Archive for the ‘Knowledge development’ Category

New steps in the Layers fieldwork – Part 1: Layers goes to NordBau

September 12th, 2014 by Pekka Kamarainen

During the summer months it has not been possible to report much on the fieldwork for the Learning Layers (LL) project. Due to the holiday periods there have been no major events. Yet, thanks to the efforts in May and June and due to preparatory measures by several colleagues, we have been able to take several steps forward when coming back from holidays and conference trips. In this first post I will give a report on the LL partners’ visit to the German construction fair NordBau that took place yesterday.

The annual NordBau fair in Neumünster, near Hamburg, is the biggest sectoral fair for construction industry and craft trades in North Germany. The exhibition halls present products, tools and services whilst the large outdoor areas are filled with heavy machinery by all major suppliers. Bau-ABC is a regular visitor and this event has served as a major opportunity for contacting suppliers and cooperation partners. This time we decided that Melanie Campbell, Kerstin Engraf and I will make a one-day-visit to join the trainers – Mr Grewe and Mr Schütte, who were attending the whole time. We agreed that we three will first explore the exhibition area of ICT service providers and then join Mr Grewe and Mr Schütte with their talks with the suppliers.

1. Observations in the exhibition area of ICT service providers

We were interested to find out, to what extent the ICT service providers were presenting services for construction workers and their supervisors in the construction sites – based on mobile devices. From this point of view the general picture was far more traditional – most of the exhibitors were presenting CAD/CAM software for design work or business management software . Very few exhibitors were promoting mobile applications – and they also were primarily addressing architects or business managers. Yet, we got brochures from some software providers to have a closer look from the LL perspective.

A special compartment was the BIM exhibition container (Building Information Modelling) that was provided by a German research project consortium. involving several universities and software developers. The project demonstrated use of RFID-technologies and integrated software solutions with which the modelling covers the whole supply chain. Starting from product design and actual production (adjusted to customer needs), following through the logistic chain (including reporting, tracking and quality control) the software solutions gave information to the point of using the products in the construction project (and reporting of good match or eventual mismatches). Here, the emphasis was on integration of software and different steering/controlling technologies. From the LL point of view it was interesting to note that this project had been working with prototype solutions without involvement of real application partners and that the engagement of real users was seen as a task for different spin-off and follow-up projects.

2. Talks with supplier companies

The second part of our visit consisted of short visits and stakeholder talks in the outdoor areas in which suppliers to construction companies were presenting their machinery and equipments. Altogether we visited the areas of the following supplier companies:

  • Liebherr
  • Wirtgen Group
  • TractoTechnik
  • Vetter GmbH Kabelverlegetechnik
  • Tramann + Sohn
  • Wacker Neuson

These visits had been orchestrated and scheduled by Mr Grewe and they were part of his normal agenda for meeting suppliers to make arrangements for cooperation in training users of such machinery in the context of initial and continuing training programmes. This time, however, during most of these visits we had discussions also on the Learning Layers project and in particular on the Learning Toolbox. To me it was important that the colleagues from Bau-ABC had already integrated the promotion of Learning Toolbox (and engagement of their partner companies) to their normal business talks. Also, in these talks the colleagues from Bau-ABC were very attentive concerning the possible benefits that the company representatives could see (and very convincing in eliminating eventual misunderstandings). Yet, it was clear to all of us that our counterparts in these talks were the sales persons (and only in few cases the managers/owners of the companies). Thus, the agreements on subsequent pilot workshops were to be made with the management representatives.

At the end of the day we could conclude that our visit was well-timed and that we got good feedback regarding the Learning Layers project:

  • Concerning the ICT exhibition area and the BIM projects, we noticed that there is a gap in providing services for construction workers on the site and in engaging them in co-design processes. From this perspective both the task of the LL project and its approach can be seen as pioneering work.
  • Concerning the talks with the supplier companies, the colleagues from Bau-ABC demonstrated clearly that they had integrated the promotion of Learning Toolbox (and engagement of partner companies into pilot activities) as an essential part of their cooperation with business partners.

Also, the fact that such cooperation is valued became clear during our chance meeting with the team from the company W. (who had just participated in a pilot workshop on Learning Toolbox – see my next blog). So, we felt very much empowered and are looking forward to the next steps.

More blogs to come …

 

 

The VETNET network goes global: Reflections on the IRN-VET Forum at ECER’14

September 10th, 2014 by Pekka Kamarainen

During the last few years all my blogs have been about the Learning Layers (LL) project – and for good reasons. Our ongoing project has kept us busy to that extent and we have learned a lot. This one, however, will report on our efforts to promote internationalisation of research in Vocational Education and Training (VET) world-wide. For this purpose we had a special event – the IRN-VET Forum – in the context of the European Conference on Educational Research (ECER’14) in the beginning of September in Porto, Portugal.

Already during ECER 2009 ‘regional’ educational research associations like EERA (Europe), AERA (America) and their counterparts had created the World Educational Research Association (WERA) to promote internationalisation and mutual exchanges in educational research. In 2013 the WERA council organised a call for proposals to set up international research networks (IRN) under the auspices of WERA. This gave rise for our initiative “Internationalisation in VET research”.

As we had witnessed for a long while, the European research community in VET research had been able to consolidate itself well under the auspices of the VETNET network of EERA. The annual ECER conferences had become the key platform and the VETNET website was used for sharing papers and presentations. In 2013 major steps were taken forward to set up a journal for the VET research community. In this context some key actors of VETNET came to the conclusion that this journal should not be limited to Europe and that it would be important to set up a global network under WERA.

The proposal for WERA IRN-VET with the overarching theme “Internationalisation in VET research” was submitted and we were happy to have founding members from Europe, Asia, America, Australia and Africa. Very soon we received the notification that the proposal had been accepted and we were free to start with the founding activities. Although it had been relatively easy to get agreements from colleagues from different global regions, it was somewhat difficult to create patterns of cooperation and launch joint activities. Therefore, before having a constituting meeting, we agreed to organise a pilot session within the VETNET program at ECER’14 – the “IRN-VET Forum”.

In the VETNET programme the IRN-VET Forum was placed on the last conference day and as the first morning session (which is normally not the most popular slot). Also, some of the key initiators who had worked with me to prepare the proposal and the session could not attend due to clashes in their calendars. Yet, we were positively surprised to note that the session had over twenty participants who showed genuine interest in the talks on internationalisation.

Here some key points on the session:

  • I gave firstly a presentation on the founding steps of the WERA IRN-VET and on the key activities that we had outlined – International VET research review, Thematic sessions in ‘regional’ conferences, creating cooperation between VET teacher education programmes and PhD programmes and support for the new journal IJRVET.
  • Martin Mulder gave insights into the two pilot rounds of International VET research review that had organised 2012 and 2013 with his fellow colleagues in Wageningen University. He drew attention to the fact that it was difficult to keep the review process alive as a single-university initiative but that it would be highly interesting to keep it going on as a joint activity of a global network.
  • Marg Malloch and Len Cairns from Australia gave insights into the process called ‘destatalisation’ in their country. This concept refers to withdrawal of state in terms of privatisation and/or subventioning of alternative VET provisions at the expense of traditional VET providers (the TAFE colleges). Here the issue is, whether the weakening of state and the state-supported infrastructures is reflected in the quality and attractiveness of VET and what are the consequences in the labour market. The discussion drew attention to parallel developments as ‘deregulation’ in VET (e.g. regarding VET teacher education).
  • Lazaro Moreno gave insights into the national PhD programme in VET research that had been launched as a joint initiative of several Swedish initiatives. Here, the issue of internationalisation came into picture via different channels (access to literature, mobility and exchanges as well as internationalisation in one’s own home country).
  • Johanna Lasonen  (University of South Florida) was the discussant of the session. She encouraged further activities along these lines and drew attention to the need to pay attention to multilingualism, intercultural communication and intercultural integration

In the final part of the session I drew attention to some milestone events and we made some working agreements:

  • In the VETNET assembly within the ECER’14 the launch of the new journal IJRVET was announced publicly. The first issue is available online and the next ones are under preparation. This journal serves also the WERA IRN-VET.
  • In November the WERA has a focal meeting of the IRNs. By that time we have to finalise the founding regulations and the patterns of work for the IRN-VET. Also, in this context we shall discuss how to go on with the International VET research review.
  • In October there will be a regular meeting of the UNESCO UNEVOC-Centres. ITB has received an invitation due to its role in VETNET. This invitation will be taken as an opportunity to inform UNEVOC of the WERA IRN-VET.
  • When EERA launches the call for proposals for the ECER’15 in Budapest, we will launch a call for expressions of interest for a WERA IRN-VET Forum and/or for thematic Round Tables.

In this way the pilot event gave us further directions and impulses, how to strengthen our global cooperation.

To be continued …

 

 

 

Learning Layers at ECER’14 – Part 4: Reflections on the feedback

September 9th, 2014 by Pekka Kamarainen

In my three previous posts I have reported on the three sessions via which the Learning Layers (LL) project contributed to the European Conference on Educational Research (ECER’14) in Porto, Portugal. With this one I try to pick up some key points from the feedback we got from our colleagues.

Firstly, the presentation on the Legacy of the Work Process Knowledge network was well received – given that the network itself had been strongly present in ECER conferences between 1998 and 2006. But, what was more striking to me was the fact that the most recent changes in technologies – e.g. “Internet of things” – trigger a new interest on human interaction in organisational contexts. Thus, our researchers in vocational education and training (VET) want to find out, whether ‘organisational learning’ is merely a result of management strategies and consultants’ interventions. Or – like the WPK network argued – often unintended consequence of designed actviities, supported by shared knowledge processes.

Secondly, our symposium “Construction 2.0″ appeared to be a heavy load of information. Yet – no one complained that we had all these inputs (accompanying research methodologies, the encounters between work process knowledge and mobile learning and framework for scaling up innovations). We tried to focus on the work in construction sector. As a consequence, we failed to give a sufficient picture of the other parts of the project. We tried to emphasise the relevance of our activities for work organisations. As a consequence, we got questions, why we don’t focus more directly on (vocational) learning. Yet, by the end of the symposium we had probably covered most of the questions on understanding. And furthermore – we had brought the reality of complex R&D projects into discussion.

Thirdly, with the research workshop on “Interactive research” we had clearly found a good format to bring into comparison and dialogue different innovation projects. By using a common background framework and a common format for posters we had a focused discussion on four parallel cases in similar innovation programmes. Here we can speculate whether it would have been better to have the symposium first and the workshop afterwards. Or – was the successful and dialogue-oriented workshop a good starter for digesting the heavier symposium.

Altogether, we saw that we could share knowledge on the complex and dynamic LL project already at this stage. And, moreover, we got interested counterparts who want to deepen this practice into joint knowledge development. We are looking forward to the next steps.

More blogs to come …

Learning Layers at ECER’14 – Part 3: The German-Dutch workshop on Interactive Research

September 9th, 2014 by Pekka Kamarainen

In my previous posts on the contributions of the Learning Layers (LL) project to the ECER’14 conference in Porto, Portugal,  I have reported on the Opening Colloquium of the VETNET network and on the LL symposium “Construction 2.0″. This third post will give insights into the joint German-Dutch research workshop on the theme “Interactive Innovation Research in VET and Working Life: Lessons from Dutch and European Projects”.

The background of this workshop was a similar session in the ECER’13 in Istanbul in which three Dutch research groups presented parallel interactive research projects and experiences with boundary-crossing practices in educational innovation projects. This triggered the initiative to prepare a similar session between a merged Dutch research group and the LL research team of ITB. We agreed to present an update on one of the earlier Dutch project and a new project. From the German side we presented the LL development projects “Learning Toolbox” and “Captus – the Learning Exhibition”.

In the workshop session we started with a joint Power Point, presented by Aimée Hoeve (HAN University of Applied Sciences). She gave insights into the key concept “Interactive research” by Per-Erik Ellström (VETNET keynote speaker at ECER’08) and into the framework of Akkerman and Baker for analysing boundary-crossing practicies in innovation practices. Based on these conceptual impulses the Dutch colleagues had developed a poster format to present complex interactive projects with focus on the following points:

  • Brief description of the innovation context;
  • Characterisation of the interrelations between the activity systems ‘Research’ and ‘Practice’;
  • Characterisation of boundary-crossing practices in the project work;
  • Reflection on lessons learned.

After the brief introduction Aimée and Loek Nieuwenhuis (also from HAN) presented the two Dutch project cases:

1. The Hybrid Learning Environment project that was carried out in two sectors Catering and Construction, see

https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B02cXf0hbQH0Tm9HUE1JN0l5T0k

2. The Better Learning in Practice (BLIP) project that is being carried out in several vocational schools, see

https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B02cXf0hbQH0UHVYWHdIeVdOMXM

In a second round of discussions I and Joanna Burchert presented the two LL project cases from Germany:

3. The LL development project Learning Toolbox carried out in the training centre Bau-ABC, see

https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B02cXf0hbQH0TWdxbG0xWnVWTHM

4. The LL development project Captus carried out in with the Network for Ecological Construction work, see

https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B02cXf0hbQH0Q0sxQ3B1VGQ2RFE

In this context it is not appropriate to try to go into more detailed discussion. (We have jointly written an article that will be published in a short while.) However, we are pleased to report that this workshop format – even in the lecture theatre -shaped room – served the purpose of bringing the audience into active interaction with us. Also, via this mode of communication we got a better understanding of each others’ projects and agreed to continue this kind of cross-project dialogue and knowledge sharing. As the next milestone we agreed to organise a joint contact workshop with more detailed information on each others’ projects. We also agreed to invite a newer Norwegian project to this cooperation.

More blogs to come …

 

 

Learning Layers at ECER’14 – Part 1: The VETNET opening session

September 8th, 2014 by Pekka Kamarainen

Last week the Learning Layers (LL) project was strongly present at the European Conference on Educational Research (ECER’14) in Porto, Portugal. This year the conference celebrated the 20th anniversary of the founding of the umbrella organisation European Educational Research (EERA) that is in charge of the annual ECER conferences. The overarching theme was “Past, Present and Future of European Educational Research“. In a similar way the EERA network for European Research in Vocational Education and Training (VETNET) took the theme “Past, Present and Future of VET Research in Europe and Beyond” for its Opening Colloquium.

As part of this Opening Colloquium I was invited to give a short presentation on the development European research in workplace learning. Originally this task was planned for two other researchers with mutually complementing approaches. As their substitute I chose to focus on the legacy of the Work Process Knowledge network – a topic that I have also brought into discussion in the first Theory Camp session of the Learning Layers project.

I first looked at the history of the network from the unfunded phase (before 1996) to the first funding period as a European network under the EU 4th Framework Programme of Research (Targeted Socio-Economic Research) to the second funding period as a transnational project on Organisational Learning under the EU FP5. During all these phases the network brought together researchers from a wide range of disciplines including ergonomics, psychology of work, VET pedagogists, industrial sociologists, organisational researchers … For the VETNET network it was important that the network was strongly present in ECER conferences from 1978 (Ljubljana) to 2006 (Geneva).

The main point of interest for us was to look at the work of a Europe-wide interdisciplinary network that focused on skilled workers’ participation in and co-shaping contribution to innovations in working life. Here, the network did not try to make an a priori agreement on one overarching umbrella theory under which it would subsume its contributions. Instead,  it organised several sets of case studies and parallel to this worked with a common interpretative framework.

The main sources for developing the framework were field studies and comparative studies of the following kind:

  • studies on organisational innovations (e.g. including the introduction of quality circles) in which skilled workers’ participation and co-shaping contribution became manifest;
  • studies on new manufacturing concepts (e.g. transition from conveyor belt to ‘production islands’) that gave skilled workers’ collective responsibility new importance,
  • studies on hybrid qualifications and new emergining occupations (e.g. the integrative maintenance competences) that required crossing boundaries between traditional occupational fields.

With the overarching concept “Work Process Knowledge” the network drew attention  to the  acquisition of new kind knowledge in the context of innovations:

  1. acquisition of work process knowledge as a whole – not merely as new ‘procedural knowledge’
  2. balanced look at the role of informal learning (by-product of designed activities) and formal learning (taking up the learning gains of informal learning);
  3. the possibility to give support measures to promote organisational learning with relevant tools, learning arrangements and facilitation;
  4. the possibility to promote wider transfer  to other contexts by sharing knowledge and experiences.

When looking back at the history of the Work Process Knowledge network, it became apparent that the phase of the TSER-network was a unique opportunity to provide such a Europe-wide conceptual, transnational and inter-sectoral overview. In the next phase, the follow-up project focused on one branch – the chemical process industry – which was beneficial for becoming more concrete. Yet, the counter-side was the gradual particularisation regarding sectoral aspects and the size of companies. Also, the shift of emphasis brought the management perspective on organisational learning to the centre of interest.

When looking at present, it is apparent that the new presence of Internet, Web 2.0 technologies and mobile technologies open up several working issues of the network in new light. (This became apparent in the other LL sessions in the conference). When looking at the newest technologies that overshadow the construction sector (e.g. “Internet of things”, 3D-printing with new materials, Building Information Modelling (BIM)), there are other challenges that are similar to the ones already discussed by the network at an earlier stage.

Interestingly enough, in the Opening Colloquium Karen Evans raised three main points for looking at past and present and how to draw conclusions for the future:

  • Making VET research robust (awareness of conceptual and methodological grounds but being open for new issues),
  • Making VET research more dialogue-oriented (research, development and practice working together),
  • Making VET research more comparative (both system level, organisational level and in historical terms).

I think this is enough of the opening session. The main contributions of the LL project were in two other sessions – the symposium “Construction 2.0″ and the research workshop on “Interactive research”.

More posts to come

What has Learning Layers experienced in Bau-ABC – Part 4: Final impressions and points for follow-up

June 24th, 2014 by Pekka Kamarainen

In my three previous posts I have discussed the Learning Layers (LL) project consortium meeting in Bau-ABC Rostrup from different perspectives. Firstly, I have reported on the Demo Camp workshops with trainers and apprentices of Bau-ABC. Secondly, I have given insights into the Learning Café workshops that developed mid-term roadmaps for the project. Thirdly, I have described a special case of our outreach activities (in the light of an ad hoc meeting) and linked this experience to our discussions on technical development, mutual communication and scaling up processes. Now it is time to present some final impressions and to raise some points for follow-up.

Firstly, I try to give an overview of my impressions of the highlights of the three days (taking into account that I missed some of the parallel sessions):

1) For Day One that agenda had envisaged as the main activity three “Theoretical integration” sessions that focused on working with the research claims in our Development Projects and on collaborative interpretation of empirical data (collected from both target sectors and across the sectors). As a parallel activity we had planned a small German-speaking session to demonstrate some LL tools used in the construction sector (mainly to the trainers of Bau-ABC and to eventual interested apprentices). Here, quite contrary to our expectations the Demo Camp grew much bigger with its altogether ca. 100 participants (who came in several waves and swept across different stations).  The intensity of the discussions in the four demo stations was far higher than we expected and we got rich feedback. In this respect the sideline activity became the highlight event. It was a pity that a major part of the consortium missed this event but this could not have been helped – the room could not accommodate a larger audience and use of interpretation would have cut the discussions at the demo stations.

2) For Day Two the Learning Café sessions took shape only shortly before the consortium meeting. Yet, it was interesting to see, how quickly the participants adjusted to their roles as Topic table facilitators and as members of  the sustainability scenario teams. Also, it was interesting to see, how many tools we could bring forward to support these discussions and to shape the emerging conclusions. Furthermore, it was interesting to see, how all scenario groups could work their ways through the different topic tables and to give genuine and mutually complementing contributions.

3) For Day Three the agenda had envisaged a “Technical integration” session as the main activity and opportunities for parallel sessions alongside it. Luckily enough we agreed on some modifications. Firstly, the technical integration issues were started in a plenary session already on Day Two (which turned into a comprehensive situation assessment). The Day Three program was then structured as two parallel sessions – one with technical integration issues and another one with focus on Wrap-up of the Learning Cafés discussion on an Integrative evaluation concept (with reference to the developments in the fieldwork). To me, these were all important sessions but I could really see the value of these talks when we had had the ad hoc meeting with the trainer of Bau-ABC, who brought into picture a cooperation prospect with a supplier company in the construction sector. All our plans and scenarios started to get more content and scalability in the light of such initiatives.

Looking forward, there is a need to work further with the materials and the interim results:

a) We have ‘harvest’ the feedback from apprentices and trainers that we got during the Demo Camp (cards on the pinboards, drawings and audio recordings).

b) We have to harvest the results of the Learning cafés firstly to get a joint overview of the tools that were used in the Topic tables and secondly to get the interim results worked into coherent roadmaps.

c) We have to feed special cases from our outreach activities to our discussions on technical integration, participative design and stakeholder engagement to improve our understanding of our communication channels.

Altogether, a lot of homework for the follow-up. But, as I see it, we took some steps forward on all fronts and we can build upon it.

More posts to come (on the follow-up) …

 

 

 

What has Learning Layers experienced in Bau-ABC – Part 3: Outreach activities, technical development and scaling up

June 24th, 2014 by Pekka Kamarainen

In my two previous posts on the Learning Layers (LL) project consortium meeting in Bau-ABC I have followed the chronological order. I have first reported on the Demo Camp workshops with trainers and apprentices of Bau-ABC (Day One). Then I have reported on the Learning Café workshops of Sustainability Scenario groups rotating across topic tables (Day Two). In this post I will firstly jump to an ad hoc meeting that took place after the consortium meeting (Day Three, afternoon) and link it to our discussion on technical integration (Day Two and Day Three, morning).

The ad hoc meeting was initiated by one of the full-time trainers (Lehrwerkmeister) in Bau-ABC and he wanted to discuss an initiative for the follow-up of the Brunnenbauertage event (7.5.-9.5.). The trainer has developed a long-term cooperation with a supplier of machinery for construction work. For certain machines the users have to be certified for safety reasons. The company has developed an e-learning program to support the necessary training but has not enough resources to cater for the training. Therefore the company is looking for cooperation with training centres like Bau-ABC. In this context the trainer saw a possibility to link such cooperation to the work of the LL project, in particular to the development of the Learning Toolbox.

Most of the LL partners had to catch their planes or trains so only three of us (with closer involvement in the Brunnenbauertage and the follow-up) could stay for this discussions. Nevertheless, we felt this initiative promising and well-timed for the following reasons:

  • The company in question is looking for opportunities to scale up training and (informal) learning with the support of the e-learning program. In this context the company is not looking for exclusive arrangements merely for its own benefit.
  • Bau-ABC has a tradition to develop such training schemes and learning opportunities as vendor-neutral events that provide parallel vendors to contribute with their inputs (when appropriate and mutually compatible).
  • For the LL project this cooperation prospect has been put into discussion at the moment when we can shape the Learning Toolbox in such a way that it will provide access to such programs.

I think this is as much as I can tell about the results of this meeting.  We encouraged the trainer to continue his talks with the company and to inform of the interest of the LL project to join these talks. We are looking forward to hearing more in a short while.

I have reported this episode as a special case case of the outreach activities of the LL project in construction sector. We couldn’t have anticipated it before the consortium meeting, whilst the opportunity grew up in talks between the trainer and the company. We couldn’t have scripted it – neither for the sake of decision-making nor for the sake of software development. We (the ones who were there) saw the chance and agreed that this is an appropriate step forward in the follow-up of the Brunnenbauertage. However, in this respect we could rely on the conclusions that we had jointly agreed in the 3rd Internal Exploitation Meeting of the Construction sector shortly after the Brunnenbauertage (involving a wider range of LL partners).

I have highlighted this case because it serves as a test case for contrasting views on outreach, technical development and scaling up in the LL project. Some colleagues may see these processes from the perspective of technology-push. The role of outreach activities would then be to extract user-requirements to be passed for technical developers and then bring the solutions to users. The development would then take place in a ‘black box’ remote from users. (I know that I am drawing a caricature and I do not wish to point directly to any of our technical partners with this picture. Yet, I want to put into question, what kind of communication with traget groups and user engagement we are looking for.) In our case we were ready to enter conversations and interaction that may give rise to several thready of co-design activities.

I do not wish to go into details of our internal discussions on technical development and technical integration. I believe that these discussions helped us to put into perspective the technical partners’ internal communication, the ‘translation’ processes between technical issues and user-concerns as well as the integration of front-end services by LL tools and linked web resources. However, this was not the whole story of the results of our meeting. Moreover, these were interim results and we need to work with them.

More posts to come …

 

 

What has Learning Layers experienced in Bau-ABC – Part 2: Workshops to create medium-term roadmaps in topic tables

June 19th, 2014 by Pekka Kamarainen

In my previous post on our experiences in the Learning Layers (LL) project consortium meeting in Bau-ABC I reported on the Demo Camp workshops with trainers and apprentices. Indeed, this exercise grew in few hours into a major stakeholder event that provide a lot of focused feedback for the development of the LL tools. Now it is time to shift the emphasis to the workshop sessions that were planned to support the further development of the LL project itself.

In this context I would highlight the Day Two workshops or Learning Cafés that worked with our Sustainability Scenarios. Four Sustainability Scenarios were presented for the Construction sector, Healthcare sector, Managed clusters and Open Source communities. Participants then signed into scenario groups that started to rotate across four Round Tables (topic tables) that highlighted different working issues to be taken up in the work with the scenarios. Altogether, the aim was that the scenario groups develop Mid-term Roadmaps for planning further activities in a more integrative manner.

The four Round Tables had the task to organise discussions on the following working issues:

  • Capactity building and Training as support activities for the LL counterparts (moderated by Pekka Kämäräinen, ITB and  Jörgen Jaanus, TLU);
  • Learning Stories/ Learning Scenarios as support for co-design and development activities (Moderated by Sebastian Dennerlein, TUG and Vladimir Tomberg, TLU);
  • New Stakeholder Initiaves and their role in Scaling up processes (Moderated by Debbie Holley, UWE and Graham Attwell, Pontydysgu);
  • Offerings of the LL project and their role in Scaling up processes (Moderated by Gilbert Peffer, CIMNE and …).

Altogether, the first round table was set up as a more conversational workshop (with some tools to be used if they were taken up in the discussion). The three latter ones were organised as more hands-on workshop to produce learning scenarios, stakeholder matrixes and structured descriptions of offerings. In this respect it was more difficult to report back the results from these round tables. Also, it will take some time to incorporate the results into the roadmaps that started to take shape.

As a first glimpse to the results it is possible to give a brief report on discussions in RT1 on Capacity building and Training. Below I will highlight some main points raised in the sessions of the four respective scenario groups:

a) The Construction sector scenario group had started working with a more focused scenario that presented Living Lab as an infrastructural innovation for the interaction of Bau-ABC, its apprentices, trainees and clients regarding training and continuing professional development. In this scenario the mobile training equipment unit was closely linked to wider use of the Learning Toolbox and the Baubildung.net platform. The group discussed, how to develop further the outreach to such SMEs that are not immediately reached by Bau-ABC or similar multiplier organisations and their networks. This discussion drew attention to some everyday-life tools for SMEs that will offload them from currently time-consuming work.

b) The Healthcare sector scenario group had already got a very advanced mid-term worked out, but in regional terms it was very UK-specific. For outreach activities that look at other continents we considered it necessary to identify other (different) reference systems than the NHS (that is specific to UK) that has provided an institutional framework and acceptance for LL pilots. In this respect the HSKA partners reported on their preliminary talks with South-German quality cicles in the healthcare sector that have been stimulated by the (public) health insurance bodies. Altogether, the group came to a conclusion to organise a workshop on Transnational engagement around the LL Healthcare pilots in the UK. The workshop will be proposed for the Europe-wide AMEE conference in 2015.

 c) The Open Source communities’ scenario group was not working on the basis of a very elaborated scenario draft. Therefore, the discussion started as a mapping, how these communities could feed through LL training channels specific know-how on software options and information on events that promote mutual understanding (between users and developers). In this respect we discussed specific events like camps, sprints, hackathons as well as targeted competitions (contests) to mobilise developers to support specific  LL design initiatives.

d) The Managed clusters’ scenario group discussed the dynamics of capacity-building initiatives that have a potential to grow beyond mere training (for limited target groups). In this respect we got the challenge to look at the4 wider prospects of the Bau-ABC Multimedia Training activities. As another major issue the group discussed the (re)vitalisation of communication channels in decentralised clusters after the initial start with a lot fo face-to-face activities. As a third point the group discussed the mutual learning processes between different cluster regions that aim to take further steps towards internationalisation.

I think this is enough to give an impression of the discussions. We will make an effort to share and digest the results – in particular to incorporate them into the emerging roadmaps. But this needs some further conversations.

More posts to come …

What has Learning Layers experienced in Bau-ABC – Part 1: Workshops with trainers and apprentices

June 17th, 2014 by Pekka Kamarainen

My previous series of blog posts was about the preparation of the Learning Layers (LL) project consortium meeting in Bau-ABC Rostrup. Normally, I would have waited until the end of such meeting before starting to write new blogs. However, the experiences that we have made already during the first day merit to be shared and put into discussion.

We had planned as part of the agenda to organise a “Demo Camp” to present some of the LL tools in a German-speaking workshop to some trainers (and eventually to interested apprentices) to get some feedback. We had expected ca. ten trainers to visit the Demo Camp very quickly and we had not assumed that most of them would bring their apprentices with them. Little did we know what was coming up.

We arranged the room in such a way that we had in the corners info  stalls for presenting the following tools/resources:

  • The Baubildung.net platform to support networking and learning initiatives in construction sector,
  • The Learning Toolbox app to manage learning resources, apps and contents,
  • The AchSo tool to produce and annotate short videos,
  • The Bits and pieces tool that had been developed as collector of learning experiences (mainly in the healthcare sector).

In all corners we equipped the stations with flipcharts and/all pinboards to gather feedback.

During the preparations we started to get the message that most of the trainers will bring their current groups of apprentices with them. We then scheduled the visits as a carrousel workshop in which the groups rotated through all four stations (if possible). While the presentations were going on at different stations, Kerstin Engraf orchestrated the allocation of the next groups who were waiting out side to the station that was coming to an end with its session. In this way we managed the visits of ca 85 apprentices and 10 trainers, supported by 5 other staff members of Bau-ABC, ABZ Mellendorf and Agentur.

At this point it is too early to give an overview what all happened. My first impressions from the station of Learning Toolbox are highly positive. We got from all groups rather differentiated and domain-specific comments, what tools/working contexts we can grasp with the Learning Toolbox, what learning materials or units we can develop towards interactive learning resources and how particular elements of the White Folder (if not the entire folder) could/should be digitised. We had participants from different trades (carpenters, roadbuilders, pipeline-builders, well-builders, concrete-builders etc.). In particular the carpetners and well-builders got into lively discussion about the usefulness of the Learning Toolbox in their trade. (I heard similar experiences from the station that presented the platform Baubildung.net.) Also, the apprentices made a strong point that the availability of such tools and resources will strongly contribute to the acceptance of smartphones as tools and resources that support working and learning in the construction sector.

I guess this is enough for the moment. We need to take some time to sort and analyse the feeedback we got in all stations.

More posts to come …

Personal Learning Environments, Self Directed Learning and Context

June 15th, 2014 by Graham Attwell

Ten days ago I had an email from Alexander Mikroyannidis from the UK Open University. “Together with some colleagues from the EU project ROLE (http://www.role-project.eu)” he said, “I’m preparing a book to be published by Springer. It will be entitled “Personal Learning Environments in Practice” and it will present the results of applying PLEs in different test-beds in the project.

For each chapter, we have invited an external expert to provide a 2-page commentary that will also be published in the book. Would you be available to write such a commentary for the chapter that describes the vision of the project?”

How could I refuse? And here is my contribution:

Research and development in learning technologies is a fast moving field.  Ideas and trends emerge, peak and die away as attention moves to the latest new thing. At the time of writing MOOCs dominate the discourse. Yet the developments around Personal Learning Environments (PLEs) have not gone away.  It could be argued that the development and adoption of PLEs is not so much driven the educational technology community but by the way people (and not just students) are using technology for learning in their everyday lives.

Even when Learning Management Systems were in their prime, there was evidence of serious issues in their use. Teachers tended to use such environments as an extended file storage system; forums and discussion spaces were frequently under populated. In other words such systems were used for managing learning, rather than for learning itself.  Learners expropriated and adapted consumer and productivity applications for their learning. Such trends became more pronounced with the emergence of Web 2.0 and social software. Social networking applications in particular, allowed the development of personal learning networks. Rather than go to the institutionally sanctioned LMS or VLE, learners communicated through Facebook or Whats App. PLNs were not longer limited to class or course cohorts but encompassed wider social and learning networks. Wikipedia has emerged as a major open resource for learning.

As mobile technologies have become increasingly powerful and, at least in some countries, internet access has become increasingly ubiquitous, learners use their own devices for learning and are not confined to institutional facilities. Regardless of trends in educational technology theory and research, learners are developing and using their own Personal Learning Environments.

At the same time, the ongoing rapid developments in technologies are changing forms of knowledge development and leading to pressures for lifelong learning. Universities and educational institutions can no longer preserve a monopoly on knowledge. Notwithstanding their continuing hold on accreditation, institutions are no longer the only providers of learning, a move seen in the heart-searching by universities as to their mission and role.

Such changes are reflected in the growing movement towards open learning, be it in the form of MOOCs or in the increasing availability of Open Educational Resources. The popularity of MOOCs has revealed a vast pent up demand for learning and at least in the form of the c-MOOCs has speeded the adoption of PLEs. MOOCs are in their infancy and we can expect the rapid emergence of other forms of open learning or open education in the next few years.

Learning is becoming multi-episodic, with people moving in and out of courses and programmes. More importantly the forms and sources of learning are increasingly varied with people combining participation in face-to-face courses, online and blended learning programmes and self directed and peer supported learning using different internet technologies.

These changes are reflected in discussion over pedagogy and digital literacies. It is no longer enough to be computer literate. Learners need to be able to direct and manage their own learning, formal and informal, regardless of form and source. In conjunction with More Knowledge Others (Vygotsky, 1978) they need to scaffold their own learning and to develop a personal knowledge base. At the same time as the dominance of official accreditation wanes, they need to be able to record and present their learning achievement. Personal Learning Environments are merely tools to allow this to happen.

All this leads to the issue of the role of educational technology researchers and developers. In research terms we need to understand more not just about how people use technology or learning but how they construct a personal knowledge base, how they access different resources for learning, including people and how knowledge is exchanged and developed.

At a development level, there is little point in trying to develop a new PLE to replace the VLE. Instead we need to provide flexible tools which can enhance existing technologies and learning provision, be it formal courses and curricula or informal learning in the workplace or in the community. It can be argued that whilst most educational technology development has focused on supporting learners already engaged in educational programmes and institutions, the major potential of technology and particularly of Personal Learning Environments is for the majority of people not enrolled on formal educational programmes. Not all workplaces or for that matter communities offer a rich environment or learning. Yet there is vast untapped potential in such environments, particularly for the development and sharing of the tacit knowledge and work process knowledge required in many tasks and occupations. PLE tools can help people learning in formal and informal contexts, scaffold their learning and develop a personal learning knowledge base or portfolio.

At both pedagogic and technical levels, context provides a major challenge. Whilst mobile technologies recognise the context of place (through GPS), other and perhaps more important aspects of context are less well supported. This includes time – how is what I learned at one time linked to something I learned later? It includes purpose – why am I trying to learn something? It includes the physical environment around me, including people. And of course it includes the social and semantic links between places, environments, people and objects.

The challenge is to develop flexible applications and tools to enhance peoples’ PLEs and which can recognise context, can support people in scaffolding their learning and develop their own Personal Learning Networks and enhance their ability to direct their own learning and the learning of their peers.

Two major European funded projects, ROLE and Learning Layers are attempting to develop such applications. They both have the potential to make major inroads into the challenges outlined in this short paper.

Reference

Vygotsky, L. S. (1978). Mind in society: The development of higher psychological processes. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

 

 

 

  • Search Pontydysgu.org

    News Bites

    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.


    Social Tech Guide

    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


    Other Pontydysgu Spaces

  • Twitter

  • RT @SophyRidgeSky My thoughts on #indyref digital campaigns & why Yes won social media battle (but not necessarily the referendum) news.sky.com/story/1337925/…

    About 7 hours ago from Cristina Costa's Twitter via Twitter for iPad

  • Sounds of the Bazaar AudioBoo

  • Recent Posts

  • Archives

  • Meta

  • Upcoming Events

      There are no events.
  • Categories