Archive for the ‘TEL’ Category

Returning from Learning Layers Bristol meeting – Taking homework back to Bremen

June 23rd, 2016 by Pekka Kamarainen

In my previous blogs I reported on the preparations for the consortium meeting of  our EU-funded Learning Layers (LL) project that took place in Bristol during the last few days. Now I am on my way back and have some spare minutes to reflect on the baggage of homework that I am taking from the meeting back to office. In general we had a very productive meeting – so many ideas sparking up that it was good to have colleagues taking notes (on the spot and at the other end of online connection). Therefore I just make some short remarks, how our talks helped us to bring our work further: In particular I was happy to see that we are finding a way to present our results as a part of a common group picture – rather than as stand-alone results of different partners or work packages teams working on their own. Below some main points on this:

  1. Evaluation and documenting the impact: So far more attention has been given on the use of specific evaluation instruments (focus groups, complementary interviews, impact score cards, logdata on use of LL tools) and analysing data gathered with these instruments. Now we opened up this discussion to consider, how to use complementary evidence that is being gathered alongside the fieldwork in the sectoral pilots and in the co-design work. Here we worked with a set of transversal themes (such as digital transformation, adoption of innovation and changes in (informal) learning practices).  This has implications for the work of narrower ‘evaluation data’, complementary data and the impact scorecards.
  2. Presenting our R&D methodologies: We have already earlier agreed to report our results with a single deliverable – a website – and that one section should be dedicated to R&D methodologies. For this section some partners had prepared draft documents that shed light on different ‘local’, sectoral or technical aspects of our R&D work. In the light of these drafts we made clear progress in trying to open up certain contributions (such as co-design work) to be presented from the perspective of both pilot sectors – construction and healthcare. And we developed a better understanding how different activities carried out in the project can be presented as part of a coherent whole.
  3. Outlining ‘learning scenarios’: At different points of time our project had been working with different sets of ‘use cases’, ‘user stories’, ‘learning scenarios’ or ‘learning stories’. All these had been characterised by a preparatory and explorative phase of the project – presenting possibilities to work with the tools and learning arrangements that we were developing. Now it appeared that we are building learning scenarios that rely on ‘lead theories’ and on the way way have built upon them when developing tools and learning arrangements. Here we are drawing upon the transversal themes (mentioned in point 1. and on the more specific impact cards). This was reflected in a very specific set of ‘learning scenarios’ and tasks to draft them.
  4. Working further with the exploitation agendas: Here our colleagues Gilbert Peffer and Raymond Elferink presented a ‘generalised’ and at the same time well grounded model, how to adjust the prior partnership relations to new and renewed ones (with an exemplary start-up company for services in the centre). Alongside this example we also revisited the conclusions of the Aachen Integration Meeting on the co-management of the Open Source Software that has been developed in the context of the project. The most important point was that we found both models fully compatible with each other.

I guess this is enough for these spare minutes that I have had today. I am continuing my journey to Bremen (where I still have some meetings before I start my summer break).

More blogs to come …

Looking back – One year from the Learning Layers meeting in Tallinn

June 12th, 2016 by Pekka Kamarainen

My latest posts on our EU-funded Learning Layers (LL) project have focused on the recent progress with introducing the integrative toolset Learning Toolbox (LTB) to new users in construction sector. Quite suddenly I happened to look at my blog archives and spotted the entries that I had written one year ago. It struck me that at that time we were just having our LL consortium meeting in Tallinn. It is interesting to look, what kind of issues we were discussing at that time as tasks for the near future. And it is even more interesting to see, what all we have been able to implement in practice. Below I will list some of the main points for the construction pilot of the LL project:

1.  Multimedia Training concept based on “Theme Rooms”

During preparatory meeting of the construction pilot team the Bau-ABC colleagues presented first time the idea of “Theme Rooms” (see my blog of the 25th of June 2015). In their internal discussions the Bau-ABC trainers had proposed a new format for organising Multimedia Training in consecutive workshops (with ‘virtual rooms’ as support areas). We all got enthusiastic about this idea. Yet, it took some time to put it into practice.

However, in November 2015 we ( = Bau-ABC with support from ITB, Pontydysgu and TLU) managed to implement the first cycle of Theme Room workshops. It involved all Bau-ABC training staff (and the training staff of parallel training centre ABZ Mellendorf) during all Friday afternoons of the November month. As we experienced it, the training campaigned provided important support for the piloting with the Learning Toolbox (LTB) and other LL tools.

2. Making use of Learning Toolbox in Bau-ABC trainers’ projects

In the session on construction pilots we (ITB and Bau-ABC) presented firstly examples of Bau-ABC trainers’ projects that could be supported with LTB. Then, the technical developers presented the functions of the LTB to be expected in the forthcoming beta release. At that time these presentations were two different things. Here again, we needed some time to get ourselves worked in and to organise proper instruction for Bau-ABC trainers.

Looking at the current situation, we have noticed that since the preparation of the kick-off event of LTB pilot (preparation in February 2016, the event itself in March 2016) we have noticed rapid progress. The piloting trainers have soon learned their own ways of creating and linking stacks to organise parallel or consecutive learning activities. Furthermore, they have been able pass their know-how to each other and to learn from each others’ products.

3. Spreading Learning Toolbox to other contexts and new users

For the Tallinn meeting we (ITB, Bau-ABC and Agentur) had prepared posters with which we visualised the exploitation landscapes in which we will be working with spin-off projects for which we expected funding decisions in a short while. Now, looking at the present situation we can give the following update:

  • The project DigiProB (digital support for continuing vocational training – construction site managers) has started recently. The stakeholder interviews give points of orientation for introducing LTB and complementary tools in the next phase.
  • The regional implementation of the transnational mobility scheme Mobipro-EU is bringing to Germany the second cohort of apprentices from Spain (to be trained in construction companies during the next 3-3,5 years). Some apprentices of the first cohort have participated in an LTB-workshop and support the shaping of specific stacks to support the new group of apprentices (50 persons arriving in July 2016).
  • The projects NaBus and DieDa (with focus on ecological construction work) have started and are looking forward to introduce LTB in their training programmes (scheduled for Autumn 2016). Here they can use as points of reference the stacks prepared for the ‘Learning exhibition’ in Verden and the prototype stacks for presenting LTB to member companies of the Netzwerk Nachhaltiges Bauen (NNB).
  • The project HAKS (promoting the theme energy-efficiency in vocational education and training) has started and is looking forward to introduce LTB in the next phase of its training activities (also in Autumn 2016).

4. Making use of AchSo and SoAR in the training of Bau-ABC

In Tallinn meeting the team of Aalto University presented two tools. With the video annotation tool AchSo they had already proceeded to field pilots in Finnish construction sector. With the Social Augmented Reality (SoAR) tool they were still in the initial steps. With AchSo they had only provided Android versions and there issues regarding the integration with LTB. Therefore, our impression was that some time will be needed before they can be introduced to the German pilot sites.

Now we have just experienced a three-day event during which the Aalto colleagues have introduced AchSo to two groups of apprentices (and their trainers) and SoAR to the latter group. All events proved to be successful and the apprentices and trainers are looking forward to next steps. For a wider deployment of AchSo the Aalto colleagues are working with the export function of AchSo to be able to use the tool with ordinary videos. (This step is most welcomed by the above mentioned spin-off projects.)

– – –

I think this is enough to show what kind of progress we have made with the LL construction pilot since the Tallinn consortium meeting one year ago. We know that we still have work to do, but can clearly build on our achievements.

More blogs to come …

 

Getting Learning Toolbox to Action – preparing stacks with and for Spanish apprentices

June 11th, 2016 by Pekka Kamarainen

In my previous blog on our EU-funded Learning Layers (LL) project I reported on a rapid process of developing stacks in the integrative toolset Learning Toolbox (starting on Wednesday, announced on Friday, to be used on Monday). When writing of this effort of a full-time trainer in the construction sector training centre Bau-ABC, I referred to two parallel processes of preparing stacks – firstly for the theme ‘Health and Safety’ (Arbeitssicherheit und Gesundheitsschutz) and secondly for the transnational mobility scheme Mobipro – EU (and its regional implementation by Bau-ABC). In this blog I will focus on the latter one.

On the transnational mobility scheme Mobipro-EU and how it works

The mobility programme Mobipro-EU is an initiative of the German Ministry of Labour and it is managed by the German Employment Agency (Bundesagentur für Arbeit). Its aim is to support the mobility of interested young people from other EU Member States to Germany to get apprentice training in the dual system of apprenticeship. The scheme provides support for the applicants firstly  in their home countries (advice, application & selection procedure and three months’ language training). Secondly, it provides a project organisation that takes care of the training arrangements and accommodation. Altogether, the programme provides the necessary support for foreign apprentices to complete the regular German apprentice training. The programme was started in 2013 and Bau-ABC has become a regional coordination centre for apprentice training in construction sector in 2015.

Here,it is worthwhile to note that this programme differs from the EU-funded mobility schemes that cater for shorter placement periods of individual applicants who complete their education/training programs in their own county. The Mobipro EU supports the placement of groups of apprentices who will stay in Germany during the whole duration of their apprentice training. Thus, the challenges for adjusting oneself to the use of foreign language and getting along in the German society (and its culture of work, education and learning) are much more profound than in the EU-funded exchange measures.

Bau-ABC as a regional coordinator of the implementation of Mobipro-EU

Bau-ABC received its first group of Spanish apprentices (initially 15)  in 2015. Some of the apprentices were placed in companies in Bremen and its immediate neighbourhood, others into North-German municipalities near Bau-ABC. In practical terms this meant that the group was divided into two subgroups. The Bremen group had the school part of apprentice training in a vocational school in Bremen, whilst the other group in a vocational school in Rostrup. Bau-ABC provided for both groups the intermediate training (überbteriebliche Ausbildung). Concerning the language learning, the programme envisages that the participants have completed intensive language course and language test (B1) already in their home country. However, upon request of the companies providing the apprenticeships, Bau-ABC has made local arrangements for additional language teaching for both groups, in Bremen and in Rostrup.

Looking back, of the original fifteen ones seven have interrupted their training, whilst the eight are continuing (although two of them are changing from the original occupation to another). Yet, the companies and the Bau-ABC trainers have got a good impression of the motivation and commitment of the remaining apprentices and want to continue the training with larger numbers. Thus, in a short while Bau-ABC and its partner companies are receiving 50 new apprentices from Spain to be trained in construction companies in Bremen and in North-West Germany. Taking into account the progress with Learning Toolbox (LTB) in the intermediate training in Bau-ABC, Melanie Campbell started to develop a stack for the Mobipro-EU scheme to support the training of the present and new Spanish apprentices.

LTB workshop with the Spanish apprentices (10.6.2016)

In the light of the above we seized the opportunity to organise a short LTB-workshop in Bremen on Friday 10th of June. We had originally made the agreement with three apprentices of the Bremen group (Pablo, Sergio and Yadel) but we were happy to get also four others from the regional group (Carlos, Dario, Juan and Joshua). I moderated the workshop together with Melanie.

In the beginning we gave a picture of the Learning Layers (LL)  project and on the role of Learning Toolbox (LTB). Then we got the apprentices registered to LTB and looked at some of the stacks that had been prepared to provide information and materials for trade-specific training in Bau-ABC. Then we looked at the prototype stack for Mobipro-EU prepared by Melanie. The participants were invited to reflect on their experiences and think of blocks of themes and related resources to be covered by collection tiles or navigation tiles of the stack.

We had a very lively discussion and I am not in the position to cover it completely. (Melanie made comprehensive notes on flipchart and tried to outline a structure of tiles to be created.) Here I try to give some impressions of topics that came up and tensions to be considered:

  • Making the move to Germany: The apprentices were pleased with the thick handbook (full of relevant information) provided by the Spanish consulate. Yet, they appreciated the prospect of having a digital version and shorter information sheets that refer to certain contents of the handbook.
  • Making progress with the language skills: The apprentices had completed an intensive course and (most of them) passed the required language test. When coming to Germany they were surprised that their language skills were not always trusted and they were not encouraged to speak German. Also, in their leisure time they had the temptation to seek for Spanish-speaking company. Therefore, they emphasised the need to motivate themselves to to keep speaking German and to try to learn more.
  • Getting used to working for construction companies in Germany: Most of the apprentices had attended some kind of school-based vocational education with eventual workplace placement. Yet, the transition to a German apprentice contract (which is essentially an employment contract) provided a major cultural change. Furthermore, the working conditions at construction sites or in project-based work that requires mobility from one site to another, have been new experiences. From the motivational point it would be helpful to prepare the newcomers with advance information.
  • Peer learning: Many of the problems and challenges encountered by the apprentices are such that no one has prior information – the members of the pioneering group have had to find their own solutions (or ways to cope). In this respect the blog of Carlos has served a more general purpose – as a forum, on which he has discussed questions of others. In this respect the LTB has a chance to provide a “Questions and Answers” section and a forum for new issues. Also, there are needs to develop peer communication between the Spanish apprentices and their German peers – this should also be explored when developing the stack.
  • Recognition of prior learning: One of the shortcomings in the implementation of the Mobipro-EU programme has been the fact that far too little attention has been paid on the recognition of prior competences. Partly this is a matter of insufficient documents or lack of appropriate procedures. Thus, it appears that apprentices may be guided to new occupations (that are alien to them) although they have received a school-based education in another. In some cases it is discovered only in Germany that the apprentices have got vocational education in a (closely) matching occupation and could apply for partial recognition of their prior learning. Here, it is necessary to look at the procedures and to give accurate information on modes of recognition.

– – –

I stop my list here. We discussed these (and other) issues from many perspectives. We came to the conclusion that Learning Toolbox can play a significant role in supporting the newcomer group(s) with their start and with their adjustment to the new circumstances. We were pleased to see that the pioneering apprentices are willing to contribute to the development of LTB stacks and tiles and to share their valuable experiences. I am looking forward to the next steps.

More blogs to come …

 

Learning Toolbox in Action – New project for Brunnenbauer apprentices in Rohrleitungsbau

June 10th, 2016 by Pekka Kamarainen

In my recent blog on our EU-funded Learning Layers (LL) project I described, how two colleagues from the training centre started building stacks in the Learning Toolbox (LTB) to make use of the toolset in their special areas. Thomas Weerts prepared a prototype stack “Arbeitssicherheit im Bauwirtschaft” (Health and Safety in Construction). Melanie Campbell prepared a prototype stack “Mobi Pro EU” for a transnational mobility scheme that in bringing groups of Spanish apprentices to get apprentice training in construction companies in Germany. (We will get back to both themes in a short while. This blog reports on a similar stack-building session with another Bau-ABC colleague, but with more rapid steps to implementation in practice.

Linking the trade Rohrleitungsbau into piloting with Learning Toolbox (LTB)

The aim of my working session with the Bau-ABC trainer Stefan Wiedenstried was to look, how to link the trades for which he is responsible (Strassenbau – road-building and Rohrleitungsbau – pipeline building) with the LTB.

However, we immediately noticed that the group that was practicing with road-building (Strassenbau) was the initial pilot group of the well-builders (Brunnenbauer) with whom trainer Lothar Schoka had started the LTB pilot in his area. Also, the same group had been the test group to whom Sanna Reponen from Aalto University had presented the LL tool AchSo when they were having training in metalworking (see my blog 24th of May 2016). Also, the same group had been interviewed by our colleagues from Innsbruck University (UIBK) on their use of LTB (See my blog 25th of May 2016). It just happened to be the case that this same group was scheduled for next week to be trained by Stefan in the trade of pipeline building (Rohrleitungsbau).

This gave Stefan a clue, how to start. He looked at the stack that was prepared for the kick-off project in which the apprentices first time used LTB in their own trade (Projektordner Schoka). Then he looked, how the mini-projects of metalworking were presented in another stack (Projektordner Wiechmann). And based on these examples he started to develop his own stack (Projektorder Wiedenstried) in a similar format as the previous ones.

The project  “Waagerechter-Verbau” takes shape as an LTB stack

The title of the scheduled project is “1-03-04 Waagerechter-Verbau nach Din4124, Einbau e”. The task is to prepare the grounds for laying pipelines for drinking water in exactly horizontal position according to the DIN norm DIN4124.

After the welcoming message Stefan created a collection tile that contains the project description and a set of photos that illustrate the task. He then tested the functioning of the chat function with Lothar Schoka, who also linked this stack to the ‘parent stack’ of this group of well-builders.

After all these preparatory measures Stefan announced the stack on the Facebook-page of his trade “Tiefbau im Bau-ABC Rostrup”, see below:

Screenshot 2016-06-10 11.15.07

So, now we are looking forward to the group of Brunnenbauer apprentices bringing Learning Toolbox in action in yet another neighbouring trade – in Rohrleitungsbau (pipeline-building). We hope all the best and are keen on hearing more of their work.

More blogs to come …

 

 

Piloting with AchSo and getting feedback on Learning Toolbox – Part Three: Introducing Augmented Reality to construction vehicle drivers

May 26th, 2016 by Pekka Kamarainen

In my two latest blogs on the EU-funded Learning Layers (LL) project I started a series of reports on a field visits in the construction sector – and in particular in the training centre Bau-ABC. Our visitors from Aalto University (Finland) have introduced their tools and our colleagues from the University of Innsbruck (UIBK) gathered feedback on our pilot with the Learning Toolbox (LTB). In my first post I reported on the introduction of video annotation tool AchSo. In my second post I  reported on the feedback that apprentices have given after using the LTB. In this third post I will report on the introduction of Social Augmented Reality (SoAR) – also a tool developed by the colleagues in Aalto University.

The idea of Social Augmented Reality (SoAR)

For lay people (like myself) the most likely encounters with Augmented Reality have been the commercial applications that have provided some kind of pop-up information windows or visuals that enrich web-based information. In such applications there is a basic layer of information that is complemented with an additional one – to the benefit of the consumer-viewer. As a contrast, the idea of the Social Augmented Reality (SoAR) is to provided enriched communication with all channels of mobile devices: speech, video and tagging (drawing). When using SoAR in mobile phone calls, the counterparts can see each other and talk to each other (like using Skype), they can switch the screens that they are viewing and they can tag live videos by drawings. Whilst this idea had been presented in some consortium meetings of the LL project, we had first put the emphasis on introducing the integrative toolset Learning Toolbox (in March) and then the video annotation tool AchSo (on the two first days of this field visit). On the third day of the field visit we had the chance to introduce SoAR to a group of apprentices specialising as construction vehicle drivers (Baugeräteführer).

The introduction of SoAR in Bau-ABC

Since the visitors from Aalto and UIBK had spent the second day of visit introducing the AchSo video annotation tool for a group of construction vehicle drivers (Baugeräteführer), the step to introducing AchSo (see my first blog of this series) was a smooth transition from one tool to another. Sanna Reponen presented the functionality of the tool at the outdoor training areas and the testing started immediately. Normally, the driving and operating of construction site vehicles (caterpillars with different additional features) is organised in groups – one is the driver, two others are supporting the lifting and adjusting operations while others are waiting for their turns. The supervising trainer is not all the time present – since the training is based on the culture of self-organised learning (apprentices are expected to grow into independent task preparation, planning and implementation).

Now, in the beginning, the trainer got a mobile phone in which SoAR was uploaded and one of the apprentices got another one. In this way the trainer was able to rotate between different training areas and his office without losing contact with this group of trainees. During one of the first test calls there was a real problem case, when the cylinders of the caterpillar started making unusual noises – just when the trainer was out of sight. Thanks to the use of SoAR the apprentices could show him the case and from the noise he could conclude, where the problem might be. And he could give in real time advice, what measures to take to solve the problem (or at least to avoid any damage). After this ‘real’ case, several other apprentices made similar test calls and the trainer responded from different locations. Altogether, the communication worked well but the background noise from the engines of the vehicles was a major disturbance. (However, the trainers have already tested earmuffs that can filter the background noise and these can be used with SoAR as well.)

At the end of the day we had a feedback session with the apprentices. They gave very positive feedback on the test situation and were looking forward to further development of the tool. In a similar way the trainer had made a very positive experience with his testing. Altogether, we concluded that SoAR is a very positive add-on to the Learning Layers tools.

– – –

I think that this is enough of this field visit. We made immediate arrangements to push forward the work with Learning Toolbox in some further trades and in the area of health and safety (Arbeitssicherheit und Gesundheitsschutz). We also made preliminary arrangements for a similar field visit (for introduction of AchSo and SoAR combined with further evaluative measures). So, there is more work to be done before and after the summer break.

More blogs to come …

Learning Layers in dialogue with DigiProB project – Part Three: Talks on the usability of Learning Layers tools

May 12th, 2016 by Pekka Kamarainen

In my two previous posts I have blogged on a new phase of our EU-funded Learning Layers (LL) project. In the Construction pilot we have started cooperation with a spin-off project. The German-funded DigiProB project focuses on the training of  certified construction site managers (Geprüfte Polier) – see more on this training and on the background of the project in my two previous posts. In this post I will have a look at the discussions between the technical partners of both projects on the usability of the Learning Layers tools in the new context. But firstly, I need to recapitulate, what kind of change of perspective is taking place in the transition from the LL project to the spin-off project.

Changing the perspective from apprentice training to continuing vocational training (CVT)

So far the pilot activities of LL project in the training centre Bau-ABC have focused on initial vocational education and training (VET).  Thus, the LL project has worked with apprentices and full-time trainers who are present in intermediate training centres (in workshops and on outdoor training areas). In such contexts and the processes instruction, tutoring and peer learning rely on the presence of a learning community.

The change of perspective to the CVT programme for certified construction site managers (Geprüfte Polier) brings into picture a completely different learning environment. The participants are former craftsmen who are in the process of transition to managerial positions. The training programme is based on a 2-month period of courses and a subsequent period of self-organised learning alongside working. In the latter phase the participants are expected to complete integrative learning tasks and to prepare a project report that demonstrate the acquisition of required coordination and management competences.

In the light of the discussions in the preparatory phase (see my first post in this series) and taking into account the messages coming through in the initial interviews (see my second post) it is possible to raise the following questions concerning the introduction of digital media, web support and mobile devices into such a training programme:

1. What can be the role of social learning platform(s) as support for integrative pedagogic approach and as support for self-organised and/or collaborative learning practices?

2. What can be the role of digital learning materials provided by guest trainers/lecturers in supporting the work with integrative learning tasks and project reports?

3. What can be the role of digital documents in facilitating the self-organised learning processes and presenting the results of project work?

4. What can be the role of mobile devices and mobile app frameworks in facilitating learning in the context of work and in sharing knowledge and experience with peer learners?

Sharing knowledge between technical partners of LL and DigiProB projects

The above presented questions were implicitly in my mind in the light of our experiences in the LL project and taking into account the shift to the new project. However, in the preparatory meeting of both projects we first explored, what kinds of tools the LL project has developed and in which contexts they have been piloted. In this discussion most attention was given on the Learning Toolbox (LTB) the integrative toolset with which Bau-ABC is making experiences in several trades. In addition, we took up in particular ‘Bits and Pieces’ (Erfahrungssammler), ‘Living documents’ and ‘Confer tool’ (for collaborative knowledge processing) as different individual tools that can be linked to each other.

Altogether, we concluded that many of the LL tools address some aspects of the R&D agenda that needs to be developed in the new project. In this respect this meeting between the two project needs to be followed up in the near future.

More blogs to come …

 

 

Learning Layers in dialogue with DigiProB project – Part One: Preparations for the new project

May 11th, 2016 by Pekka Kamarainen

Our EU-funded Learning Layers (LL) project has recently entered an interesting new phase. In the Construction pilot the Learning Layers project has a chance to work together and share experiences with a spin-off project. Recently, the German-funded DigiProB has also started its work in the German construction sector. Two LL partner organisations – the training centre Bau-ABC and the research institute ITB – play a major role in the new project that can be called as a spin-off from the LL project. Whilst the LL project is focusing on workplace learning from the perspective of skilled workers and apprentices, the DigiProB project shifts the emphasis on training of  construction site managers. With this series of blogs I try to give a picture of the conceptual preparation for the new project (part one), on the lessons to be learned with initial interviews (part two) and on the prospects for using LL tools in the new project.

I start by looking back at a symposium at the European Conference on Educational Research (ECER 2015) in Budapest that was initiated by the LL team of ITB. In the symposium we brought together three recently completed or ongoing projects with focus on digital media, web tools and support for workplace learning. With their recent work the three projects (Kompetenzwerkstatt, Learning Layers and EmployID) had -reached a transition stage. From this perspective the symposium provided an opportunity to learn from each other and to draw conclusions for a new phase activities. Below, I will focus on the contribution of the LL team in this symposium and on the interim conclusions from the discussion.

Outline of DigiProB presented in an ECER symposium in Budapest 2015

In our contribution to the symposium we shifted the emphasis from the Learning Layers  project to a designed spin-off project (DigiProB) which we expected to be start soon. The context of this project is the training of construction site managers – a vocational progression route for former skilled workers.

In a recent reform the training of certified construction site managers (Geprüfte Polier) has been regulated with new nationwide standards. The tasks of the certified construction site managers include organisation and controlling of work processes, supervision of construction workers, subcontractors and apprentices as well as monitoring the compliance with health and safety regulations. The new examination model with integrative tasks and project work seeks to push forward a more holistic learning culture.

The major challenge for adapting the new requirements in the training scheme lies in the construct of the curriculum. In general, the curriculum is based on a two-phase model. The first phase (ca. two months) is provided by presence courses in the training centre. During this period external part-time lecturers provide courses in the main areas of expertise for the future construction site managers.  The second phase (which has now been shaped in the light of the new regulation) is based on self-organised learning activities of the participants alongside work. This phase includes integrative learning tasks and production of a coherent project report. With the integrative tasks the participants are expected to demonstrate their capability to manage complex construction sites and supervise related work processes. The project report should make transparent their competences in planning, preparing, implementing, documenting and assessing construction projects.

The task of the DigiProB project is to introduce digital media and web tools to support integrative learning of the participants (with the learning tasks and project work) and pedagogic reorientation of the trainers (to facilitate the learners in such learning).  Here, the new project DigiProB should take into account the prior work of the Learning Layers project.

Interim conclusions of the discussion at the ECER symposium

In its contribution the ITB team drew attention to  following tensions between the new requirements, the traditional mode of delivering the courses and lack of support for the self-organised learning:

  1. The new training regulation was introduced with short introduction events that familiarised the trainers on the new guidelines. However, these events did not provide an in-depth training for trainers to adjust themselves to new requirements.
  2. The part-time trainers are engaged as subject specialists and responsible for specific blocks in the presence training. They do not have an overarching responsibility on the supervision of integrated learning tasks and project work.
  3. There has been no clear model for developing online support, arranging peer tutoring and promoting peer learning among the participants.

The interim conclusions of  the ITB team were formulated as follows: For the new spin-off project it is necessary to build upon the experience with the Learning Layers pilot but to take into account the differences between presence learning within training centre (supervised by full-time trainers) and dispersed self-organised learning (supervised by part-time trainers). Secondly, it is essential to equip the trainers with didactic know-how and learning technologies to support the dispersed learning activities. Thirdly, it is crucial to facilitate peer learning among the participants and to raise their awareness of their own learning.

– – –

At this point I leave our discussions at the ECER symposium behind. Now that the DigiProB project has started its initial activities, it is interesting to see, what kind of new experiences we are making and how the initial picture starts to change. From this perspective it is interesting to have a look, what we are learning from the initial interviews and from the dialogues on the usability of LL tools in the new project. These topics will be discussed in the next posts of this series.

More blogs to come …

LL Consortium meeting in Innsbruck – Part Three: Presenting exploitation initiatives

February 8th, 2016 by Pekka Kamarainen

Last week our EU-funded Learning Layers (LL) project had its consortium meeting in Innsbruck.  In the previous posts I discussed firstly the ‘warm-up’ event with  Austrian clusters/ networks and secondly our project meeting and its general results. In this post I will discuss the results of the exploitation sessions (presentations and bilateral talks).

1. The setup of the exploitation sessions

As I had indicated in the previous post, we had firstly a general introduction to the exploitation model that served as a reference model. We also agreed to work towards a jointly agreed ‘exploitation manifesto’ that helps us to settle the IPR issues. With this preparation the partners were invited to present their exploitation plans and/or intentions. A major part of the session was dedicated to the presentations of partners (or groups of partners), altogether 15. Then, on the next day we had a special session for bilateral or trilateral ‘matchmaking talks’ (on the basis of expressions of interests indicated during the first session).

2. Contributions of the Construction sector partners

2a) The presentation of ITB/Pont (Bremen) & Bau-ABC teams highlighted firstly some key questions for the LL project and then a further challenge for follow-up activities. It also gave an overview on tools and services developed so far. Based on this background the presentation drew then attention to two kinds of emerging R&D projects:

  • The DigiProB project as a spin-off from LL in the context of Continuing Vocational Training (CVT). The technical challenge is to reuse/repurpose an integrative toolset to support Personal Learning Environments of CVT participants. The social challenge is to support individual learners (who are learning alongside work) with the aim to demonstrate with work-related projects that they have acquired higher (managerial) qualifications in construction sector.
  • The “Bauen 4.0” has been selected as a recognised cluster initiative and is invited to submit specific project proposals. One of the initiatives discussed in the cluster meetings is a project for incorporating know-how on Building Information Modelling (BIM) to the CVT schemes for advanced construction craftsmen in carpentry and woodwork (Holzbau). Here we see a chance to make use of LL tools.

Alongside these examples we presented two cases in which the integrative toolset Learning Toolbox can be brought into collaboration and exchanges with third party software/services (who were affiliated with construction sector stakeholders).

  • Pontydysgu had been contacted by Construction Excellence Wales, Construction Industry Training Board and a consortium of four FE colleges with interests in the Learning Toolbox. In particular there was an interest to link the LTB with the e-learning environment that had been developed by the FE colleges for construction sector apprentices.
  • Bau-ABC had been contacted by a new company that continues the prior work of a company that had been producing handbooks for well-builders. The new company focuses on developing mobile apps and digital contents. This company will launch its products during February 2016 and is already making contacts with key players in domain-specific education and training.

 2b) The presentation of Bau-ABC: The Bau-ABC team had prepared a separate presentation in which they brought forward their interests in further development and promotion of LTB. In this respect the presentation summarised the immediate benefits for individual users (urgencies for developers), the benefits for Bau-ABC as training provider and multiplier and the prospects for cooperation between Bau-ABC and the developers of LTB and related LL tools and services. In this way Bau-ABC outlined the working perspectives with which it positions itself on the “Exploitation map” to be drawn later.

3. The bilateral talks

After the presentation session our requests for bilateral talks with other presenters (with eventual topics to be discussed) were collected. Then a similar ‘world café’ session was organised as in the warm-up event. We had four tables for rotation but this time no fixed ‘table hosts’. Instead, we were rotating with uneven opportunities for the talks. In some sessions we participated as wider groups, in some sessions as individuals. At some point we were interrupted by fire alarm and the whole building was evacuated to an outdoor meeting point. (The fire was put out promptly, the fire brigade just needed to check the situation and that the smoke was properly ventilated. Yet, this all took that much time that we couldn’t properly complete the session.)

At this point it is not necessary to report on all bilateral talks in which I/we were involved. Some of them focused on very specific questions and very particular interests. Some were talks on emerging ideas for future projects that need further conversations. In addition – due to the interruption – we didn’t have a chance for some talks that we had on our list. Therefore, it have prepared a list of topics for further talks to be continued at a later date:

  • ‘Cross-sectoral’ talks on the uses of LTB (and other LL tools) taking into account prior work with nurse education and nurse education networks in Germany and England.
  • ‘Cross-institutional’ talks on the use of LTB and other LL tools/services to support problem-, project- and practice-based learning in vocational education and training (VET) and/or Vocational Higher Education (notably in Germany, Estonia and Austria).
  • ‘Cross-curricular’ talks on the use of LTB and other LL tools in the activities of vocational teacher education/ training the trainers (notably in Germany and in Austria, e.g. the partners of the pre-event).
  • ‘Sustainability’ talks with LTB developers on their new organisational initiative and the role of R&D initiatives.
  • ‘Scalability’ talks on the experience with the ‘Theme Room’ training in Bau-ABC to adapt the approach for multiplier activities. (These talks will be based  on the involvement of the initial contributors and other interested parties).

I think this is enough of these sessions. Due to our tight schedules we couldn’t be present in the final sessions of the meeting. But we are sure that there results will be discussed in several follow-up meetings. Given, that we are entering an intensive period of fieldwork, we need to keep the exploitation issues on our agendas.

More blogs to come …

 

Start of year 2016 with Learning Layers – Part 1: Catching up with ITB/Pont team

January 20th, 2016 by Pekka Kamarainen

This year I had a longer winter break, so I have started my working year with our EU-funded Learning Layers (LL) project in the middle of January. As a consequence, my first working days have been filled with catch-up meetings in the local and regional contexts and as video-conferences at the level of our European project. I try to sum up the results, challenges and impressions with a series of blogs. In the first one I give a brief report on the first meeting of our local LL team involving colleagues from ITB and Pontydysgu. (A more detailed report is available in the Learning Layers Google Drive document https://docs.google.com/document/d/1lgL4hCjkaRZnrY17E0swQcvxWqR7XvrkmaK2fnUhh_s.)

In our first joint meeting of this year we started with a situation assessment on the piloting with the Learning Toolbox (LTB). My colleagues had taken some time to test the latest version and discovered several points that needed improvement. They had reported them with Trello cards and with an e-mail to the LTB developers – which were well received as precise feedback that is being taken up. On the whole, we are happy that both Android and iOS versions are available. Yet, the fundamental challenge is to introduce interactive communication channels and group functionality. These are the key requirements of the users in training centres and construction companies. Since our main application partner Bau-ABC is now hosting short-term continuing vocational training (CVT) schemes in January and February, there is some time before the apprentices will return, Yet, we (the developers and we as the facilitators) need to get ready to start active piloting in March. We were happy to note that we have a German version of LTB Manual (thanks to Jaanika Hirv from TLU) and an English translation (thanks to Martina Lübbing from Pont). Yet, we need to do more work with training to support the roll-out. (For this purpose we had scheduled a working meeting with Bau-ABC for the next day, see my next blog).

Our second major point was the situation assessment, where we stand with the acquisition of follow-up projects to Learning Layers. Here, several things had happened by the end of the year and were in process in the beginning of the year. Firstly, the pending final assessment on the Learning Layers follow-up project in CVT (support for work-related training and learning of general construction site managers – Geprüfte Polier) is being prepared. Also, the estimated start time has been announced (provided that the assessment is positive). Secondly, the recently approved cluster initiative “Bauen 4.0″ (Construction 4.0) has been approved and the consortium (involving among others Bau-ABC and ITB) has been invited to submit a set of mutually linked project proposals that focus on digital transformation in construction sector (including consequences for training). Thirdly, we have started the preparation of a project proposal for Horizon 2020, Topic “Technologies for Learning and Skills” (taking into account the work of the ITB-project Kompetenzwerkst@tt and of Learning Layers). In addition to this, we (ITB) have been invited as partners to some other proposals that may have a role in the follow-up of the LL project.

In addition to this we discussed about participation in forthcoming conferences and (related) publication plans. Both of these topics will be taken up more systematically in our next meeting.

I think this is enough of our first meeting. On the next day we had a working meeting with Bau-ABC.

More blogs to come …

 

What is the political and social habit(u)s of present day universities?

January 18th, 2016 by Graham Attwell

I like Cristina Costa’s blog, “Is technology changing learning habit(u)s?” (and not only because she cited me). Cristina says how her study on students’ digital practices shows how students’ learning habitus (their histories/experiences with education) have not changed that much in the formal setting, even when they are presented with new pedagogical approaches. It is not so much an issue of their digital competence but an issue that the informal uses of technology do not simply transfer into formal contexts.

Students, she says, “have a feeling for the ‘academic game’ and do their best to adjust to the field’s rules in order to succeed in it.” It seems to me their was always something of a game in academia and especially in undergraduate education. Even in the early 1970s we had well developed strategies for getting through exams (for instance I undertook a rather more in depth study of past exam questions than I did of the overall curriculum and it worked well for me).

But there are more profound contradictions in today’s higher education system. On the one hand universities are supposed to be about education and learning – as expressed through Humboldt’s idea of Allgemeine Bildung—or well-rounded education—to ensure that each person might seek to realize the human potentialities that he possessed as a unique individual or more modern appeals for a broad liberal education (unless such an education can be seen as improving their employability). On the other hand in the UK students are paying substantial fees for a system designed to provide them with a qualification to realise the so called graduate wage premium in the world of work. In such a situation it is little wonder that students are reluctant to participate in the innovative pedagogies – described by Cristina as  Freirean and Deweyan type of pedagogical approaches – designed for them to explore ideas and knowledge – quite simply they want the knowledge and skills they need to pass the exams and thus justify the expenditure. In this situation students will readily adopt productivity apps – office tools, citation databases, revision apps etc – and of course will use technology for social purposes and entertainment. But I am afraid asking them to use social software for learning within the political and social habit(u)s of present day universities may be going to far.

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