Archive for the ‘workinglearning’ Category

Reviewing the video(s) from Bau-ABC – Part 5: From Multimedia training to multipliers of new skills

September 28th, 2014 by Pekka Kamarainen

With my four previous posts I have worked with a series of blogs that review the video produced by the Bau-ABC team for the recent consortium meeting of the Learning Layers (LL) project. As I have indicated, the video focused on the usability of the emerging Learning Toolbox (LTB) – a framework for accessing web resources and managing web apps – in the construction sector. In the two posts I discussed, how the LTB can be used in the the context of the training activities of the Bau-ABC  and in the companies or construction sites. In the previous post I presented Bau-ABC trainers’ views, how LTB will support learning alongside working. With the final post I will focus on Bau-ABC trainers’ views on the Multimedia training they have gone through and on their achievements with their new skills. Here I share the link to the video:

http://youtu.be/Z2JoZSn4PyY

In several sections the video makes references to the Multimedia training that was organised by the LL project (between 20.45 and 23.25) or to the achievements of the trainers’ in making use of their new skills (between 29.05 and 30.50). Here some insights into these discussions and into the picture that is given.

Trainers’ comments on the Multimedia Training by the LL project

Several trainers had comments on the impact of the Multimedia training. In his general comment Markus Pape pointed to the fact that the training had showed them quite a range of practical possibilities to work with new media. Once they had launched their domain-specific blogs (for the carpenters, bricklayers and roadbuilders) they had also been able to make use of them. All this has been greeted very positively by their apprentices. Kevin Kuck seconded and emphasised that the pioneering work of the carpenters was helpful for the bricklayers and there have been mutual exchanges between the trades, looking at each others’ solutions when making these blogs and using them. And already at the early stage the apprentices have been interested and looking forward to new contents.

In a similar way Lothar Schoka emphasised that also those trainers, who have not had the chance to participate, have been interested and tried to inform themselves of the colleagues’ progress. In this context he had also got some tutoring from the colleagues and made his own web page to upload info sheets. And he also got positive feedback from his apprentices. Thus, they considered that the trainers altogether are getting ready to dedicate some time for using digital media, web tools and mobile technologies to support their training and to enhance the workplace learning of apprentices.

Achievements in putting new skills into practice: the example of “Zimmererblog”

In the final part of the video there is a special section in which Markus demonstrates how he has developed his “Zimmererblog” and what contents there are to be found. We see first the structure – based on projects and project sheets for each year of apprentice training (1-3), the help areas, literature recommendations and the slide shows. Then we see the link to the facebook group of the trade, the designed link to the LTB and the business cards that give the QR codes of the blog and of the facebook group. Then, the video presents the statistics (at that time over 3400 hits from over 20 countries and more detailed accounts on the times and on the target pages). Altogether, we see a pilot site that is emerging into Open Educational Resource with a wider importance.

Concluding remarks

I have been impressed of this video and spent a lot of time listening to it and commenting it. To me it provides evidence that the pilot activities have not only been well received by the colleagues in Bau-ABC but they have in many contexts been integrated into their normal practice. In this respect the colleagues want to make further steps with the Learning Toolbox because it provides a transparent framework for many possibilities. Finally, the achievements with the trainers’ blogs show that the colleagues in Bau-ABC are not only using and co-developing the tools just for their training. They have taken important steps further to promote this know-how wider in the construction sector. I think that this video is a raw diamond that can be worked further to demonstrate this as well. Let us see this happen!

More blogs to come ...

 

Reviewing the video(s) from Bau-ABC – Part 4: Learning Toolbox as support for learning alongside working

September 28th, 2014 by Pekka Kamarainen

With my three previous posts I have started a series of blogs that review the video produced by the Bau-ABC team for the recent consortium meeting of the Learning Layers (LL) project. As I have indicated, the video focused on the usability of the emerging Learning Toolbox (LTB) – a framework for accessing web resources and managing web apps – in the construction sector. In the two previous posts I discussed, how the LTB can be used in the the context of the training activities of the Bau-ABC  and in the companies or construction sites. In this post I will focus on the Bau-ABC trainers’ views, how LTB will support learning alongside working. Here I share the link to the video:

http://youtu.be/Z2JoZSn4PyY

In the latter part of the video (between 18,04 and 29:00) Melanie Campbell has a discussion with four full-time trainers, who have been involved in most of the LL activities and engaged their apprentices as well – Lothar Schoka, Kevin Kuck, Stefan Wiedenstried and Markus Pape. Below I will highlight some points of their discussion and the messages they are passing to us (as their LL partners) and to wider audiences.

 New prospects for using digital media and smartphones alongside working and learning

The LL project has brought into picture new ways of using digital media, web tools and smartphones in the context of work and workplace learning. The trainers themselves have launched their blogs and brought their apprentices to demo sessions on the LTB. The apprentices have greeted this with enthusiasm. They and their companies have now new prospects for using these tools for working and learning – not as distraction and waste of time. From this perspective the trainers are keen to take further steps forward in piloting.

The LTB as support for learning and professional growth

The trainers saw in the LTB a great potential for supporting holistic, action-oriented and self-organised learning (in German with one concept: Handlungsorientiertes Lernen). Whilst they are currently delivering their info-sheets and worksheets each time for the respective project, the LTB provides a realm for information and challenges the apprentices to do their own searches and consolidate their own findings. In the same way, as the documentation of work processes and learning results is currently a routine with paper documents, the LTB opens room for creativity. The apprentices can enrich their documents with photos, videos and multimedia (with annotations, cartoons and other possibilities). In this way they can demonstrate also their learning progress and achievements to their peers and friends but also to their companies and to their supervisors. So far, the feedback from apprentices points to this direction if the apprentices can be wider engaged in the piloting.

Expectations on next 12 months with the LTB

The trainers are eager to see a beta-version of a functioning LTB on smartphone and tablet to be used in real life. On their behalf they are prepared to start the piloting with selected projects. They do not expect a fully completed end product but rather a pilot version that can be further developed on the basis of feedback. And for them it is important that the apprentices are engaged as pilot users who can also contribute to the development. This was the key message.

Reflective commentary

Here I prefer to let the trainers’ message speak for itself. However, it is interesting to see that they have confidence in their apprentices as smart users of smartphones when there is a framework like the LTB to draw their attention to working and learning contexts. Also, they are confident that the apprentices will use the LTB to enhance their learning rather than to minimize their learning effort. And finally, they see their apprentices as valuable stakeholders in giving feedback on the pilot use of LTB and in promoting the tool to their companies as well.

Secondly, it is worthwhile to note that the trainers are not only focusing on the training that is provided on the premises of Bau-ABC under their supervision. Instead, they are looking forward to see the LTB being used in wider contexts support professional growth and to strengthen professional communities. This became very clear when they discussed the impact of the Multimedia training and of sharing the experiences. But this merits a post of its own.

More blogs to come …

Reviewing the video(s) from Bau-ABC – Part 3: The relevance of Learning Toolbox for companies and construction sites

September 27th, 2014 by Pekka Kamarainen

With my two previous posts I started a series of blogs that review the video produced by the Bau-ABC team for the recent consortium meeting of the Learning Layers (LL) project. As I have indicated, the video focused on the usability of the emerging Learning Toolbox (LTB) – a framework for accessing web resources and managing web apps – in the construction sector. In my previous post I discussed, how the LTB can be used in the the context of the training activities of the Bau-ABC. This post shifts the emphasis towards companies and construction sites. Here I share the link to the video:

http://youtu.be/Z2JoZSn4PyY

Example on machine and metal techniques: The store of chains for construction machines

In the first case (placed between 0.25 and 1.42 on the current version) Rainer Schütte tells about the store of chains for construction machines. Each of these chains is a unique example, tagged with a separate chip or embedded chip, and the chains have to be tested regularly. Both for companies as well as for the training centre it would be useful, if the tags could be read by a smartphone or tablet that has the LTB installed. In this way the identification of appropriate equipment (numer of chains, capacity and tolerance) could be concluded with the help of the tool.

Example on construction vehicles: Driving supported by QR tags

In the second case (placed between 1.43 and 2.30) the apprentice Arnold demonstrates how he can manage a massive excavator. Whilst he already manages the routine commands, he feels the need to check the special commands for the forthcoming task. For this purpose he uses the QR-reader of the his smartphone and the QR tag (attached to the machine) that gives him access to the user’s manual of this particular type of excavator.

 Example on building the construction scaffolding in accordance to health and safety regulations

In the third case (placed between 15:34 and 18:35) Markus Pape and his apprentices demonstrate with Melanie Campbell and Kerstin Engraf how the building of scaffolding is carried out in compliance with the health and safety regulations. Markus points to the current tagging of the elements of scaffolding that point to instructions that are available online. The LTB that is equipped with a QR reader can make the instructions and the requirements of special clothing (with safety lines) transparent on site. In the filmed episode the team of apprentices assemble a high scaffolding and Max who is on top wears the required clothing. At the end of the episode Melanie, Markus and Kerstin discuss, how to accommodate this information under the designed tiles of the LTB and how to use existing materials in a compressed form.

Reflective commentary

All these cases were filmed on the premises of Bau-ABC but they did not differ from normal circumstances in construction sites. Selecting the appropriate chains, managing the excavator and assembling the scaffolding are real issues for construction companies. If construction workers are not sure about the right choices, it is very helpful that they have the possibility to double-check from a relevant resource. Here, the use of the LTB is to be seen as assurance and confirmation, not as an excuse for not learning things properly. This kind of issues were taken up in the group discussion of the Bau-ABC trainers that will be covered in the next post.

 More blogs to come …

Reviewing the video(s) from Bau-ABC – Part 2: How can Learning Toolbox be used in the training of Bau-ABC?

September 27th, 2014 by Pekka Kamarainen

In my previous post I started a series of blogs that review the video produced by the Bau-ABC team for the recent consortium meeting of the Learning Layers (LL) project. The video focused on the usability of the emerging Learning Toolbox (LTB) – a framework for accessing web resources and managing web apps – in the construction sector. In this post I will focus on the sections of the video that highlight the use of LTB in the context of apprentice training provided by the Bau-ABC on their premises. Here I share the link to the video:

http://youtu.be/Z2JoZSn4PyY

LTB as support for apprentice’s project

A very lively and comprehensive picture of a typical training project in Bau-ABC is given in the section that presents the apprentice Martin  He is a 2nd year apprentice in machine and metal techniques (and this section is placed between 3.41 and 11.02 in the current version). Firstly Martin gives an overview on the instruction sheets and drawings provided by the White Folder of Bau-ABC and on the planning sheets and inventory sheets that the apprentices have to fill. He then presents the mechanism that was to be constructed, partly from existing pieces, partly from pieces produced on sight. Then he presents the final report that gives an account on the work processes and on the quality criteria that have been met. At the end we see the points given by the trainers in their final assessment.

Secondly, Martin and Melanie Campbell identify several points in which the LTB can support such project – starting from the search for appropriate materials and adequate tools, continuing to storing information on relevant QR tags and to possibilities to repeat search histories. Furthermore, the LTB can store films of the functioning of the mechanism. A specific topic is the easy access to relevant health and safety information. Finally, Martin made a strong point on the usefulness of LTB in the phase when apprentices prepare themselves for their final examinations.

LTB as means to share the ‘Tricks  of the trade’

In next sequences  (from 11.06 to 15.33) we see firstly an episode in which Stefan Wiedenstried instructs firstly an apprentice how to get the slope right when the road is plasters with stone. Then, in the subsequent discussion Stefan and Melanie discuss, how to store such videos on the LTB and what their relevance is in the learning process. Finally, we get a glimpse of an older video that shows the use of a useful conventional tool (Sandhobel) in getting an underground scaffolding right at place (to give free space for pipeline builders).

Reflective commentary

These two cases are clearly from the context of apprentice training within the training centre Bau-ABC and on their premises. The first case demonstrates a typical apprentice’s project assignment and the learners’ tools that the White Folder provides. The solutions that are discussed for introducing the LTB are very similar to the ones that came up in the co-design workshops of the first year (when the digitisation of the White Folder was taken as the starting point for the design theme “Sharing Turbine”). Likewise, the use of the videos was discussed in the first iteration of the Sharing Turbine (when some trades and their projects were selected as pilot areas for “Rapid Turbine”).

However,due to the shift of emphasis to a more flexible design concept “Learning Toolbox” the co-design work  is not limited to the context of the training centre and its project. This will be discussed in the next post.

More blogs to come ...

Reviewing the video(s) from Bau-ABC – Part 1: What kinds of messages are there to be found?

September 27th, 2014 by Pekka Kamarainen

In my latest blog I gave a quick overview of the video produced by the Bau-ABC team for the consortium meeting of the Learning Layers (LL) project that took place in Tallinn from Wednesday to Friday. I wrote the blog when I was preparing the presentation of the video in the meeting. From that point of view it became an overview on the contents as such – a verbalised table of contents. Now, after having viewed the video some  more times, I realize that we have a much richer resource at our hands than we thought. Before I go further with my second thoughts I will share the link here:

http://youtu.be/Z2JoZSn4PyY

In this first post I outline a set of questions that I will discuss in a series of posts. With these questions I try to get a deeper insight into the importance of this video material for us as project partners and for external viewers. In particular I want to tease out some feedback on, what the project is achieving and what kind of impact it can have in the construction sector. From this point of view I will discuss in the next posts the following questions:

  1. What do we learn from the usability of Learning Toolbox in that training provided by Bau-ABC?
  2. What do we learn from possible uses of Learning Toolbox in companies and in workplace contexts?
  3. What do we learn of the views of trainers on Learning Toolbox?
  4. What do we learn of the impact of the Multimedia Training in Bau-ABC?

As I see it, the current video is a treasure island that has several treasures that need to be found and mapped. In the following blogs I try to identify the sections that respond to the above mentioned questions and to highlight the messages that are coming through.

More blogs to come …

New steps in the Layers fieldwork – Part 4: Bau-ABC trainers’ work with video material goes ahead

September 25th, 2014 by Pekka Kamarainen

In my previous blogs on the fieldwork of the Learning Layers (LL) project I have firstly focused on stakeholder engagement events and then on the blogs of the full-time trainers (Lehrwerkmeister) in Bau-ABC. Now I will shift the emphasis to the wok with video material, again carried out by the colleagues in Bau-ABC. Here, it is worthwhile to notice that the progress of the trainers with blogs (as tools for organising workplace learning projetcs) is a result of the Multimedia Training organised by the LL partners (Pontydysgu and ITB). In a similar way the work with video material has been a major theme in these training workshops. Now the colleagues from Bau-ABC have sent a message via video to the LL project consortium meeting in Tallin (when they themselves have not been able to come to the meeting). Although the video is a lengthy one (31 minutes) and it is mostly in  German language (not accessible to all LL partners), I hope these brief commentaries in English will help us to receive the message as original version with the hear and soul and the sincere commitment of our colleagues in Bau-ABC Rostrup.

So, please have a look at the video message to us even if it (as it stands now) might seem a long message! It is rich with content and there are several messages to convey – as I will describe briefly below. The link is the following:

http://youtu.be/Z2JoZSn4PyY

1. How to use the Learning Toolbox in the training of Bau-ABC

Already during the three first minutes of the video you get insights how the trainers and apprentices of Bau-ABC demonstrate uses of tools like the Learning Toolbox in the training. Mr Schütte, trainer fot the mechanic engineering and machinery shows the multitude of chains for different equipments for the training – each one of them being a unique example for pulling different loads with different maximum weights. They have already been tagged but it would be beneficial for all parties involved if a tool like Learning Toolbox would have all this information stored.

In a similar way Arnold, an apprentice in his second year of apprentice training shows how he can drive the heavy vehicle with the help of the driving instructions that he gets via QR-tags. As we know, one of the key features of the Learning Toolbox is the QR-reader. And one of the key features in the LL Multimedia Training was to create QR-codes.

2. How to enrich the apprentices’ projects with the help of the Learning Toolbox?

After these starters the video offers us several (lengthy but interesting) examples, how the apprentices work with typical workplace learning projects and how they are instructed.

Martin, apprentice in his second year of training for industrial maintenance work (Industriemechaniker) demonstrates firstly with instruction and planning & evaluation documents what he has to carry out. Then he demonstrates with tools and materials how this works and how he can support this work with smartphone/tablet PC and with the Learning Toolbox (LTB) how he can carry out his project with access to information resources. Here, the big difference with the LTB is  the fact that the search processes can be repeated. Also, the key advantage is the possibility to access the health and safety requirements while completing such tasks and to get alerted to clothing, procedures and to treatment of materials.

In a similar way the full-time trainer (Lehrwerkmeister) of road-builders, Mr Wiedenstried, is demonstrating the process of instructing new apprentices in his trade (road building) into the basics and then he shows a video on the ‘ticks of the trade’ in getting the plastering of the roads more even when using specific ‘old-fashioned tools’ (Sandhobel). Here we have a clear case for the Learning Toolbox to provide access to such exemplary videos as ‘tricks of the trade’.

Likewise, the full-time trainer (Lehrwerkmeister) of the carpenters, Mr Pape demonstrates the usability of Learning toolbox in getting quick instructions for building the scaffolding (Gerüstebau)  and for wearing the right clothing (that complies with the health and safety requirements) when building such scaffolding.

3. Reflections on the LL project, on the Multimedia Training and on the Learning Toolbox

In the third part of the video we see four full-time trainers (Lehrwerkmeister) reflecting on their experiences with the LL project and on their expectations on the LTB. Here, the trainers indicate that when they have revealed some of the featurtes of the emerging Learning Toolbox, the apprentices have been full of enthusiasm and that they themselves have got convinced that the use of smartphones and other mobile devices will be positive already in the near future. (Officially these devices are still banned to avoid distraction.)

When thinking about the multimedia training they have gone through in the context of the LL project, they have a high opinion on it. also, they have got positive feedback from their apprentices on the blogs they have set up and on the way they have supported the projects of apprentices.

Finally, regarding the Learning Toolbox, the trainers are looking forward to have a beta-version of a functioning tool to work with. They – just as their colleagues in other trades – have identified quite a lot of points where they could make use of it. In a similar way they are confident that the apprentices are capable of addressing how  the tool could be developed further. They are not expecting a product in its final stage but something that can be used and developed further.

4. PS: What can a trainer’s blog achieve and what messages to the LTB developers?

As the first ‘bonus track’ the video contains an introduction (by Mr Pape) to the carpenters’ blog (Zimmererblog) and to the way in which such a blog can be used to guide the self-organised learning of apprentices at different stages. Also, the reflection session shows how the blog has suddenly become international. So, there we are – the Layers’ fieldwork agenda is taking off, far quicker than we expected.

As the second ‘bonus track’ Mr Schoka – well known to usd as a participant in the Helsinki Design Conference – addresses the general wish of the Bau-ABC colleagues: to get a nice package with the LTB tiles and to find a fully functioning mobile phone with the LTB functionality ready to be tested. The trainers and their apprentices are ready for this step!

I guess I have written enough to convey the message of our Bau-ABC colleagues. The ball is clearly on our side of the (tennis) court. What shall we do next?

More blogs to come …

 

New steps in the Layers fieldwork – Part 3: Bau-ABC trainers’ blogs go ahead

September 23rd, 2014 by Pekka Kamarainen

In my previous blogs on the fieldwork of the Learning Layers (LL) project I have focused on stakeholder engagement events. This time I shift the emphasis to the results of our earlier activities. As I have been reporting, an integral part of our fieldwork has been the Multimedia training that we (Pontydysgu and ITB) have carried out in Bau-ABC from August 2013 onwards. Now we start to see, how this training bears fruit and has an impact on the initial vocational training (VET) in the construction sector. In order to demonstrate this I will explore three blogs of the full-time trainers (Lehrwerkmeister) of Bau-ABC.

1. Zimmererblog – the Carpenters’ blog

This blog has been started by Meister Markus Pape, who made an early start with developing his blog as a tool for organising the training and learning activities in his domain.

The main content areas are descriptions of project tasks for the apprentices in their first, second and third years of training. The tasks are presented with project sheets from the White Folder of the Bau-ABC and illustrated with (3D) pictures. Alongside the progress of the training, the selected tasks become more demanding. Also, the blog provides a supporting resource area (Hilfe), a slideshow of pictures and section with literature recommendations. Considering the initial design idea of Sharing Turbine – the digitisation of the White Folder, this blog is a long step forward in implementing it – inasmuch as the contribution of trainers is concerned. However, it also reveals that support for apprentices and the learning activities can best be provided by a solution like the Learning Toolbox.

2. Tiefbau - the Roadbuilders’  Pipeline-builders’ and Sewage-builders’ blog

This blog has been started by a group of of trainers and it covers three areas of construction work – road building, pipeline building and sewage building. Thus, it has three main sections for these areas of specialisations.

In a similar way as in the above mentioned case, each area provides examples of project tasks for the first, second and third year of apprentice training. However, since this blog is being created by a group of trainers from different areas, it is still under construction and contains fewer examples. In addition  to the project descriptions it has also a special area for supporting info sheets and a slideshow of pictures.

3. Mauerwerksbau – the bricklayers’ blog

This blog has also been created by a group of trainers but working in the same domain – training bricklayers and concrete-builders. They also provide training for construction workers in the neighbouring areas.

In a similar way as the two above mentioned blogs, this blog provides a set of exemplary project tasks for apprentices in their first, second and third year of training. Likewise, it contains a section for support resources with several inputs. The special feature of this blog is the combination of pictures and brief info sheets on Slideshare. Like the others, this blog has a slideshow of pictures.

Altogether, these blogs serve as a evidence that the Multimedia Training has paved the way from learning (acquisition of new skills and insights) to knowledge utilisation (putting the skills and insights into practice). Apparently the three blogs are at a different evolutionary stage. Also, they are based on different degree of teamwork. However, a major point of interest is that they have spread the idea of using digital media and web tools across a wide number of trades. Also, they have developed a germinal cell for wider dissemination of innovative practice.

More blog posts to come …

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New steps in the Layers fieldwork – Part 2: Pilot workshops with craft trade companies go ahead

September 12th, 2014 by Pekka Kamarainen

With my previous post I started to report on the recent steps in the fieldwork of the Learning Layers (LL) project in the construction sector. I firstly reported on the participation of LL partners in the large German construction sector fair NordBau and on the stakeholder talks we had their with several companies. A major topic was to engage them into pilot activities on the LL tools in particular with the Learning Toolbox (LTB). This post will give insights into the recent Pilot workshop with craft trade companies on LL tools. This workshop was organised and documented by our ITB colleague Werner Müller. He has written a more detailed report for internal use. I will highlight here some points that give a general picture, how our pilot activities are moving on.

The workshop was planned as a follow-up to the stakeholder engagement activities that we carried out during the Well-builders’ fair in May 2014 (65. Brunnenbauertage) in Bau-ABC Rostrup. However, before launching a wide range of workshops, we agreed to have first a smaller pilot workshop. We invited two companies that we had interviewed during the initial phase of the project and with which the LL partners had good contacts.

The company K is a carpentry company with currently 36 employees. It is involved in the network for ecological construction work (Netzwerk Nachhaltiges Bauen – LL partner organisation) and in several domain-specific networks. The company has been pioneering with company-specific apps and is in the process of introducing tablet PCs for team leaders. At the same time the company is paying attention to the fact that introduction of new ICT tools will not cause a digital divide in access to information and communication. The company has regular meetings to discuss quality issues (QT-Runde).

The company W is a larger medium-sized company with ca. 430 employers and specialised on pipeline-building. It has most of its staff working on missions in teams of two or three skilled workers. This company has a long-term cooperation with Bau-ABC. The company W has been pioneering with digital pens, mobile offices (laptops with internet access) allocated to teams and with centralised databases. Yet, the company has had mixed experiences with the effectivity of such tools regarding time used for searches vs. finding adequate solutions. The company itself has centralised databases and is concerned of knowledge management and confidentiality issues. Concerning knowledge sharing and learning across teams, there are very limited possibilities to provide face-to-face meetings.

In the workshop we presented a general picture on the Learning Layers project and invited the companies to present their own situation assessment on their use of ICT, Web tools and digital media (including use of mobile technologies). Then, we presented a demonstration on the emerging Learning Toolbox (LTB) as a framework for managing web resources and apps with a mobile device. in the next rounds of discussions we were mapping different situations for piloting with the LTB and needs to which it could respond.

At this point it is not appropriate to go into details of the subsequent discussion. For the LL project it was important that both companies found their specific entry points to pilot activities. For the company K these were more in the intra-company communication and knowledge sharing and in the network-wide knowledge sharing. For the company W they were in the filtering of different quality guidelines and requirements (provided by different electricity providers or public authorities). Altogether, both companies agreed to continue the cooperation with the project and to organise further talks and pilot workshops in their companies.

After this pilot event and after the stakeholder talks during the NordBau fair (see my previous post) we are looking forward to the next pilot workshops.

More blogs to come …

 

New steps in the Layers fieldwork – Part 1: Layers goes to NordBau

September 12th, 2014 by Pekka Kamarainen

During the summer months it has not been possible to report much on the fieldwork for the Learning Layers (LL) project. Due to the holiday periods there have been no major events. Yet, thanks to the efforts in May and June and due to preparatory measures by several colleagues, we have been able to take several steps forward when coming back from holidays and conference trips. In this first post I will give a report on the LL partners’ visit to the German construction fair NordBau that took place yesterday.

The annual NordBau fair in Neumünster, near Hamburg, is the biggest sectoral fair for construction industry and craft trades in North Germany. The exhibition halls present products, tools and services whilst the large outdoor areas are filled with heavy machinery by all major suppliers. Bau-ABC is a regular visitor and this event has served as a major opportunity for contacting suppliers and cooperation partners. This time we decided that Melanie Campbell, Kerstin Engraf and I will make a one-day-visit to join the trainers – Mr Grewe and Mr Schütte, who were attending the whole time. We agreed that we three will first explore the exhibition area of ICT service providers and then join Mr Grewe and Mr Schütte with their talks with the suppliers.

1. Observations in the exhibition area of ICT service providers

We were interested to find out, to what extent the ICT service providers were presenting services for construction workers and their supervisors in the construction sites – based on mobile devices. From this point of view the general picture was far more traditional – most of the exhibitors were presenting CAD/CAM software for design work or business management software . Very few exhibitors were promoting mobile applications – and they also were primarily addressing architects or business managers. Yet, we got brochures from some software providers to have a closer look from the LL perspective.

A special compartment was the BIM exhibition container (Building Information Modelling) that was provided by a German research project consortium. involving several universities and software developers. The project demonstrated use of RFID-technologies and integrated software solutions with which the modelling covers the whole supply chain. Starting from product design and actual production (adjusted to customer needs), following through the logistic chain (including reporting, tracking and quality control) the software solutions gave information to the point of using the products in the construction project (and reporting of good match or eventual mismatches). Here, the emphasis was on integration of software and different steering/controlling technologies. From the LL point of view it was interesting to note that this project had been working with prototype solutions without involvement of real application partners and that the engagement of real users was seen as a task for different spin-off and follow-up projects.

2. Talks with supplier companies

The second part of our visit consisted of short visits and stakeholder talks in the outdoor areas in which suppliers to construction companies were presenting their machinery and equipments. Altogether we visited the areas of the following supplier companies:

  • Liebherr
  • Wirtgen Group
  • TractoTechnik
  • Vetter GmbH Kabelverlegetechnik
  • Tramann + Sohn
  • Wacker Neuson

These visits had been orchestrated and scheduled by Mr Grewe and they were part of his normal agenda for meeting suppliers to make arrangements for cooperation in training users of such machinery in the context of initial and continuing training programmes. This time, however, during most of these visits we had discussions also on the Learning Layers project and in particular on the Learning Toolbox. To me it was important that the colleagues from Bau-ABC had already integrated the promotion of Learning Toolbox (and engagement of their partner companies) to their normal business talks. Also, in these talks the colleagues from Bau-ABC were very attentive concerning the possible benefits that the company representatives could see (and very convincing in eliminating eventual misunderstandings). Yet, it was clear to all of us that our counterparts in these talks were the sales persons (and only in few cases the managers/owners of the companies). Thus, the agreements on subsequent pilot workshops were to be made with the management representatives.

At the end of the day we could conclude that our visit was well-timed and that we got good feedback regarding the Learning Layers project:

  • Concerning the ICT exhibition area and the BIM projects, we noticed that there is a gap in providing services for construction workers on the site and in engaging them in co-design processes. From this perspective both the task of the LL project and its approach can be seen as pioneering work.
  • Concerning the talks with the supplier companies, the colleagues from Bau-ABC demonstrated clearly that they had integrated the promotion of Learning Toolbox (and engagement of partner companies into pilot activities) as an essential part of their cooperation with business partners.

Also, the fact that such cooperation is valued became clear during our chance meeting with the team from the company W. (who had just participated in a pilot workshop on Learning Toolbox – see my next blog). So, we felt very much empowered and are looking forward to the next steps.

More blogs to come …

 

 

The VETNET network goes global: Reflections on the IRN-VET Forum at ECER’14

September 10th, 2014 by Pekka Kamarainen

During the last few years all my blogs have been about the Learning Layers (LL) project – and for good reasons. Our ongoing project has kept us busy to that extent and we have learned a lot. This one, however, will report on our efforts to promote internationalisation of research in Vocational Education and Training (VET) world-wide. For this purpose we had a special event – the IRN-VET Forum – in the context of the European Conference on Educational Research (ECER’14) in the beginning of September in Porto, Portugal.

Already during ECER 2009 ‘regional’ educational research associations like EERA (Europe), AERA (America) and their counterparts had created the World Educational Research Association (WERA) to promote internationalisation and mutual exchanges in educational research. In 2013 the WERA council organised a call for proposals to set up international research networks (IRN) under the auspices of WERA. This gave rise for our initiative “Internationalisation in VET research”.

As we had witnessed for a long while, the European research community in VET research had been able to consolidate itself well under the auspices of the VETNET network of EERA. The annual ECER conferences had become the key platform and the VETNET website was used for sharing papers and presentations. In 2013 major steps were taken forward to set up a journal for the VET research community. In this context some key actors of VETNET came to the conclusion that this journal should not be limited to Europe and that it would be important to set up a global network under WERA.

The proposal for WERA IRN-VET with the overarching theme “Internationalisation in VET research” was submitted and we were happy to have founding members from Europe, Asia, America, Australia and Africa. Very soon we received the notification that the proposal had been accepted and we were free to start with the founding activities. Although it had been relatively easy to get agreements from colleagues from different global regions, it was somewhat difficult to create patterns of cooperation and launch joint activities. Therefore, before having a constituting meeting, we agreed to organise a pilot session within the VETNET program at ECER’14 – the “IRN-VET Forum”.

In the VETNET programme the IRN-VET Forum was placed on the last conference day and as the first morning session (which is normally not the most popular slot). Also, some of the key initiators who had worked with me to prepare the proposal and the session could not attend due to clashes in their calendars. Yet, we were positively surprised to note that the session had over twenty participants who showed genuine interest in the talks on internationalisation.

Here some key points on the session:

  • I gave firstly a presentation on the founding steps of the WERA IRN-VET and on the key activities that we had outlined – International VET research review, Thematic sessions in ‘regional’ conferences, creating cooperation between VET teacher education programmes and PhD programmes and support for the new journal IJRVET.
  • Martin Mulder gave insights into the two pilot rounds of International VET research review that had organised 2012 and 2013 with his fellow colleagues in Wageningen University. He drew attention to the fact that it was difficult to keep the review process alive as a single-university initiative but that it would be highly interesting to keep it going on as a joint activity of a global network.
  • Marg Malloch and Len Cairns from Australia gave insights into the process called ‘destatalisation’ in their country. This concept refers to withdrawal of state in terms of privatisation and/or subventioning of alternative VET provisions at the expense of traditional VET providers (the TAFE colleges). Here the issue is, whether the weakening of state and the state-supported infrastructures is reflected in the quality and attractiveness of VET and what are the consequences in the labour market. The discussion drew attention to parallel developments as ‘deregulation’ in VET (e.g. regarding VET teacher education).
  • Lazaro Moreno gave insights into the national PhD programme in VET research that had been launched as a joint initiative of several Swedish initiatives. Here, the issue of internationalisation came into picture via different channels (access to literature, mobility and exchanges as well as internationalisation in one’s own home country).
  • Johanna Lasonen  (University of South Florida) was the discussant of the session. She encouraged further activities along these lines and drew attention to the need to pay attention to multilingualism, intercultural communication and intercultural integration

In the final part of the session I drew attention to some milestone events and we made some working agreements:

  • In the VETNET assembly within the ECER’14 the launch of the new journal IJRVET was announced publicly. The first issue is available online and the next ones are under preparation. This journal serves also the WERA IRN-VET.
  • In November the WERA has a focal meeting of the IRNs. By that time we have to finalise the founding regulations and the patterns of work for the IRN-VET. Also, in this context we shall discuss how to go on with the International VET research review.
  • In October there will be a regular meeting of the UNESCO UNEVOC-Centres. ITB has received an invitation due to its role in VETNET. This invitation will be taken as an opportunity to inform UNEVOC of the WERA IRN-VET.
  • When EERA launches the call for proposals for the ECER’15 in Budapest, we will launch a call for expressions of interest for a WERA IRN-VET Forum and/or for thematic Round Tables.

In this way the pilot event gave us further directions and impulses, how to strengthen our global cooperation.

To be continued …

 

 

 

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