Archive for the ‘Knowledge development’ Category

Professional identities and Communities of Practice

April 22nd, 2014 by Graham Attwell

Technology Enhanced Learning, at least form a research perspective, has always tended to be dominated by the education sector. Coming from a background in vocational education and training, I was always more interested in how technology could be used to enhance learning in work and in particular informal learning in Small and Medium Enterprises.

Much early work in this area, at least in Europe was driven by a serious of assumptions. We were moving towards a knowledge economy (remarkable how quiet that has gone since the economic crash) and future employment, productivity and profitability, required higher levels of skills and knowledge win the workplace.. Prior to the rise of the World Wide Web, this could be boosted by enhancing opportunities for individual learning through the development of instructional materials distributed on disc or CD ROM. Interestingly this lead to much innovative work on simulation, which tended to be forgotten with the move to the online environment offered by the World Wide Web.

One of the big assumptions was that what was holding back learning in enterprises was the cost of releasing employees for (formal) training. Thus all we had to do was link up universities, colleges and other training providers to enterprises through providing courses on the web and hey presto, the problem would be solved. Despite much effort, it didn’t really work. One of the reasons I suspect is that so much workplace knowledge is contextually specific and rooted in practice, and trainers and particularly learning technologists did not have that knowledge. Secondly it was often difficult to represent practice based knowledge in the more restricted learning environment of the web. A further issue was a failure to understand the relationship between learning nd professional development, work practice and professional (or occupational) identities. That latter issue is the subject on a paper entitled Facilitating professional identity formation and transformation through technology enhanced learning: the EmployID approach, submitted by my colleagues from the EmployID reject, Jenny Bimrose, Alan Brown, Teresa Holocher-Ertl, Barbara Kieslinger, Christine Kunzmann, Michael Prilla, Andreas P. Schmidt, and Carmen Wolf to the forthcoming ECTEL conference. Their key finding is that there is “a wide spectrum of how actual professional identity transformation processes take place so that an ICT-based approach will not be successful if it concentrates on prescribing processes of identity transformation; rather it should concentrate on key activities to support.” They go on to say that “ this is in line with recent approaches to supporting workplace learning, such as Kaschig et al. (2013) who have taken an activity-based approach to understanding and supporting collective knowledge development.”

The following short excerpt from the paper explains their understanding of processes of professional work identity formation:

“Professional work identities are restructured in a dynamic way when employees are challenged to cope with demands for flexibility, changing work situations and skill needs (Brown, 1997). The work activities of practitioners in Public Employment Services (PES) need to be trans- formed due to the changing nature of the labour market. As their roles change, so do their professional identities. Work identities are not just shaped by organisations and individuals, but also by work groups (Baruch and Winkelmann-Gleed, 2002) or communities of practice (Lave and Wenger 1991; Brown, 1997; Ibarra, 2003). PES practitioners in particular need to develop multi-dimensional (individual and collective) professional identities to cope with socio-economic and technological change (Kirpal, 2004). This shift is underpinned by the increased importance of communica-tions skills, a willingness to engage in learning and reflexivity, while reflection on experience over time may be particularly significant in the build-up of implicit or tacit knowledge as well as explicit knowledge (Eraut, 2000). At the individual level, emerging new demands and associated skills shifts generate a potential for conflict with traditional work orientations and associated values, norms, work ethics and work identity patterns of employees. One important focus for support are individuals’ strategies for dealing with such conflicts. While any identity formation process has to be realized by the individual, the process of acquiring a work identity also takes place within particular communities where socialization, interaction and learning are key elements. Therefore, supporting networks, of ‘new’ communities of practice (Lave, 1993; Wenger, 1998; Billett, 2007) and feedback from other practitioners are important aspects on which to focus.”

References

Baruch, Y. & Winkelmann-Gleed, A. (2002). Multiple commitments: a conceptual framework and empirical investigation in a Community Health Services Trust, British Journal of Management, Vol. 13, No. 4, pp. 337-357.

Billett, S. (2007). Exercising self: learning, work and identity. In: Brown, A.; Kirpal, S.; Rauner, F. (eds). Identities at work. Dordrecht: Springer, pp. 183-210.

Brown, A. (1997). A dynamic model of occupational identity formation. In: Brown, A. (ed.) Promoting Vocational Education and Training: European Perspectives. Tampere: University of Tampere, pp. 59-67.

Eraut, M. (2000). Non-formal Learning and Tacit Knowledge in Professional Work. British Journal of Educational Psychology, Vol. 70, No. 1, pp. 113 – 136.

Ibarra, H. (2003). Working Identity: Unconventional Strategies for Reinventing Your Career.Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press.

Kaschig, A., Maier, R., Sandow, A., Lazoi, M., Schmidt, A., Barnes, S., Bimrose, J., Brown, A., Bradley, C., Kunzmann, C., Mazarakis, A. (2013). Organisational Learning from the Perspective of Knowledge Maturing Activities. IEEE Transactions on Learning Technol- ogies 6(2), pp. 158 – 176
Kirpal, S. (2004) “Researching work identities in a European context”, Career Development International, Vol. 9, No. 3, pp.199 – 221

Lave, J. (1993). The Practice of Learning. In S. Chaiklin and J. Lave (eds) Understanding Practice: Perspectives on Activity and Context, Cambridge: University of Cambridge Press.

Lave, J. , & Wenger, E. (1991). Situated learning. Legitimate peripheral participation. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.

Wenger, E. (1998). Communities of practice: Learning, meaning, and identity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

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 …

Learning Layers after the Aachen Integration meeting – Part 1: Overview and conclusions

April 10th, 2014 by Pekka Kamarainen

Some busy weeks have passed since the Learning Layers (LL) project had its Integration Meeting in Aachen at the end of March. Before the Easter break it may be useful to look back what we achieved and what issues we raised for follow-up.

This post will sum up what I considered as progress in promoting integration across the Learning Layers project. There will also be some critical issues to be taken into account in the follow-up. In the next posts I will discuss the Theory Camp event and how to build upon it in the next phase.

Here some remarks on our progress with promoting integration in the project:

a) Promoting technical integration: Altogether the technical integration sessions raised awareness of the offerings of the partners responsible for the infrastructure. For other partners, the decisions on Layers Adapter (single login to LL apps/tools and joint data-mining on the use of them) are also of interest.

b) Technical support for Development Projects: The meeting increased mutual awareness between the Layers Developers’ Task Force (LDTF) and Development Projects and made transparent what kind of support can be given when up-to-date information is available. In particular the Learning Toolbox was redefined as an integration project that makes use of different LL tools that can be integrated at different stages of the project (some sooner, some later). This opened new possibilities for earlier demonstrations.

c) Work with sustainability scenarios: So far the sustainability scenarios have been developed somewhat separately from each other. Thus, the reporting on them was not unified. Now, after the Aachen experience, it is possible to plan a session that gives attention to the whole range of scenarios and works through the SWOT-analyses.

d) Cooperation across sectoral Development Projects: The Aachen workshop brought the DPs together to look at possibilities for mutually complementing pilots and demos (involving also external actors). This is vital for the development of Captus, AchSo!, Learning Toolbox, Reflect and the exhibition tools. This can be supported by the BauBildung.net and by coordinated development of customised training models for Bau ABC, NNB/Agentur and craft trade companies.

e) Cooperation with empirical studies: The Aachen workshop was a clear step forward in the discussions, how to get parallel interviews and stakeholder talks better coordinated. In particular there was an effort to develop new ways to utilise of prior knowledge, earlier interviews and documents encounters in the interpretation of interview data (on networks and their role in promoting learning). However, these discussions left open issues on, how to analyse changing practices in networks or the potential of networks to promote innovations in working and learning.

f) Work with the Theory Camp approach: The Aachen Theory Camp became a larger and more popular event than expected. Moreover, participants raised needs for further Theory Camp activities from the perspective of interventions, identifying (real) instances of change in sectoral practices and valuing the (conceptual) impact on theory and practice as merits of the research partners. This needs to be taken into account in the planning of the next project consortium meeting in Bremen.

g) Co-design and evaluation issues: The above mentioned discussion (on interventions, identified changes and impact on theory and practice) is essentially linked to the goal-setting for participative design work and to the related evaluation concept. So far the discussion on the evaluation approach has been somewhat disconnected from the design teams and/ or development projects. The Theory Camp discussion gave impulses to discuss the approach taking into account the empowerment of users (Mindlines, Gestaltungsorientierung).

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 …

Learning Layers’ Innsbruck Consortium meeting (9.-12.2.2014) was a step forward

March 22nd, 2014 by Pekka Kamarainen

Below I will post a shortened version of the report on the LL Consortium meeting in Innsbruck that I wrote immediately after the meeting.

This meeting was planned as a preparatory event that prepares the grounds for the Integration Meeting in Aachen (March 2014). The assumption of the coordinator was that the main activities in the two sectors will take shape as Development Projects – including some overarching or overlapping Integration Measures or Co-design and Evaluation measures. Thus, the role of technical work packages could be discussed as support to be offered for these activities.

1. Work with the sustainability scenarios & responding to the reviewers’ concerns

The sessions were opened with the overview presentation of Tobias Ley that emphasised the work with sustainability sessions and taking on board the remarks on the reviewers:

https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B7vXuqBBjr9PendGTWh0YmJtRUU

The general idea of working with the sustainability scenarios was made transparent by the presentation of Gilbert Peffer and Tor-Arne Bellika, exemplified with the forthcoming cooperation with Norwegian and Estonian managed clusters (see the case ppt and the Wrap-up ppt in the folder). Tamsin Treasure-Jones and John Bibby presented a further developed version of the sustainability scenario in the healthcare sector:

https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B48qJr53GUxMU2NnNzZXT1ZkM0E

Ludger Deitmer and Pekka Kämäräinen based their presentation on the draft scenario outlined in the Barcelona review meeting and updated the picture with an insight into the key activities (Piloting, Multimedia training, Platform development) and how they are being scaled up with the support of spin-out projects. In our presentation we drew attention to the urgent uncertainty factors that need to be resolved.

2. Work in sectoral groups with focus on their Development Projects (DPs)

After these inputs there was a quick overview on the Development Projects.  Before the Innsbruck meeting the partners in the Captus team had provided a timeline for mapping the schedules of different DPs and support activities that contribute to the work under the joint agenda. This was used as a basis for the whole discussion in the construction sector group.

We outlined the uncertainties in working further with the Sharing Turbine agenda (in particular the lack of continuing technical support for programming). Since the piloting with Learning Toolbox is linked to the supporting multimedia training and to the development of platform for learning and knowledge we found it difficult to draw a timeline before having the question of support solved. Taken the above mentioned uncertainty into account we came up with a tentative timeline.

3. Work in mixed groups with focus on (technical) supporting activities

The other group work sessions were paved py shorter and longer presentations on the following topics:

a) Common data modelling of Design themes/Development projects by using Conceptual maps (Cmap)

presented by Vladimir Tomberg, see https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B-zb4vasFuiuRGVPbXVIMkhoZWc.

b) The offerings of WP6 to support Design teams/ Development projects with infrastructure and tools presented by Ralf Klamma; see https://docs.google.com/file/d/0Byec3A-kUd0wX1NUTG8tQ1VybnM and

c) Revisiting the earlier presentations on the Social semantic server with additional flavour from Owen Gray’s document “Social Semantic Server for Dummies”, see https://docs.google.com/document/d/1D4S6yAx3IFPIE4paQnoynJyc-_JLPOMoImC2M4w9HOM

4. The initiative to work with an LL Theory Camp starts to take shape

Whilst many of these sessions were used for internal knowledge sharing between partners who had not been strongly involved in each others’ work packages, one of the working groups took step forward in preparing the grounds for a common “theory camp” activity. This was triggered by the critical remarks of some of the reviewers (in Barcelona review meeting) with recommendation to review the theoretical assumptions underpinning certain work packages and to clarify the position of the LL project vis-à-vis the theories and conceptions that are used. The said working group started to develop posters to group theories and concepts for such examination, see https://drive.google.com/#folders/0B7vXuqBBjr9PZVQ2d0d3SlRYZlk.

5. Issues arising from further group work sessions

Without going into detailed reporting on further sessions it is possible to summarise their importance for the work of ITB and Pont teams with the following checklist that was taken up in the follow-up meeting on 13.2.:

- Further development of sustainability scenarios in the construction sector;

- Immediate measures to ensure technical support for SharingTurbine and Learning Toolbox;

- Synchronisation of the empirical studies for WP1 (key actor interviews) with other ongoing activities;

- Launching the ITB-Pont preparatory measures for the above mentioned“theory camp” and related work with conceptual maps;

- “Technical camp” for developers that are interested in enhancing the use of  WordPress and to develop plugins that integrate WP to SSS.

- Joining the initiative group on Augmented Reality in the construction work that had a kickstart in one of the working groups and started a vivid e-mail discussion.

- Updating the Open Design Library with presentations of construction sector DPs and updating the respective LL Wiki pages.

Altogether, we took a lot of homework from the Innsbruck meeting.

More posts to come …

Developing and maintaining artefacts and knowledge

December 18th, 2013 by Graham Attwell

Some of you will have noticed that this site was unavailable for a couple of days last week. When we investigated we found that the database on the server had become overloaded. And, although their may be other reasons, the major problem was that we were hosting some 15 sites, many of them ‘legacy’ European project sites. Furthermore because of issues with incompatible plug ins and the time involved, we had not managed to keep all the instances of WordPress, which hosts the sites, updated.

The European Commission requires us to maintain sites related to funded projects live for at least three years following the end of project funding. Given that most projects are of two to three years duration, this means the minimum time a site is up is five to six years. Yet the requirement masks a bigger problem. How do we preserve and build on the knowledge and ideas developed through project work – be it research or development.

Obviously we try to make sure that anything particularly important is included in the Pontydysgu site. And of course, many projects build on previous work. Most of our sites are archived by the Internet Archive. Reports and products are often published on social networking and Web 2.0 sites and can still be found there. Yet I cannot help thinking that many of the outcomes of useful and potentially important work undertaken by project funding are being lost over time. Perhaps the EU could itself do a better job of archiving and recording the work undertaken through its projects. In some areas, for instance around Open Educational Resources, there has been progress with the development of open repositories and in federating such knowledge stores.

However, many of the products of project work are probably ephemeral, or more important in the processes and interactions, than in the artefacts produced. And there needs to be some process by what knowledge, not only that on the internet, is allowed to gracefully degrade. The problem is that we do not really have any rubrics or processes for deciding what should be maintained and what should be allowed to degrade. Or indeed, if artefacts are important enough to maintain, how and in what spaces to do that.

We probably need yet another project to investigate these questions! Or, if anyone has a good answer, I would be very interested to hear from you.

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    We will broadcast from Berlin on the 5th and the 6th of December. Both times it will start at 11.00 CET and will go on for about 40 minutes.

    Go here to listen to the radio stream: SoB Online EDUCA 2013 LIVE Radio.

    The podcast of the first show on the 5th is here: SoB Online EDUCA 2013 Podcast 5th Dec.

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    News Bites

    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.

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    A new nationwide Open Badges initiative has been launched by DigitalMe in the UK. Badge the UK has been developed to help organisations and businesses recognise young people’s skills and achievements online.

    Supported by the Nominet Trust, the Badge the UK initiative is designed to support young people in successfully making the transition between schools and employment using Mozilla Open Badges as a new way to capture and share skills across the web.

    At the recent launch event at Mozilla’s London HQ Lord Knight emphasised the “disruptive potential” of Open Badges within the current Education system. At a time of record levels of skills shortages and unemployment amongst young people all speakers stressed need for a new way to encourage and recognise learning which lead to further training and ultimately employment opportunities. Badge the UK is designed to help organisations and businesses see the value in using Mozilla Open Badges as a new way to recognise skills and achievement and and connect them to real world training and employment opportunities.

    You can find more information on the DigitalMe web site.


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    Apologies for the broken Twitter feeds on this page. It seems Twitter have once more changed their APi, breaking our WordPress plug-in. It isn’t the first time and we will have to find another work around. Super tech, Dirk is on the case and we hope normal service will be resumed soon.


    MOOCs and beyond

    A special issue of the online journal eLearning Papers has been released entitled MOOCs and beyond. Editors Yishay Mor and Tapio Koshkinen say the issue brings together in-depth research and examples from the field to generate debate within this emerging research area.

    They continue: “Many of us seem to believe that MOOCs are finally delivering some of the technology-enabled change in education that we have been waiting nearly two decades for.

    This issue aims to shed light on the way MOOCs affect education institutions and learners. Which teaching and learning strategies can be used to improve the MOOC learning experience? How do MOOCs fit into today’s pedagogical landscape; and could they provide a viable model for developing countries?

    We must also look closely at their potential impact on education structures. With the expansion of xMOOC platforms connected to different university networks—like Coursera, Udacity, edX, or the newly launched European Futurelearn—a central question is: what is their role in the education system and especially in higher education?”


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