Archive for the ‘trainers’ Category

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 …

 

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

February 7th, 2016 by Pekka Kamarainen

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More blogs to come …

 

 

 

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

February 7th, 2016 by Pekka Kamarainen

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

The event and the setup

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

The Learning Toolbox table

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

The event did not last too long (approximately 90 minutes) and the time was effectively used in the groups. As was deeply engaged in talks in our table, I only have a vague idea on the discussions in parallel tables. Yet, my impression is that we altogether could give informative and interesting presentations. The participants were clearly interested and congratulated the project for a good event. We could happily recommend the organisers of the next consortium meeting to prepare a similar ‘warm-up’ event as well.

More blogs to come …

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

January 20th, 2016 by Pekka Kamarainen

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4) Bringing together different evaluation agendas

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

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

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

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

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

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

More blogs to come …

Start of year 2016 with Learning Layers – Part 2: Catching up with the fieldwork in Bau-ABC

January 20th, 2016 by Pekka Kamarainen

In my previous blog I started a series of reports on the ‘start of the year 2016′ meetings in with our EU-funded Learning Layers (LL) project. The first post reported on the first meeting of the local LL teams of ITB and Pont in Bremen. This second post reports on our first working visit to Bau-ABC to discuss the current tasks in our fieldwork. From ITB Ludger Deitmer and I participated, from Bau-ABC Melanie Campbell and Kerstin Engraf. (A more detailed report on this meeting is available (in German) in the Learning Layers Google Drive document https://docs.google.com/document/d/1lgL4hCjkaRZnrY17E0swQcvxWqR7XvrkmaK2fnUhh_s.)

Firstly we took up some issues that were already discussed in the ITB-Pont meeting, in particular the situation in the development of Learning Toolbox and the timeline for pilot testing and evaluation. Our conclusion was that it is crucial to get the interactive communication channel and the group functionality (in addition to some other improvements) for the pilot version to be tested from March on. The active period for pilot testing in Bau-ABC will be from March to the end of May. The optimal period for evaluation measures will be the end of May and beginning of June. This year the summer holiday will start in the middle of June and and by 24th of July.

Secondly we noted the situation with the new projects and in the preparation of new proposals. Considering the new project on continuing vocational training (CVT) we discussed the need of some bridging measures already in the context of the ongoing LL project (see the next point on User Survey). Concerning the cluster-initiative “Bauen 4.0″ we noted that colleagues from Bau-ABC cannot attend in the first meeting (on the coming Friday) but ITB will be represented and discuss some joint project ideas that were agreed earlier. We also agreed to cooperate with the preparation of a proposal for Horizon 2020, Topic “Technologies for Learning and Skills”. As a specific possibility for Bau-ABC we discussed the funding program of the German Ministry of Education (BMBF) to support digitisation of intermediate training centres. We agreed to get back to this once Bau-ABC has internally agreed on its priorities (in the light of two alternative funding priorities).

Thirdly, we discussed the continuation of the User Survey (on mobile technologies and web apps/tools as support for learning). In this context the Bau-ABC colleagues emphasised the urgency to collect data from the participants of the continuing vocational training (CVT) schemes that are present in Bau-ABC during the January and February months. We checked the questionnaire that had been developed last year and agreed to use it (with one minor amendment). We also agreed that it is useful to start again a User Survey with apprentices when they come in March.

Fourthly, we discussed the continuation of the training campaign based on “Theme Rooms”. In general, this had been viewed positively, but continuity would have been needed to sustain the learning gains. However, due to the heavy workload provided by the CVT schemes, it was not possible to start immediately in January. Therefore, we concluded that we should also carry out a mini-survey on the use of digital media and web tools/apps among Bau-ABC trainers (Lehrwerkmeister). Based on the results we could then see the need for some ‘refreshing the basic skills’ sessions. These should take place in February before starting a new full cycle of Theme Rooms in March. When preparing the next cycle of Theme Rooms we should also introduce Learning Toolbox (LTB) to the Bau-ABC trainers who are engaged as tutors of the Theme Rooms.

In addition we discussed an interesting new initiative to develop mobile apps and web resources for construction sector – in particular for the well-builders (Brunnenbauer). This topic merits a blog of its own a little later (once the start-of-the-year meetings have been reported). Finally, we discussed shortly our preparation for the LL project consortium meeting. On this topic we got new information from the video conference of the  Work Package Leaders of the LL project (that took place when we were having our meeting).

I guess this is enough on this meeting. The next challenge is to summarise the results of the WP Leaders’ video conference (and to draw conclusions for the construction pilot).

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 …

 

First cycle of Multimedia Training in Theme Rooms – Part 4: Interim reflections of participants

December 6th, 2015 by Pekka Kamarainen

With my three previous posts on the EU-funded Learning Layers (LL) project I have written a series of reports on the Multimedia Training of the training centre Bau-ABC with the concept “Theme Rooms”. The concept was initiated by the training staff of Bau-ABC.  In my first blog I reported on the preparations by the LL teams of Bau-ABC, ITB and Pontydysgu) . The second post focused on the work with the theme ‘Social media’. The third post focused on the theme ‘Preparing  Digital Learning Materials’. The final fourth part gives a report on the joint interim assessment event of the participants in Bau-ABC Rostrup (with video connection with the group in ABZ Mellendorf).

Here it is worthwhile to mention that this interim assessment was clearly an event of the Bau-ABC trainers to assess whether the November workshops had provided the kind of learning experience that they had outlined with the initial ‘Theme Room’ concept.  In this respect there was a clear difference to the earlier Multimedia Training initiated by the LL project partners – to support the advanced trainers as testers and multipliers of LL tools. Now the groups involved all training staff and the aim was to get all participants into a learning process that enables them to use digital media, web resources and mobile technologies as means to support vocational training and workplace learning. Here some main points on the discussion:

a) The learning experiences in the groups

On behalf of the organisers Melanie Campbell opened the event, gave an overview of the concept of Theme Rooms and on the adaptation for November workshops and on the goal-settings. Then she invited participants from different groups to give feedback. The participating Bau-ABC started with comments on their special learning experiences and with positive feedback on the learning climate in the groups.  Here, it was worthwhile to note that several positive comments came from participants who clearly indicated themselves as less advanced learners. Director Emke Emken (in the role of a participant and learner) emphasised the importance that everyone had a chance to participate as a peer learner and to learn more in one’s own pace (Lernruhe). In this respect there was no pressure to pretend to know more and to show more than one was able. Also, in the group process we could encounter technical difficulties and other hurdles without getting frustrated.

b) Feedback on practical arrangements

Concerning the practicalities, we had several comments. Firstly,the timing of the sessions on Friday afternoon was not considered quite ideal  for such learning new things.  Yet, we could agree that the groups had always overcome the fatigue and got inspired during the sessions. We got a clear signal that it was worthwhile to have two workshops for the same theme and a to maintain continuity across the themes. In a similar way the trainers appreciated the continuation with the same tutors from one theme to another and in the same groups. Concerning the use of Google Drive folder we got a clear message that the participants could not use it for preparation (lack of time) but found it very useful as archive of the materials and documents on learning results. A great praise was given for the Estonian intern student Jaanika Hirv (TLU) who had worked two months in Bau-ABC during the preparation and implementation of the Theme Room program. She kept the trainers well informed of the schedules and visited the trainers at their training areas to collect feedback and to provide  assistance to those who had not been present in all workshop sessions.

c) Organisational implications

Several comments discussed organisational consequences for Bau-ABC. Director Emken referred to the need for Bau-ABC to position itself as users of digital media, web tools and mobile technologies in training. In this respect Emken emphasised that Bau-ABC is in the position of learner and has to make progress but it is clearly moving on step by step. Here, Emken reminded that Bau-ABC needs to keep its industrial counterparts with it on the journey. From this perspective it was clear to him and to the participants that there is a commitment to continue with the Theme Room program and to make the best of it. In this context Emken encouraged the participants to consider the new tools and media as their own personal ‘White Folder’ or ‘Toolbox’ and what they could best start using in the coming times. This, to us served as a preparatory phase for the phase to introduce the Learning Toolbox in the training.

In more specific comments the participants raised issues for internal discussions of Bau-ABC (e.g. how to make the best use of blogs and how to position regarding their openness vs. password protection). We (the co-tutors from ITB) raised some points of consideration regarding the equipment and software (to ensure the learning results and access to appropriate tools). Also, we had discussion on measures to keep the learning process continued (with some sessions of tutoing in one room in Bau-ABC and one room in Mellendorf on topics chosen by interested participants). We took note that January and February are the high seasons of Continuing Vocational Training (CVT) schemes. Yet, it appeared that there seemed to be a readiness to start a new cycle of workshops at the end of February and in March.

With all these positive comments and expressions of commitment to work further we were pleased to conclude the event looking forward to good continuation after the holiday break. We took also several points for further consideration concerning the next cycle of workshops. Altogether, the Theme Room program had made its case and provides a good basis for the next steps. We were already able to convey this message to the Year 3 Review meeting of the LL project one week before and now we could confirm it.

More blogs to come …

First cycle of Multimedia Training in Theme Rooms – Part 3: Preparing digital learning materials for vocational learning

December 5th, 2015 by Pekka Kamarainen

With my two previous posts on the EU-funded Learning Layers (LL) project I have started a series of reports on the Multimedia Training of the training centre Bau-ABC with the concept “Theme Rooms”. The concept was initiated by the training staff of Bau-ABC.  In my first blog I reported, how we (the LL teams of Bau-ABC, ITB and Pontydysgu) adjusted the concept in planning meetings. The second post focused on the work with the theme ‘Social media’. This post focuses on the theme ‘Preparing  Digital Learning Materials’. The groups that that started with this theme gave primary attention to preparation of exemplary digital contents (videos, GoConqr quiz-tests and mindmaps) and put the emphasis on editing processes. The groups that had started with the theme ‘Social Media’ put the main emphasis on working with blogs (and integrating the preparation of digital learning materials to work with blogs). Therefore, the picture of these groups is more differentiated than of the previous ones.

Working with videos and particular GoConqr tools

The two pioneering groups working with digital learning materials put the emphasis on hands-on exercises. In this respect they engaged the participating trainers in producing short videos and preparing exemplary exercises (interim tests) with GoConqr quiz tools. in this way the participants got direct insights into working with these tools. In this context these groups were confronted with the limits provided by ICT infrastructure, old laptops and software bugs. However, in the context of continuing group dynamics these difficulties did not bring the learning processes into standstill. Moreover, the groups used the brainstorming phases to consider the usability of videos and GoConqr applications in training. When continuing to social media, these groups discussed the role of blogs as instruments for presenting such exercises for apprentices.

Working with blogs

The groups that put more emphasis on blogs had somewhat different approaches. In one group the trainers were engaged to create completely new blogs and to use them for posting and commenting messages. In another group the main attention was given on the existing trainers’ blogs that had been created during the earlier Multimedia Training workshops provided by the LL project. As a result, trainers in four occupational domains had started blogs that were used to present comprehensive sets of training materials that covered different contents areas and different phases of apprentice training. When exploring the existing blogs the workshop discussed, how to engage the less represented occupational areas into such work.

However, these explorations and hands-on exercises triggered a lively discussion on the potential benefits and limits of blogs. This discussion was taken up by creating GoConqr Mindmaps that outlined pros and cons of using blogs from different perspectives. In a next step a further question on optimal uses of blogs was again captured with GoConqr mindmaps. This latter step brought more closer to each other the trainers that had created their blogs and the ones that had not been involved. Furthermore, the discussion brought forward the idea of integrated ‘packages’ that link different elements (text documents, photos/drawings/videos, quiz tests and links to further instructions) as building blocks of trainers’ blogs. The results of this discussion were documented in the updates (comments) added to the mindmap.

In this way the work in the workshops not only supported individual learning but provided a basis for discussing the organisational approach to working with web resources and digital learning materials. Such issues were also taken up in the joint concluding session that discussed the progress during the first cycle of workshops. This discussion will be covered in the final post to this series of blogs.

More blogs to come …

 

First cycle of Multimedia Training in Theme Rooms – Part 2: Working with Social Media

December 5th, 2015 by Pekka Kamarainen

With my previous post on the EU-funded Learning Layers (LL) project I started a series of reports on the Multimedia Training of our application partner Bau-ABC with the concept “Theme Rooms”. This concept had been initiated by the training staff of Bau-ABC and in my first blog I reported, how we (the LL teams of Bau-ABC, ITB and Pontydysgu) adjusted the concept for the training activities to be implemented in November 2015. This post focuses on the work with the theme ‘Social media’. (Obviously I have more insights into the group in which I was engaged as a co-tutor with a Bau-ABC trainer. Yet, I try to give a comprehensive picture on the work in parallel groups.)

The uses of Facebook – and the importance of getting hands on Facebook

A major topic for all groups working with the theme “Social Media” was the relevance of Facebook and the challenge to get everyone working with Facebook. In most groups the tutors from Bau-ABC were hosting facebook-groups for their trade and the apprentices were actively involved as contributors and readers. However, the groups served more as means for image-creation, enhancing the occupational/ professional  identity of apprentices and demonstrating their learning achievements. Indeed, some of the groups were using a lot of photos and videos, but these were not primarily used to support learning. Yet, altogether, these groups played a role in the occupational/professional socialisation of apprentices and in enhancing their occupational/ professional identity. From this perspective Bau-ABC promoted the use of Facebook via its own Facebook site and via these trade-specific Bau-ABC Facebook groups.

Having said that, it is worthwhile to note that not all training staff was in favour of using Facebook in such a way or getting Facebook accounts for themselves.  Here, we can see several reasons that are linked to data privacy, data management and commercial use of data submitted by individual users. However, it was acknowledged by the participants that the exisiting Facebook groups of Bau-ABC have played a positive role. Moreover, it was recognised that Facebook is the most popular social network used by apprentices and young people in general. Therefore, it makes sense to get familiarised with social media by working with Facebook. Most of the participants had their own (private) accounts or were owners of the FB-group accounts. For those who didn’t have accounts we had a group account for learning purposes. Thus, they could also participate in hands-on exercises.

These exercises were slightly different in the five groups. Yet, they served the purpose to get all participants use a Facebook-account to post, comment and communicate and to share information on events of interest. Some groups put more attention on settings and privacy issues, some more on sharing between individual users and groups. Altogether, these exercised helped to overcome the gap between users and non-users. Some of the hitherto non-users became active users due to positive learning experience in the workshop session.

Getting a broader overview of social media, platforms and networks

However, the aim of the training was not to give all attention to Facebook but to get an insight into a wider range of social media and their potential uses in the context of apprentice training. For this purpose the workshops gave a quite some time for brainstorming and mapping trainers’ experiences on different media. Accordingly, we had some demonstrations on the use of Twitter (less used by trainers and apprentices) and on the use of hashtags (#) to mark search categories and tags. In a similar way we explored YouTube channels and use of YouTube videos in training and in multimedia training.

Finally, after exploring different social media, the participants were invited to fill a table in which they indicated their priorities among social media and for what purposes and for with which target groups they use these. In this way the participants were working towards their personal ‘portfolios’ of social media.

I think this is enough of this theme, for which we dedicated two workshop sessions. Two other workshop sessions focused on the theme ‘Preparing Digital Learning Materials’.

More blogs to come …

First cycle of Multimedia Training in Theme Rooms – Part 1: The program takes shape

December 5th, 2015 by Pekka Kamarainen

One of the highlights in the Construction pilot of the EU-funded Learning Layers (LL) project in the year 2015 was the implementation of the Multimedia Training based on the “Theme Room” concept in our application partner organisation Bau-ABC Rostrup. I have already reported on, how the training staff in Bau-ABC developed the concept ‘Theme Rooms’ (and how we integrated it into the LL project approach) in my earlier blogs of June 2015 and September 2015. After an intensive conference period we (the LL teams of Bau-ABC, ITB and Pontydysgu) found the time for planning and preparation in October. In joint planning meetings we adjusted the initial concept and made the related working agreements.

Adjustment of the concept and selecting the themes for the first cycle

The key idea of the Theme Room concept was to arrange four parallel rooms for thematic workshops with small groups. The idea was that the participants will go through a whole cycle through these rooms during four successive Friday afternoons. In addition, the participants should have access to virtual learning spaces of the Theme Rooms. The concept envisaged peer tutors from Bau-ABC  (supported by co-tutors from ITB and Pontydysgu).

In the initial concept the Bau-ABC trainers had proposed four main themes tor

  1. Learning Toolbox as a flexible framework for tools/ apps/ contents/ communication,
  2. Use of Social media as support for learning,
  3. Intellectual property rights, licensing and sharing,
  4. Preparation of Digital Learning Materials.

In the planning meetings we concluded that it would be necessary to start with fewer themes and to have two workshops in the same theme room before moving to the next one. In this way we could ensure that all participants can follow the tempo and achieve sustainable learning results. Also, we considered that it is better to have two workshops with the themes ‘Social Media’ and ‘Preparing Digital Learning Materials’ before introducing the theme ‘Learning Toolbox (LTB)’. Thus, the work with LTB would be introduced in the second cycle of Theme Room workshops. Concerning the theme ‘Intellectual Property Rights’, we agreed to take it up as a transversal theme and to invite the responsible tutor (Dirk Stieglitz, Pontydysgu) to visit the parallel theme rooms to give a brief input on these themes to all groups working in Bau-ABC.

Adjusting the mode of operation of  the Theme Rooms

So, we had come up with a model in which we had  four parallel groups that attended workshops on four successive Fridays in the training centre Bau-ABC in Rostrup and a fifth group working in the affiliated training centre ABZ in Mellendorf. We agreed that two groups in Bau-ABC would start with Social Media and two with Digital Learning Materials. The Mellendorf group also started with Social Media. After two workshops the groups would change to the other priority theme of the first cycle of workshops.

For each group we appointed a tutor from Bau-ABC and a co-tutor from ITB, whilst Dirk Stieglitz from Pontydysgu (responsible for Intellectual property rights) and Jaanika Hirv (TLU, placed for two months in Bau-ABC) were supporting all the groups. During the work we agreed that the groups will work with the same tutors across the themes instead of changing tutors when moving to the next theme.

All these measures and the grouping of participants aimed to help the participants to reach a common overview of the themes and a capability to use social media and prepare digital learning materials (whatever their prior knowledge and skills may have been). Thus, the workshops had the goal to provide all participants active learning opportunities and to create a basi for joint use of new tools and media across the organisation. For the preparation of the workshops and for storage of group results we set up a Google Drive folder tol be updated with contents, learning tasks and links to supporting web resources.

So, in this way we prepared for the start in October. During four Friday afternoons we then worked in the Theme Rooms to make the best of the program.

More blogs to come …

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    We will broadcast from Berlin on the 3rd and the 4th of December. Both times it will start at 11.00 CET and will go on for about 45 minutes.

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    News Bites

    The future of English Further Education

    The UK Parliament Public Accounts Committee has warned  the declining financial health of many FE colleges has “potentially serious consequences for learners and local economies”.

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    Skills in Europe

    Cedefop is launching a new SKILLS PANORAMA website, online on 1 December at 11.00 (CET).

    Skills Panorama, they say,  turns labour market data and information into useful, accurate and timely intelligence that helps policy-makers decide on skills and jobs in Europe.

    The new website will provide with a more comprehensive and user-friendly central access point for information and intelligence on skill needs in occupations and sectors across Europe. You can register for the launch at Register now at http://skillspanorama.cedefop.europa.eu/launch/.


    Talking about ‘European’ MOOCs

    The European EMMA project is launching a  webinar series. The first is on Tuesday 17 November 2015 from 14:00 – 15:00 CET.

    They say: “In this first webinar we will explore new trends in European MOOCs. Rosanna de Rosa, from UNINA, will present the philosophy and challenges behind the EMMA EU project and MOOC platform developed with the idea of accommodating diversity through multilingualism. Darco Jansen, from EADTU (European Association of Distance Teaching Universities), will talk about Europe’s response to MOOC opportunities. His presentation will highlight the main difference with the U.S. and discuss the consequences for didactical and pedagogical approaches regarding the different contexts.


    OER – update 2

    Open Education Europa has compiled and is releasing today as open data the analytical list of European Repositories of Open Educational Resources (OER).

    It includes:

    • European OER Portals and Repositories
    • Educational material repositories/directories
    • Larger Repositories rather than very specific ones
    • Focus on those who include Creative Commons license and on National/public OER repositories
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