Archive for the ‘Learning Layers’ Category

New steps in the Layers fieldwork – Part 2: Pilot workshops with craft trade companies go ahead

September 12th, 2014 by Pekka Kamarainen

With my previous post I started to report on the recent steps in the fieldwork of the Learning Layers (LL) project in the construction sector. I firstly reported on the participation of LL partners in the large German construction sector fair NordBau and on the stakeholder talks we had their with several companies. A major topic was to engage them into pilot activities on the LL tools in particular with the Learning Toolbox (LTB). This post will give insights into the recent Pilot workshop with craft trade companies on LL tools. This workshop was organised and documented by our ITB colleague Werner Müller. He has written a more detailed report for internal use. I will highlight here some points that give a general picture, how our pilot activities are moving on.

The workshop was planned as a follow-up to the stakeholder engagement activities that we carried out during the Well-builders’ fair in May 2014 (65. Brunnenbauertage) in Bau-ABC Rostrup. However, before launching a wide range of workshops, we agreed to have first a smaller pilot workshop. We invited two companies that we had interviewed during the initial phase of the project and with which the LL partners had good contacts.

The company K is a carpentry company with currently 36 employees. It is involved in the network for ecological construction work (Netzwerk Nachhaltiges Bauen – LL partner organisation) and in several domain-specific networks. The company has been pioneering with company-specific apps and is in the process of introducing tablet PCs for team leaders. At the same time the company is paying attention to the fact that introduction of new ICT tools will not cause a digital divide in access to information and communication. The company has regular meetings to discuss quality issues (QT-Runde).

The company W is a larger medium-sized company with ca. 430 employers and specialised on pipeline-building. It has most of its staff working on missions in teams of two or three skilled workers. This company has a long-term cooperation with Bau-ABC. The company W has been pioneering with digital pens, mobile offices (laptops with internet access) allocated to teams and with centralised databases. Yet, the company has had mixed experiences with the effectivity of such tools regarding time used for searches vs. finding adequate solutions. The company itself has centralised databases and is concerned of knowledge management and confidentiality issues. Concerning knowledge sharing and learning across teams, there are very limited possibilities to provide face-to-face meetings.

In the workshop we presented a general picture on the Learning Layers project and invited the companies to present their own situation assessment on their use of ICT, Web tools and digital media (including use of mobile technologies). Then, we presented a demonstration on the emerging Learning Toolbox (LTB) as a framework for managing web resources and apps with a mobile device. in the next rounds of discussions we were mapping different situations for piloting with the LTB and needs to which it could respond.

At this point it is not appropriate to go into details of the subsequent discussion. For the LL project it was important that both companies found their specific entry points to pilot activities. For the company K these were more in the intra-company communication and knowledge sharing and in the network-wide knowledge sharing. For the company W they were in the filtering of different quality guidelines and requirements (provided by different electricity providers or public authorities). Altogether, both companies agreed to continue the cooperation with the project and to organise further talks and pilot workshops in their companies.

After this pilot event and after the stakeholder talks during the NordBau fair (see my previous post) we are looking forward to the next pilot workshops.

More blogs to come …

 

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 …

 

 

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 2: The LL symposium “Construction 2.0″

September 9th, 2014 by Pekka Kamarainen

In my previous post I started a series on the contributions of the Learning Layers (LL) project to the European Conference on Educational Research – ECER’14 – in Porto, Portugal, last week. In this entry I will focus on our main contribution – the LL symposium with the theme “Construction 2.0: Concepts, Challenges and Chances for the research & development work in the Learning Layers project”.

We had prepared this session to give an overview on

  1. the R&D work in the construction sector as dynamic participative design process,
  2. on the specific design issues that require mediating between work-related challenges and mobile learning and
  3. on the challenges regarding ‘scaling up’ of innovations.

 The first paper – authored by me together with Ludger Deitmer and Lars Heinemann – had the title “The Role of Accompanying Research and Participative Design in the Learning Layers Project”. Our key messages can be summarised in the following way:

1. Key message: Initial shaping of the project concept of Learning Layers: In the initial phase the key achievement of the consortium was to overcome one-sided technology-push approaches and simplistic assumptions on the adaptability of web tools and software solutions that seemed context-relevant. The interim conclusion for the whole project was to launch participative design processes with relatively open innovation agendas and to allow several iterations. The interim conclusion for the ITB team was to support the interaction of different parties and to facilitate their search for specific solutions.

2. Key message: Building on prior accompanying research in innovation programmes: When looking back to prior experiences with accompanying research, the ITB has built upon the work in the  networked innovation programmes (Work and Technology, New learning Concepts) in which the coordination units supported knowledge sharing across the projects and the outreach activities. The interim conclusion for the ITB team was to look for opportunities to engage professional organisations and networks on the participative design process and to promote targeted outreach activities.

3. Key message: Adjusting the documentary and interpretative contributions to the process dynamics of participative design: During the design process (with manifold workshops) the ITB team has been responsible for the real-time documentation of the events and subsequent interpretation of the steps taken.  In this way the research team has provided a basis for joint reflection and process-awareness across different parties involved. The interim conclusion for the ITB team is that such material provides a basis for deeper conceptual interpretation of the design and transfer processes.

4. Key message: Adjusting research interventions to further development of design and transfer processes: In general, accompanying research is being legitimated as evaluation measure. Yet, in the light of the dynamics of the design process – and taking into account the goals for scaling up innovations – it has been appropriate to delay the evaluation measures.The interim conclusion for the ITB team is that the evaluation activities need to grasp the initial pilot contexts, the potential transfer contexts and the role of multipliers and peer tutoring and/or peer learning.

 The second paper – authored by me and Joanna Burchert  – had the title “Work Process Knowledge meets Mobile Learning – Insights into conceptual backgrounds and sectoral challenges within a participative design process”. In this  paper we focused on the legacy of the Work Process Knowledge network (see also my contribution to the VETNET opening colloquium) and the newer insights into mobile learning technologies. The recapitulation on the theme “work process knowledge” drew attention on the (informal) learning gains in organisational innovations. As a contrast, the newer discussion on mobile learning tends to be overshadowed by technology-push approaches and there are fewer insights into work contexts – and they tend to address motivational aspects. Here, we drew attention to the feedback we had got from apprentices and from company representatives at different phases of the participative design processes. As a conclusion, we pointed out to the need to analyse more the risks and conflicting interests that are at stake when introducing the LL tools into work organisations. Here, we saw the analogy to the case studies of the Work Process Knowledge network.

The third paper – authored by Gilbert Peffer and Tor-Arne Bellika – had the title “Designing and organising for scale – Experiences from a large-scale TEL project”.  This paper provided a wider overview on the whole LL project in its full complexity and addressed different aspects of scaling that we can take up. It explored some threads in the literature and some paths easily available for the LL pilots.Then it started working with a conceptual (synthesis) model that covers different organisational levels and brings into picture our outreach activities (including the work with managed clusters outside the pilot regions). Based on this introduction the paper looked closer at the design processes with Learning Toolbox as a progress from disconnected insular pilot to an open and expansive innovation agenda. In a similar way the paper outlined the work with cluster organisations.

I think this is enough of our input to the symposium. I will get back to the discussion in a later posting.

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

Developing a Work Based, Mobile Personal Learning Environment

July 6th, 2014 by Graham Attwell

As regular readers will know, for a long time I have been fascinated by the potential of mobile technologies for developing work based learning and work based Personal Learning environments. Mobile technologies can allow learning to take place directly in the workplace. Learning can be recorded and for that matter reflection on learning take place as a direct part of the work process. In such a way the workplace becomes part of the Personal Learning Environment and conversely the PLE becomes part of the work process. At the same time, such an approach can bring together both formal and informal learning. Through sharing learning processes and outcomes, learners themselves can contribute to a growing ‘store; of learning materials.

It hasn’t happened yet and it is worth thinking about why. One reason maybe that only recently has seen the spread of sufficiently powerful mobile devices and applications. Another is the suspicion of employers about the uses of such devices in the workplace. Most importantly may be the failure to develop pedagogic approaches for mobile learning. Most developments to date have essentially been about consumption of learning materials, albeit sometimes in innovative ways. And much of the publicity or mobile learning has emphasised consumption of short episodes of learning away from the workplace – or for that matter the classroom (for some reason we will all be learning on the bus or the train on our way home from work in the future or so the vendors say).

That is not to say there have not been attempts to develop more radical thinking. Members of the London Mobile Learning Group have, like others developed new ideas for work based mobile learning pedagogy. Yet still, as far as I can see, there have been few attempts to implement such ideas at any scale.

It is for these reasons that I am so interested in the development of the Learning Toolbox, initially targeted at apprentices in the construction industry, as part of the EU funded Learning layers project. Perhaps the biggest thing I have leaned from this work (apart from how difficult it is) is the need for co-development processes with end users and stakeholders in the industry. The new paper we have written for the PLE2014 conference documents the research we have undertaken and the co-development process, as well as our understanding of the issues around context and how to address such issues.

You can download the paper here. As always any and all feedback is very welcome.

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 …

 

 

Developing the capacity to mdoernise workplace learning

June 21st, 2014 by Graham Attwell

I like Jane Hart’s work on learning in organisations. And I like this presentation on 20 small changes to modernise the workplace learning experience. However, I am not so sure that the changes she advocates are so small. True each one on its own may represent just a small step forwards. But to be effective the changes need to be taken together. And that requires a big change on organisational practice. Many, if not most, organisations, especially Small and Medium Enterprises do not have the capacity to take these steps. That is why in the Learning Layers project we see capacity building as central to developing technology supported informal learning in SMEs. Capacity involves the confidence and competence of trainers and others who support learning, the understanding and support of managers, the physical infrastructure and perhaps most critically the culture of organisations.
We are working to produce an ‘e-learning readiness tool’ to help organisations assess where they are in termsn of capacity and plan the steps they need to take in order to develop tehir capacity. I will publish a draft of the tool in the next few weeks if anyone is interested.
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    Consultation

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

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


    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


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