Archive for the ‘Innovation’ Category

Learning Layers goes to Bau-ABC Rostrup – Part 4: How are we trying to develop our work further?

June 15th, 2014 by Pekka Kamarainen

In my three previous posts I have firstly discussed the forthcoming consortium meeting of the Learning Layers (LL) project in Bau-ABC Rostrup. Secondly, I have recapitulated the experiences we have made with project activities in Bau-ABC. Thirdly, I have given a picture of our joint efforts to develop successful outreach activities in the German construction sector and in the surrounding regional contexts.

Altogether, these have been preparatory steps that have helped me to raise the question: How can we use the meeting in Bau-ABC to help us to develop our work in the LL project  further?

For a complex European interdisciplinary project with ambitions in Research, Technology and Development and with emphasis on implementing and scaling up innovations in SME clusters (and with focus on two sectors) this is not a trivial question. And especially, when we think of the work of the whole consortium, it is even more complex. Let us firstly look back, what kind of journey we have made together as a whole consortium, what we have achieved and what we might still be missing in our work:

  • Firstly, in the initial work plan we expected the first year to be chacarcterised by creative diversity whilst the second should be shaped as an integrative phase. We have gone through the process of setting up  four overarching design agendas and the emergence of a more differentiated set of development projects. We then had the Integration Meeting in Aachen with an intensive technical integration agenda and Theory Camp which helped us to get a better overview on, what all is going on.
  • Secondly, we have to admit that the transition to Development Projects has not created a general clarity on the processes and resources. (This has become even more problematic when one major technical partner left the project and the process of engaging the replacement has not been completed.) Therefore, we have to pay more attention to overcoming gaps of knowledge and communication to get our resources mobilised into joint efforts.
  • Thirdly, we have not discussed strongly enough the importance of user-friendly and user-relevant solutions when moving on to the implementation and scaling up phases. Here we seem to have differences in perception between partners who have engaged themselves heavily in fieldwork (co-design workshops, multimedia training, stakeholder talks and pilot implementation) and others who have had less encounters with users. It is worthwhile to note that progress with user engagement (e.g. during the Brunnenbauertage and in the follow-up) tends to bring new challenges and time pressures for the development work.

In the light of the above we have tried to organise our work somewhat differently to avoid a tendency of particularisation. This is especially the case with the Day Two workshops. In these workshops we will have a closer look at the Sustainability scenarios and how to develop our activities sustainability with the help of mid-term roadmaps. The Scenario groups will rotate through different Round Tables (topic tables) and discuss different aspects of the roadmap. With this exercise we want to get a clearer picture on the following issues:

  • Key initiatives that are instrumental for achieving sustainability within each scenario (Construction, Healthcare, Organised clusters, OSS communities);
  • Technical support that is needed to bring the initiatives into maturity (taking into account the users’ interests and ICT- & Web-related capabilities);
  • Partners’ commitments to ensure that we are mobilising all available resources to support joint initiatives.

Whilst the main emphasis is given on the work of the Sustainability scenario groups that are developing the roadmaps, the Round Tables (topic tables) serve as interim stations to address the following issues (as indicated in the agenda on the LL Wiki):

  • Round table 1 – Capacity building, training, and stakeholder engagement (Which tools are ready for demonstrating to stakeholders? What materials / processes do we need to engage stakeholders with our tools? what is the roadmap of other planned capacity building, training and engagement activities and how can we ensure that the tools are ready by that time and usable?)
  • Round table 2 – Learning stories – Coming up with a Learning Story that connects tools and practices to a integrated story (that development teams can work with, where we identify missing links and we develop further for the review)
  • Round table 3 – New collaboration initiatives and spin-out projects with stakeholders
  • Round table 4 – Developing Layers offerings

     

I think this is enough of a “sneak preview” on the forthcoming LL Consortium meeting in Bau-ABC Rostrup. I hope that this series of blogs has helped us to warm up for the exercise. At the same time I hope that the postings have given those who will not be there a better chance to catch up when we are reporting of results. But that we can only do after the hard work of the coming days.

More posts to come (after the event) …

Learning Layers goes to Bau-ABC Rostrup – Part 2: What have we experienced together so far?

June 14th, 2014 by Pekka Kamarainen

In my previous post I announced the fact that the Learning Layers (LL) project is organising its next consortium meeting in Bau-ABC Rostrup. Then I started a discussion, what we are looking for with this choice of conference venue. One of the points that I raised was to get a deeper understanding on what we have experienced together and what we can achieve together.

Looking back at our common  journey with the Learning Layers project, we in the Bremen region started with the initial interviews for empirical studies. The results of some interviews were compressed into User Stories that were then used as materials for the Focus Groups of WP1. All this was done very quickly to accommodate the Focus Group as part of the Application Partner Days. Altogether, this busy start already provided the basis for dialogue and mutual familiarisation. Later on, observations, findings, analyses and design ideas of this phase were fed in into the Helsinki Design Conference.

In Spring 2013 we started the phase of cooperation that was mainly characterised by co-design workshops (under the design idea “Sharing Turbine”). Here, we can see a gradual evolution of our working concepts and modes of cooperation:

  • We started with conversational workshops (separate sessions for apprentices and Bau-ABC trainers). These helped us to map a wide range of problems, working issues, environmental factors and points of interest.
  • We continued with storyboard workshops (again separate sessions for apprentices and trainers). These helped us to put locate problems, design issues, intervening factors and other points of interest into a structured description of working/learning processes within one day.
  • Whilst we continued with the storyboard workshops with the apprentices, the encounters with the trainers started to get a new character. This was due to shift in the design work from the overarching Sharing Turbine agenda to a narrower pilot concept that was latterly named the Learning Toolbox. During this transition the encounters with the trainers became more directly co-design meetings in which the trainers were involved in giving the design process a new direction.
  • Parallel to the above mentioned development we started developing jointly the concept of Multimedia Training Workshops. These started as familiarisation with Web 2.0 tools and apps and moved gradually towards working with tools to get material for own training practice. Now we are heading to the fifth workshop and we have seen clear signs of progress.

My point is not merely to recapitulate jointly lived project history in the Bremen region as something exclusive within Bau-ABC. On the contrary, to us the progress in Bau-ABC is an example of capacity building that is not merely looking inward. Altogether, the management and the staff of Bau-ABC are looking for ways to strengthen these developments internally and to enhance the efforts for disseminating the model and to develop wider outreach activities. But this point merits a separate blog article.

More blogs to come …

Learning Layers goes to Bau-ABC Rostrup – Part 1: What are we looking for?

June 14th, 2014 by Pekka Kamarainen

Next week the Learning Layers (LL) project will have its consortium meeting in the Bremen region. However, the venue will not be the University of Bremen nor any hotel or conference centre nearby. Instead, we have chosen to arrange the consortium meeting on the premises of our application partner Bau-ABC in Rostrup. In this way we will place our discussions and working sessions to the same neighbourhood, where apprentices are trained for construction sector and full-time trainers (working together with companies) are supporting their work process-oriented learning.

Looking back, most of the previous LL consortium meetings have been arranged on university campuses or neighbouring hotels (Barcelona, Helsinki, Graz, Innsbruck, Aachen) and once in a remote conference location (Paphos). All these meetings and the choices of venues had their reasons which I do not want to bring into discussion afterwards. For me the point of interest is, what kind of new experiences and learning gains can we make now that we arrange or meeting at Bau-ABC?

Indeed, we have been already once before with a big group of LL partners during the Application Partner Days in January 2013. At that time the project was carrying out its initial empirical studies and very little could be brought into discussion regarding the co-design processes. Instead, our main task was to get adequate picture of the main activities carried out in the host organisations and share the first impressions with our hosts. In this way the Application Partner Days helped us all further.

Now that we return to Bau-ABC after one and half year we have worked further with the project and there have been many further encounters between Bau-ABC and LL partners. However, we know that our picture of the progress of the LL project is different – depending on the tasks, sectors and cooperation experiences we have had. Also, we know that even if we in the Bremen region have put much effort to share our knowledge and experiences (via reports, notes and blogs) this doesn’t immediately turn into lived knowledge development across the project.

Therefore, we are looking forward to this LL project consortium meeting as an opportunity to real encounters with our application partners. We also hope that we can deepen the picture of shared learning experiences we have made with Bau-ABC staff in our fieldwork. And furthermore, we hope that the way we have planned the work of this meeting helps us to get new insights into  co-design, stakeholder engagement and into scaling up of innovations.

More posts to come …

 

Changes in Learning and Development

May 21st, 2014 by Graham Attwell

This is an interesting video. Donald H Taylor explains how Learning and Development Departments need to change their attitude to risk in order to keep pace with the rest of the business in today’s modern world. He describes 4 quadrants in which L&D departments fit: Learning Leadership, Unacknowledged Prophet, Comfortable Extinction and The Training Ghetto and explains how and why all L&D departments should join the quadrant of Learning Leadership. However I am not convinced that the major problem is that Learning and Development departments are failing to keep up with changing organisations. In my experience all too often it is the organisations themselves who are holding back change. And don’t forget that most Small and Medium Enterprises, who it could be argued are the prime drivers of change do not have a Learning and Development Department (interesting in that regard that Donald cites Pinterest with 12 employees as an example of a fast changing organisation).

Learning Layers after the Aachen Integration meeting – Part 3: The Aachen Theory Camp (working group)

April 10th, 2014 by Pekka Kamarainen

My previous posts to this series have focused on the the Aachen Integration Meeting of the Learning Layers (LL) project. Part one gave an overview on the results of the Integration Meeting. Part two provided insights into the plenary session of the Aachen Theory Camp (a special event in the meeting). This post gives a report on the results of group work – Working Group 1 on Workplace learning. 

(I am much obliged to Gilbert Peffer who took photos of the flipcharts and Debbie Holley who took minutes on the spot – yet the accents and conclusions are mine.)

I would summarise our work with the following points:

a) The task: We discussed the presentations of the plenary and the way in which the different perspectives (or schools of thought) can be taken into account in the LL project. In this context we acknowledged the diverse positions, frameworks, and theories – some contrasting each other whilst others being complementary to each other. We also noted that some are more underpinned with empirical work whilst others were at higher level of abstraction. From these starting points we worked towards a joint understanding, how to make good use of the different background theories.

b) Approach to theory v.s. theories : We debated the issue ‘unified vs. pluralist view(s)’ as possible way(s) forward. We drew attention to the fact that some of the theories/concepts were not addressing conflicts of interest (or power relations) in working life. As a contrast, others saw them as key issues. Therefore, some theories provide a basis for ‘management tools’ whilst others give insights into conflicts that prevent innovations or lead to unexpected consequences. Taking such tensions into account we pointed to possibilities for drawing together the work from case studies or surveys, from qualitative or quantitative perspectives.

c) Implications for methodology v.s. methodologies: In this context we discussed the parallel use of data from the empirical studies of WP1 and from participative co-design processes and stakeholder talks. We also discussed, in which way the LL project can clarify its commitment or affiliation to ‘action research’ (as indicated in the deliverable of the WP7).  We noted that there are conceptual and epistemological tensions between ‘design research’ and (classical) ‘action research’ that are being debated in the literature. We also noted that there are German conceptualised traditions of ‘accompanying research’ (Begleitforschung) that refer to innovation programmes on Work & Technology or to model/pilot projects in vocational education and training(VET) that are less known elsewhere.

d) The issues of Intervention and Impact: In this context we had a discussion, in what ways the LL project is expected to show impact as Research, Technology & Development (RTD) project. We all agreed that there was a consensus on working with participative design processes and the interventions were essential for the knowledge development approach. However, there were differences between university traditions and/or evaluation procedures, to what extent researches should prioritise impact on theoretical level (academic publishing) or impact on practice (getting evidence on project-generated changes in working life).

e) The issue of desired outcomes in the field: In this context we discussed the prospect of changing attitudes to knowledge sharing. Here the key issues were “tolerance of uncertainty”, “willing to share” and “ability to share knowledge”. The strategies to promote such changes were linked to phrases ‘mindlines not guidelines’ (in the healthcare sector) and to the capability for social shaping of work, technology and environment (Gestaltungsorientierung) in the construction sector. In this way we tried to link the efforts to promote new competences/ capabilities in using Web 2.0 technologies (in the context of work or workplace learning) to the empowerment of users.

f) The conclusion: The group supported the initiative to continue with Theory Camp session(s) in the Bremen consortium meeting. We proposed the following title: “The Impact of the Learning Layers project on Theory and Practice”. We discussed some ideas that can be taken as topics or cross-cutting themes:

  • Connections between learning processes at the level of teams/ groups, organisations, networks, clusters and (‘learning’) regions;
  • Readiness for sharing knowledge; sharing in networks and/or in multiple networks;
  • Promoting new capabilities – the role of networks, organisations, teams and peers;
  • The role of intervention research approaches (action research, accompanying research, design research etc.) in working with and conceptualising such issues.

This is as far as we got in Aachen. The discussion on the follow-up is going on.

More posts to come on the next steps …

Learning Layers after the Aachen Integration meeting – Part 2: The Aachen Theory Camp (plenary)

April 10th, 2014 by Pekka Kamarainen

In my previous post I discussed the achievements of the Aachen Integration Meeting of the Learning Layers (LL) project. Now I shift the emphasis to the Aachen Theory Camp that was organised as a special event within the meeting.

Background of the Theory Camp: The need  to reflect on the theoretical foundations was raised by the reviewers comments in the Y1 review meeting in Barcelona. In particular these comments pointed to the theoretical assumptions regarding the Social Semantic Server. Also, other issues were raised – e.g. the project was asked need to clarify its commitment to ‘action research’. In the next consortium meeting in Innsbruck we started preparing a “theory camp”  workshop for the Aachen meeting. The dedicated workshop in Innsbruck had a more specific look at the SSS but later on further topics were raised for a broader Theory Camp that looks at the project as a whole.

The Theory Camp Plenary: As a result of the preparation phase we had a list of Wiki articles (see the  embedded links below) and corresponding ppts in Google Drive folder (see the link at the end of the list). For the plenary session these were grouped into following sets of contributions:

Learning and Practice

Collective & Networked Learning Theories

Organisational Learning

Generation of Meaning

Knowledge Representation

(See the presentations in https://drive.google.com/#folders/0B79ULHQp1d2BSzdLeGF5UVlNOEk.)

Reflective commentary: As the list above shows, we had quite a number of short presentations with few quick questions. Most of the discussions took place in the parallel working groups afterwards. In the plenary session the ITB team was responsible for the themes “Workplace learning” and “Work process knowledge”. Both presentations attracted attention and gave rise to further questions regarding the status of these concepts and of the practical implications.  I will get back to these issues in my report on the working group in which I participated.

More posts to come …

LL Theory Camp preparation takes off – Part Four: Providing theoretical insights into workplace learning

March 23rd, 2014 by Pekka Kamarainen

In my previous posts to this series  I have informed how that preparations of the Learning Layers (LL)  Theory Camp started (Part One, Part Two) and on our  reviewing of the heritage of the Work Process Knowledge network (Part Three). In this post I will focus on our efforts to give theoretical insights into Workplace Learning: Contexts, Processes and Outcomes. For this purpose we have created the following gDrive folder: https://drive.google.com/#folders/0B3HPtAul4vyHSzB0RzJIUnJwVTA.

Starting point

We found it important to prepare the theme ‘workplace learning’ for the theory camp although we did not have a single source but instead a wide range of theories and concepts to bring together. As already expressed by the Work Process Knowledge network (see my previous post), many research approaches tend to overemphasise the role of ‘informal learning’ and to belittle the potential of organised vocational education and training (VET). Also, we were concerned that much of the conceptual work on workplace learning in the context of VET provisions (in particular in the German dual system) is only available in German (or in very few translations in VET-specific antologies).

Interim products

In our sub-folder for Working Documents (see https://drive.google.com/#folders/0B02cXf0hbQH0R3Izb1JJWmVVYmc) we have produced the following overviews, input papers and synthesis articles (which all have the status of first drafts):

1) The overview Conceptualising Work Experience, Vocational professionalism and Workplace Learning – Overview on selected European research approachespresents a picture of European approaches that put into discussion work experience, comprehensiveness and connectivity in workplace learning. A set of selected articles outlines different positions at conceptual level – based on ‘connectivity’ and/or ‘Berufliuchkeit’ – and their implications to analysis of work process and curriculum development. (This overview refers to research dialogue between the Work Process Knowledge network and parallel research approaches.)

2) The input paper Learning in the work process – From Work psychology to Kompetenzwerkstatt  takes a closer look at the discussion on regulation on holistic actions and working tasks  from the perspective of work psychology and links this to the VET-specific approaches to shape holistic working and learning tasks (with reference to the ongoing project “Kompetenzwerkst@tt”.

 3) The input paper “Cooperation between Leaning Venues: Structure and impacttakes up several conceptual issues that arise from the institutional duality (or plurality) of learning venues in the German vocational education and training (VET). For the LL these are of particular importance since the gaps in cooperation and knowledge sharing are a particular stimulus for the co-design work under the agenda of Sharing Turbine.

4) The synthesis article: ” Workplace learning – Vocational knowledge – Working & Learning tasks covers most of themes mentioned above and puts them into a conceptual framework of VET research. It provides into the overarching concepts (‘workplace learning’ and ‘VET’) and into the pedagogic concepts ‘comprehensive action contexts’ and ‘holistic working tasks’. It continues with the themes ‘professional development’ and ‘social shaping’ (of work & technology) in the context of VET. Then, it draws consequences for the development of working & learning tasks and discusses the role of vocational knowledge processes. The article is concluded by a  reflection on the value of the culture of apprenticeship.

Working issues

As I have mentioned earlier, we have brought together contents from different sources as ingredients for a debate. The importance of these inputs for the LL project  lie in the fact that t we do not look merely at a simple, solitary process of  knowledge accumulation (as ‘banking’ ). Instead, the role of ‘work process knowledge’, contextual adjustment and ‘social shaping’ comes up all the time.
The LL project consortium has to perceive its developmental contribution in terms of research and development dialogue – instead of simple ‘technology push’. Thus, the usefulness of the apps and the SSS have to be discussed in the light of their contribution to vocational learning. The central questions are:

  • What aspects of work based learning and work process knowledge do the given apps and the social semantic server support and sustain?
  • Where are the restrictions, barriers and obstacles and how can we overcome them?

I think this is enough on this theme. We will keep working on them.

More posts to come …

LL Theory Camp preparation takes off – Part Three: Reviewing the heritage of Work Process Knowledge network

March 23rd, 2014 by Pekka Kamarainen

In my previous posts I have informed how that preparations of the Learning Layers (LL)  Theory Camp started as a Central Initiative (Part One) and as our local measures (Part Two). In this post I will have a closer look at one of the themes we have been working with – reviewing the heritage of the Work Process Knowledge network. As our gDrive folder (see https://drive.google.com/#folders/0B02cXf0hbQH0UDl1bmlJdjdhc2c) contains a lot of documents I will make only some introductory remarks to the theme and to the different working documents. At the end I will summarise some conclusions for the LL  project.

 1. Starting point

The more recent theories and conceptual constructs indicated in the LL deliverables  refer to certain aspects of learning or knowledge processes. However, there is also a need to review more comprehensive approaches to learning in workplace contexts that date back to earlier years. In this respect the ITB team in the LL project has taken the task to review the interdisciplinary research on Work Process Knowledge (WPK) and Organisational Learning. In this way the ITB team seeks to build a link to European research that was funded under the FP4 (Targeted Socio- Economic Research) and FP5 (Improving Human Potential).

The WPK network represented a Europe-wide effort to develop a comprehensive and interdisciplinary research agenda. In this context particular disciplines and national research traditions were contributing to shared knowledge development on work processes. The WPK network and the follow-up project analysed the introduction of  ICT at an early stage of innovations. At that time the solutions to be developed and studied were mainly domain-specific and organisational innovations. Also, at that time the possibilities for user-involvement and participative design processes were seen in narrower contexts.

2. Interim products

So far we have produced the following commentaries  or overviews  on the approach and the work of the WPK network (see the sub-folder for Working Documents https://drive.google.com/#folders/0B02cXf0hbQH0VjB6ckRyTGd2ZTA):

a) Commentary I on theoretical foundations of Work Process Knowledge – interim synthesis MF-NB: This document gives a picture on the emergence of the concept ‘work process knowledge’ in different studies, on changes in working life. It also makes transparent the critique that the network presented on allegedly one-sided approaches to socio-technical innovations. Finally it gives a picture on the positioning of the network regarding the role of vocational education and training (VET) as contributor to innovations in working life. (The reference text of this document is the synthesis article of M. Fischer and N. Boreham, 2004.)

 b) Commentary II on empirical studies of Work Process Knowledge – interim synthesis MF-NB: This document gives a picture on empirical and co-shaping studies carried out by the network. The range of studies is from ‘basic research’ on informal learning and learning potentials on workplace to programmatic and development-oriented studies based on the concept ‘vocational professionalism’ (Beruflichkeit). (The reference text of this document is the synthesis article of M. Fischer and N. Boreham, 2004.)

c) Overview: Conceptualising Work Process Knowledge – Implications for VET: This document draws upon the two above mentioned commentaries. It brings into conclusion different threads that were followed in the two commentaries and makes more explicit the conclusions for the LL project.

3. Lessons learned

The importance of the contribution of the Work Process Knowledge Network for the LL project: can be characterised as follows

a) Specifying the relations between informal learning and formal education/training

A key feature in the critique of the Work Process Knowledge network vis-à-vis the alternative positions was that the latter ones either

a) reduced vocational and work-related learning into proceduralised and popularised version of codified expert knowledge or

b) overemphasised the situated and intra-organisational character of such knowledge and learning (without taking into account ‘external’ and long-term influences).

b) Linking the role of ‘social’ and ‘technical’ in socio-technical innovations

Another key feature in the critique of the Work Process Knowledge was that the alternative positions either

a) reduced technical innovations in working life into mere implementation (technology-push) of the allegedly innovative technologies or

b) narrowed down the role participative co-shaping (by skilled workers) as activities of the (immediate) communities of practice in intra-organisational contexts.

c) Specifying the role of research in participative design & implementation processes

The theoretical and methodological discussions in the Work Process Knowledge network paved the way for research designs and modes of conceptualisation that both

a) required co-participative and co-shaping involvement of researchers in processes that promoted technical and/or organisational changes (with the support of skilled workers) and

b) enabled the documentation and conceptualisation of critical incidents, eventual tensions, turning points and eventual reorientations without losing the overview on the process.

d) Making use of a holistic view on work process knowledge and workplace learning

The critique of the Work Process Knowledge network vis-à-vis the alternative approaches has not been merely a matter of academic perfectionism but a challenge to get a holistic view that

a) gives an adequate interpretation of the acquisition of work process knowledge (and of the role of workplace learning as integral part of sustainable innovations in working life;

b) gives guidance for promoting organisational learning with relevant tools, arrangements and facilitation that make it possible to transfer and scale up the innovations.

 I guess this is enough of this theme for the moment. There are still some contributions on the pipeline.

More posts to come …

LL Theory Camp preparation takes off – Part Two: The Bremen approach to Theory Camps

March 23rd, 2014 by Pekka Kamarainen

In my previous post I informed of the initiative to work with an LL Theory Camp in the forthcoming Aachen Integration Meeting. I also informed of the start of the local follow-up in Bremen. With this post I inform of the further discussion in ITB team to the work with a wider set of themes and to continue with Theory Camps after Aachen.

Theory Camp(s) in LL project: What needs – What issues?

In the follow-up discussions of the LL teams of ITB and Pont  we welcomed the approach to work with ‘theory camp’ but we had several questions, how this could best be done:

a) Is the general level of discussing ‘learning theories’ enough or should we have a more differentiated look at the theoretical foundations of of our project activities?

b) Is it enough to have one joint ‘theory camp’ in the meeting in Aachen or should we have a set of ‘theory camp’ activities that can nurture each other?

c) How do we deal with the issue ‘integration’ in the theory camp activities – are we assuming that inventarisation of some ‘theories’ would give us an integrated body or do we need more work to examine the interrelations between theories, tool development and cooperation with users in the two sectors?

Contributing to the Integrative Theoretical Discussion

In the light of these discussions we started to work with the  theme “Theory camp preparation” to support the forthcoming activities. We acknowledge the central role of the Aachen event we consider it appropriate to have similar (local) events before and after Aachen. From this perspective we created the above folder “Theory Camp preparation” to provide a wider forum for the preparation(see https://drive.google.com/#folders/0B02cXf0hbQH0ZFg1eVlUM28zZ0U). In this sense we have accommodated the Innsbruck documents and direct follow-up contributions under the sub-folder “Contributions to theoretical integration debate” (see https://drive.google.com/#folders/0B3M81ETIl7QETzdZTHpMT250VG8).

Reviewing the heritage of “Work Process Knowledge network”

Concerning the scope of theories, concepts and methodologies, we concluded that the work in the Innsbruck group and in the follow-up was somewhat disconnected from the fieldwork and form the co-design processes. Our point was that the the LL project needs to inform itself of the work of “Work process Knowledge network” (FP4, TSER) and the follow-up project “Organisational Learning” (FP5, Improving Human Potential). This, to us was not only a matter of academic perfection but a matter of learning from their fieldwork and on their interaction with stakeholders. From this perspective we have created the sub-folder “Reviewing Work Process Knowledge & Organisational Learning” (see

https://drive.google.com/#folders/0B02cXf0hbQH0UDl1bmlJdjdhc2c).

Providing theoretical insights into Workplace Learning

Concerning the theme ‘Workplace learning’ we have been concerned that it has so far had a somewhat marginal role vis-à-vis themes like ‘informal learning’, ‘scaffolding’ etc. For the ITB team it has been important to bring into picture several aspects of workplace learning in the context of the German vocational education and training (VET) culture – including the integrative concept ‘Beruf’, cooperation between learning venues and the role of working and learning tasks.  For these themes we created the gDrive folder “Workplace Learning: Contexts, Processes, Tasks, Outcomes” (https://drive.google.com/?authuser=0#folders/0B3HPtAul4vyHSzB0RzJIUnJwVTA ).

Reviewing different approaches to ‘action research’, ‘accompanying research’ and ‘interactive research’

Another major need for similar work was to clarify our concept of participative design processes, e.g. by reflecting different positions in the field of participative research. In ITB and in the VETNET network of EERA-ECER there is a longer tradition of discussing the relations between the general genre of ‘action research’ and the more specific forms as ‘accompanying research’ or ‘interactive research’ that support innovation programmes in education/training and working life and/or specific pilot projects. The reviewers’ recommendation to widen the scope was taken into account and the thread ‘transdisciplinary action research was spotted. For this work we created the gDrive folder “Reviewing Action research – Accompanying research – Interactive research” (see

https://drive.google.com/#folders/0B02cXf0hbQH0NzB2QV9EY3MxWFk ).

In the following posts I will give insights into the two themes that we have prepared for Aachen – Work Process Knowledge, Workplace Learning. Then, I will add some remarks, how we can bring these themes into common discussion in Aachen.

More posts to come …

 

LL Theory Camp preparation takes off – Part One: The Central initiative

March 23rd, 2014 by Pekka Kamarainen

Theory Camp(s) in the LL project – What for?

The need for specific measures to reflect on the theoretical foundations was raised by the reviewers comments in the Y1 review meeting in Barcelona. In particular these comments pointed to the theoretical assumptions regarding the Social Semantic Server and its use in the project. In general, the project was challenged to specify its own position vis-à-vis different (and sometimes contradictory) references that have been quoted. Also, other issues were raised – e.g. the project was asked need to clarify its commitment to ‘action research’ and to specify its position vis-à-vis newer developments in that field – notably the emergence of ‘transdisciplinary action research’ in cross-over areas between community psychology and landscape architecture (with an emphasis on societal dialogue and validation between planning and community participation).

One idea of the LL consortium was to respond to this critique with so called theory camp activities. At first this idea was discussed in one of the workshops of the consortium meeting in Innsbruck that started preparing a “theory camp” type of workshop for the Aachen meeting. After the Innsbruck meeting this idea has triggered further (complementary) initiatives that suggest a wider use of ‘theory camps’ with different accents, partly contributing to the Aachen meeting and partly continuing after it. This document tries to clarify, how these initiatives can complement each other and how we all can benefit of both.

The central initiative of the Innsbruck meeting: A Wiki for Theory camp in Aachen

The working group in the Innsbruck started to map different contemporary theories (or theoretical concepts) on learning – mainly with focus on generic theories and with an interest to map the theoretical landscape. One focus of this effort was to make transparent which theoretical assumptions are represented in the consortium and especially to clarify theoretical assumptions of the Social Semantic Server and their compatibility with the conceptual foundations of other project activities. This has been followed up mainly in the preparation of the Aachen agenda with a specific Wiki page that outlines issues and a procedure. (See the Wiki http://htk.tlu.ee/layers/MW/index.php/Aachen_Theory_Camp .)

The local initiative of the ITB team: A gDrive folder for a wider range of themes

A second focus (already in Innsbruck) was the need to discuss a broader pedagogical concepts and common research approaches to the project. As first follow-up measure to this, Joanna Burchert wrote a short input paper. It aimed to point out basic assumptions on learning (basic for the theories collected and discussed in Innsbruck by the LL consortium) and to show up their consequences for evaluation, cooperation and tool development. Further texts with pedagogical focus, e.g. exploring the terms formal and informal learning, followed. They are integrated in the gDrive “Theory Camp preparation” folder https://drive.google.com/?authuser=0#folders/0B02cXf0hbQH0ZFg1eVlUM28zZ0U.

In the forthcoming posts I will give some insights into themes prepared by the ITB team and discuss, how we can bring these into discussion in Aachen.

More posts to come …

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    Consultation

    Diana Laurillard, Chair of ALT, has invited contributions to a consultation on education technology to provide input to ETAG, the Education Technology Action Group, which was set up in England in February 2014 by three ministers: Michael Gove, Matthew Hancock and David Willetts.

    The deadline for contributions is 23 June at http://goo.gl/LwR65t.


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    The Nominet Trust have announced their new look Social Tech Guide.

    The Social Tech Guide first launched last year, initially as a home to the 2013 Nominet Trust 100 – which they describe as a list of 100 inspiring digital projects tackling the world’s most pressing social issues.

    In  a press relase they say: “With so many social tech ventures out there supporting people and enforcing positive change on a daily basis, we wanted to create a comprehensive resource that allows us to celebrate and learn from the pioneers using digital technology to make a real difference to millions of lives.

    The Social Tech Guide now hosts a collection of 100′s of social tech projects from around the world tackling everything from health issues in Africa to corruption in Asia. You can find out about projects that have emerged out of disaster to ones that use data to build active and cohesive communities. In fact, through the new search and filter functionality on the site, you should find it quick and easy to immerse yourself in an inspiring array of social tech innovations.”


    Code Academy expands

    The New York-based Codecademy has translated its  learn-to-code platform into three new languages today and formalized partnerships in five countries.

    So if you speak French, Spanish or Portuguese, you can now access the Codecademy site and study all of its resources in your native language.

    Codecademy teamed up with Libraries Without Borders (Bibliotheques sans Frontieres) to tackle the French translation and is now working on pilot programs that should reduce unemployment and bring programming into schools. In addition, Codecademy will be weaving its platform into Ideas Box, a humanitarian project that helps people in refugee camps and disaster zones to learn new skills. Zach Sims, CEO of Codecademy, says grants from the public and private sector in France made this collaboration possible.

    The Portuguese translation was handled in partnership with The Lemann Foundation, one of the largest education foundations in Brazil. As with France, Codecademy is planning several pilots to help Brazilian speakers learn new skills. Meanwhile in Buenos Aires, Argentina, the company has been working closely with the local government on a Spanish version of its popular site.

    Codecademy is also linking up up with the Tiger Leap program in Estonia, with the aim of teaching every school student how to program.


    Open online STEM conference

    The Global 2013 STEMx Education Conference claims to be the world’s first massively open online conference for educators focusing on Science, Technology, Engineering, Math, and more. The conference is being held over the course of three days, September 19-21, 2013, and is free to attend!
    STEMxCon is a highly inclusive event designed to engage students and educators around the globe and we encourage primary, secondary, and tertiary (K-16) educators around the world to share and learn about innovative approaches to STEMx learning and teaching.

    To find out about different sessions and to login to events go to http://bit.ly/1enFDFB


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