Archive for the ‘Innovation’ Category

Piloting with AchSo and getting feedback on Learning Toolbox – Part Three: Introducing Augmented Reality to construction vehicle drivers

May 26th, 2016 by Pekka Kamarainen

In my two latest blogs on the EU-funded Learning Layers (LL) project I started a series of reports on a field visits in the construction sector – and in particular in the training centre Bau-ABC. Our visitors from Aalto University (Finland) have introduced their tools and our colleagues from the University of Innsbruck (UIBK) gathered feedback on our pilot with the Learning Toolbox (LTB). In my first post I reported on the introduction of video annotation tool AchSo. In my second post I  reported on the feedback that apprentices have given after using the LTB. In this third post I will report on the introduction of Social Augmented Reality (SoAR) – also a tool developed by the colleagues in Aalto University.

The idea of Social Augmented Reality (SoAR)

For lay people (like myself) the most likely encounters with Augmented Reality have been the commercial applications that have provided some kind of pop-up information windows or visuals that enrich web-based information. In such applications there is a basic layer of information that is complemented with an additional one – to the benefit of the consumer-viewer. As a contrast, the idea of the Social Augmented Reality (SoAR) is to provided enriched communication with all channels of mobile devices: speech, video and tagging (drawing). When using SoAR in mobile phone calls, the counterparts can see each other and talk to each other (like using Skype), they can switch the screens that they are viewing and they can tag live videos by drawings. Whilst this idea had been presented in some consortium meetings of the LL project, we had first put the emphasis on introducing the integrative toolset Learning Toolbox (in March) and then the video annotation tool AchSo (on the two first days of this field visit). On the third day of the field visit we had the chance to introduce SoAR to a group of apprentices specialising as construction vehicle drivers (Baugeräteführer).

The introduction of SoAR in Bau-ABC

Since the visitors from Aalto and UIBK had spent the second day of visit introducing the AchSo video annotation tool for a group of construction vehicle drivers (Baugeräteführer), the step to introducing AchSo (see my first blog of this series) was a smooth transition from one tool to another. Sanna Reponen presented the functionality of the tool at the outdoor training areas and the testing started immediately. Normally, the driving and operating of construction site vehicles (caterpillars with different additional features) is organised in groups – one is the driver, two others are supporting the lifting and adjusting operations while others are waiting for their turns. The supervising trainer is not all the time present – since the training is based on the culture of self-organised learning (apprentices are expected to grow into independent task preparation, planning and implementation).

Now, in the beginning, the trainer got a mobile phone in which SoAR was uploaded and one of the apprentices got another one. In this way the trainer was able to rotate between different training areas and his office without losing contact with this group of trainees. During one of the first test calls there was a real problem case, when the cylinders of the caterpillar started making unusual noises – just when the trainer was out of sight. Thanks to the use of SoAR the apprentices could show him the case and from the noise he could conclude, where the problem might be. And he could give in real time advice, what measures to take to solve the problem (or at least to avoid any damage). After this ‘real’ case, several other apprentices made similar test calls and the trainer responded from different locations. Altogether, the communication worked well but the background noise from the engines of the vehicles was a major disturbance. (However, the trainers have already tested earmuffs that can filter the background noise and these can be used with SoAR as well.)

At the end of the day we had a feedback session with the apprentices. They gave very positive feedback on the test situation and were looking forward to further development of the tool. In a similar way the trainer had made a very positive experience with his testing. Altogether, we concluded that SoAR is a very positive add-on to the Learning Layers tools.

– – –

I think that this is enough of this field visit. We made immediate arrangements to push forward the work with Learning Toolbox in some further trades and in the area of health and safety (Arbeitssicherheit und Gesundheitsschutz). We also made preliminary arrangements for a similar field visit (for introduction of AchSo and SoAR combined with further evaluative measures). So, there is more work to be done before and after the summer break.

More blogs to come …

Piloting with AchSo and getting feedback on Learning Toolbox – Part Two: Apprentices’ views on using the Learning Toolbox

May 25th, 2016 by Pekka Kamarainen

In my latest blog on the EU-funded Learning Layers (LL) project I started a series of reports on our latest field visits in the construction sector – and in particular in the training centre Bau-ABC. We are now having visitors from Aalto University (Finland)to introduce the tools AchSo and SoAR. In addition, our colleagues from the University of Innsbruck (UIBK) are getting feedback on the use of Learning Toolbox (LTB). In my first post I reported on the introduction of AchSo and how it was received. In my second post I will report on the feedback that apprentices have given using the LTB. Here I just want to give some impressions on the procedure and on the discussions in the groups that I observed. I leave it to the UIBK colleagues to give more detailed account.

The pioneering groups and their learning paths with Learning Toolbox

As I reported in my earlier blogs on the kick-off event of the pilots with Learning Toolbox (LTB) – see my posts of the 3rd of April and of the 6th of April – we started with two trades: carpenters (Zimmerer) and well-builders (Brunnenbauer). With the group of carpenters their trainer Markus Pape had designed a joint project with the trainer of bricklayers (Maurer), Kevin Kuck. This project was about traditional building techniques with wooden frameworks for brick walls (Holzrahmenbau, Fachwerkhäuser). Accordingly, the trainers developed a parent stack that covered the information resources and pointed to specific stacks for the two trades involved in the project and for accessing further knowledge resources. Considering the schedule of the group, they were at the moment having a school period in the nearby vocational school. Afterwards they will continue this project with the bricklayers. During our visit the UIBK colleagues arranged a group discussion with the apprentices at the school.

Concerning the group of well-builders, they started with a project in their own trade. Their trainer Lothar Schoka used the stacks to give them access to selected supplementary materials that are relevant for their project work. In the next phase the group proceeded to neighbouring trades (like machine and metal techniques or pipeline building) in which they get the foundation level training. At the moment they were having a period in Bau-ABC with metal technique. Thus, also the feedback on the use of LTB could be implemented alongside their work with the elementary exercises. Below I will give insights into feedback collected from discussions with this group.

Apprentices’ views on uses of LTB in training centre and in real work situations

The UIBK colleagues put on the board small posters that presented statements picked up from the kick-off event in March. Each statement expressed expectations on benefits of using the LTB. Now each participant had the chance to give votes, which of these expectations had come true – and which he would see as the most important (first, second, third). Here I could see in two groups, how the votes concentrated on a few statements. We were somewhat surprised that the apprentices found LTB easy to use – once the initial difficulties had been overcome. Also, given the relatively limited amount of stacks (and the structure of stacks for their domain) they found it easy to search the information they needed. Also, the chat function was praised as a functioning hotline for passing quick messages to trainers (although this was dependent on the online presence of individual trainers). Furthermore, the LTB was seen as a good tool to have an overview on the learning contents and on keeping the contents available (as priority contents) when needed.

After several positive remarks on the use of LTB as such, the apprentices in all groups made the point that they see the major benefits in using LTB in the intermediate training arrangements in Bau-ABC – which is primarily a learning environment. In the companies there are less people around, questions and answers are passed more directly, there is less chance to do searches and there is more time pressure. Furthermore, there is less tolerance for mistakes or discussing them on the web (privacy and data protection aspects). Partly these reservations are related to generation issues – younger construction site managers are more positive than older.

Then the UIBK colleagues asked, whether the apprentices would prefer to carry out their projects entirely with paper-based documentation or with LTB (if the latter option would be available). In this context the apprentices in all groups voted almost unanimously for the LTB option.

Finally, the UIBK colleagues asked about their expectations on using AchSo. Here they also emphasised the use in Bau-ABC. They drew attention to the possibility to focus on very small but important details or on points in which most mistakes are being made. They also referred to different potential in manual work as well as in complex activities with heavy machinery. They also pointed to the possibility to use video to facilitate the learning processes of those, who do not speak German as their mother tongue. In some groups there were discussions on the use of AchSo in instruction videos (prepared by trainers) and documentation of learning (prepared by apprentices). Altogether, the apprentices saw quite a number of possibilities. Yet, there was a tension between the fact that they have to complete their projects individually, whilst the use of videos requires cooperation with their peers.

– – –

I think this is enough at the moment. The UIBK colleagues will work more thoroughly through the material. But as a first impression this feedback already shows that the work with LL tools is received well and that both trainers and apprentices are making progress. In my next post I will report on the presentation of the SoAR tool (SocialAugmented Reality) by the Aalto colleagues in a further session in Bau-ABC.

More blogs to come …

 

 

 

 

Piloting with AchSo and getting feedback on Learning Toolbox – Part One: Bau-ABC apprentices work with AchSo

May 24th, 2016 by Pekka Kamarainen

In my recent blogs on the EU-funded Learning Layers (LL) project I have mostly focused on our pilot activities in the construction sector – and in particular on the introduction of the toolset Learning Toolbox (LTB) in the training centre Bau-ABC. This week we are again having field events in Bau-ABC but the main emphasis is given on the introduction of the complementary tools AchSo and SoAR that are presented by our colleagues from Aalto University (Finland). Alongside these activities our colleagues from the University of Innsbruck (UIBK) have been organising focus group meetings to get feedback on the use of LTB in the pilot groups that started with this toolset in March. In this first post I will focus on the introduction of AchSo and how it was received by Bau-ABC trainers (Lehrwerkmeister) and apprentices (Azubis).

Development of and piloting with AchSo in Finland

Whilst the Learning Toolbox (LTB) has been developed in the context of the co-design process in construction sector – and Bau-ABC as the main pilot environment to support the process – the development of AchSo has mainly been promoted in Finland. The LL partner Aalto University (later on referred to as Aalto) has taken further the video annotation tool that was so far developed by RWTH Aachen. With the name “AchSo” the developers want to highlight the usability of a video annotation tool in the context of (informal) learning at workplace. This is achieved by the functionality for shooting short videos, for visual tagging of details and for adding short written comments.

As has I have reported earlier on my blog and on an article on the LL website, the Aalto team has piloted with the AchSo tool with a Finnish construction company, regional vocational school centres and with the Finnish Construction Workers’ Trade Union (see my blog of the 27th of March 2015 and the article of the 7th of July 2015 on the Learning Layers website). In the Finnish construction pilot the users of AchSo were trainees in full-time vocational schools that were completing their workplace learning period (Praktikum) in construction companies or apprentices that had switched from full-time education to apprentice contract. In both cases the vocational school teachers were responsible for the final assessment of the learning of trainees and apprentices. By using annotated videos the trainees and apprentices could document their working and learning tasks and demonstrate their learning gains.

Introduction of AchSo to apprentices and trainers in Bau-ABC

Now that we – the had got the pilot activities with the LTB started and some progress had been made, it was an appropriate time to introduce the AchSo tool and explore, how it could be integrated into the ongoing piloting with the LTB. For this purpose two colleagues from Aalto – Sanna Reponen and Matti Jokitulppo – came for a three-day event to introduce AchSo to different groups of apprentices. During the first day they presented AchSo to a group of well-builders (Brunnenbauer) who had already used LTB when being trained in their own trade. Now they were receiving training in the neighbouring trade of machine- and metal techniques. In this context the Bau-ABC colleagues chose to add the work with video annotation as an additional feature to the apprentices’ projects.

We started together with the group of apprentices when they were beginning their first mini-projects (duration one day) with metalworking. Firstly Sanna Reponen  gave the background information on AchSo and how to use it. In this context we also clarified the data protection, privacy and sharing-related issues when using such tools. Secondly the apprentices installed AchSo on their own devices or got spare devices from Aalto for the session. Thirdly the Bau-ABC trainers introduced the project task – cutting a metal plate to a measure, filing the edges and marking spots at given distances for further processing. This ‘project’ is a traditional elementary exercise with which apprentices and trainees are guided to pay attention to appropriate use of tools and to paying attention to quality requirements. After the introduction the apprentices started working with the tasks and – once they had made some progress – shooting videos of each others’ work at different phases. Parallel to this, one of the trainers also shot some videos on the work of apprentices.

It appeared that some apprentices shot only one video, whilst some others tried to cover all major phases of work with short video clips. One of the videos showed deliberately inappropriate use of tools. Others tried to portray good practice. At the end of the day the videos were shown as a gallery and some exemplary videos were played. In particular the videos with comments were shown. After this viewing we had a discussion on the benefits of the tool, on possible improvements that apprentices would wish and on the prospects for using it in the training at Bau-ABC and in the companies (with which the apprentices have their apprenticeship contracts).

Immediate feedback on working with AchSo

On the whole the apprentices were positive about shooting videos – although it was an additional task and required cooperation, whilst the project task was individual and each one had to complete it on his own. In the discussion the apprentices emphasised that they paid more attention to different phases of work when selecting, which of them to be documented with videos. The trainer emphasised that videos shot by apprentices gave him a better overview on the work of apprentices (instead of just going around the workshop and monitoring them individually in the short time). Secondly, it was agreed that such a documentation of training that takes place in Bau-ABC workshops makes it easier to inform the vocational school teachers of the the tasks that have been carried out in the training centre. At the moment the apprentices agreed that it was easier to start using the new tool with such elementary exercises. Yet, they saw more potential and more challenges in integrating the use of annotated videos into the more complex projects in well-building (Brunnenbau).

We also discussed some hurdles and limitations for using AchSo in real work situations (these were very similar to the issues that came up with feedback on LTB, so I will take these up in my next post). However, the trainer of the well-builders, Lothar Schoka, expressed his interest to get from his apprentices annotated videos from construction sites of their companies. These could highlight specific working tasks that could be observed on joint visits of the whole group or discussed more thoroughly in training sessions in Bau-ABC.

– – –

Altogether, we had the impression that the introduction of AchSo in this group worked well. However, we became aware of some technical issues that need to be observed when proceeding from such initial introduction to wider use of the tool. Yet, it appears that the use of AchSo as a complementary tool to LTB is not a problem to the trainers or to the apprentices. In my next post I will report on the feedback that we got in the sessions organised by the UIBK colleagues alongside the work with AchSo.

More blogs to come …

Learning Layers in dialogue with DigiProB project – Part Three: Talks on the usability of Learning Layers tools

May 12th, 2016 by Pekka Kamarainen

In my two previous posts I have blogged on a new phase of our EU-funded Learning Layers (LL) project. In the Construction pilot we have started cooperation with a spin-off project. The German-funded DigiProB project focuses on the training of  certified construction site managers (Geprüfte Polier) – see more on this training and on the background of the project in my two previous posts. In this post I will have a look at the discussions between the technical partners of both projects on the usability of the Learning Layers tools in the new context. But firstly, I need to recapitulate, what kind of change of perspective is taking place in the transition from the LL project to the spin-off project.

Changing the perspective from apprentice training to continuing vocational training (CVT)

So far the pilot activities of LL project in the training centre Bau-ABC have focused on initial vocational education and training (VET).  Thus, the LL project has worked with apprentices and full-time trainers who are present in intermediate training centres (in workshops and on outdoor training areas). In such contexts and the processes instruction, tutoring and peer learning rely on the presence of a learning community.

The change of perspective to the CVT programme for certified construction site managers (Geprüfte Polier) brings into picture a completely different learning environment. The participants are former craftsmen who are in the process of transition to managerial positions. The training programme is based on a 2-month period of courses and a subsequent period of self-organised learning alongside working. In the latter phase the participants are expected to complete integrative learning tasks and to prepare a project report that demonstrate the acquisition of required coordination and management competences.

In the light of the discussions in the preparatory phase (see my first post in this series) and taking into account the messages coming through in the initial interviews (see my second post) it is possible to raise the following questions concerning the introduction of digital media, web support and mobile devices into such a training programme:

1. What can be the role of social learning platform(s) as support for integrative pedagogic approach and as support for self-organised and/or collaborative learning practices?

2. What can be the role of digital learning materials provided by guest trainers/lecturers in supporting the work with integrative learning tasks and project reports?

3. What can be the role of digital documents in facilitating the self-organised learning processes and presenting the results of project work?

4. What can be the role of mobile devices and mobile app frameworks in facilitating learning in the context of work and in sharing knowledge and experience with peer learners?

Sharing knowledge between technical partners of LL and DigiProB projects

The above presented questions were implicitly in my mind in the light of our experiences in the LL project and taking into account the shift to the new project. However, in the preparatory meeting of both projects we first explored, what kinds of tools the LL project has developed and in which contexts they have been piloted. In this discussion most attention was given on the Learning Toolbox (LTB) the integrative toolset with which Bau-ABC is making experiences in several trades. In addition, we took up in particular ‘Bits and Pieces’ (Erfahrungssammler), ‘Living documents’ and ‘Confer tool’ (for collaborative knowledge processing) as different individual tools that can be linked to each other.

Altogether, we concluded that many of the LL tools address some aspects of the R&D agenda that needs to be developed in the new project. In this respect this meeting between the two project needs to be followed up in the near future.

More blogs to come …

 

 

Learning Layers in dialogue with DigiProB project – Part Two: Interviews with guest trainers/lecturers in continuing vocational training

May 12th, 2016 by Pekka Kamarainen

In my previous blog I started a series on the new phase of our EU-funded Learning Layers (LL) project. Currently, in the Construction pilot we have been able to start closer cooperation  with a spin-off project. The German-funded DigiProB has started its work and the training centre Bau-ABC and the research institute ITB have a central role to play. The DigiProB project focuses on the training of  certified construction site managers (Geprüfte Polier) – see more on this training and on the background of the project in my previous post. In this post I will have a look at the initial interviews and what we may learn from the dialogue with gust trainers/lecturers who are engaged in this training programme.

The reform of the training concept and tensions in the implementation

As I indicated in the previous post, the new training of the certified construction site managers had introduced a new examination model that put an emphasis on integrative tasks and on a concluding project report. In the conceptual preparation for the project proposal we had emphasised the following tensions:

  1. The new training regulation was introduced with short introduction events that familiarised the trainers on the new guidelines. However, these events did not provide an in-depth training for guest trainers/lecturers  to adjust themselves to new requirements.
  2. The guest trainers/lecturers are engaged as subject specialists and are responsible for specific blocks in the presence training. They do not have an overarching responsibility on the supervision of integrated learning tasks and project work.
  3. There has been no clear model for developing online support, arranging peer tutoring and promoting peer learning among the participants.

Now that the DigiProB project was started, the initial interviews provided an opportunity to test, whether the above outlined picture was correct and what new features could be learned from the guest trainers/lecturers involved in the programme.

Messages picked from the initial interviews

Currently I am not actively involved in the initial activities of the DigiProB project. At best I have been nearby when my ITB colleagues have carried out interviews. Therefore, I leave it to my colleagues to report on the activities and on the findings in greater detail and in time. Yet, already at this stage it is possible to pick as ‘first impressions’ some messages that come through and have been reflected by my colleagues. Although these are only preliminary signals, not thoroughly analysed findings, it is worthwhile to pay attention to them:

  • Rapid implementation of the new model: It seems to me that both the training providers (such as Bau-ABC) and guest trainers/lecturers that they use for the training have had very little time to adjust their pedagogic approaches. The training providers arrange short introductory events but then the individual trainers/lecturers have draw the conclusions on their own.
  • Willingness of trainers/lecturers to work with an integrative pedagogic approach: Although the guest trainers/lecturers have been engaged as subject specialists, they seem to have an interest in getting their special know-how put into practice. Therefore, they are individually looking for ways to link ‘theoretical’ elements into practical tasks and exercises. Moreover, there seems to be interest in sharing experiences and examples of good pedagogic solutions.
  • Interest of trainers/lecturers in using digital media and web tools: It appears that (at least some) guest trainers/lecturers show interest in using digital media and web tools to support their teaching and training. In this respect the Learning Toolbox (whenever demonstrated) has been greeted as a promising framework and the interviewees are willing to learn more of it.
  • Interest of learners to share knowledge and experiences: According to the guest trainers/lecturers interviewed so far, the participants (learners) are interested in sharing knowledge and experiences during the course periods and during the periods for self-organised learning. In particular from this perspective they considered the Learning Toolbox as a promising toolset to support individual and collaborative learning processes.

– – –

I leave these first impressions and ‘messages picked from discussions’ here and let my colleagues work with further interviews and the group pictures that we get as a result. Altogether, I believe that the DigiProB project is well-timed and that the trainers/lecturers as well as the learners will be interested to work with the project. However, the project will also pose new challenges for the tool developers and to the project partners who introduce the tools.

More blogs to come …

 

 

Learning Layers in dialogue with DigiProB project – Part One: Preparations for the new project

May 11th, 2016 by Pekka Kamarainen

Our EU-funded Learning Layers (LL) project has recently entered an interesting new phase. In the Construction pilot the Learning Layers project has a chance to work together and share experiences with a spin-off project. Recently, the German-funded DigiProB has also started its work in the German construction sector. Two LL partner organisations – the training centre Bau-ABC and the research institute ITB – play a major role in the new project that can be called as a spin-off from the LL project. Whilst the LL project is focusing on workplace learning from the perspective of skilled workers and apprentices, the DigiProB project shifts the emphasis on training of  construction site managers. With this series of blogs I try to give a picture of the conceptual preparation for the new project (part one), on the lessons to be learned with initial interviews (part two) and on the prospects for using LL tools in the new project.

I start by looking back at a symposium at the European Conference on Educational Research (ECER 2015) in Budapest that was initiated by the LL team of ITB. In the symposium we brought together three recently completed or ongoing projects with focus on digital media, web tools and support for workplace learning. With their recent work the three projects (Kompetenzwerkstatt, Learning Layers and EmployID) had -reached a transition stage. From this perspective the symposium provided an opportunity to learn from each other and to draw conclusions for a new phase activities. Below, I will focus on the contribution of the LL team in this symposium and on the interim conclusions from the discussion.

Outline of DigiProB presented in an ECER symposium in Budapest 2015

In our contribution to the symposium we shifted the emphasis from the Learning Layers  project to a designed spin-off project (DigiProB) which we expected to be start soon. The context of this project is the training of construction site managers – a vocational progression route for former skilled workers.

In a recent reform the training of certified construction site managers (Geprüfte Polier) has been regulated with new nationwide standards. The tasks of the certified construction site managers include organisation and controlling of work processes, supervision of construction workers, subcontractors and apprentices as well as monitoring the compliance with health and safety regulations. The new examination model with integrative tasks and project work seeks to push forward a more holistic learning culture.

The major challenge for adapting the new requirements in the training scheme lies in the construct of the curriculum. In general, the curriculum is based on a two-phase model. The first phase (ca. two months) is provided by presence courses in the training centre. During this period external part-time lecturers provide courses in the main areas of expertise for the future construction site managers.  The second phase (which has now been shaped in the light of the new regulation) is based on self-organised learning activities of the participants alongside work. This phase includes integrative learning tasks and production of a coherent project report. With the integrative tasks the participants are expected to demonstrate their capability to manage complex construction sites and supervise related work processes. The project report should make transparent their competences in planning, preparing, implementing, documenting and assessing construction projects.

The task of the DigiProB project is to introduce digital media and web tools to support integrative learning of the participants (with the learning tasks and project work) and pedagogic reorientation of the trainers (to facilitate the learners in such learning).  Here, the new project DigiProB should take into account the prior work of the Learning Layers project.

Interim conclusions of the discussion at the ECER symposium

In its contribution the ITB team drew attention to  following tensions between the new requirements, the traditional mode of delivering the courses and lack of support for the self-organised learning:

  1. The new training regulation was introduced with short introduction events that familiarised the trainers on the new guidelines. However, these events did not provide an in-depth training for trainers to adjust themselves to new requirements.
  2. The part-time trainers are engaged as subject specialists and responsible for specific blocks in the presence training. They do not have an overarching responsibility on the supervision of integrated learning tasks and project work.
  3. There has been no clear model for developing online support, arranging peer tutoring and promoting peer learning among the participants.

The interim conclusions of  the ITB team were formulated as follows: For the new spin-off project it is necessary to build upon the experience with the Learning Layers pilot but to take into account the differences between presence learning within training centre (supervised by full-time trainers) and dispersed self-organised learning (supervised by part-time trainers). Secondly, it is essential to equip the trainers with didactic know-how and learning technologies to support the dispersed learning activities. Thirdly, it is crucial to facilitate peer learning among the participants and to raise their awareness of their own learning.

– – –

At this point I leave our discussions at the ECER symposium behind. Now that the DigiProB project has started its initial activities, it is interesting to see, what kind of new experiences we are making and how the initial picture starts to change. From this perspective it is interesting to have a look, what we are learning from the initial interviews and from the dialogues on the usability of LL tools in the new project. These topics will be discussed in the next posts of this series.

More blogs to come …

Start of Learning Toolbox pilots in Bau-ABC – Part Two: Feedback during a working visit to Bau-ABC

April 6th, 2016 by Pekka Kamarainen

On Tuesday the 4th of April we had an interesting working visit in Bau-ABC in the context of our EU-funded Learning Layers (LL) project. I, Lars Heinemann (both from ITB) and Martina Lübbing (from Pontydysgu) were on a whole-day visit in Bau-ABC to collect feedback and situation assessments after the first weeks of piloting with the Learning Toolbox (LTB) (see my previous post). In addition we discussed several initiatives to support the pilot activities during the LL project and afterwards. Below I try to give an account on the points and working issues that are most relevant for the whole LL project.

Building upon the work of the pioneering trades

During our visits in the working areas got a picture how the Bau-ABC trainers had experienced the first weeks of the pilots and how to support the next steps. With the pilot group of carpenters (Zimmerer) the LTB had been received well and also apprentices from other groups had shown interest. (However, this other group is right now preparing for interim examinations, so therefore an introduction of LTB would not be well-timed and can at best take place in the autumn.) The pioneering group will shortly return to Bau-ABC and work in another trade – with the bricklayers (Maurer). This cooperation has been built in into the preparation of the stacks for this pilot group and the trainers (Lehrwerkmeister) Markus Pape and Kevin Kuck have been working together.

A similar possibility is available with the pioneering group of well-builders (Brunnenbauer) which is now having a school period in the same area and then switch to work with the trade of machinery and metalworking (Maschinen- und Metalltechnik). In order to support the use of LTB in that period the pioneering Lehrwerkmeister Lothar Schoka volunteered to contact his colleagues in that trade and advise them on preparing similar LTB stacks for their trade.

Integrating new trades and learning areas into the pilot with LTB

On our visit to the working area of road-builders (Strassenbauer), pipeline-builders (Rohrleitungsbauer) and sewage builders (Kanalbauer) we explored new possibilities to extend the pilots. One of the experienced trainers, Stefan Wiedenstried, is now for the moment working with the pipeline builders and expressed his interest to prepare similar stacks for that trade as his colleagues had done in other trades (and Gilbert Peffer for the road-builders before the kick-off event). In a similar way, the shop steward for health and safety (Sicherheitsbeaftragte) Thomas Weerts expressed his interest to prepare stacks for health and safety instructions for apprentices in Bau-ABC. This learning area was already discussed on an earlier working visit of LTB developers in Bau-ABC in February. Now we have a chance to take this initiative further.

Support measures and further activities

Alongside these talks we discussed the need to update the user’s manual for LTB (originally written by Jaanika Hirv during her internship period in Bau-ABC during November-December 2015). In addition we discussed the need to prepare online instructions  (as a tile or as a stack) that would be easily accessible in the LTB. The ITB-Pont team took this issue with it as homework. As a further step we had discussions on the prospect to start a new cycle of “Theme room” training in Bau-ABC and to introduce the work with LTB as a new theme. Here we expect Bau-ABC to have internal discussions and then we can start preparing the new cycle in greater detail.

I think this is enough of the general picture. We also took up several working issues on the infrastructure, access problems and proposals for improvements. I will discuss some of these in my next post.

More blogs to come …

 

 

Start of Learning Toolbox pilots in Bau-ABC – Part One: The Kick-off event 14.3.2016

April 3rd, 2016 by Pekka Kamarainen

On Monday the 14th of March we experienced a great day for our EU-funded Learning Layers (LL) project. We had the kick-off event of the piloting with the Learning Toolbox (LTB) in Bau-ABC (the training centre for construction sector in Rostrup). On the whole, this was a manifold event with different sessions and different activities (with focus on tool development, implementation in different trades and evaluation measures). And, moreover, the event was organised as parallel activities in two trades – the carpenters (Zimmerer) and the well-builders (Brunnenbauer). In this post I try to give some first-hand impressions on the sessions with the group of carpenters (and complement them with some remarks on the parallel group of well-builders). I know that the evaluators from the LL team of the University of Innsbruck (UIBK) will give more detailed accounts on these sessions and on their recordings on the talks with apprentices. From my perspective it is important to get a picture on the process that was kicked off with the Learning Toolbox (LTB) to be used by the apprentices.

Introduction of the Learning Toolbox (LTB) in the group of carpenters (Zimmerer)

In the group of carpenters we (the LL project partners) had firstly the chance to present the Learning Toolbox as an integrative toolset to be used in the forthcoming training projects of the apprentices. Gilbert Peffer presented the essentials and then the apprentices installed the LTB apps on their smartphones. Then the trainer of carpenters, Fidi Bruns explained the training project of the next few weeks for the group. After this session and a break, the other trainer of carpenters, Markus Pape, gave an overview of the parent stack and of the daughter stacks that he had prepared for the project. After these introductory sessions we had a group discussion with the carpenter apprentices  (recorded by the UIBK colleagues). In this discussion the apprentices felt very positive about the new toolset and on the prospect to use digital media and web resources in their projects. In a similar way they were keen to get the LTB to work on their devices. They were also pleased to participate in instant debugging talks in the cases in which the installation caused problems.

 Introduction of the Learning Toolbox (LTB) in the group of well-builders (Brunnenbauer)

In the parallel group of well-builders the introduction of LTB had already taken place one week before and the project using LTB had already been started. Yet, there was some need for assistance in the installation as well as real-time debugging. Also, the approach in developing project-related stacks was somewhat different – instead of shaping a parent stack and daughter stacks the well-builders were equipped with a set of thematic stacks that will be networked with each other.

 The way forward

During the event we had teams of ITB (accompanying researchers), LTB developers (RayCom, CIMNE) and evaluators (UIBK). In  addition we had as a special support agent Jaanika Hirv (TLU) who stayed one week in Bau-ABC to collect feedback from apprentices and trainers on their first steps working with the LTB. She reported this feedback with daily e-mails that were collected into a Google Doc. Then, in the second round, Gilbert Peffer and Jaanika had exchanges on these messages (in the same Google Doc). Summaries of the conclusions were then reported back on a German-speaking ‘hotline’ mailing list “LTB Pilot”. In my next posts I will report on a follow-up visit to Bau-ABC and then have a look at the working issues that have come up in our talks and e-mail correspondence.

More posts to come …

Possible use of Learning Toolbox in Bau-ABC training – three exemplary cases

February 22nd, 2016 by Pekka Kamarainen

Last week we had two working visits to the training centre Bau-ABC in the contexts of our EU-funded Learning Layers (LL) project. The aim of these visits was firstly to clarify, in what kinds of projects Bau-ABC trainers (Lehrwerkmeister) have planned to use Learning Toolbox (LTB) in the forthcoming pilot phase. Secondly we wanted to clarify what measures need to be taken to facilitate the Internet access in Bau-ABC. Thirdly we wanted to clarify, how to link third party apps or complementary tools to LTB to meet specific needs. The two latter points have been covered by internal notes. The first point merits public attention, therefore this blog gives a quick overview on the plans of Bau-ABC trainers.

During the two visits the Bau-ABC trainers presented three exemplary cases for implementing LTB in their training.  The first case (developed together with Lothar Schoka) focuses on apprentices projects in  trade of well-builders (Brunnenbauer). The second case (developed together with Thomas Weertz) deals with training materials and facilitation of learning in the transversal area ‘health and safety’ (Arbeitssicherheit und Gesundheitsschutz). During the second working visit a third case was brought to picture by Markus Pape and Kevin Kuck – a joint project of Carpenters (Zimmerer) and Bricklayers (Maurer).

a) The Brunnenbauer-pilot is adjusted to the start of a new group in Bau-ABC and the introduction of the LTB comes along with their induction to project-based learning. The use of LTB will not cover entirely the documentation of project work of apprentices (plans, reports, certificates) but will support it. The main thrust for the trainer is to provide support material (Zusatzmaterial, e.g. Extracts of relevant DIN-norms). Also, the work of apprentices can be supported with digital worksheets (lists of tools and materials) that can be produced with the help of apps made available via LTB. Here, the apprentices could present digital interim versions and get feedback before completing the projects. As a use-case for two-way communication, Schoka indicated that apprentices can produce and share photo sets of construction sites of their companies as eventual targets for on-site-visits of the whole group.

b) Concerning the theme “Arbeitssicherheit und Gesundheitsschutz”, the competent body in the construction sector (BG Bau) has produced a comprehensive set of modularised reference materials (Baukasten) and a special program for young craftsmen. In addition to these, Bau-ABC uses a special compendium for trainers (KomPass). These materials are available on the net. In addition, in each of their projects the apprentices are required to fill a risk analysis form regarding possible occupational hazards with the tasks (Gefährdungsbeurteilung). The advantage of using LTB with this theme is that it enables delivery of compressed information (checklists, extracts of information sheets, model solutions with feedback) as well use of Quiz tools (ordinary quiz or detecting errors).

c) The joint project of Zimmerer and Maurer was based on the traditional technique of building houses with wooden frames and brick walls (Fachwerkhaus). Bau-ABC projects with smaller constructions using that technique serve as cooperation exercises between these two trades. By using LTB and creating a joint stack it is possible to

  • give an overview on the common project (as a whole),
  • on related standards,
  • to distribute the tasks between the trades
  • to organise the boundary-crossing exercises of Zimmerer and Maurer in each others’ tasks and to
  • coordinate the collaboration between the two trades.

After these working visits we are heading towards the pilots in the coming weeks and arranging the necessary support. We will report more on the pilots when we take further steps with the implementation.

More blogs to come … 

LL Consortium meeting in Innsbruck – Part Three: Presenting exploitation initiatives

February 8th, 2016 by Pekka Kamarainen

Last week our EU-funded Learning Layers (LL) project had its consortium meeting in Innsbruck.  In the previous posts I discussed firstly the ‘warm-up’ event with  Austrian clusters/ networks and secondly our project meeting and its general results. In this post I will discuss the results of the exploitation sessions (presentations and bilateral talks).

1. The setup of the exploitation sessions

As I had indicated in the previous post, we had firstly a general introduction to the exploitation model that served as a reference model. We also agreed to work towards a jointly agreed ‘exploitation manifesto’ that helps us to settle the IPR issues. With this preparation the partners were invited to present their exploitation plans and/or intentions. A major part of the session was dedicated to the presentations of partners (or groups of partners), altogether 15. Then, on the next day we had a special session for bilateral or trilateral ‘matchmaking talks’ (on the basis of expressions of interests indicated during the first session).

2. Contributions of the Construction sector partners

2a) The presentation of ITB/Pont (Bremen) & Bau-ABC teams highlighted firstly some key questions for the LL project and then a further challenge for follow-up activities. It also gave an overview on tools and services developed so far. Based on this background the presentation drew then attention to two kinds of emerging R&D projects:

  • The DigiProB project as a spin-off from LL in the context of Continuing Vocational Training (CVT). The technical challenge is to reuse/repurpose an integrative toolset to support Personal Learning Environments of CVT participants. The social challenge is to support individual learners (who are learning alongside work) with the aim to demonstrate with work-related projects that they have acquired higher (managerial) qualifications in construction sector.
  • The “Bauen 4.0″ has been selected as a recognised cluster initiative and is invited to submit specific project proposals. One of the initiatives discussed in the cluster meetings is a project for incorporating know-how on Building Information Modelling (BIM) to the CVT schemes for advanced construction craftsmen in carpentry and woodwork (Holzbau). Here we see a chance to make use of LL tools.

Alongside these examples we presented two cases in which the integrative toolset Learning Toolbox can be brought into collaboration and exchanges with third party software/services (who were affiliated with construction sector stakeholders).

  • Pontydysgu had been contacted by Construction Excellence Wales, Construction Industry Training Board and a consortium of four FE colleges with interests in the Learning Toolbox. In particular there was an interest to link the LTB with the e-learning environment that had been developed by the FE colleges for construction sector apprentices.
  • Bau-ABC had been contacted by a new company that continues the prior work of a company that had been producing handbooks for well-builders. The new company focuses on developing mobile apps and digital contents. This company will launch its products during February 2016 and is already making contacts with key players in domain-specific education and training.

 2b) The presentation of Bau-ABC: The Bau-ABC team had prepared a separate presentation in which they brought forward their interests in further development and promotion of LTB. In this respect the presentation summarised the immediate benefits for individual users (urgencies for developers), the benefits for Bau-ABC as training provider and multiplier and the prospects for cooperation between Bau-ABC and the developers of LTB and related LL tools and services. In this way Bau-ABC outlined the working perspectives with which it positions itself on the “Exploitation map” to be drawn later.

3. The bilateral talks

After the presentation session our requests for bilateral talks with other presenters (with eventual topics to be discussed) were collected. Then a similar ‘world café’ session was organised as in the warm-up event. We had four tables for rotation but this time no fixed ‘table hosts’. Instead, we were rotating with uneven opportunities for the talks. In some sessions we participated as wider groups, in some sessions as individuals. At some point we were interrupted by fire alarm and the whole building was evacuated to an outdoor meeting point. (The fire was put out promptly, the fire brigade just needed to check the situation and that the smoke was properly ventilated. Yet, this all took that much time that we couldn’t properly complete the session.)

At this point it is not necessary to report on all bilateral talks in which I/we were involved. Some of them focused on very specific questions and very particular interests. Some were talks on emerging ideas for future projects that need further conversations. In addition – due to the interruption – we didn’t have a chance for some talks that we had on our list. Therefore, it have prepared a list of topics for further talks to be continued at a later date:

  • ‘Cross-sectoral’ talks on the uses of LTB (and other LL tools) taking into account prior work with nurse education and nurse education networks in Germany and England.
  • ‘Cross-institutional’ talks on the use of LTB and other LL tools/services to support problem-, project- and practice-based learning in vocational education and training (VET) and/or Vocational Higher Education (notably in Germany, Estonia and Austria).
  • ‘Cross-curricular’ talks on the use of LTB and other LL tools in the activities of vocational teacher education/ training the trainers (notably in Germany and in Austria, e.g. the partners of the pre-event).
  • ‘Sustainability’ talks with LTB developers on their new organisational initiative and the role of R&D initiatives.
  • ‘Scalability’ talks on the experience with the ‘Theme Room’ training in Bau-ABC to adapt the approach for multiplier activities. (These talks will be based  on the involvement of the initial contributors and other interested parties).

I think this is enough of these sessions. Due to our tight schedules we couldn’t be present in the final sessions of the meeting. But we are sure that there results will be discussed in several follow-up meetings. Given, that we are entering an intensive period of fieldwork, we need to keep the exploitation issues on our agendas.

More blogs to come …

 

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