Archive for the ‘ple’ Category

Diversity and Divide in TEL: The Case for Personal Learning Environments

August 19th, 2012 by Graham Attwell

Ilona Buchem and myself have submitted a proposal, Diversity and Divide in TEL: The Case for Personal Learning Environments, for the workshop on TEL, The Crisis and the Response, to be held at next years Alpine Rendez-Vous.

The digital divide cannot be discussed only as a gap between technology haves and have-nots. Below the inequalities in access and usage, there is also a problem of a divide between contexts, domains and communities that different learners operate in. The need for empowered learners as citizens engaging in cross-boundary, problem-solving has been advocated as a necessary means for social innovation. It is through boundary-crossing or bridging the divides that individual and sociocultural differences can become a resource. However, mainstream TEL has not fully recognised the potential of boundary crossing and engaging diverse learners in collective action related to solving real life problems. Much of TEL is developed to fit the prevailing educational paradigm, focusing on ever more efficient management of learning and more reliable methods of assessment rather than encouraging learners to explore diverse ideas, experiment with diverse formats or build bridges to diverse communities.

Can promoting diversity through TEL be a response to crisis? Certainly, in view of the growing complexity of societal, environmental and economic challenges and the ever increasing amount of information and communication possibilities, diversity may raise new questions, challenges and concerns. However, both research and practice provide evidence that diversity, in terms of individual or group attributes as well as in terms of different content, resources and tools provides valuable opportunities for intellectual engagement, personal growth and the development of novel solutions.

In this position paper, we discuss whether current TEL promotes diversity or divide and the current barriers in promoting diversity in TEL. We discuss these issues based on the example of Personal Learning Environments (PLE), which is as an approach to TEL aiming at empowering learners to use diverse technological tools suited to their own needs and connecting with other learners through building Personal Learning Networks. We argue that this approach to TEL promotes diversity through boundary-crossing and responding to the diverse needs and prerequisites that each individual learner brings in. At the same time we discuss how the PLE approach challenges current educational practices and what tensions arise when Personal Learning Environments are implemented in educational institutions.

Personal Learning Environments, as an approach to TEL, focus on the learner-controlled and learner-led uses of technologies for learning with no centralised control over tools, information or interactions. This strong focus on autonomous, literate learners as agents and decision-makers taking control and claiming ownership of their learning environments is of course in contrast with regulated and planned processes at schools and universities, demanding radical changes in the prevailing educational paradigm. TEL, based on the Personal Learning Environments approach, vests learners with control over learning processes and outcomes, including planing, content, interactions, resources and assessment. In this way, the PLE approach challenges not only the prevailing educational paradigm, but also TEL approaches inspired by this paradigm, such as Learning Management Systems and pre-programmed, locked-down systems, such as some types of video games or mobile apps, which place learners in the role of recipients and consumers of systems devised by others, while failing to foster both generativity and boundary-crossing.

Such pre-programmed, quality-controlled and locked-down approaches to TEL have led to “walled gardens in cyberspace”, isolating different learners and learning contexts, posing external constraints on what learners can do in such environments in terms of activities, resources and tools. Alternatively, learner-controlled uses of technologies, as embodied in the Personal Learning Environments approach, have facilitated boundary crossing and merging multiple learning contexts, domains and communities.

The postulate of boundary-crossing through the PLE approach has a human and technological dimension. On one hand, the PLE approach calls for learners to claim and make use of ownership and control over their learning environment, exerting agency in terms of the human capacity to make choices and uses those choices in real world interactions. On the other hand, the PLE approach calls for openness, decentralisation, connectivity and permeability of technological systems.

With learner ownership, control and agency combined with openness, decentralisation, connectivity and permeability of technological systems being the core attributes of the PLE approach to TEL, diversity becomes natural. The PLE approach promotes diversity of social interactions, diversity of learning contexts and diversity of learning practices. Personal Learning Environments entail diverse people and communities coming together, diverse technology tools and platforms used and combined by learners, diverse content production and consumption modes, diverse access points and modes of learning.

However, diversity promoted by the PLE approach is a source of conflict when PLEs and other systems interact. Specifically, tensions arise at the points traditionally considered as legitimate divides in the education system including TEL, for example (a) private vs. public access, (b) course members vs. non-members, (c) disciplinary knowledge vs. practice-based knowledge, (d) formal vs. informal learning context, (e) expert vs. novice, (f) individual vs. collective practice, (g) assessment vs. reflection, (h) planning vs. implementation, or (i) standards vs. innovation.

We argue that challenging these presumably legitimate boundaries in TEL as postulated by the PLE approach is a way to innovation which may bring viable responses to the crises.

The MOOC debate

August 1st, 2012 by Graham Attwell

There is an intense debate going on about MOOCs at the moment. As  Nellie Deutsch explains in an excellent post entitled Loveless MOOCs:

Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) began with the idea of connecting for learning via personal learning environments (PLEs) using blogs, wikis, google groups, and Moodle. According to Wikipedia, the term MOOC is said to have started in 2008 by Dave Cormier and Bryan Alexander “in response to an open online course designed and lead by George Siemens and Stephen Downes” (wikipedia). However, MOOCs have changed from the idea of connecting with others for learning to the more traditional content delivery format as demonstrated by Khan’s Academy, MIT’s and Standford.

Now a group of elite universities have launched their own MOOCs using Coursera (a proprietary course management system)  developed for the universities and with many other private and public educational institutions planning their own MOOCs the debate is underway.

Stephen Downes and George Siemens have characterised the difference as between C type MOOCs (C as in connectivism) and X type MOOCs (I am not sure what the X stands for). I am not sure this helps clarify things. Indeed, I think the term MOOC is now being used for almost any web based course and as such is losing any real meaning

So what are the differences.

The first is intent and motivation. The original MOOCs run by Siemens and Downes were designed to open up learning to all who wished to participate – thus the Open in the name. The business model – in as much as their was one – was based on a limited number of participants being enrolled as formal students in one of the sponsoring institutions. The new MOOCs appear to be driven by  the desire to charge for online courses, as a way of increasing enrolment on other formal courses or by charging for certification.

The latter has pedagogic implications.

Pamel McLean reports on her personal experience on her blog:

I’ve started my history of the Internet course with Coursera. I’m very interested to see how it works. It’s assessed, which I was not expecting, and find highly demotivating. I don’t really want to “master” the  cource materials.  I just want a familiarise  myself with what it covers, and how it does it.  However assessment and a final judgement of having passed or failed brings in all kinds of new dynamics. I feel a need to demonstrate to “the powers that be” that I’m not a failure, but I didn’t enrol in order to prove anything to them. I enrolled to take what I wanted from the course. Only a few hours in and I feel pushed towards jumping through hoops. I think they have only three categories “pass”, “fail” or “dropout”.

This is not the only pedagogic difference. Siemens and Downes based their MOOC on peer support through the use of social software and Web 2.0 technologies including Forums, Blogs and Twitter, webinars and internet radio. They also invited an impressive list of guest speakers who gave their time for free. Thus the model was based on peer and interactive learning through community connections, with links to participant activity being harvested and shared.

The new MOOCs are evidently not based on such a model. In fact they really just seem to be traditional on-line courses, albeit repackaged.

Furthermore, Downes and Siemens promoted the development of Personal Learning Environments with participants encouraged to develop their own learning environment including whatever applications they chose. This is very different to the closed world of Coursera technology.

I don’t agree with Nellie Deutsch’s assertion that the attitude the elite universities are choosing to take is “if you can’t join them, break them”. Instead I think they are trying to take what is clearly a successful and ground breaking innovation and trying to mold it to fit their own pedagogic and business models. But at the end of the day I don’t think what they are promoting are MOOCs, at least not as they were originally conceived.

Postscript: there are an increasing number of efforts to curate the MOOC debate – I particularly like Networked Learning – Learning Networks by Peter B Sloep which picks up well on the key issues under discussion.

 

Using a tablet computer in anger

July 26th, 2012 by Graham Attwell

I bought an iPad at the start of this year, out of curiosity and thinking it was time to see what they could do.

I was less than convinced I needed one, having already got a MacBook and a kindle, as well as a Samsung S!! phone running on Gingerbread.

My first impressions were mixed. Whilst very easy to use, and with many great looking apps, what was I supposed to do with it? It quickly became my internet radio player of choice, I added a lot of music and even started watching a little television, which I haven’t done for a long time. I also downloaded a few games, but quickly got bored with those and irritated with the in-game purchasing adverts from so-called free games. The one productivity app I got to like was Keynote, as i allowed me just in time preparation of slides on air flights. I also liked the ability to quickly find web sites and documents in informal meetings (especially in my local pub)! But that was just about as far as it went, although once or twice I ventured out on trips without my kindle, driven mainly by airline weight restrictions forcing me to cut the number of devices I carry.

And so I arrive in Portugal for the PLE 2012 conference with the usual stack of equipment (Portugal being warm, I could carry more gear and still keep under !0 Kilos luggage). MacBook, iPad, Kindle, Phone, Zoom recorder, spare batteries, connectors, cables etc. But, however careful I am something always gets left behind. This time it was the power lead for my MacBook. I guess I could have borrowed a lead. But, given all my files are in Dropbox, I though I would give the iPad a go. And on the whole I liked it.

It feels very different, not having a laptop computer. Almost as if something is missing. But their were three things I really liked. One was just the weight factor. I like whenever possible to walk to conference venues and to try to see a little of the city I am in. the iPad is light enough you do not really notice you are carrying it. The second was the battery life. No more arriving at a venue and searching around for power leads before everyone else gets them.

the third was a session I chaired. There were three speakers. Following a short introduction from each, posing a series of issues arising from their papers, participants were supposed to have short in depth round table discussions to look at those issues. One of the speakers, Arunangsu Chatterjee, had, at the last moment, been unable to travel to Portugal, but had offered to participate remotely. We were able to connect the iPad to a projector to allow him to introduce this paper. And then when we spit into round table groups, we simply used the iPad for him to take part through skype. And strangely it worked. Of course we could have done that with a computer. But somehow he seemed to have more presence on the tablet and when people moved around we simply ‘took him with us’ on the iPad. I can see tablet computers opening up many possibilities sin terms of mobile communications.

And yes, the next time I go to a conference I might even leave the laptop behind!

 

 

Personal Learning Environments: Context is King!

July 23rd, 2012 by Graham Attwell

The last few weeks have been hectic with travel, conferences, bids and more. In the next few days ~I will try to update on some of this but first, before I forget, some quick thoughts on the Personal Learning Environments 2012 conference in Aveiro.

First on the form of the conference. PLE is what is now becoming known as a flipped conference. Rather than formal paper presentations, chairs of sessions work together with presenters to find more participative forms of delivery involving interaction with participants. The aim is not just to present research findings and ideas, but to discuss and build on that work and develop new knowledge.

This was the third PLE conference and with a sufficient number of participants having been at previous conferences and enthusiastic about the format, the sessions were even better than before. This year we were better at recording outcomes and many of the sessions have been well documented on the project web site. The physical space is central to this type of event and in that respect Aveiro was perfect with flexible spaces and good connectivity.

As in previous years we continued our practice of organising two unkeynote presentations, each with two people. Antonio Dias de Figueiredo and Frances Bell involved the participants in discussing a number of key issues, crowd sourced previous to the conference (see report on Frances’s blog). On the second day Ricardo Torres and Grainne Conole presented a series of video clips reflecting on the VLE versus PLE debate. And whilst I think that the issue is somewhat out of date, it sparked a big and ongoing response on twitter and on the Cloudworks site.

Each year we try to introduce new ideas. This year we piloted the idea of ‘One Conference – Two venues’ with face to face meet ups taking place (more or less) simultaneously in Aveiro and Melbourne. The time differences prohibited any real time link ups. But with both venues using the same #PLEConf hash tag, there was an almost seamless 24 hour flow of tweets around PLEs. Interestingly it was hard at times to work out which of the venues the tweet had been sent from.

Anotehr innovation this year was experimenting with the use of Mozilla Badges. Whilst the badge titles seemed to multiply alarmingly in the run up to the conference, it provided us with a very good insight into both technical and pedagogical issues involved with badges. I think overall the verdict was positive but their are still questions to answer. You can see a full collection of the badges here.

This year the organising committee instigated a two stage review for contributions – reviewing firstly abstracts and then secondly full papers. I was personally opposed to this fearing that such a ‘heavier’ review process would discourage participants. I think I was wrong. It might be due to other factors, but the quality of the contributions this year – at least those that I have read – seemed much higher than in previous years. And, if done well, such a review can support people in developing their ideas. Overall though, I remain unconvinced about review procedures and wonder if we could try some other forms of supporting contributors in developing their ideas (open review processes or on-line review workshops? ).

There was also a noticeable change in terms of the focus on many contributions.

At the first conference, in Barcelona in 2010, PLEs were a largely new and unexplored concept. Much effort and discussion was expended in trying to arrive at a common definition of a PLE, in debating the dichotomy between technological and pedagogy approaches and constructs to developing Personal Learning Environments, and the role of PLEs in institutional strategies.

Further discussions focused on the impact and affordance of Web 2.0 and social software on developing PLEs.

The following year at the Southampton PLE conference concerns – for instance over a tension between pedagogic and technical developments – appeared less irreconcilable with the majority of participants agreeing that a PLE can be seen as a pedagogical approach with many implications for the learning processes, underpinned by a ‘hard’ technological base.

Participants also agreed on the need to continue thinking around practices for enriching the learning process through formal and non formal learning and begun to explore the different contexts in which PLEs might be used. In this process, attempts to invent new acronyms to differentiate contexts (of PLE components, or tools), often at only a theoretical level, addded little extra-value to the previous analysis.

Aveiro had a different focus. Many of these previous debates seemed slightly irrelevant. PLEs were no longer a construct but a reality 0- in part I guess due to the increasing use of social media for learning but also with the main streaming of Massive Open On-line Courses and the increasing attention being paid to extra institutional learning.

Where as before we had many discussions about what a PLE might look like, there were now many examples of applications supporting PLEs, ranging from mash ups to Cloud services to institutional provision.

Thus the focus shifted to the different contexts in which learning takes place and to pedagogic processed, in particular how to support learners in developing their learning through a PLE. And with an increased focus on context, research had broadened. Instead of being confined within the education domain, we are seeing the emergence of interdisciplinary research – for instance bringing together work science and innovation research to understand how PLEs might be of use for learning at the workplace.

The latter subject is of particular interest to me and a group of us agreed we would set up a wiki to continue working on this. Of course commitments made in the hothouse of an intensive conference are not always fulfilled but I hope we manage to do this. And if anyone else is interested please get in touch.

Finally, despite the best intentions of all of us to support the conference organisers, inevitably much of the work falls on the shoulder of the local team. Many thanks to Carlos Santos and to Luis Pedro  and all the other colleagues from Aveiro who made the conference such a success.

 

 

Work based Personal Learning Environments

July 10th, 2012 by Graham Attwell
View more presentations from GrahamAttwell
The Personal Learning Envrinments conference is a flipped conference. Traditional paper sessions are frowned on and presenters are invited to put forward their idea of how to engage participants in teh different sessions. Sessionc hairs are asked to negotiate with presenters. Thus it was that this afternoon I received an email from Linda Castenda who is chairing the session with my paper about Developing work Based Personal Learning Environments.
“Dear authors”, she said, “As you may already now, I’ll be the chair of your session in the PLE Conference in Aveiro. …
We will be together in the A3 session, on the Thursday 11th at 011 O’clock in the room Number 2.

I’m really happy of sharing with you this moment and I hope to have the possibility of trying a different kind of session that help us to find new ways for enriching or work and for find new ways of collaborating together.

I’ve thought on the possibility of organizing a different session, I’m absolutely open to all of your suggestions, but I would like to propose you the following organizing, if you like it:

11:10 to 11:15 Presentation and explanation of the session dynamic  (me).
For it I would love to have a picture of you for including on the presentation.

from 11:15 to 11:45 an “Speed dating” session:
Each paper will be localized in three different “spaces” in the same classroom. The audience will be divided into three groups that will be passing by each paper and  each one of you will have to explain your work in 9 minutes to three different groups of people. After 9 minutes I’ll ring an alarm to change the group.
I know you have to repeat the explanation 3 times, but It would help them to be more close to you and to be more “active” during the explanations. You could use for your presentation a slideshow (in your computer or tablet, a pamphlet, a paper, a trip tic, or whatever you want… BUT taking into account that you are presenting for few people only.
Attendees will have some papers to include questions and comments of the presentations that we will recover after the round of presenting.
If you don’t mind (if you do, please, let it me know)  I will love to record each presentation in video for uploading to the web after the session.

11:50 to 12:05 Panel for answering:
We will try to make a panel with you three and try to answer to questions. I will have also some question for you, only in case you have not any Q from the public

12:05 to 12:30 Conclusions and PLN
After the questions I will ask you for doing a deliverable by paper WITH the attendees… maybe you can think in something to do around your paper (questions, short activity, or whatever) , or maybe we can do something generic… what about a kind of map of relationships between the research presented by you and the attendees research area (including contact details)?

I’m sure it seems a bit complicated, but it would be very active and challenging in order to take advantage of the papers and the groups that are going to be there…”

I am very happy with the idea. But then the problem – I had brought no slides for this session. So in record time I have hacked together a quick presentation and thanks to the speed of teh network here in Aveiro, have got it up on slideshare already.

Perosnal Learning Environment Conference 2012 – Join us

July 8th, 2012 by Graham Attwell

I am off to Porto tomorrow and then on to Aveiro for the Personal Learning Environment Conference 2012. Ironically I was reading an article a couple of days ago saying “It’s time to create the Conference 2.0 by flipping the current setup of major education conferences”. I don’t know if the PLE conference can be called ‘major’. I think one of the ideas of the Conference 2.0 is to get away form the idea of a major conference filled with endless tracks covering everything under the sun and mainly attracting delegate through educational tourism offers. I prefer smaller, more intimate and more connected events.

PLE is a flipped conference. I am not going to claim it is the first, but in all three of the conferences we have organised we have placed a stress on interaction and knowledge sharing. We have fought against traditional paper presentations, instead arguing that the papers can be read on line and what we want of in depth discussion and consideration of the ideas behind the papers. To that end we have invited chair people and participants to come up with their own ideas on how this can be facilitated. We have introduced unconferencing slots – including the ‘speakers corner’ – this year on the beach! and pecha keucha. We introduced unkeynotes – with speakers working in pairs to develop presentations that involved participants – both face to face and on-line (see crowdsourcing for one of this years unkeynotes by Ricardo Torres and Grainne Conole). This years innovations include the integration of Mozilla badges into the conference social networking site and the ‘One Conference – Two Venues’ idea – with face to face sessions taking place at the same time (more or less) in Aveiro and Brisbane.

PLE210 is a flipped conference. We are expecting around 120 participants at the two venues. We know that it is difficult for many researchers and practitioners to get funding to attend conferences at the moment. We are trying to develop an online ecosystem around the conferences to involve those not able to be physically present. many sessions will be streamed – check the conference web site for full details. And of course you can participate (and gain badges!) by joining on social networking site and by using the conference hashtag on twitter – #pleconf

Hope to see many of you face to face or on-line later this week.

Developing Work based Personal Learning Environments in Small and Medium Enterprises

July 5th, 2012 by Graham Attwell

This is a work in progress. It is the first draft of a paper by Ludger Deitmer and myself for the Personal Learning Environments Conference to be held in Aveiro next week. We are looking at how we might develop work based PLEs drawing on the work on the forthcoming Learning Layers project. there is a downloadable version (in word format) at the bottom of the post. Your feedback is very welcome.

 

Developing Work based Personal Learning Environments in Small and Medium Enterprises

Graham Attwell, Pontydusgu, Wales

Ludger Deitmer, ITB, University of Bremen, Germany

Abstract

This paper is based on a literature review and interviews with employers and trainers in the north German building and construction trades. The work was undertaken in preparing a project application, Learning Layers, for the European Research Programme.

The paper looks at the development of High Performance Work Systems to support innovation in Small and Medium enterprises. It discusses the potential of Personal Learning environments to support informal and work based learning.

The paper goes on to look at the characteristics and organisation of the building and construction industry and at education and training in the sector.

It outlines an approach to developing the use of PLEs based on a series of layers to support informal interactions with people across enterprises, supports creation, maturing and interaction with learning materials as boundary objects and a layer that situates and scaffolds learning support into the physical workplace and captures people’s interactions with physical artefacts inviting them to share their experiences.

Keywords

Building, construction, Small and Medium Enterprises, informal interactions, boundary objects, workplace learning, scaffolding

1. Introduction

Research and development in Personal Learning Environments has made considerable progress in recent years. Yet although often acknowledging the importance of informal learning, such research continues to be largely focused on formal educational institutions from either higher or vocational training and education. Far less attention has been paid to work based and work integrated learning and still less to the particular context of learning at work in Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) (Gustavsen, Nyhan, Ennals, 2007). Yet it could be argued that it is in just these contexts, where work can provide a rich learning environment and where there is growing need for continuing professional development to meet demands from new technology, new materials and changing work processes, that PLEs could have the greatest impact. A work environment in which the workers plan, control and validate their work tasks can both competitive and productive (Asheim 2007). It also requires that workers are able to make incremental and continuous improvements to work processes to develop better products and services. This in turn requires continuous learning. In contrast to predominant forms of continuous training based on activities outside the workplace, and in response to the perceived lack of take up of Technology Enhanced Learning in SMEs, we propose a dual approach, based on informal learning and the development of network and mobile technologies including Personal Learning Environments. This paper will describe an approach being developed for learning in SMEs, specifically in the building and construction industry in north Germany.

Our approach is based on the development of high performance work systems in industrial clusters of SMEs. In this context, individual learning leads to incremental innovation within enterprises. Personal Learning environments serve both to support individual learning and organisational learning through a bringing together of learning processes (and technology) and knowledge management within both individual SMEs and dispersed networks of SMEs in industrial clusters. Our approach is also based on linking informal and work based learning and practice and formal training.

The paper is based on literature research and on interviews with employers and trainers in the building and construction sector. This work was undertaken in preparation for a project called Learning Layers, to be undertaken through the European Commission Seventh Framework for Research and due to commence in November 2012.

In the paper we look at the ideas behind high performance work systems and industrial clusters before examining the nature and context of the building and construction industries and particularly of SMEs within the industrial cluster.

We develop a scenario of how PLEs might be used for learning and suggest necessary developments to be undertaken to facilitate the adaptation of such technologies for learning.

2. The challenge for knowledge and skills for the workforce

Many industries are undergoing a period of rapid change with the introduction of new technologies, new production concepts, work processes and materials. This is resulting in new quality requirements for products and processes which lead to an emergence of new skill requirements at all levels of personnel, including management, workers, technicians, apprentices and trainees. These changes can be described as a paradigmatic shift from traditional forms of production towards leaner, agile and flexible production based on high performance work systems (Toner 2011).

Leaner business organisations have less hierarchical layers and develop ‘close to production intelligence’ in order to be more flexible to change and to customer demands. The qualifications required of workers within such production or service environment are broader than in traditional workplaces reflecting a shift from functional skills towards multiskilling. Skilled workers require practical and theoretical knowledge in order to act competently in the planning, preparation, production and control of work and to coordinate with other departments in or outside the company.

Information and communication technologies – including both technologies for learning and for knowledge management – are required to allow more decentralised control to support just-in-time and flexible production and services. A key to flexibility and high productivity lies in the qualification profiles of the workforce and in the development of worker-oriented production technologies, which allow more flexible control in the production process.

The following table illustrates the change in innovation management within such companies and the consequences for the skilling of workers, technicians and the apprentices. This change in production philosophy can be described as a move from a top-down management approach towards a participative management approach (Rauner, Rasmussen & Corbett, 1988; Deitmer & Attwell, 2000) which requires a commitment to innovation at all level of the workforce, not just at the management level.

Innovation management by: control Innovation management by: participation Organisational consequences for the skilling of emerging workers
function-oriented work organisation business-oriented work organisations Learn to work within the flow of the business process and at the work place through experience-based learning
steep hierarchy flat hierarchy Self regulated working and learning based on methods like plan, do, act and control cycle
low level and fragmented qualifications shaping competences Be able to shape workplaces and make suggestions for improvement of services and production processes
executed work commitment, responsibility Developing vocational identity and occupational commitment
external quality control quality consciousness professional level of training based on key work and learning tasks

Table 1 Innovation management and the skilling of workers (Deitmer 2011)

3. Learning by doing and drivers for incremental innovation

Toner (2011) points out that a ‘learning by doing’ strategy in an innovative work environment can lead to gradual improvement in the efficiency of the production processes and product design and performance (Toner 2011). Such improvements are based on high performance skills by workers. High Performance Work Structures are based on the practical knowledge of the workers underpinned by theoretical knowledge (Nyhan 2002, Rauner). Practical knowledge is generated in the context of application and is shaped by criteria such as practicability, functionality and the failure free use of technologies.

In high performance work systems (Toner 2011, Arundel 2006, Gospel 2007, Teece et.al 2000)  the following qualification profiles are emerging:

  • High levels of communication, numeracy, problem solving and team working are required as managerial authority is delegated to the shop floor including the design of the workplace, maintenance and continuous product and process innovation
  • Broad Job Classifications which allow functional flexibility by limiting occupational demarcations and requiring workers to be competent across a broader range of tasks than is conventionally expected which in turn requires broad based training.
  • Organisational learning around new patterns of activities is based on capturing the learning and work experiences of individual workers and teams of workers
  • Flat management hierarchies provide more responsibility for individual workers and work teams in problem solving and in organising work processes

High Performance Work Systems require a commitment to innovation at all levels of the workforce; this process is more inclusive, democratic and incremental rather than elitist, imposed and radical. The empowerment of the work force to make proposals for changes and improvement is key. However the adoption of such practices requires continuous learning linked to knowledge management and systems and technologies to support such processes.

Thus the development of work based PLEs could be linked to wider processes of innovation within SMEs.

4. Learning and innovation in Regional Clusters

Many SMEs organise themselves in clusters or networks in order to collaborate, to share knowledge and skill, or even to exchange staff. The network dimension is particularly important as regional clusters have been understood as an instrument of scaling learning in heavily SME dependent sectors. This is reflected by large EU projects like European Cluster Excellence Initiative. It is much easier to economically justify the creation of learning materials which can be reused in an entire cluster and hence by many organisations than just for a few individuals. The challenge from a network point of view would be to identify such high potential learning materials and to find ways to distribute them efficiently within the network. The current focus of cluster initiatives is almost exclusively on scaling up formal training by organising training across network members. While a Communities of Practice perspective has been adopted in some cases to address informal learning processes, these are usually not effectively supported through information technologies (Prestkvern & Bardalen 2008).

Effects resulting from relationships in networks of small organisations for learning processes have received little attention in Technology Enhanced Learning research to date, despite these networks having been identified as a potential way of fostering favourable learning conditions (Deitmer & Attwell 2000). However, we can build here on work in diverse fields looking into these network effects. Seminal work by Granovetter (1973) has made distinction between strong and weak ties in such networks. Further studies investigated the network effects on experience sharing (Baum, 1998), on social networks (Cross, 2001), of trust on knowledge transfer (Levin, 2004) on communication for innovation (Müller-Prothmann, 2006), on communication with new media (Haythornthwaite, 2002) and more recently on networked learning (Ryberg, 2008). However, the effects on informal learning and on the creation of shared knowledge artefacts are still open issues.

The development and implementation of Personal Learning Environments within the context of regional clusters could support this form of networked informal learning.

However there remain barriers. Research suggests (Perifanou, forthcoming) that SMEs may still be concerned about a perceived loss of competitiveness through openness in collaborative learning contexts. Similarly some SMEs regard learning materials, especially those generated within their organisation, as a potential source of future revenue.

5. Learning approaches and technological support for learning at the workplace

Research suggests that in SMEs much learning takes place in the workplace and through work processes, is multi episodic, is often informal, is problem based and takes place on a just in time basis (Hart, 2011). Rather than a reliance on formal or designated trainers, much training and learning involves the passing on of skills and knowledge from skilled workers (Attwell and Baumgartl, 2009). Dehnbostel (2009) says that learning in the workplace is the oldest and most common method of vocational qualification, developing experience, motivation and social relations. Learning at work is self-directed, process-oriented form of lifelong learning that essentially contributes to personality development and professionalism, and promotes innovation and employability (Streumer, 2001; Dehnbostel, 2009; Fischer, Boreham and Nyhan, 2004).

A survey undertaken in Germany found work based learning comprised of 43% of training and learning undertaken by enterprises (Büchter et al., 2000).

Thus work based learning is seen as a potential approach to developing continuing learning for the broader competences and work process knowledge required for high performance workplaces. Rather than a reliance on formal or designated trainers, much training and learning involves the passing on of skills and knowledge from skilled workers (Attwell and Baumgartl, 2009). In other words, learning is highly individualized and heavily integrated with contextual work practices. While this form of delivery (learning from individual experience) is highly effective for the individual and has been shown to be intrinsically motivating by both the need to solve problems and by personal interest (Attwell, 2007; Hague & Lohan, 2009), it does not scale well: if individual experiences are not further taken up in systematic organisational learning practices, learning remains costly, fragmented and unsystematic.  It has been suggested that Technology Enhanced Learning can overcome this problem of scaling and of systematisation of informal and work based learning. However its potential has not yet been fully realized and especially in many Small and Medium Enterprises (SME), the take-up has not been effective. A critical review of the way information technologies are being used for workplace learning (Kraiger, 2008) concludes that most solutions are targeted towards a learning model based on the idea of formal, direct instruction. TEL initiatives tend to be based upon a traditional business training model with modules, lectures and seminars transferred from face to face interactions to onscreen interactions, retaining the standard tutor/student relationship and the reliance on formal and to some extent standardized course material and curricula.

The development of work based Personal Learning Environments have the potential to link informal learning in the workplace to more formal training. Furthermore they could promote the sharing of experience and work practices and promote collaborative learning within networks of SMEs. Research suggests that in SMEs much learning not only takes place in the workplace and through work processes, but is multi episodic, is often informal, is problem based and takes place on a just in time basis (Hart, 2011).

Learning in the workplace draws on a multitude of existing ‘resources’ – many of which have not been designed for learning purposes (like colleagues, Internet, Intranet) (Kooken et al. 2007). Research on whether these experiential forms of learning lead to effective learning outcomes are mixed. Purely self-directed learning has been shown to be less effective than most guided learning in many laboratory studies and in educational settings (Mayer, 2004). On the other hand, explorative learning in work settings has often been reported to be beneficial, e.g. for allowing construction of mental models and improving transfer (Keith & Frese, 2005). Some form of guidance may be necessary to direct learners’ attention to relevant materials and support their learning (Bell & Kozlowsky, 2008). This is especially true for learners at initial levels (Lindstaedt et al. 2010).

One approach to this issue is to provide scaffolding. The use of scaffolding as a metaphor refers to the provision of temporary support for the completion of a task that a learner might otherwise be unable to achieve. Scaffolding extends the socio-cultural approach of Vygotsky. Vygotsky (1978) suggested that support for learning was provided by a Significantly Knowledgeable Other, who might be a teachers or trainer, but could also be a colleague or peer. Attwell has suggested that such support can be embodied in technology. However, scaffolding knowledge in different domains and in particular in domains that involve a relationship between knowledge and practice requires a closer approach to learning episodes and to the use of physical objects for learning within the workplace. Thus rather than seeing a PLE as a containers or connections- or even as a pedagogical approach – PLEs might be seen instead as a flexible process to scaffold individual and community  learning and knowledge development.

6. Developing Work based PLEs in the Building and Construction Sector

In the first section of this paper we have looked at the idea of high performance work systems and innovation and knowledge development within industrial clusters. We have suggested that Personal Learning Environments could facilitate and develop these processes through building on informal learning in the workplace.  We have recognized the necessity for support for learning through networked scaffolding. In the second section, we will examine in more depth the north German Building and Construction sector, developing a scenario of how PLEs might work in such a context. We will; go on to suggest further research which is needed to refine our idea of how to develop work based PLEs.

7. The Building and Construction Cluster

The building and construction trades are undergoing a period of rapid change with the introduction of green building techniques and materials and new work processes and standards. The EU directive makes near zero energy building mandatory by 2021 (European Parliament 2009). This is resulting in the development of new skill requirements for work on building sites.

The sector is characterized by a small number of large companies and a large number of SMEs in both general building and construction and in specialized craft trades. Building and construction projects require more interactive collaboration within as well as between different craft trade companies within the cluster.

Training for skilled workers has traditionally been provided through apprenticeships in most countries. Continuing training is becoming increasingly important for dealing with technological change. However further training programmes are often conducted outside the workplace with limited connection to real work projects and processes and there is often little transfer of learning. Costs are a constraint for building enterprises, especially SMEs, in providing off the job courses (Schulte and Spöttl, 2009). Although In Germany, as in some other European countries, there is a training levy for sharing training costs between enterprises, there remains a wider issues of how to share knowledge both within enterprises and between workers in different workplaces. Other issues include how to provide just in time training to meet new needs and how to link formal training with informal learning and work based practice in the different craft trades.

The developments of new processes and materials provide substantial challenges for the construction industry. Traditional educational and training methods are proving to be insufficient to meet the challenge of the rapid emergence of new skill and quality requirements (for example those related to green building techniques or building materials). This requires much faster involvement and action at three levels – individual, organisational and cluster. The increased rate of technical change introduces greater uncertainty for firms, which, in turn, demands an increased capacity for problem solving skills (Toner 2011). Despite the recession there is a shortage of skilled craftspeople in some European regions and a problem in recruiting young people for apprenticeships in higher skilled craft work in the building and construction industry.

In the present period of economic uncertainty, it is worth noting that the total turnover of the construction industry in 2010 (EU27) was 1186 billion Euros forming 9,7% of the GDP in 2010 (EU27). The construction industry is the biggest industrial employer in Europe with 13,9 million operatives making up 6,6% of the total employment in EU27 and if programmes were to be launched to stimulate economies, construction has a high multiplier effect.

8. Mobile technologies and work based Personal Learning Environments

Although the European Commission has pointed to the lack of take up of e-Learning in various sectors, this is probably too simplistic an analysis. It may be more that in all sectors, e-learning has been used to a greater or lesser extent for learning in particular occupations and for particular tasks. For example e-Learning is used for those professions which most use computers e.g. in the building and construction industries, by architects and engineers. Equally e-learning is used for generic competences such as learning foreign languages or accounting.

In the past few years, emerging technologies (such as mobile devices or social networks) have rapidly spread into all areas of our life. However, while employees in SMEs increasingly use these technologies for private purposes as well as for informal learning, enterprises have not in general recognized the personal use of technologies as effectively supporting informal learning. As a consequence, the use of these emerging technologies has not been systematically taken up as a sustainable learning strategy that is integrated with other forms of learning at the workplace.

9. An approach to developing PLEs in the work place

We are researching methods and technologies to scale-up informal learning support for PLEs so that it is cost-effective and sustainable, offers contextualised and meaningful support in the virtual and physical context of work practices. through the Learning Layers project we aim to:

  • Ensure that peer production is unlocked: Barriers to participation need to be lowered, the massive reuse of existing materials has to be realized, and experiences people make in physical contexts needs to be included.
  • Ensure individuals receive scaffolds to deal with the growing abundance: We need to research concepts of networked scaffolding and research the effectiveness of scaffolds across different contexts.
  • Ensure shared meaning of work practices at individual, organisational and inter-organisational levels emerges from these interactions: We need to lower barriers for participation, allow emergence as a social negotiation process and knowledge maturing across institutional boundaries, and research the role of physical artefacts and context in this process.

10. The Learning Layers concept: an approach to support informal learning through PLEs

Work based Personal Learning Environments will be based on a series of Learning Layers. In building heavily on existing research on situated and contextualised learning, Learning Layers provide a meaningful learning context when people interact with people, digital and physical artefacts for their informal learning. Learning Layers provide a shared conceptual foundation independent of the personal tools people use for learning. Learning Layers can flexibly be switched on and off, to allow modular and flexible views of the abundance of existing resources in learning interactions. These views both restrict the perspective of the abundant opportunities and augment the learning experience through scaffolds for meaningful learning both in and across digital and physical interaction.

At the same time, Learning Layers invite processes of social contribution for peer production through providing views of existing digital resources and making it easy to capture and share physical interactions. Peer production then becomes a way to establish new and complementary views of existing materials and interactions.

Three Interaction Layers focus on interaction with three types of entities involved in informal learning:

  • a layer that invites informal interactions with people across enterprises in the cluster, scaffolds workplace learning by drawing on networks of learners and keeps these interactions persistent so that they can be used in other contexts by other persons,
  • a layer that supports creation, maturing and interaction with learning materials as boundary objects and guides this processes by tracking the quality and suitability of these materials for learning, and
  • a layer that situates and scaffolds learning support into the physical workplace and captures people’s interactions with physical artefacts inviting them to share their experiences with them.
  • All three interaction layers draw on a common Social Semantic Layer that ensures learning is embedded in a meaningful context. This layer captures and emerges the shared understanding in the community of learners by supporting the negotiation of meaning. To achieve this, the social semantic layer captures a number of models and lets the community evolve these models through PLEs in a social negotiation process.

The following scenario within the building and construction industry illustrate how these technologies will be operational in the regional North West German building and construction cluster.

11. Building and Construction Scenario: Cross-organisational Learning for Sustainable Construction

A regional training provider for the building industry offers courses on how to install PLC (programmable logic control) based lighting systems, a new technology designed for more efficient energy consumption. Veronika, a vocational trainer at a regional branch, designs a course on PLC based systems where she provides electronic materials. In the course, she distributes QR tags which participants can stick on devices in order to receive information on demand. She also integrates work-based exercises in her teaching where users tag PLC systems with QR tags, take pictures or create short videos, and add their personal experiences with these systems that they make available for other people as learning experiences [Artefact Interaction Layer].

Paul is a skilled electrician working in craft trade electrician service company who has not used PLC technology before. The PLC installation instructions are difficult to understand for him because he lacks experience with such installations. He scans the QR tag attached to the PLC with his tablet PC. The system suggests course materials from Veronika’s course, relevant standards for the installation from a technical publisher, as well as a short video documenting the installation steps recorded by a colleague [Artefact Interaction Layer]. Moreover, Paul receives the information that two people have experience with this particular PLC [Social Semantic Layer]. Paul calls one of them over Skype and checks that his plan and understanding of the installation is sound and then proceeds with the installation with the help of the video. As several further questions remain, Paul posts them using voice recording and photo to a Q&A tool [People Interaction Layer].

Paul’s question is forwarded to Dieter, an Electrical “Meister” in another SME using similar devices, based on his user profile indicating that he has experience with PLC, and because he has indicated his willingness to help. Dieter briefly answers Paul’s question, including links to materials (Pictures, …) available in the learning layers repository. Dieter is a well-known “problem solver” in his SME network. By support of the Learning Layers technology he has created a training business in which he gives technical advice service and trainings to other building electrician companies. His comments can be traced by others and recognized as service from the Electrician’s Guild.

Veronika, the vocational trainer, is notified by the system that there are currently many new activities around PLC programming and views the concrete questions that occurred [Social Semantic Layer]. With the notification, she also gets recommendations for the most active and helpful discussions and for most suitable and high quality materials people have suggested [Learning Materials Interaction Layer]. She decides to include these in her course to illustrate solutions to potential problems.

The four layers described in the previous section provide the core of the conceptual and technological approach for the development of the PLEs. There are two further critical elements that will be crucial for reaching our vision. These elements are needed for effectively integrating the different layers.

12. Further Research 

Integration of work practices with learning to support situated, just-in time learning

We need further investigation into the relationship of informal learning and workplace practices on the individual, organisational and on the network level. In extending previous work, we will especially focus on physical workplaces and the opportunities and constraints that come with supporting learning. Secondly, we require a further focus on existing barriers and opportunities for scaling peer production and learning in cooperative-competitive SME networks. This work will create a model for scaling informal learning in a networked SME context and ensure that the use of tools is integrated through practice as suggested for example by Wenger, et al. (2009). But we generally acknowledge that a key factor for enterprises to staying agile and adaptive is to have a highly skilled workforce. With the rapid development of new technologies, staying up-to-date with know-how and skills increasingly becomes a challenge in many sectors.

Integration through a technical architecture for fast and flexible deployment:

Our idea is to base PLes on mobile devices, either the users’ personal devices or devices provided by the enterprises. However,  the Learning Layers concept is based on fast and flexible deployment in a networked SME setting with heterogeneous infrastructural requirements and conditions. Current learning architectures are typically deployed as monolithic in-house installations that lack flexibility for inter-SME networking in response to fast-changing environments. On the other hand, externally hosted solutions are too restricted to features, devices and environments supported by the provider, again impeding flexibility and fast development cycles. Thus, the challenge of both fast and flexible development and deployment of learning solutions is currently not optimally catered for. This issue requires further research and development.

13. First Conclusions

This paper presents the early stages of research and development towards producing a system to support Personal Learning Environments in the workplace. There remains much work to do in realising our vision. We are attempting both to theoretically bring together approaches to innovation and knowledge management with learning and at the same time to develop pedagogical approaches to scaffolding learning in the workplace and develop technologies which can support the use of PLEs in networked organisational settings.

Our ambition is not merely to produce a proof of concept but to roll out a scalable system which can support learning in large scale networks of SMEs.

Our approach to developing the use of PLEs is based on a series of layers to support informal interactions with people across enterprises, supports creation, maturing and interaction with learning materials as boundary objects and a layer that situates and scaffolds learning support into the physical workplace and captures people’s interactions with physical artefacts inviting them to share their experiences.

Acknowledgement

The authors wish to acknowledge the contribution of the partners in the Learning Layers project application, on whose work this paper draws heavily.

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e-Portfolio support

June 19th, 2012 by Graham Attwell

JISC has launched three resources to help universities and colleges to implement e-portfolios effectively at scale -created from successful practice in the UK, Australia and New Zealand.

The materials explore the ways in which you can help to boost learner achievement, enhance employability and even support the development of new courses.

JISC programme manager Lisa Gray says that a review of both the toolkit and supporting videos gives a thorough, accessible introduction to implementing e-portfolio tools.

She said: “What shines out from the case studies is the enormous potential that e-portfolios offer, and the benefits that they deliver to students over and above what they might achieve on their own, via Facebook or some other platform.

“Many universities, colleges and professional bodies, are now exploring the potential of e-portfolios on a wider scale, but there have been few attempts to share good practice and celebrate successes.”

The e-portfolio implementation toolkit and five supporting video case studies, Stories of e-Portfolio Implementation, can be found  here.

Great Design

June 11th, 2012 by Graham Attwell

Design matters! And one of the problems with educational technology is that developers ignore design. Interfaces are unimportant, they say. It can be sorted after we get the coding debugged. they do not generally understand when users complain that the Alpha is hard to navigate and is not attractive.

I know because I have been there.  We try our best but none of us in Pontydysgu are specialist graphic designers. One of the problems is that project funding rarely (if ever) includes a budget for graphic design. Life is getting easier because of the more advanced templates for platforms like WordPress but even these need customisation. And lets face it, 90 per cent of Moodle sites look soooo boring.

So it is refreshing when a well designed educational technology web site comes out. So congratulations to Jisc TechDis who have just released a new Toolbox.

The technology section of the site explains:

The word technology is a simple way of describing tools to help us do things. These tools can be computers or tablets, but could just as easily be a mobile phone or even an ebook reader.

All types of technology can be changed and adapted to make them just right for you. This could be changing the size of the font on a screen or having the text read out loud. You may prefer to plan your work using mind mapping software or to record your thoughts as a video. Whatever you choose you can set it up in the way which is the best for you.

This section contains a large number of ideas to help you adapt the technology you use everyday. It covers both Windows and Mac computers as well as using mobile devices and tablets.

And it looks fantastic.

Layering Personal Learning Environments

May 17th, 2012 by Graham Attwell

Continuing  the mini series around PLEs.

In 2008 I wrote:

Early proponents of Personal Learning Environments have tended to divide between those who see Personal learning Environments as a concept and those who have focused on PLEs as an application or set of applications. To a considerable extent this is a false dichotomy.

If it is accepted that the PLE involves the use of Information and Communication technologies then it necessarily involves applications. On the other hand any learning technology, however designed and despite overt statements to the contrary, inevitably facilitates or hiders different approaches to learning and knowledge construction. In other words all educational technology contains or supports an implicit pedagogic approach.

The issue is not a concept or an application but rather the processes of researching and designing technological and pedagogical approaches. The move to a leaner centred approach to pedagogy and a community based approach to knowledge construction and curriculum requires new approaches to research and design.

I think that still holds up four years on. But there is a problem. Most of the research and design activities into PLEs have taken place within the context of academic education and particularly in Universities. Universities have in general a long established and fairly entrenched pedagogic model. Faced with such a model, PLE designers and researchers have tended to see the introduction of a PLE either as a place to record the outcomes of learning – essentially as an e-Portolio, albeit socially enhanced – or as an additional online space linking the institution with the outside world. There is nothing wrong with either approach (and I appreciate that we now realise that many students may struggle with technology). However such approaches have limited us to the potential of PLEs.

Perhaps the most interesting research and design approach has been the advent of MOOCs – Massive Open Online Courses. As with any innovation the word MOOC is now morphing to describe a variety of developments in online learning. But what has been interesting is that essentially participants are expected to set up their own PLE, and to be responsible both for their own learning and for the learning of their peers.

I have been lurking around the Change 2011 MOOC – the self styled mother of all MOOCs  – which comes to an end this week. Change 2011 provides an automated Daily Newsletter aggregating blogs and tweets around the course.

And reading the newsletters and digging into so0me of the course blogs their appears  to be a fall of in participation and activity during the course . That is perhaps not surprising. Change 2011 was a long course. And one of the attractions of open and free courses like this is that people can dip in and out as they wish.

Yet I still see motivation as an issue. And this issue is also raised in a number of research papers talking about PLEs in higher education. Of course that may merely refect student expectations. In the UK with rising fees, students expect to be taught – and somewhat depressingly some evidence suggests that what they want to be taught is just that knowledge they need to pass an exam.

In my 2008 paper I talked about the move to a leaner centred approach to pedagogy and a community based approach to knowledge construction and curriculum. It could be argued that the Change MOOC reflects a community of practice and that community is structuring its own learning and knowledge. But I would be interested in seeing the potential of using PLEs in wider communities outside the higher education sector. And here the question of motivation and support becomes more critical. Learners will need considerable help in scaffolding their learning. Of course such scaffolding can be supported technologically. But teachers and trainers also have a key role in scaffolding learning and building on previous attainment and knowledge to accomplish new learning and competence through involvement in engaging and doable tasks that are not a simple answer to a question but involve problem solving, judgement, analysis, or synthesis (Starr, 2000).

Put simply, I do not think that PLEs as we have presently developed them provide enough support for scaffolding. I am not sure of the answer to this issue. But I think we need research and development designs that build on learning in communities of practice and particularly that look at scaffolding knowledge in different domains and in particular in domains that involve a relationship between knowledge and practice. In this respect we may need to look more closely at learning episodes and at the use of physical objects for learning. This approach has been adopted by the Learning layers project, currently being negotiated with the European Commission. “Learning Layers aims to develop a set of modular and flexible technological layers for supporting workplace practices in SMEs that unlock peer production and scaffold learning in networks of SMEs, thereby bridging the gap between scaling and adaptation to personal needs. By building on recent advances in contextualised learning, these layers provide a meaningful learning context when people interact with people, digital and physical artefacts for their informal learning, thus making learning faster and more effective. Building on mobile learning research, the project aims to situate learning into physical work places and practices to support situated, faster and more meaningful learning. Learning Layers provide a shared conceptual foundation, independent of the tools people use and the context they are in.”

Thus rather than seeing a PLE as a containers or connections- or even as a pedagogical approach – PLEs might be seen instead as a flexible process to scaffold individual and community  learning and knowledge development. And of course, with powerful mobile devices that learning can take place in contexts where knowledge is applied, rather than as pure knowledge abstracted from its application.

More to come…..

 

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    According to the University Technical Colleges web site, new research released of 11 to 17-year-olds, commissioned by the Baker Dearing Educational Trust, the charity which promotes and supports University Technical Colleges (UTCs), reveals that over a third (36%) have no opportunity to learn about the latest technology in the classroom and over two thirds (67%) admit that they have not had the opportunity even to discuss a new tech or app idea with a teacher.

    When asked about the tech skills they would like to learn the top five were:

    Building apps (45%)
    Creating Games (43%)
    Virtual reality (38%)
    Coding computer languages (34%)
    Artificial intelligence (28%)


    MOOC providers in 2016

    According to Class Central a quarter of the new MOOC users  in 2016 came from regional MOOC providers such as  XuetangX (China) and Miríada X (Latin America).

    They list the top five MOOC providers by registered users:

    1. Coursera – 23 million
    2. edX – 10 million
    3. XuetangX – 6 million
    4. FutureLearn – 5.3 million
    5. Udacity – 4 million

    XuetangX burst onto this list making it the only non-English MOOC platform in top five.

    In 2016, 2,600+ new courses (vs. 1800 last year) were announced, taking the total number of courses to 6,850 from over 700 universities.


    Jobs in cyber security

    In a new fact sheet the Tech Partnership reveals that UK cyber workforce has grown by 160% in the five years to 2016. 58,000 people now work in cyber security, up from 22,000 in 2011, and they command an average salary of over £57,000 a year – 15% higher than tech specialists as a whole, and up 7% on last year. Just under half of the cyber workforce is employed in the digital industries, while banking accounts for one in five, and the public sector for 12%.


    Number students outside EU falls in UK

    Times Higher Education reports the number of first-year students from outside the European Union enrolling at UK universities fell by 1 per cent from 2014-15 to 2015-16, according to data released by the Higher Education Statistics Agency.

    Data from the past five years show which countries are sending fewer students to study in the UK.

    Despite a large increase in the number of students enrolling from China, a cohort that has grown by 12,500 since 2011-12, enrolments by students from India fell by 13,150 over the same period.

    Other notable changes include an increase in students from Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia and a fall in students from Saudi Arabia and Nigeria.


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