Archive for the ‘learningtechnologies’ Category

LL Consortium meeting in Innsbruck – Part Two: Working forward in the meeting

February 7th, 2016 by Pekka Kamarainen

Last week our EU-funded Learning Layers (LL) project had its consortium meeting in Innsbruck.  In the previous post I discussed the ‘warm-up’ event that the hosts organised with representatives of Austrian clusters and networks. In this post I discuss the work in the meeting and the general results. In the final post I will discuss the  results of exploitation sessions (from the perspective of construction pilot).

In a similar way as I did when reporting on the preparation, I will try to capture the main thematic blocks and the essentials of the conversations and conclusions:

1) Overview of the current phase of the project – working perspective: In his opening presentation the scientific coordinator Tobias Ley (TLU) restated the approach to present the results of the final year in one single package – with the emphasis to support the exploitation activities. This approach was reconfirmed by the partners.

2) Further development of the DevOps-Use model: Ralf Klamma (RWTH) presented an updated picture on the DevOps-Use model and how it has been introduced into the LL project. As the newest development he reported on the Community Application Editor (CAE) as a further support for dialogue between users and developers. Here again, the plan to produce a conceptually based overview on design-based research and design patterns in the LL project was restated.

3) Production of ‘training materials’ and dissemination materials: Pablo Franzolini (CIMNE) gave a brief presentation on this topic. He drew attention to the work that had already started with the healthcare pilot and the tools/combinations of tools that are used. Currently, this work has resulted in a relatively wide set of “Frequently Asked Questions” videos with short duration. Whilst this work was appreciated, we concluded that there is a need to coordinate the efforts to produce such materials and more content-related promotion videos. A working group was set up to prepare a proposal for producing “Layers OER” materials (and to address the orientation to OER in the follow-up phase).

4) Documentation of project achievements with “scorecards”: TLU had prepared a short workshop session to test the draft ‘scorecards’ by filling them with exemplary project activities. In the first phase we described the situation before the LL project, the intervention of the LL project and (inasmuch as it was possible) the situation after the intervention. In the second phase we used coloured cards to specify different aspects of the impact. This exercise helped us to get a common understanding on the kinds of activities to be reported and on the kind of impact to be stated. (TLU will follow this up.)

 5) Deployment of LTB and related evaluation measures: In a set of group sessions we had the chance to discuss the technical development of LTB and plan the deployment and evaluation measures.

5a) Technical development of LTB: The developers had presented a working document that highlighted the following points: a) addressing the stacks to groups of users, b) creating a  stack file system (SFS), c) content creation and sharing with the help of SFS, d) enabling bottom-up communication via chat channel. The users reported on improvements that are needed in the navigation and in the instructions. In this conversation we reached an agree of the necessary measures to be taken by the end of February.

5b) Deployment and evaluation measures: Based on these conclusions we could reach agreements on the introduction of LTB for training purposes and on a synchronised start of evaluation measures. We identified primary pilot groups from the trades of carpenters and well-builders and agreed on a timeline for kick-off workshop (with tool introduction and focus group), interim workshop and concluding workshop. We also agreed on the accompanying communication and feedback. (The detailed results were summarised by the powerpoints of the UIBK colleagues).

6) The exploitation measures: During the first afternoon we had a general introduction to the exploitation model (see my earlier blog on the preparation of this meeting). We also got an explanation, what role a jointly prepared and agreed ‘exploitation manifesto’ can play as a working agreement. We also were briefed of the IPR issues to be clarified. With this preparation the partners were invited to present their exploitation plans and/or intentions. During these presentations we were asked to list our wishes to have bilateral talks (persons, topics). On the second day a special time slot was reserved for these talks. (During this session there was a fire alarm and all people were evacuated outside. As we were well prepared, we could continue our bilateral talks there as well.)

I stop my reporting on the meeting here because I (and my colleagues from ITB and Bau-ABC) couldn’t attend on the last day. Thus, I have missed the wrap-up of the exploitation sessions and the discussion on the exploitation manifesto. We will have an opportunity to catch up very soon. Therefore, in the final post of this series I will focus on the exploitation plans/initiatives of the construction sector partners.

More blogs to come …

 

 

 

LL Consortium meeting in Innsbruck – Part One: Event with Austrian clusters

February 7th, 2016 by Pekka Kamarainen

Last week our EU-funded Learning Layers (LL) project had its consortium meeting in Innsbruck. Before the project meeting the hosts from UIBK had arranged a special event to present LL tools for guests from Austrian clusters and networks. In this first post I will focus on this ‘warm-up’ event. In the subsequent posts I will discuss the general results of the meeting and the specific results of exploitation sessions (from the perspective of construction pilot).

The event and the setup

As indicated above, the hosts from UIBK had prepared a stakeholder event to present the LL toolsets and services (work in progress). The participants represented a Tyrolean cluster organisation, a nation-wide forum of trainers in vocational education and training (VET) and vocational teacher education programs (at different universities/colleges). The meeting room was arranged as four round tables and the event was organised as a ‘world café’. Thus, after a brief introduction into the LL project the participants got a 10-15 minutes presentation to selected LL tools/toolsets in the respective table. Then the groups switched clockwise and got another presentation. In this way the following tools/toolsets were presented: “Bits and Pieces” (by Sebastian Dennerlein), “Learning Toolbox” (by Gilbert Peffer), “Living Documents” and “AchSo!” (by UIBK colleagues).

The Learning Toolbox table

For me and the colleagues from Bau-ABC (Melanie Campbell and Kerstin Engraf) it was a natural choice to join Gilbert in presenting the Learning Toolbox (LTB). In these presentations we could give an overview of the LTB as a mobile framework and as an integrative toolset. We were happy to present fresh insights into the mobile app, into the tilestore and into the contexts of deployment in Bau-ABC. From the participants we got questions regarding the use of LTB in training and in work processes as well as use of LTB in a personal learning environment.We were happy to discuss the development so far and the potentials that we see in the LTB (but made the point that phase of deployment is yet to come). Our counterparts were happy with this information and expressed their interest to learn more in the coming times.

The event did not last long and the time was effectively used in the groups. Therefore, I only have a vague idea on the discussions in parallel tables. Yet, my impression is that we altogether could give informative and interesting presentations. The participants were clearly interested and congratulated the project for a good event. We could happily recommend the organisers of the next consortium meeting to prepare a similar ‘warm-up’ event as well.

More blogs to come …

Stagnation or innovation in Technology Enhanced Learning?

January 12th, 2016 by Graham Attwell

Just a quick note following up on my blog of yesterday noting the lack of new ideas in the exhibition at Online Educa Berlin. Today I read an interesting article entitled “Caputalism: Will Capitalism Die?” by Robert Misik on the Social Europe blog. Most of the article, as the title implies is given over to an analysis of the lack of growth and “secular stagnation” in western economies.

Misik says that “despite superficial impressions, the past 15 years may have produced practically no more genuinely productive innovations.” He quotes the economist Robert J Gordon who says:“Invention since 2000 has centered on entertainment and communication devices that are smaller, smarter, and more capable, but do not fundamentally change labour productivity or the standard of living in the way that electric light, motor cars, or indoor plumbing changed it.”

And that seems to sum up much of the developments in Technology Enhanced Learning. Whilst in the 1990s and the first years of this century there was something of an explosion in innovative uses of technology for learning through mainly the development of Virtual Learning Environments, since then genuine innovation has stalled, as least through the ed tech industry. Games based learning, Learning Analytics, mobile learning, MOOCs are all interesting but they do not, to paraphrase Gordon, fundamentally change education and learning, still less pedagogy. As Phil Hill says: “Didn’t we have bigger dreams for instructional technology?”

Misik speculates on the slow emergence of a new economy in which “more decentralized, self-managed firms, co-operatives and initiatives play a gradually more important role – so that, in the end, a mixed economy emerges composed of private companies, state enterprises and co-operatives and alternative economic bodies.” And that may be the way forward to for Technology Enhanced Learning, where the behemoths of the Ed Tech world play a lesser role, where governments continue to invest in innovation in teaching and learning with technology in education, where the importance of state involvement in education is recognised and where smaller more agile private sector enterprises become partners in developing new initiatives and pedagogic approaches to learning. Its nice to be optimistic!

A blog is just a blog

January 11th, 2016 by Graham Attwell

2016 and it is time to return to the blog after a crazy December of meetings, conferences, travel and exhaustion.

First a quick catch up from Online Educa Berlin. Online Educa is always enjoyable if only because so many friends and colleagues attend it. I am also always interested in the very large exhibition which provides a quick overview of market and to a lesser extent pedagogic trends in technology supported learning. Decembers exhibition was strange, though. Firstly there were no big stands. Go back five or six years and the big stands were from the public organisations supporting the adoption of technology in universities and education in general. The UK Jisc always had a big presence, so too did the Netherlands SURF network. When they dropped away – probably as a result of funding cuts, The Middle East countries took over with colourful booths, even if somewhat lacking in content. And of course there were the VLE suppliers – Blackboard (later to become Pearsons) could always be relied on for a free glass of wine at the end of a busy conference day. At Online Educa 2015 they were all missing. The largest stand was Egypt Arising. However – whether because of their materials not arriving or for some other reason- they has no content and seemingly no representatives on what remained an empty stand. Instead the exhibition was dominated by the cheaper to rent small stands, some from projects but mainly it appeared from start up companies.

It was hard too to discern any particular trends. A few years ago the exhibition was dominated by virtual world type apps. Another year it was all about interactive whiteboards. And the next year it was video apps that were dominating the scene. In 2015 it seemed to be a bit of everything and a bit of nothing.

It left be wondering if the days of educational technology are numbered. Yes we are moving to software as a service and this will impact of education. And of course data (sometimes big data) is making an impact in the form of Learning analytics. Learning management Systems or VLEs stubbornly refuse to go away although all the suppliers seem to stress how their platforms support personal learning pathways. But in truth much of the technology used for learning is little different from the productivity apps and social software being used in everyday business and living. Will 2016 be the year when – depending on how you look at it – educational technology becomes part of the mainstream or the mainstream is just technology used for learning. After all a blog is just a blog.

Crossing boundaries at the Bremen International VET conference – Part One: Learning Layers and Employ-ID work together

September 13th, 2015 by Pekka Kamarainen

My recent blog was about a field visit to training centre Bau-ABC (2.9.2015) in the context of the fieldwork of the EU-funded Learning Layers (LL) project. The very next day the ITB and Pontydysgu teams, together with Raymond Elferink (RayCom) presented Learning Toolbox at the Bremen International Conference on Vocational Education and Training (VET). This post will focus on this session, the next one on other sessions of the conference.

Insights into the Bremen Conference

Firstly, it is worthwhile to say some words of the Bremen International VET Conference. This conference has been initiated as part of an international project of ITB that has been launched by the University of Bremen (in the context of its Excellence University framework). The project studies transfer of the dual VET model by German companies working abroad (in China and in the USA). As a part of its work program the project has committed itself to organise international conferences. This one was the first of its kind and focused on crossing the boundaries and learning from each other. The conference was designed to keep it rather small (about 100 participants at the maximum) and to enable more discussion and more participative sessions (see below). I will give more information on the contents in my second blog post on this conference.

Presenting Learning Toolbox in the Bremen Conference

For the Bremen Conference we had prepared a Research Workshop session to avoid the typical impression of ‘talking heads’ in the front and passive listeners in the audience. Therefore, we kept the presentations rather short and then divided the audience into two working groups to discuss the presentations and to have some hands-on exercises. Here some snapshots on the contributions and activities:

Firstly, I gave a quick introduction to the Learning Layers project and to the script of the session. In this context I emphasised the continuity of themes between the participative design of Learning Toolbox (LTB), the functionality that is coming up in the LTB, the capacity building measures initiated in the training centre Bau-ABC and the lessons to be learned from the parallel European project Employ-ID (and its piloting with Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs).

Secondly, Werner Müller (ITB) gave a presentation on the co-design process that led to the development of the LTB. He referred to the starting points in the sectoral pilot contexts (construction work not having the reputation of high-tech occupations). Then he gave a picture of the co-design activities, different phases of work and a general characterisation of LTB as a framework for tools and apps linked to each other in mobile devices.

Thirdly, Raymond Elferink (RayCom) gave a live demonstration on the LTB Beta version that we had just presented and tested on our field visit to the training centre Bau-ABC the day before (see my previous blog post). Alongside the general presentation (of the tile structure of the framework and of the process of creating focused stacks) he drew attention to the newly created stacks of the Bau-ABC trainers for their respective trades.

Fourthly, I (as a replacement of Melanie Campbell from Bau-ABC) gave a presentation of their training programs for their staff. This presentation drew attention firstly to the project-initiated training that equipped the Bau-ABC trainers with general know-how on multimedia and web tools and enabled them to produce and edit video material for their training. In the second part the presentation outlined the new training model initiated by the Bau-ABC trainers themaselves. In this new model they tried to ensure a flexible training arrangement that enables all trainers to work their way through parallel “theme rooms” that make them fit to use the LTB in their own training activities.

 Fifthly, Graham Attwell informed of the parallel European project Employ-ID and its work to support professional development and mastery of changes in Public Employment Services (PES). In this context the research & development worked with development of labour market data for guidance and counselling purposes. At the same time the project developed new training models for staff members in PES with limited possibilities to participate in traditional training measures. For this purpose the project developed an adapted version of Massively Open Online Courses (MOOCs) with limited participation and limited openness but with similar technologies for online learning. Crucial for this pilot was the emphasis on interactivity and changing roles between trainers and learners. Here, the key point in this report on this recent pilot is to demonstrate the usability of these technologies for well-thought pedagogical pilots that emphasise the use of MOOC platforms as Social Learning Platforms.

After the presentations we split the audience into two working groups. In one group the participants had the opportunity for hands-on tests with the LTB (with Raymond Elferink and Dirk Stieglitz as tutors). In the other group we discussed possible success factors and criteria for acceptance in the above presented training models (of Bau-ABC and Employ-ID). Since we had half an hour for these sub-sessions, the participants could engage themselves in the testing and/or give freely their views on the training models. This was very much appreciated by all parties involved.

I guess this is enough of the main session of the Learning Layers project in this conference. In the next blog post I will give insights into other sessions in the Bremen International VET Conference.

More blogs to come …

 

 

 

Results & Conclusions of our Tallinn meeting – Part One: The preparation day

June 25th, 2015 by Pekka Kamarainen

In one of my previous posts (June 13th, 2015) I wrote about our preparation for the forthcoming Tallinn meeting of our EU-funded Learning Layers (LL) project. Now, with this series of blog posts, it is time to wrap up results and conclusions of our busy days in Tallinn. In this first post I will focus on our work during the preparation day (Tuesday 16th of June). In the next post I will focus on the sessions that focused on the construction sector pilot.

Due to favourable flight schedules the LL partners from North Germany (ITB and Bau-ABC) had decided to take flights to Tallinn already on Monday (15th of June) and to dedicate the whole Tuesday for a preparatory meeting. In the first partof the meeting we were working mainly with our ‘local issues’ with the ongoing construction sector pilot and on the exploitation issues (using German as common working language). Partly we were working together with our partners from Aalto University and Tallinn University. In these parts of the meeting  we explored the possibilities to enrich our pilot activities with complementary tools and apps (in particular AchSo! and Social Augmented Reality). Below, I try to give an overview on the two parts (and different ingredients) of our meeting and on the interim conclusions we reached at that stage.

 1. Discussions on our North German construction pilots

The most important input to this part of the meeting was Melanie Campbell’s report on their follow-up of the Training Day in Bau-ABC (see my earlier posts May 12th, 2015 and May 15th, 2015). After discussing our reports on the workshop sessions during the Training Day the Bau-ABC trainers firstly confirmed the results and conclusions. Thus, the picture we had got from the domain-specific training projects and on the use of digital media and Learning Toolbox seemed to them appropriate (see below the exemplary cases we prepared for the consortium meeting).

However, this discussion brought the Bau-ABC trainers to give some deeper thoughts on the needs for Multimedia Training that is needed, when the use of Learning Toolbox (with mobile technologies, digital media and web resources) will become everyday life practice in Bau-ABC. The trainers came to conclusion that they need to take more intensive measures to support Multimedia Training (and further capacity building) jointly. Here some of the main conclusions:

  • After the holiday break participation in Multimedia Training will be made mandatory for all Bau-ABC trainers and the trainers consider it as an essential part of their duties.
  • To enable flexible participation, the Multimedia Training will take place in (physical and virtual) ‘theme rooms/spaces’ (Themenräume). These rooms/spaces will be available for users for the time they require for individual familiarisation and mutual support. Once the users have ‘checked out’ from the rooms/spaces, they will populated by other themes (and the previous ones will be archived). In this way the Multimedia Training program is based on rotating between parallel/consecutive theme rooms/spaces.
  • The initial set of themes proposed by the Bau-ABC trainers are the following ones: Theme 1 – use of social media (facebook + word press/ buddy press platforms), Theme 2 – making use of Learning Toolbox (LTB) (stack-building, app-integration), Theme 3 – Creating learning material (video, pictures, drawings, quiz, comics …), Theme 4 – Data management (Data protection/ security, Open Educational Resources (OER) and Creative Commons. (This thematic block might require a constant room/ space throughout the Multimedia Training program.)

In addition to this initiative we discussed several practical issues on the implementation of such program with the support of internal facilitators and external support persons. We also discussed the requirements on infrastructure, software and supporting materials. (Here we took note of the existing material of TACCLE and TACCLE2 projects.)

In the light of this report we discussed, how to present some domain-specific training projects that can illustrate the use of  LTB by trainers and/or apprentices. Here we agreed on two exemplary cases: Building a parking place without barriers (for disabled people using wheelchairs) and Building a staircase (Brettschalung/Treppenbau). Here we noted, how the trainers differentiate between the preparation of multimedia contents for the training projects (in advance and as a specific task) and producing multimedia content as documentation of learning processes (during the implementation of the training projects). We also drew an illustrative picture of the estimated use of LTB by apprentices during an average training project (timeline with peak points in the beginning, by the end and after the completion of the project).

With these discussion we equipped ourselves for our contributions on the use of LTB in integrated learning arrangements (scheduled for Wednesday, 17th of June).

2. Discussions on enriching the Learning Toolbox (LTB) with complementary tools and apps

In the second part(s) of the meeting we discussed the contributions of different complementary tools and apps (hitherto developed separately) as enrichment of the LTB (in particular in the construction sector):

  • Adolfo Ruiz Tallinn University (TLU) presented firstly a design of ‘Locations’ by a group of Bachelor students of TLU. Their design was based on the placement of sensors (iBeacons) in different parts of a larger room. When people with smartphones moved around the room, the sensors recognised their devices and posed sets of questions to be answered. In this design the participants were expected to complete all sets of questions by moving around the room. In this way they participated in a competition. For the construction sector this relatively simple idea was attractive because it seemed to provide the techniques, how to support the preparation of working and learning assignments (or projects) in training workshops. Moreover, the fact that the sensors were communicating with a WordPress platform was even more interesting since Bau-ABC has started working with their domain-specific blogs using the platform BauBildung.net (powered by WordPress).
  • The colleagues from Aalto University (Jukka Purma, Marjo Virnes and Samuli Vainio) gave us inputs on the video annotation tool AchSo! and on the current pilots. We had already had several initial demonstrations of AchSo! working in simulated contexts and in review meetings, so we were keen to hear more on pilot testing in construction work, engineering studies and in healthcare studies. The colleagues informed us about clear achievements in documenting the learning processes and making the workplace learning process transparent for reflection after the event. Also, the possibility to annotate pictures and moving pictures with limited amount of text (or symbols) was welcomed. For the construction sector we raised the importance of using longer videos as raw material. Here, Mati Möttus (TLU) reported of his parallel tests of AchSo in the context of traffic surveillance (and with few ‘disturbing’ or ‘alerting’ incidents to be annotated and searched via tags or symbols. Also in this context we started a discussion on the prospects for developing AchSo both for Android and iOS operating systems.
  • The colleagues from Aalto University (mainly Jana Pejoska and Jukka Purma) gave inputs on the current phase of work with Social Augmented Reality (SAR). Since we had to skip the technical demonstration, we had very few impressions but we got a rough idea of the extended illustrations beyond the reach of traditional tools. (Later on Melanie Campbell and trainer Marc Schütte provided us a perfect case of the driver of excavator (or other construction vehicle) using augmented reality to get a better impression of the dimensions of the vehicle when transporting it.) With this discussion we agreed to explore the possibilities to pilot with SAR in Bau-ABC alongside LTB (and preferably with AchSo).

With these additional inputs we drew a picture of the current situation in developing LTB and our interpretation, how the complementary tools could be integrated (and who should be involved in the integration).

Altogether, we were happy that we had this opportunity for preparatory discussions with LL partners presenting complementary tools and finding common interests for further cooperation. With these interim results we were ready for discussing the bigger picture of integrated learning arrangements (in the construction pilots) and technical integration (of tools to be used in construction sector) in the actual consortium meeting. This will be discussed in the next post.

More blogs to come …

 

Learning from Finnish campaigns for sustainable development – Part 3: Sustainability commitments for apprentice training?

April 8th, 2015 by Pekka Kamarainen

In my two previous posts I started with a topic that might seem remote to our EU-funded project Learning Layers (LL). The first post focused on the Finnish sustainability commitments. In the second post I discussed the sustainability issue from the perspective of apprentice training making comparisons between Germany and in Finland (and setting the LL pilots in Germany and Finland into their contexts). In this third post I try to bring these two threads together by posing the question: What about making sustainability commitments for apprentice training?

Here again, I will make comparisons between the Finnish and German contexts – firstly at a more general level and then secondly from the perspective of scaling up the LL initiatives in the construction sector.

1. Sustainability commitments as a perspective for promoting apprentice training?

Firstly, it is appropriate to consider, whether the sustainability commitments – or to be precise: operative commitments to sustainability goals – can provide an appropriate framework for promoting future-oriented apprentice training.

In the case of Finland this perspective is clearly available. One of the central sustainability goals taken up by the operative commitments is “Sustainable work”. Concerning the role of apprentice training and construction work, this can be argued in a twofold sense:

1)  Apprentice training as it is currently promoted in the construction trades, serves the purpose of sustaining the sectoral craftsmanship and the traditional know-how of elder craftsmen in the context of demographic change.

2) Apprentice training can serve as a medium of promoting other sustainability goals (such as “A carbon-neutral society” or “An economy that is resource-wise”) in the context of construction work.

Moreover, the framework of these operative commitments provides clear instructions for setting the timeline, adjusting to the general criteria and on self-monitoring and reporting on progress.

In the case of Germany it is not easy to see, how a similar framework could emerge on a general policy level. In my previous blog I referred to the national agreements for promoting apprentice training (Ausbildungspakt), which do not provide a similar mechanism for operative commitments. However, the sectoral campaigns of the national association of construction industry (Bauindustrieverband) could possibly be developed into such direction (see the previous campaigns “Leitbild Bau” or “Deutschland baut”).

2. Sustainability commitments as means to promote LL initiatives?

In addition to the above presented thoughts it is necessary to consider, how such commitments could be linked to the promotion and scaling up of LL-related initiatives in the construction sector.

In the case of Finland the current pilots focus on the use of AchSo! as an instrument to document achievements in workplace learning – mainly for the vocational school that is in charge of assessing the apprentices and trainees. In this respect the use of LL tools is rather limited and does not (yet) cover the broader scope of using digital media and web resources to support working and learning process as well as real-time communication. From this point of view the introduction of the Learning Toolbox would open new possibilities to link LL tools to such operative commitments as have been referred to above.

In the case of Germany the current pilot phase focuses on multiple uses of Learning Toolbox in the working and learning environments of apprentices (firstly in the intermediate training centre and then subsequently in the companies). In this respect the situation is different from the Finnish pilots. Here, in the pilot context of the training centre Bau-ABC it is possible to develop sets of small-scale commitments and to introduce corresponding patterns of (self-)monitoring and (self-)evaluation. These initial steps can then provide a basis for wider roll-out phase.

I think this is as far as I can get with my thoughts, what we (the LL project) can learn from the Finnish approach to promote sustainable development via operative commitments. If my quickly written blogs have left gaps of information or if I should add more specific examples, I am happy to continue the discussion. Otherwise, we are heading to further tasks in our current pilots.

More blogs to come …

 

 

Preparing for the LL Design Conference – Part 1: Comparing Y1 and Y3

March 5th, 2015 by Pekka Kamarainen

As i have indicated earlier, the Learning Layers (LL) project is preparing itself for the Design Conference of the Year 3. This time the venue is the main Campus of the Aalto University in Espoo, next to Helsinki. This gives a chance to compare our current situation in the project with the one two years ago, when we had the Year 1 Design Conference in the Arabia Campus of the Aalto University in Helsinki. Here some thoughts of the changes between the early days and the current phase of our project.

1. What has happened in the fieldwork?

When preparing ourselves for the Y1 Design Conference we were in a very initial stage with our fieldwork, Speaking for our part – the work with the Construction sector in North Germany – we had only manged to complete in a rapid tempo the first round of stakeholder interviews and draft initial User Stories in Bau-ABC, in the Agentur and in some craft trade companies. Based on this, we organised the Application Partner Day visits in Bau-ABC and in Agentur to see the huge training area of the training centre and to see the construction site of the merging exhibition building. Altogether, we could at best destill some design issues but we were not sure, to what directions the project could move.

Now, two years later, we see that we worked out the ways forward to participative design processes, to progressive tool development and to promising pilot concepts. In the construction sector this has required several iterations and modifications of the initial design ideas but we have kept the processes going on. In Bau-ABC we have had several series of co-design workshops, capacity building workshops and stakeholder engagement events that have brought us forward. With Agentur we have had somewhat different process dynamic but nevertheless the impulses we have got from different encounters and partcipative events have pushed our tool development further as well.

2. How have we found the way to design ideas?

Looking back, we did not necessarily anticipate in the Y1 Design Conference workshops that the four parallel round tables would produce The Design Ideas and The Design Teams for the next one year plus perhaps longer. At that point we just seemed to be working with some exemplary needs raised by our application partners and tried to look for design processes that could respond to them. The dynamic of the event nevertheless gave the results of these parallel group processes a higher status than we may have expected. Moreover, when we started giving catchy names for the Design Ideas and creating a collective identity for the teams to continue, we had shaped the project in a new way.

So, we came out of Y1 Design Conference regrouped into four parallel Design Teams with more or less sectoral focus and perspective to tool development for particular needs:

  • “Sharing Turbine” based on the idea of digitising the instruction and learning materials of Bau-ABC (“the White Folder“) into digital learning resource to be shared and used across learning venues (training centre, company and vocational school);
  • “Captus” based on the idea to support the “Learning exhibition” of the Agentur for ecological construction work with the help of tools that capture knowledge and support experience-based learning in informal contexts;
  • “Pandora” based on the idea to work with local and regional interpretation of healthcare sector guidelines and support reflection on training contents and mutual advice in problem cases;
  • “Bits and Pieces” based on the idea to support real-time documentation and archiving of episodes and instances of learning, sensemaking on these elements and rearranging the them for further reflection (based on the original example of medical doctors archiving paper notes into cardboard boxes for further reflection).

Now, coming back to the current situation, we have clearly come out of these rather particularistic groupings and moved towards more scalable sets of tools and implementation scenarios.

3. How have we proceeded with co-design, tool development and piloting?

Here it is possible to give only rough outlines of the dynamic, iterative and reorienting processes that had led to the current sets of tools, frameworks and services with which we are working. In a nutshell they can be characterised in the following ways:

  • The design process that was started as digitisation of instruction and learning materials (the White Folder) got transformed into shaping of a framework (“the Learning Toolbox”) to manage mobile apps and tools for working and learning processes. Parallel to this the Multimedia Training helped the trainers to create domain-specific blogs for delivering instruction materials and learning resources. These are hosted by the common platform “Baubildung.net”.
  • The design process that was started as specific support for the forthcoming exhibition turned into more general piloting with video annotation tools and augmented reality. For some of these pilots alternative fields and counterparts were found from other contexts.
  • The initial design idea of “Pandora” was differentiated into development of parallel tools, apps and services (“Living Documents”, “Reflect App”, “Help Seeking”). Whilst these were firstly, developed and piloted in different contexts in the same pilot region, the current work is bringing them closer to each other.
  • The work with “Bits and Pieces” has focused on different aspects and phases of the collection, sensemaking and reinterpretation processes with particular tools and software solutions . The current phase is looking for integrative approach (with links to other LL tools).

I leave my comparisons here. I may have given a somewhat idealised picture of the more complex and ‘messy’ process in which we have been working our ways forward. Yet, I believe that this picture helps to see from where we are coming and via what kind of efforts. Now we are gathering to take further steps ahead.

More blogs to come …

What can we learn from pilot activities with MOOCs?

February 24th, 2015 by Pekka Kamarainen

As I told in my previous post, our EU-funded Learning Layers (LL) project is preparing itself for the Design Conference of the Year 2, which will take place in March in Espoo (next to Helsinki) in Finland. And as I also told, I have looked over the fence and explored, what our colleague Graham Attwell has been writing recently. In my previous post I was looking at the points he has made in debates on VLEs, PLEs and MOOCs.

Now I am trying get an idea, what Graham and his colleagues have been experiencing with the pilot activities of the neighbouring EU-funded project Employ-ID (that focuses on Employment services in Europe). As I understand it, they have started as learners in MOOCs, then to develop a medium-scale pilot arrangement, and now they are harvesting their first results. I am not trying to tell the news myself, but I am fascinated by the way that Graham has worked his way in this pilot (and covered it with his blogs).

 1. Stepping in as a participant of MOOC (Graham’s report May 13th 2014)

“We are planning to run a series of MOCCs as part of this project (Employ-ID) and the project partners have agreed themselves to do a MOOC as part of our own learning project. So why did I choose to do a course of digital curation? I have spent a lot of time working on the development of Open Educational Resources (OERs). Open Educational Resources are resources for learning and teaching that are open to use. But resources means not only content and materials but also tools for content creation and sharing as well as intellectual property licenses for using these resources freely and openly.” (…)

“It strikes me that many of the digital objects being grated by participants in this course could be a very rick source of learning. more than that it also seems that many of the issues in digital curation are very similar to those round OERs – for example

  • how do we classify and structure resources
  • how do we ensure digital resources are discoverable
  • how do we measure the quality of resources
  • how can we encourage people to interact with resources.

And finally I think that the best answers to these questions may come through an interdisciplinary dialogue.”

2. Heading to pilot with adapted MOOC (Graham’s comment April 29th 2014)

“Within the European Employ-ID project, (which is researching employment adaptability and the use of technology for supporting coaching and continuing professional development for Public Employment workers in Europe), we have promised, for better or worse, to organise a MOOC. In fact, I think this was promised for the final year of thee project, which has only just started, but with plenty of enthusiasm from the public employment services and from project partners, we are planning to bring it forward to next year.”

As Graham has reported it several months ago, the idea to organise an adapted MOOC – not necessarily massively open and not yet so open, but based on the same pattern – was well received by their counterparts. As I hear from the echos, it appears that this pilot experience helps us to overcome the EdTech perspective on MOOCs and to turn the concept back on its feet. Instead of putting the design issues into centre, Graham has pushed us to think about the social learning in organisational and professional communities. We are looking forward to hear more on this.

More blogs to come …

What do we learn from debates on VLEs, PLEs and MOOCs for workplace learning?

February 24th, 2015 by Pekka Kamarainen

Currently our EU-funded Learning Layers (LL) project is preparing itself for the Design Conference of the Year 2, which will take place in March in Espoo (next to Helsinki) in Finland. We will be discussing issues of Co-Design, Evaluation and Exploitation. Surely, our work with the Learning Toolbox will be high on the agenda. But, as the name of the event says, we should consider, what is important regarding design, transfer of innovations and scaling up of innovations.

From this perspective I have looked over the fence and explored, what our colleague Graham Attwell has been writing recently on the debates on Virtual Learning Environments (VLEs), Personal Learning Environments (PLEs), and Massively Open Online Courses (MOOCs) on his blog Wales-Wide-Web. Of course, his blog articles are available on this same Pontydysgu site. But sometimes it is worthwhile to highlight some points that we may pass too quickly when reading his flow of posts. Here some of the highlights that I have picked as lessons from the debates:

1. Graham’s comment on the optimistic prediction on the impact of mobile technologies on workplace learning (July 6th 2014)

Prediction (formulated by Graham): “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.”

Comment (by Graham): “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.”

2. Graham’s comments on trends and fashions in Educational Technology (June 15th /April 29th 2014)

What is floating, what is sustaining: ” Ideas and trends emerge, peak and die away as attention moves to the latest new thing. At the time of writing MOOCs dominate the discourse. Yet the developments around Personal Learning Environments (PLEs) have not gone away.  It could be argued that the development and adoption of PLEs is not so much driven the educational technology (…) but by the way people (…)  are using technology for learning in their everyday lives.”

Managerism/Consumerism/Prosumerism: “Even when Learning Management Systems were in their prime, there was evidence of serious issues in their use. Teachers tended to use such environments as an extended file storage system; forums and discussion spaces were frequently under populated. In other words such systems were used for managing learning, rather than for learning itself.  Learners expropriated and adapted consumer and productivity applications for their learning.”

Contrast between VLEs/PLEs: “At a development level, there is little point in trying to develop a new PLE to replace the VLE. Instead we need to provide flexible tools which can enhance existing technologies and learning provision, be it formal courses and curricula or informal learning in the workplace or in the community. It can be argued that whilst most educational technology development has focused on supporting learners already engaged in educational programmes and institutions, the major potential of technology and particularly of Personal Learning Environments is for the majority of people not enrolled on formal educational programmes.”

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

MOOCs – only hype?: “MOOCs are now set on the downside of the hype cycle and it is not difficult to find critics – or even those predicting their immanent end. I can’t see much sign of them going away = if anything there seems to be more and more MOOCs appearing – although that may be just a result of better discoverability. However there does seem to be huge variation in design, duration and above all quality although we do not really have any agreed criteria for measuring quality.”

So what: “Despite the issues of design and quality, the sheer numbers of learners signing up for MOOCs deserves some reflection. I interpret it as a vast pent up demand for opportunities for learning. (…) MOOCs have enabled a massive expansion in the scope of subjects on offer as Open Education. So, even though I sympathise with the critics, particularly as to the quality of pedagogy, I think we should see MOOCs in that light. MOOCs are one iteration in the use of technology to greatly expand Open Education and to make that education available to everyone.”

OK, here I have picked some thoughts that Graham has brought forward in the course of debates and as candidates for ‘lessons from the debates’. However, these are still at the level of educational debates. What we in the Learning Layers are looking for, is something to put into practice and something that sustains in the hard test of practice. I think Graham has something more to say in this respect – I will continue my reading.

More blogs to come …

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    Totally agree-and rule against funding for more than one qual at same level big impediment to learning and careers. twitter.com/rachelhall_he/…

    About 15 hours ago from Graham Attwell's Twitter via Twitter for Mac

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