friday afternoon was not considered quite ideal  for such learning new things.  Yet, we could agree that the groups had always overcome the fatigue and got inspired during the sessions. We got a clear signal that it was worthwhile to have two workshops for the same theme and a to maintain continuity across the themes. In a similar way the trainers appreciated the continuation with the same tutors from one theme to another and in the same groups. Concerning the use of Google Drive folder we got a clear message that the participants could not use it for preparation (lack of time) but found it very useful as archive of the materials and documents on learning results. A great praise was given for the Estonian intern student Jaanika Hirv (TLU) who had worked two months in Bau-ABC during the preparation and implementation of the Theme Room program. She kept the trainers well informed of the schedules and visited the trainers at their training areas to collect feedback and to provide  assistance to those who had not been present in all workshop sessions.

c) Organisational implications

Several comments discussed organisational consequences for Bau-ABC. Director Emken referred to the need for Bau-ABC to position itself as users of digital media, web tools and mobile technologies in training. In this respect Emken emphasised that Bau-ABC is in the position of learner and has to make progress but it is clearly moving on step by step. Here, Emken reminded that Bau-ABC needs to keep its industrial counterparts with it on the journey. From this perspective it was clear to him and to the participants that there is a commitment to continue with the Theme Room program and to make the best of it. In this context Emken encouraged the participants to consider the new tools and media as their own personal ‘White Folder’ or ‘Toolbox’ and what they could best start using in the coming times. This, to us served as a preparatory phase for the phase to introduce the Learning Toolbox in the training.

In more specific comments the participants raised issues for internal discussions of Bau-ABC (e.g. how to make the best use of blogs and how to position regarding their openness vs. password protection). We (the co-tutors from ITB) raised some points of consideration regarding the equipment and software (to ensure the learning results and access to appropriate tools). Also, we had discussion on measures to keep the learning process continued (with some sessions of tutoing in one room in Bau-ABC and one room in Mellendorf on topics chosen by interested participants). We took note that January and February are the high seasons of Continuing Vocational Training (CVT) schemes. Yet, it appeared that there seemed to be a readiness to start a new cycle of workshops at the end of February and in March.

With all these positive comments and expressions of commitment to work further we were pleased to conclude the event looking forward to good continuation after the holiday break. We took also several points for further consideration concerning the next cycle of workshops. Altogether, the Theme Room program had made its case and provides a good basis for the next steps. We were already able to convey this message to the Year 3 Review meeting of the LL project one week before and now we could confirm it.

More blogs to come …

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