Archive for the ‘participation’ Category

Start of Learning Toolbox pilots in Bau-ABC – Part Three: Technical issues, requests and ideas for further development

April 7th, 2016 by Pekka Kamarainen

In my two previous posts I have blogged about pilot activities with Learning Toolbox (LTB) in the context of our EU-funded Learning Layers (LL) project. In the first post I reported of the Kick-off event in the training centre Bau-ABC (on 14.3.2016). In the second post I reported on our recent follow-up visit (5.4.2016) with emphasis on progress reports in the pioneering groups and on plans to get new groups and learning areas integrated into the piloting. With this final post I focus on technical issues, requests for improvements and on ideas for further development of the tool.

Technical issues

At the moment the WLAN provides rather limited opportunities for using LTB in Bau-ABC. Partly this is due to the weak infrastructure provided by Deutsche Telekom to the area of Rostrup. This issue has been taken up by Bau-ABC to get the services improved – given the nation-wide importance of their training. Given these limitations, the capacity of the WLAN is not ideal. Yet, the colleagues are trying to adjust their settings in such a way that the pilot groups could work with LTB without interruptions. This is subject to internal discussions in Bau-ABC.

Requests for improvements

As we see it, there will be some new trades that could join in the pilot and there is a chance to work with the transversal learning area ‘health and safety’ (Arbeitssicherheit und Gesundheitsschutz). This will increase the number of stacks and make the search processes more complicated. In general, the searches could be facilitated by using project titles, group numbers and domain-specific tags as keywords for search. However, if the apprentices are expected to type themselves correctly spelled terms, this will be a hurdle. For apprentices it would be practical to navigate from a menu of the main occupations to the ‘parent stacks’ (in that occupation) and then to recommended tags (this requires efforts from the LTB developers and from the trainers).

At the moment LTB doesn’t provide an online tutorial. This would be appreciated very much. (The ITB and Pont team took this issue as homework.)

The trainers had observed that the apprentices do not notice that they have got new messages if there is no alarm tone alerting them to the fact. This would be a major improvement.

Ideas for further development

The trainers in Bau-ABC are constantly observing the emergence of new apps in their trades. One of the newest newcomers is the BaustellenApp (www.baustellenapp.com) for the road-builders (Strassenbauer) and for the construction site managers in this trade. It is worth checking if this can be linked to LTB.

Also, there is an interesting development in the protection of hearing. The newest earmuffs are equipped with technologies that can pick wireless signals and convert them into audio messages. Thomas Weerts can give more information.

These were some of the issues  were taken up in our latest discussions. As I see it, they give a picture of the constraints, practicalities and possibilities with the current pilots using the Learning Toolbox (LTB). We will continue the monitoring of the pilots and take further steps to engage more users in a short while.

More blogs to come …

 

Start of Learning Toolbox pilots in Bau-ABC – Part One: The Kick-off event 14.3.2016

April 3rd, 2016 by Pekka Kamarainen

On Monday the 14th of March we experienced a great day for our EU-funded Learning Layers (LL) project. We had the kick-off event of the piloting with the Learning Toolbox (LTB) in Bau-ABC (the training centre for construction sector in Rostrup). On the whole, this was a manifold event with different sessions and different activities (with focus on tool development, implementation in different trades and evaluation measures). And, moreover, the event was organised as parallel activities in two trades – the carpenters (Zimmerer) and the well-builders (Brunnenbauer). In this post I try to give some first-hand impressions on the sessions with the group of carpenters (and complement them with some remarks on the parallel group of well-builders). I know that the evaluators from the LL team of the University of Innsbruck (UIBK) will give more detailed accounts on these sessions and on their recordings on the talks with apprentices. From my perspective it is important to get a picture on the process that was kicked off with the Learning Toolbox (LTB) to be used by the apprentices.

Introduction of the Learning Toolbox (LTB) in the group of carpenters (Zimmerer)

In the group of carpenters we (the LL project partners) had firstly the chance to present the Learning Toolbox as an integrative toolset to be used in the forthcoming training projects of the apprentices. Gilbert Peffer presented the essentials and then the apprentices installed the LTB apps on their smartphones. Then the trainer of carpenters, Fidi Bruns explained the training project of the next few weeks for the group. After this session and a break, the other trainer of carpenters, Markus Pape, gave an overview of the parent stack and of the daughter stacks that he had prepared for the project. After these introductory sessions we had a group discussion with the carpenter apprentices  (recorded by the UIBK colleagues). In this discussion the apprentices felt very positive about the new toolset and on the prospect to use digital media and web resources in their projects. In a similar way they were keen to get the LTB to work on their devices. They were also pleased to participate in instant debugging talks in the cases in which the installation caused problems.

 Introduction of the Learning Toolbox (LTB) in the group of well-builders (Brunnenbauer)

In the parallel group of well-builders the introduction of LTB had already taken place one week before and the project using LTB had already been started. Yet, there was some need for assistance in the installation as well as real-time debugging. Also, the approach in developing project-related stacks was somewhat different – instead of shaping a parent stack and daughter stacks the well-builders were equipped with a set of thematic stacks that will be networked with each other.

 The way forward

During the event we had teams of ITB (accompanying researchers), LTB developers (RayCom, CIMNE) and evaluators (UIBK). In  addition we had as a special support agent Jaanika Hirv (TLU) who stayed one week in Bau-ABC to collect feedback from apprentices and trainers on their first steps working with the LTB. She reported this feedback with daily e-mails that were collected into a Google Doc. Then, in the second round, Gilbert Peffer and Jaanika had exchanges on these messages (in the same Google Doc). Summaries of the conclusions were then reported back on a German-speaking ‘hotline’ mailing list “LTB Pilot”. In my next posts I will report on a follow-up visit to Bau-ABC and then have a look at the working issues that have come up in our talks and e-mail correspondence.

More posts to come …

Possible use of Learning Toolbox in Bau-ABC training – three exemplary cases

February 22nd, 2016 by Pekka Kamarainen

Last week we had two working visits to the training centre Bau-ABC in the contexts of our EU-funded Learning Layers (LL) project. The aim of these visits was firstly to clarify, in what kinds of projects Bau-ABC trainers (Lehrwerkmeister) have planned to use Learning Toolbox (LTB) in the forthcoming pilot phase. Secondly we wanted to clarify what measures need to be taken to facilitate the Internet access in Bau-ABC. Thirdly we wanted to clarify, how to link third party apps or complementary tools to LTB to meet specific needs. The two latter points have been covered by internal notes. The first point merits public attention, therefore this blog gives a quick overview on the plans of Bau-ABC trainers.

During the two visits the Bau-ABC trainers presented three exemplary cases for implementing LTB in their training.  The first case (developed together with Lothar Schoka) focuses on apprentices projects in  trade of well-builders (Brunnenbauer). The second case (developed together with Thomas Weertz) deals with training materials and facilitation of learning in the transversal area ‘health and safety’ (Arbeitssicherheit und Gesundheitsschutz). During the second working visit a third case was brought to picture by Markus Pape and Kevin Kuck – a joint project of Carpenters (Zimmerer) and Bricklayers (Maurer).

a) The Brunnenbauer-pilot is adjusted to the start of a new group in Bau-ABC and the introduction of the LTB comes along with their induction to project-based learning. The use of LTB will not cover entirely the documentation of project work of apprentices (plans, reports, certificates) but will support it. The main thrust for the trainer is to provide support material (Zusatzmaterial, e.g. Extracts of relevant DIN-norms). Also, the work of apprentices can be supported with digital worksheets (lists of tools and materials) that can be produced with the help of apps made available via LTB. Here, the apprentices could present digital interim versions and get feedback before completing the projects. As a use-case for two-way communication, Schoka indicated that apprentices can produce and share photo sets of construction sites of their companies as eventual targets for on-site-visits of the whole group.

b) Concerning the theme “Arbeitssicherheit und Gesundheitsschutz”, the competent body in the construction sector (BG Bau) has produced a comprehensive set of modularised reference materials (Baukasten) and a special program for young craftsmen. In addition to these, Bau-ABC uses a special compendium for trainers (KomPass). These materials are available on the net. In addition, in each of their projects the apprentices are required to fill a risk analysis form regarding possible occupational hazards with the tasks (Gefährdungsbeurteilung). The advantage of using LTB with this theme is that it enables delivery of compressed information (checklists, extracts of information sheets, model solutions with feedback) as well use of Quiz tools (ordinary quiz or detecting errors).

c) The joint project of Zimmerer and Maurer was based on the traditional technique of building houses with wooden frames and brick walls (Fachwerkhaus). Bau-ABC projects with smaller constructions using that technique serve as cooperation exercises between these two trades. By using LTB and creating a joint stack it is possible to

  • give an overview on the common project (as a whole),
  • on related standards,
  • to distribute the tasks between the trades
  • to organise the boundary-crossing exercises of Zimmerer and Maurer in each others’ tasks and to
  • coordinate the collaboration between the two trades.

After these working visits we are heading towards the pilots in the coming weeks and arranging the necessary support. We will report more on the pilots when we take further steps with the implementation.

More blogs to come … 

Bremen talks on young refugees’ access to training and labour market – Part Two: The Bavarian model project and the discussion in the event

February 14th, 2016 by Pekka Kamarainen

As already mentioned in my previous  blog, these two posts are not focusing on our EU-funded Learning Layers (LL) project. Instead I have taken up a major issue that we are discussing in the Bremen region: Measures to support the reception and integration of refugees.  In my previous post I started reporting on a public event “Perspektive Beruf: Junge Geflüchtete erfolgreich zum Berufsabschluss führen“. This event brought into picture fresh information and assembled several stakeholders from different organisations to joint discussion. In the first post I gave some background information on the event and present insights into a study on young refugees’ perspectives in Bremen. In this second post I will give insights into a model project in Bavaria (that was presented in the event) and highlight some key points of the stakeholders’ discussion.

1. Insights into the model project in Bavaria

The first part of the event was based on a Bremen-focused study that provided information on young refugees and their chances to get access to training and labour market in the Bremen region. The study had raised some issues that need further attention from policy makers and stakeholders who are engaged with support measures. The second part of the event was based on a guest input from the Federal state of Bavaria (Bayern).

This input was given by Manfred Bäuml who represented a foundation that supports educational projects in Bavaria (Stiftung Bildungspakt Bayern). He firstly gave insights into the innovation concept ‘vocational integration classes’ (Berufsintegrationsklassen) and how they have been embedded into the regulative frameworks. This concept is based on a 2-year long full-time school-based vocational education scheme that includes intensive language learning, vocational orientation, vocational subject-learning (including language support), internships in companies and opportunity to obtain/ refresh general school certificates). A key feature of this model is the collaboration between language teacher, subject teacher and social pedagogic advisor. (The key point in this model is that it is meant to provide entry to the regular vocational education and training provisions, not to replace them with a short variant.)

In his presentation Bäuml also made transparent the rapidly growing numbers of young refugees and the quick response in setting up such vocational integration classes all over the Federal state of Bavaria. This gave rise for setting up a state-wide model project to support the quality development in such classes and to enhance their acceptance. For this purpose the Federal state of Bavaria and the Foundation have set up the state-wide model project that involves 21 model schools (public vocational schools in all sub-regions) and several support organisations. The project works with organisational development, staff development and curriculum redesign. As special challenges Bäuml mentioned the following ones:

  • Functioning language learning – linking everyday life language learning and domain-specific vocabulary to each other;
  • Integration – bringing learners of integration classes and ordinary vocational classes into cooperation with each other;
  • Transition from school to occupational work – intensifying career guidance and counselling to facilitate personal commitment to the occupation in concern.

As Bäuml told, the project had only started at the end of 2015 and it was only in the process of building up its network and support activities. Yet, the work was making progress all over Bavaria.

2. Key issues taken up in the stakeholders’ discussion 

The event was not planned just to present the study and the model project but to stimulate discussion on necessary policy measures and ways to support different support initiatives. Therefore, the organisers had set up two rounds of discussions – after each presentation. Here, for the sake of simplicity, I try to pick up some key messages from both rounds without going deeply into details:

  • The representatives of vocational schools and and continuing training provisions – Herbert Grönegreß and Sandra von Atens – emphasised the necessity, not to challenge the refugees overly, to adjust the education/training provisions to what they can achieve and to provide well-timed support and constant support networks. Also, they emphasised the need to adjust the ‘offerings’ to refugees to their possibilities and to be prepared for providing second chances.
  • The company representative Michael Heyer told of the initiative of their company to select a group of refugees to be taken on internship and to prepare them for the opportunity to start a regular apprentice training. This initiative was launched in close collaboration and with support from public authorities. Concerning language support, the company arranged for them extra courses. Concerning integration, the company was surprised to see, how supportive and cooperative their ordinary apprentices were vis-à-vis the newcomers.
  • The Educational senator (minister) of the City state Claudia Bodegan put as into the picture of the scales of the problems. Concerning the reception of unaccompanied young people, the German cities had agreed on balanced quotas of reception (der Königstein Schlüssel). However, in 2015, Bremen had received five times as much young unaccompanied refugees – and, given the flow of refugees, it would have been inappropriate to push them elsewhere. Also, since Bremen is struggling with budgetary deficits, it doesn’t have such resources in the regular budgets as the richer Federal states. Furthermore, Bremen has had to make a difficult choice, whether to prioritise perfect diagnostic (at the expense of longer waiting times) or effective integration (at the expense of providing less favourable education and training opportunities). Here, the choice has been on avoiding  long waiting times in idlewild.
  • The representative  of the Chamber of Commerce, Karlheinz Heidemeyer, drew attention to the prompt responses of the member companies to their call for initiatives. in this way, and due to good cooperation with the local/regional authorities, the company-specific initiatives could be brought into action without unnecessary delays. In the same way he praised the good cooperation between different stakeholders in overcoming the formal hurdles and addressing the needs for Federal level policy adjustment.
  • The representative of the voluntary organisation Fluchtraum, professor Marc Thielen (also from ITB), shifted the perspective from the quantitative situation assessment, training opportunities and language courses to the individual situations of refugees. The organisation Fluchtraum that he represents, provides legal advice, guardians and mentors for unaccompanied young refugees. With insights into their life histories, learning histories and refugee histories, he emphasised the needs to get solid and trustworthy support persons and support structures for the refugees. He also addressed the need to avoid giving the refugees challenges that they cannot meet (e.g. in terms of starting regular vocational training before being properly prepared).
  • The representative of the host organisation Arbeitnehmerkammer, Regine Geraedts, drew attention to the readiness of different stakeholders in Bremen to tackle the problems as promptly as they could. Also, they had shown readiness to create new forms of cooperation for unbureacratic treatment of the problems of young refugees. Furthermore, they had shown readiness to take own initiatives at the same time as they had addressed needs to revise federal regulations. And, given the seemingly uncoordinated actions of voluntary organisations, they had been able develop flexible forms of coordination and to develop common discussion on policy development.

I guess this is enough of this event. I know that there were lots of details that I couldn’t grasp with this report. Nevertheless, I got a picture of a dynamic regional langscape of developing policies, services and support activities for young refugees. In addition, I could see a role for possible European cooperation measures (of which I discussed with some participants) in the coming times.

More blogs to come …

Bremen talks on young refugees’ access to training and labour market – Part One: The event and the Bremen study

February 13th, 2016 by Pekka Kamarainen

In the recent times my blogs on this site have focused almost exclusively on our EU-funded Learning Layers (LL) project. This time I will shift the emphasis to a major issue that we are discussing in the Bremen region: Measures to support the reception and integration of refugees. In particular Bremen is struggling with a large number of unaccompanied young people (under 18 years). On Thursday I attended with several other ITB colleagues a public event that brought into discussion a new study from Bremen, an ongoing model project in Bavaria and several views of stakeholders (from different organisations). In the first post I will give some background information and present insights int the Bremen study. In the second post I will give insights into the model project in Bavaria and highlight some key points of the discussion.

1. The background of the event

One of the specific institutions of the Hanseatic City of Bremen is the Chamber of salaried employees (Arbeitnehmerkammer). This is a public body and all salaried employees in Bremen are also members of the chamber. This is a similar arrangement as is the case with Chambers of Commerce or with Chambers of Craft and Trade (which comprise all the enterprises in their respective domains). Given this co-existence of public representative bodies, they have developed several forms of practical cooperation with different societal issues. Also, they have a tradition to contribute to each others’ events.

From the year 2015  on (when the amount of refugees coming to Bremen grew rapidly) the Arbeitnehmerkammer has taken several initiatives to get information on refugees’ situation, to facilitate cooperation between different support organisations and to promote public discusssion on necessary policy measures. In this context the Arbeitnehmerkammer had initiated with the research institute of the University of Bremen for Work and Economy (Institut für Arbeit und Wirtschaft) a special study on the prospects of young refugees to enter training and labour market in Bremen. This event was called to

  • make public the main results of the study,
  • make comparisons to an ongoing model project in Bavaria and to
  • promote public discussion between  different stakeholders who engage themselves with problems of young refugees.

2. Insights into the study on young refugees in Bremen

In the first part of the event the author of the Bremen study, René Böhme gave a comprehensive overview on the context, design and results of the study. Here I will not try to reflect its richness. Instead, I try to draw attention to some points that were of vital importance for the discussion:

 a) Concerning the amount of refugees arrived in Bremen: Whilst in 2014 the number of refugees was slightly over 2000, in 2015 it was over 10.000. In addition, the number of unaccompanied young refugees was in 2014 ca. 500, whilst in 2015 it was over 2500.

b) Concerning attitudes of employees: In general, employees are ready to receive refugees (given the shortage of skilled workforce) and to make extra efforts to support their training and integration into working life. Yet, they are aware of problems and risks (e.g. of high drop-out rates).

c) Concerning efforts to overcome formal hurdles: Preconditions for flexible and supported entry to training (e.g. via pre-vocational measures) have already been created. Yet, they alone do not guarantee successful completion of training.

d) Concerning parallel support measures and initiatives: At the moment the services and initiatives have been brought into picture in rapid tempo and separately by different actors. Therefore, they appear as uncoordinated patchwork of activities. However, as such they are not merely limited to educational and career guidance but cover also everyday life problems.

In the light of the above the study drew attention to the following needs:

  • to make the formal frameworks more flexible at Federal level,
  • to improve the pre-vocational learning opportunities in vocational school (with linked career guidance and counselling)
  • to improve the cooperation of public authorities, companies and service providers to create a coherent support system for refugee-trainees and -apprentices,
  • to strengthen complementary support  and mentoring networks to support overall integration into society and everyday life.

I think this is enough of the background of the event and of the Bremen study that was presented as a basis for joint situation assessment. In the next post it is appropriate to present the Bavarian model project and some insights into the discussion.

More blogs to come …

 

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 Standortagentur Tirol (a Tyrolean cluster organisation, Ausbilderforum Tirol (a Tyrolean forum of trainers in vocational education and training (VET)) and vocational teacher education programs from Pädagogische Hochschule Tirol and University of Innsbruck (Wirtschaftspädagogik). The meeting room was arranged as four round tables and the event was organised as a ‘world café’. Firstly Ronald Maier gave a brief introduction into the LL project and into the tools/toolsets to be presented. In each table the participants got a 10-15 minutes presentation to one LL tool/toolset.  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” (by Christina Sarigianni) and “AchSo!” (by Markus Manhart).

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. At the same time Ludger Deitmer completed the whole round of topic tables and got an update on all tools/toolsets as they stand now.

The event did not last too long (approximately 90 minutes) and the time was effectively used in the groups. As was deeply engaged in talks in our table, 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 …

Start of year 2016 with Learning Layers – Part 4: Working with the LL exploitation model

January 22nd, 2016 by Pekka Kamarainen

In my three previous blogs I wrote a series of reports on the ‘start of the year 2016′ meetings in with our EU-funded Learning Layers (LL) project. In the first post I reported on the meetings of the ‘local’ LL teams of ITB, Pont, and Bau-ABC (in Bremen and Rostrup). In the third post summarised a video conference that discussed a set of themes for our next consortium meeting in Innsbruck (2.2.-5.2.2016). In this fourth post I report on the video conference of the ITB team with our LL colleagues Gilbert Peffer and Raymond Elferink on the Exploitation model for the LL project.

In my previous blog I had already given the following characterisation of the work of Gilbert and Raymond with this model:

“… Gilbert Peffer and Raymond Elferink have organised bilateral or trilateral conversations with LL partners to create a comprehensive model of exploitation activities.  The aim is to compress the pictures given by different exploitation stories and to create more transparency between different initiatives. In this way different partners can find their roles and possibilities in a joint group picture. And with the help of this model the partners can trace the changes from current project partnership to future partnerships (in follow-up projects) or future business relations (in commercial exploitation activities).”

Below I have copied the current draft of the Exploitation model:

Exploitation Model.v2.2

In our discussion in the video conference and after it we started a process of sensemaking, how to fit our exploitation initiatives into this landscape and how to grasp the zones of possible activities that we had not yet thought of. Here I try to interpret different areas of the exploitation model from this perspective:

a) The (peripheral) support area

Two fields in the model can be characterised as a (peripheral) support area for emerging follow-up activities with different intensity of support measures:

a1) “The Learning Layers Association” can be seen as a light-weight form to continue the cooperation across project consortium as an interest group that promotes the tools and ideas of the LL project in new contexts. For this purpose the interest group cam organise joint search conferences or workshops with new potential application partners. (Here the contacts of the LL partners at OEB with the UNHCR might serve as a clue for looking partners for such search conferences.)

a2) “The Learning Layers Cooperative” can be seen as a more committed service alliance – grouping of LL partners that are ready to support new initiatives with technical advice and facilitation in project creation. (Such cooperation has already been practiced between different partners to give shape for spin-off projects.)

b) The Research & Development area

The importance of this area is obvious, since we need to continue with R&D projects to develop the products and services of the LL project to more mature stage. Here we need to have a more differentiated look at the R&D agendas to pursue. Without going into details of specific initiatives it is worth taking into consideration the following type of R&D activities:

b1) Comprehensive follow-up projects (Horizon 2020 etc) that focus on further development of integrative toolsets for/with specific application partners – engaging different kinds of expertise from the LL project but linking it to new contexts.

b2) Specific R&D projects (e.g. within cluster initiatives) that link the further development of LL tools and similar toolsets to technical innovation programs.

Here the model emphasises that the R&D area needs to involve the application partners and the commercial partners as well (in order to take the products and services further).

c) The commercial exploitation area

We have already become aware of the fact that software development in research context may have different working patterns/perspectives than software development as customer service. This is reflected in the ‘commercial exploitation area’ by differentiating between three kinds of organisational entities:

c1) New enterprises (social/commercial) that dedicate themselves on further development of LL tools, software and services as their core business.

c2) Existing partners (private/public organisations) that continue working on the basis of their business models or institutional frameworks.

Here the model suggests that if new entreprises emerge, preferential ‘giving back’ partnership relations  should be agreed in the founding processes. (Also, new enterprises need advisory boards.)

c3) Third party organisations (SMEs, training providers, service providers, cluster organisations) need to be involved with appropriate partnership agreements.

Altogether, the model was shaped with an idea of an “Entrepreneurial symbiosis’. I am looking forward to our next phase of working with this model in our project consortium meeting in Innsbruck.

More blogs to come …

Start of year 2016 with Learning Layers – Part 3: Preparation of the consortium meeting in Innsbruck

January 20th, 2016 by Pekka Kamarainen

In my two previous blogs I started a series of reports on the ‘start of the year 2016′ meetings in with our EU-funded Learning Layers (LL) project. In the first post I reported on the meeting of the LL teams of ITB and Pont, and in the second post on our working meeting in Bau-ABC. In this third post I give an account on the video conference in which the Work Package Leaders of the LL project discussed the preparation of our next consortium meeting in Innsbruck (2.2.-5.2.2016).

Below I try follow the reconstruct the discussion based on the recording of the meeting (in which I could not participate). I try to put an emphasis on the thematic blocks (and on the specific accents) that were set for the preparation of future activities. I do not try to give a comprehensive report but rather limit myself to the points that we should take up in the construction pilot team.

1) The integrated deliverable of the LL project of the Year 4

The idea of a single integrated deliverable was already discussed at the end of the Y3 Review meeting and it was agreed with great enthusiasm in the consortium. For our further work it is of importance that this deliverable is interpreted as the “Layers package of exploitables” (a comprehensive package of useful objects/resources to support exploitation of results). Now this idea is taking shape in different thematic blocks (see below).

2) Documentation of the impact of project with “Layers scorecards”

Tobias Ley had already in December presented a practical solution for documenting impact with the help of ‘scorecards’ that can be used in different field activities. The basic card has three main fields for describing a) the situation before the LL project, b) the contribution of the LL project and c) the situation after the project. In addition, the card has smaller fields for specifying different aspects of the impact. During the final year the project can collect booklets of scorecards within different activities and highlight ‘evidence of the month’. (See https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B7vXuqBBjr9PX1RxUkpmZUt5Zkk/view .) This tool will be developed further in the Innsbruck meeting.

3) Collection of ‘training materials’ to support the roll-out of LL tools

Pablo Franzolini and Kai Pata presented the idea, how to include the component of ‘training materials’ into the deliverables. Already during the Y3 Pablo has supported the healthcare pilot team in preparing video material for webinars (with special emphasis on filming from different angles and making the presentations more lively). Whilst the use of webinars and videos have so far been rather tool-centered, the idea is now to shift the emphasis from single tools to combined use of tools in order to meet context-specific needs. (In this respect the demonstrations in the Y3 Review meeting were rehearsals for such materials.) As was mentioned in the discussion, we need to consider, when and how we can produce such material for different pilot sectors and spin-off initiatives.

4) Bringing together different evaluation agendas

The discussion on the evaluation activities – led by Ronald Maier and Stefan Thalmann – was inspired by the key question: “How to document changes  in the patterns of learning in the context of work in the pilot sectors (including the role of web tools/apps and mobile technologies?” It became evident that the more conceptual and context-oriented inquiries need to be supported by technical data collection (whenever it is possible) and these aspects need to linked to each other. In a similar way positive and negative findings regarding changes vs. obstacles to changes need to be discussed from the perspective of promoting innovations and marketing products and services.

5) Further discussion on the Dev-Ops model, Design patterns and Design-based research

One of the recommendations of the Y3 Review meeting was to enrich the Dev-Ops model with more elements of user engagement (that were presented in the sectoral reports). As a partial response to this, the meeting discussed the plan to prepare a comprehensive presentation on the Dev-Ops model, on Design patterns and on the LL approach(es) to Design-based research. It was agreed that the Confer Tool should be used to support this work. This work will be led by Ralf Klamma and John Cook.

6) Integrative group picture of parallel (mutually coordinated) exploitation initiatives

Already from the beginning of the year Gilbert Peffer and Raymond Elferink have organised bilateral or trilateral conversations with LL partners to create a comprehensive model of exploitation activities.  The aim is to compress the pictures given by different exploitation stories and to create more transparency between different initiatives. In this way different partners can find their roles and possibilities in a joint group picture. And with the help of this model the partners can trace the changes from current project partnership to future partnerships (in follow-up projects) or future business relations (in commercial exploitation activities). Alongside this work the clarification of IPR issues will be continued as a sub-theme of defining these partnership or business relations.

I think this as much as I can report on this meeting. At the moment we (the ITB-team) are preparing ourselves for the bilateral/trilateral exploitation talks with Gilbert (and Raymond). We are looking forward to this useful milestone in the set of the ‘start-of-the-year meetings’.

More blogs to come …

Learning Layers Year 3 Review – Part Two: Systems architecture, exploitation and feedback from reviewers

December 11th, 2015 by Pekka Kamarainen

On the 30th of November and on the 1st of December our EU-funded Learning Layers (LL) project had its third annual review meeting at the European Commission premises in Luxembourg. In the previous post I reported on the presentations of the first day: the coordinator’s overview and the two major presentations on the sectoral pilots in healthcare and in construction. This post discusses firstly the presentations of the second day – on the development of the LL systems architecture and on exploitation activities. Secondly this post discusses the comments of the reviewers on our work.

On the LL systems architecture and DevOpsUse -process

In the first presentation session Ralf Klamma and Istvan Koren (RWTH) gave insights into the development of the LL systems architecture. The main emphasis was given on the development of ‘Layers Box’ as a ready-to-deploy, custom packaged infrastructure for SMEs (small-scale package), networks (medium-scale package) or hosted service. The second major point was the shaping of the DevOpsUse Lifecycle as a model for developers’ and users’ interaction when using Layers’ Box. This was followed by an online demonstration, how the LL systems architecture had been developed during the year three.

On the exploitation initiatives

In the second session Raymond Elferink and Gilbert Peffer introduced the LL approach to exploitation activities based on the ‘incubation model’ introduced last year and on the Exploitation Launchpad workshop that was organised in the Year 3 Design Conference  in Espoo. Then the two pilot sectors presented their exploitation initiatives. Afterwards we had presentations on the exploitation initiatives related to the AchSo! and Social Augmented Reality tools and on the work with managed clusters. Finally we had an input on exploitation with Open Source communities.

In this context the Construction pilot team emphasised the exploitation activities with different variations of the framework for mobile apps and tools – the Learning Toolbox (LTB). This approach is to be implemented via further development of the training initiatives (Theme Rooms and other training services) of which we reported in the sectoral presentation on the first day. As an extension of these activities we indicated several new projects to be started with construction sector application partners in the beginning of the year 2016. For further stakeholder engagement we referred to our exchanges with representatives of Activity Theory and on their experience on Change Laboratory methodology. Finally, we outlined a timeline for the construction partners to match their plans for sustaining technical support services and training services in order to bring new users and external service providers into picture.

Feedback from the reviewers

Throughout the meeting the reviewers gave positive comments to us on the progress with the tool development and in the pilot deployment.  They saw a great potential in the linked tools and integrated toolsets combined to capacity-building and strengthening the multiplier-organisations (e.g. Bau-ABC and Agentur) as service-providers. We got a clear signal to emphasise exploitation activities and to provide evidence (indicators) on the use of our tools in working and learning contexts in the pilot sectors. Here, we should present examples, how changes of work practices are instilled by the introduction or our tools. We were also encouraged to seize  to deploy the tools with other users and occupational areas that were not anticipated in the Description of Work.

Looking at more detailed comments, we were recommended take rapid steps in making clear agreements on the Intellectual Property Rights issues related to the emerging tools. (Partly this has been included into the plans that we outlined in the meeting.) Furthermore, our technical partners were advised strongly to integrate the work with capacity-building and communication flows from fieldwork to their process model of DevOpsUse. The partners working with sectoral pilots and exploitation initiatives were recommended to look more closely at possibilities to use Change Laboratory methodology in the follow-up activities.

Altogether, the project was characterised as a promising one – not merely in the light of what it has achieved in terms of promising prototypes. The expectation is that the products and related working patterns can be sustained after the project and will have further impact in practice.

I think this was the essential message that we got from the review meeting. It is now our task to take these comments and recommendations on board in the final year of the project work. In Luxembourg we already started our preparation for our next consortium meeting after the holiday break. There is more work to be done in the new year 2016 but now it is time to take breath.

More blogs to come (in the year 2016) …

 

 

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