Learning Layers

About the Learning Layers Project

Learning Layers Project Logo

Learning Layers – Scaling up Technologies for Informal Learning in SME Clusters

Project Website: http://learning-layers.eu/

Project Type: Large-scale integrating project (IP)
Programme: EU 7th Framework
Call:
ICT-2011.8.1 Technology-enhanced learning
Total Budget:
approx. 12 Million EURO
Start Date:
01 November 2012
Project Duration: 4 years

Learning Layers is a large-scale research project co-funded by the European Commission’s 7th Framework Programme.The consortium consists of 17 institutions from 7 different countries.

We develop a set of modular and flexible technological layers for supporting workplace practices in SMEs that unlock peer production and scaffold learning in networks of SMEs. We apply these technologies in two sectors that have been particularly hesitant to take up learning technologies, i.e. health care and building and construction. Involving two representative and large-scale regional SME clusters allows us to involve end-users in co-design of the system and later scale up the approach to more than 1,000 learners within 4 years.

 

Learning Layers Concept

Learning Layers Concept

 

The concepts and technologies we develop help to bridge the gap between scaling and adaptation to personal needs. By building on recent advances in contextualised learning, Learning Layers provide a meaningful learning context when people interact with people, digital and physical artefacts for their informal learning, thus making learning faster and more effective. Building on mobile learning research, we situate learning into physical work places and practices to support situated, faster and more meaningful learning. Learning Layers provide a shared conceptual foundation independent of the tools people use and the context they are in. Learning Layers are based on a common light-weight, distributed infrastructure that allows for fast and flexible deployment in highly distributed and dynamic settings.

By inviting a larger set of stakeholders to adapt and build on our solutions and through research in sustainable business training models, the project will generate significant impact by boosting the ability of regional innovation systems to adapt to change and thereby remain competitive, on the individual, organisational and regional level. We demonstrate the impact in the two chosen sectors, but widen the scope to other sectors and regions towards the end of the project.

Posts about Learning Layers

Trainers’ views on introducing digital tools to vocational learning – Part Two: General views on the use of Learning Toolbox

May 23rd, 2019 by Pekka Kamarainen

With my previous post I started a series to report on interviews with vocational teachers, trainers and supporting researchers or consultants for the TACCLE4-CPD project. The project seeks to develop  continuing professional development (CPD) of teachers and trainers – with focus on enhancing digital competences. As I have mentioned, my work concentrates on the field of vocational education and training (VET).  I  still have some interviews on my list. Yet, it has been helpful to write down some points raised by full-time trainers of the training centre Bau-ABC. In this second post I will draw attention to the use of the digital toolset that we have co-developed in the Learning Layers project. I will start with the transition from the common project work to using the main product after the project.

Getting clarity on terms of service and permissions to use the toolset

The Learning Layers (LL) project had been a wide trans-national research and development (R&D) project in which many research partners, technical partners and application partners had been involved. During the long funding period they had co-designed, co-developed and pilot tested digital tools to support learning in the context of work. The digital toolset Learning Toolbox (LTB) was the main product that was developed in the Construction pilot of the LL project. After the project the LTB-developer team launched a start-up company (StackServices) to develop the LTB further and to support user organisations. This provided the basis for further use of the toolset after the project.

After the funding period the service provider has developed a differentiated set of contracts and permissions to regulate the use of the LTB software, the use of the LTB platform and the use of the services of the LTB-developers.

Shaping common structures for trade-specific LTB-stacks and overarching themes

In the LL project the LTB was shaped as a digital toolset that provides stacks (consisting of different kinds of tiles) for the users. During project the trainers who participated in the pilot testing developed their own stacks for their own apprentices and based on their own pedagogic priorities. After the project the trainers have developed a common structure for trade-specific stacks and for overarching themes. Also, they have coordinated the filing of digital worksheets and of photos. Thus, they have common patterns to work with the LTB.

Using LTB to enhance vocational (work process -oriented) learning

In the LL project the use of LTB was adjusted to the apprentices’ learning projects (that were shaped from the perspective of holistic look at planning, task preparation, task implementation and assessment). The learners were guided to self-organised (individual or team-based) learning. Whilst the LTB was at that time used mainly as trainers’ tool to provide guidance and instructions, it is now increasingly used as apprentices’ tool to report on their projects. Moreover, the use of specific Apps like GoConqr quiz apps has considerably enriched the learning process.

In particular LTB has served well as a central channel to essential web resources, such as the norms or regulations (as summaries) that need to be taken into account in construction work and to users’ guides for machinery and vehicles (also as summaries).

Using LTB from the perspective of apprentices

In all the interviews I got the picture that the apprentices have received well the use of LTB – once they have got the login sorted out and created their own account. The WLAN functions better and there are tablet PCs available at the training workshops. Via LTB the apprentices get advance information on the forthcoming training projects with which they will work during the next presence period in the training centre. When they are working with the projects the LTB serves as a documentary toolset for recording the interim results and final results. Moreover, the apprentices can check whether they are working correctly and eventually ask for advice (with reference to their photos etc.). And if something is not quite right, they can take the necessary measures and update their documentation. However, the final reporting with the apprentices’ portfolio reports has not yet been digitized – that is depending of training regulations (not  a matter for local decisions).

I guess this is enough of the general picture on using Learning Toolbox as support for training. In my next blog I will discuss the relevance of Learning Toolbox for two overarching learning areas – training and learning in ‘health and safety’ and support for learning German as foreign language (with focus on domain-specific vocabulary in construction sector).

More blogs to come …

 

 

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Field visit in the region with a group from Namibia – Part Two: Getting ideas for future-oriented training

April 12th, 2019 by Pekka Kamarainen

In my previous post I reported of a field visit to regional training provider organisations with a prominent delegation from Namibia. I joined the group partly because I needed to arrange meetings with vocational teachers and trainers from both organisations. With the help of these meetings I wanted to revisit the materials from the training activities of the EU-funded Learning Layers project (2012-2016). My aim is to develop with a future-oriented training concept for promoting digital competences of teachers and trainers in vocational education and training (VET).  With the trainers in the training centre Bau-ABC I can refer to our shared experience in implementing training schemes during the Learning Layers project and to the introduction of the digital toolset Learning Toolbox (LTB). With teachers of BBS Wildeshausen I was interested of other pedagogic solutions and of the use of Open Educational Resources (OER). These all should be taken on board when preparing the support materials for developing continuing professional development (CPD) to promote digital competences of teachers and trainers in the field of VET.

When listening to the contributions of the teachers and trainers during the field visit I got more and more convinced that such materials should not be shaped as overarching ‘encyclopedia’ of digital tools, web resources and mobile apps. Also, I understood that the materials should not be written in the style of cookbooks with ready-made recipes. Instead, they should be well-selected and contextualised exemplary stories that inspire the readers to find their own solutions.  And these solutions should give a picture, how to use appropriate toolsets and web resources for the respective vocational learning environment. Also, these materials should open the perspective to using digital tools and web resources from the initial steps to first strategic choices and to wider use of tools, resources and complex teaching-learning arrangements.

From this perspective I started to outline an updated and extended training model based on the “Theme Room” metaphor that we used in the Learning Layers project. The ‘theme room’ can refer to a physical space or to a virtual space that has been made available for a selected theme and for a flexible time frame. Once the participants have completed the learning tasks and checked themselves out, the theme rooms can be furnished with other themes. That was the original idea.

Below, inspired by the impulses from the field visits I would like to outline a rough draft for an updated “Theme Room” structure:

Theme Room 1 – Entrance lobby: Getting used to work with some basic digital tools and apps – with the aim to make use of them in one’s own teaching or training activities.

Theme Room 2 – Starting points for working with integrative digital toolsets: Brief introductions to integrative toolsets that are appropriate in vocational learning contexts – such as the Learning Toolbox or the Kompetenzwerkstatt toolsets.

Theme Room 3 – Using enriching web apps and platforms: Working with apps, tools and platforms that help to make learning tasks more inspiring and challenging – such as the toolsets provided by Go Conqr and H5P platforms.

Theme Room 4 – Working with complex teaching-learning arrangements: Insights into learners’ projects that involve construction of new tools/devices or manufacturing of new products that can be used in learning contexts.

Theme room 5 – Using the digital toolset “Learning Toolbox” to support vocational learning processes: Insights into the use of Learning Toolboox as an instrument for delivering training and for promoting self-organised learning.

Theme room 6 – Using the digital toolset “Kompetenzwerkstatt” to support vocational education and training processes: Insights into different Kompetenzwerkstatt tools that raise learners’ awareness of their progress in vocational learning.

Theme room 7 – Using Open Educational Resources (OER) to support vocational learning processes: Insights into the work of OER-communities (and support agencies) and into their services.


Theme Room n – Workshops on the options for digital transformation in one’s own domain: Whilst enhancing one’s own digital competences in the context of vocational learning tasks or project, it is necessary to keep an eye on the big picture of transformations in entire production and services processes & networks.

I guess this is enough for a rough structure. As I said, this should not be seen as a basis for a ‘cookbook’ or for a ‘product catalogue’ but as an introduction to explorative learning in order to find one’s own solutions and in order keep oneself on track with new developments. This is the challenge – there is work to be done in the meetings with teachers and trainers.

More blogs to come …

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Field visit in the region with a group from Namibia – Part One: Fresh impressions from the field

April 12th, 2019 by Pekka Kamarainen

This week our institute – Institut Technik & Bildung (ITB) of the University of Bremen – has hosted a study visit of a prominent delegation from Namibia. This study visit is part of a cooperation process that has been started with smaller steps and now there is an ongoing discussion, how to deepen the cooperation. As I have not been involved in these discussions I leave it to my colleagues and to the Namibian authorities to find the bast ways forward.

As a part of their program the delegation visited on Tuesday two interesting organisations in the nearby region. With the training centre Bau-ABC I had had active cooperation for many years in the EU-funded Learning Layers project. But in the follow-up phase I had only had a chance to make some occasional visits. As a contrast, I had not visited the vocational school BBS Wildeshausen before. Instead, I had had several conversations with one of the teachers who is also working in several projects of our institute. By joining the study visit group on Tuesday I had a chance to catch up with newer developments in Bau-ABC and to get live impressions from BBS Wildeshausen (of which I knew only via our talks in Bremen). Below, I will give a brief account of the visits in both places. In my next post I will outline some conclusions for my work in the ongoing EU-funded project TACCLE4-CPD.

Visiting the training centre Bau-ABC Rostrup

At the training centre Bau-ABC Rostrup the delegation was interested in finding out, how such an intermediate (industry-supported) training centre has been embedded into the dual system of vocational education and training (VET). Here, the representatives of host organisation were able to give a picture of the mutual agreement of the Social Partners (employers’ confederations and trade unions) that such an intermediate learning venue was necessary in the construction sector. Likewise, they could explain funding arrangements and the organisational setting via which the industry and the craft trade companies were supporting the training centre. In addition, the visitors got a picture of the role of the training centre at different phases of apprentice training. Finally, the visitors got insights into the continuing vocational training (CVT) that provide a vocational progression route to managerial qualifications in the construction sector.

During our round tour at the workshops and outdoor training areas we could see, how the pedagogic ideas were put into practice.  We got impressions of apprentice training via holistic occupational work processes, of learners’ rotation from major learning areas to supporting areas and of the patterns of self-organised learning. In particular we had a chance to see, how a digital toolset (the Learning Toolbox) was used in delivering instructions and collecting apprentices’ project reports. Here we could see that  results of the EU-funded Learning Layers project were actually used to support training.

Visiting the vocational school BBS Wildeshausen

The second part of the visit was somewhat different, because only some teachers of the BBS Wildeshausen were present (the school holiday period had already started). Yet, we had a good possibility visit the integrated vocational learning facilities of different occupations. In Wildeshausen the school architecture had abolished the separation of classrooms, workshops and laboratories and instead provided integrated spaces. This was already a great support for integrating theoretical and practical learning. Yet, the major innovations that were presented to us were in the pedagogic sphere.

When describing the learners’ projects the teachers drew attention to the role of real occupational tasks and to controlling the quality by the learners themselves. Moreover, some projects engaged the learners in constructing devices that were needed in their training or in manufacturing products that could be used in the training. In the agricultural and automotive workshops we saw vehicles that had been constructed by nearby industries to make the functioning of the machinery more transparent (and to give easier access for diagnostic measures and repair work.

I guess this is enough of the observations during the field visit. The visitors from Namibia were very impressed and inspired. Since they were in a process to start new cooperation activities, the visit gave a lot of food for thought. As for me, I had joined them to make appointments with Bau-ABC trainers and teachers in BBS-Wildeshausen to discuss the next phase of my work in the TACCLE4-CPD project. And in this respect this was a very productive and helpful field visit. I will discuss my ideas and interim conclusions in my next post.

More blogs to come …

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And the award goes to … Kubify – LTB for ePosters (@LTBePosters)

November 29th, 2018 by Pekka Kamarainen

Some time ago we were pleased to announce the our EU-funded Learning Layers (LL) project had received the European VET Research Excellence 2018 Award in the context of the European Vocational Skills Week 2018 in Vienna. Now we have another reason to celebrate. Our former partners from the LL project who have continued the development of the Learning Toolbox (LTB) with their start-up companies have been successful. The start-up company Kubify that develops LTB for ePosters has won the Tech Watch Award 2018 at the international event of conference organisers.

For us, the LL partners, who have been intensively involved in the co-design, co-development and introduction of LTB in the North-German construction sector, this is great news. Also, we are happy that we have piloted successfully with the ePosters at the European Conference on Educational Research (ECER) and in its VETNET section in Bolzano last September. However. looking at the photos from the #IBTMWorld event organisers’ event – see below –  we can observe that our LTB-developers have taken many steps forward. This award is richly deserved!

From the introduction for new users to the creation of users’ own ePosters

Introduction to ePostersePosters for different conferences

Working with ePosters: From the Mini-Poster Wall to user engagement at the ePoster Arena

Mini-Poster WallePoster Arena

The Award Winners and The Award

Kubify Team receiving the AwardThe IBTMworld Award

Congratulations to the award winners and keep on doing the good work! We are very interested in continuing the good cooperation with you – with the LTB and with the ePosters.

More blogs to come …

 

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The TACCLE4-CPD project is making further progress – Part Two: Linking my contributions to the common approach

November 27th, 2018 by Pekka Kamarainen

With my previous post I started to blog on the third transnational project meeting of our EU-funded project TACCLE4-CPD that took place in Pontypridd, Wales. This project is working with frameworks, pedagogic concepts and arrangements for continuing professional development (CPD) of teachers and trainers in promoting their digital competences. It builds upon the achievements of three previous TACCLE projects that worked directly with teachers and provided support for promoting their digital competences. The fourth project has the task to support training providers and managers in shaping adequate arrangements for CPD in different educational sectors and enhancing appropriate digital competences.

In my previous post I gave a picture, how we revisited the key idea of this project and in what respect we have to face different challenges than the earlier TACCLE projects. The main difference is that we have to support policy-developers, educational managers and training providers – not immediately acting teachers and trainers. This has consequences for the policy analyses and frameworks to be developed in the project – as well as for our approach to collecting Open Educational Resources (OER). In general, we reached a common conclusion on giving a central role for our work with a Mindmap as an integrative tool. However, as I see it, this provided further challenges, how to link my contributions to this approach.

Linking the sector of vocational education and training (VET) to the work of TACCLE projects

In this context it is worthwhile to remind that the TACCLE projects have so far focused on general education (and general adult education). Thus, the emphasis has been on school-based education and classroom teaching. In this respect the field of vocational education and training (VET) with different institutional settings and with different interfaces between education and working life has not been present. As a contrast, our institute (ITB) had recently worked in a major EU-funded project Learning Layers in which we worked together with construction sector and with a training provider for work process -oriented learning. As a contribution to this project we had organised two campaigns for training of trainers to enhance their digital competences. In the proposal for the TACCLE4-CPD project this background had been highlighted as a major asset of our institute ITB in the current project.

However, when the TACCLE4-CPD project started working, it became clear to me that I have to provide insights into the legacy of the Learning Layers project and what needs to be considered when discussing CPD policies and measures in the field of VET. Also, I noticed that there is a need to provide insights into the institutional complexity of the German VET system – in order to grasp the role of different policy levels and R&D programmes. In this respect I felt that we from ITB had to work ourselves in into the TACCLE4-CPD projects and that we had to open new perspectives for the project work. Below I illustrate this process with three key themes.

Critical analyses of policies for promoting digital competences in the field of VET

Already in an earlier blog I had addressed the institutional complexity of the German VET system – with reference to the federal governance model and the dual system of VET (based on workplace-based training supported by school-based education). Taking into account the diversified power structures on education and training it is possible to understand the relevance of R&D projects and of specific sectoral partnerships. Therefore, I had produced for our November meeting a report that firstly gave a brief overview on the governance structures in education and training in Germany. Then I presented an overview of selected R&D projects that have a relevance for promoting digital competences and in shaping patterns of CPD. Thirdly, I included some interviews from actors in the field to highlight, what kind of impact different policies and initiatives have at the local level.

When I presented this contribution, I realised that it was written in the old way as a national report. In the light of our discussion on the critical analysis of policies I needed to transform the perspective to a general approach to the field of VET. Then I needed to outline different systemic models and levels of policies – after which the German governance structures could be given as examples. In a similar way the level of R&D programmes should be outlined with some main themes – under which the selected cases should be given as illustrative examples. Finally, the engagement of actors in the field should be discussed in the light of lead initiatives and by presenting modes of participation. In this way the report would provide (to some extent) an introduction to the VET section in the MindMap and should also address, how the MindMap can be used.

Exploring the project histories of TACCLE projects and of Learning Layers

As a second contribution I had prepared a discussion paper that compared the project histories of the three earlier TACCLE projects and that of the Learning Layers (LL) project (with focus on the Construction pilot). In both project histories I noticed similar phases of search, reorientation and enrichment and encountering new challenges. From the perspective of LL project experience I emphasised the central role of Learning Toolbox (LTB) as an integrative toolset for supporting vocational and workplace-based learning. From this perspective there is a slight tension vis-à-vis the former TACCLE projects that focused on general school education and emphasised the role of teachers’ handbooks.

When discussing this contribution I realised that I had not been able to reach the perspective of TACCLE4-CPD. Here, in addition to the work with the MindMap, it is worthwhile to take a look at the DigCompEdu framework as a bridging approach. Based on this framework it is possible to see the legacy of the LL project (including the co-design process, the training campaigns and the introduction of the LTB) as a systematic effort to link occupational competences, pedagogic competences and learners’ competences to each other. Here, the LTB served as a toolset that was shaped to support such integrative processes. From this perspective I needed to rework the paper to emphasise this approach and to avoid an impression that I would only be pushing the tool as such.

Reflections on different training models for promoting digital competences

A further important theme that we discussed was comparison of different training models. We noticed a general trend towards divisive grouping of training models as abstract lists. In our discussion we found it more appropriate to reinterpret such ‘models’ as ‘characteristics’ and to look, how different characteristics can be combined in holistic training concepts. From this perspective the “Theme Room” training that was used in the LL project would serve as an interesting case. In particular the prospect of further development of this concept – including the use of LTB during the training and after it – is an interesting challenge.

I guess this is enough of these points. To some extent this brief report may appear as insider-discussion – given that the MindMap is not yet there as an illustration. However, to me it was important to write down my interim conclusions for further work in the project.

More blogs to come …

 

 

 

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And the Award goes to … Learning Layers!

November 10th, 2018 by Pekka Kamarainen

The third European Vocational Skills Week (EVSW) took place this week in Vienna (Wien). The event has been launched by the European Commission to draw attention to the importance of vocational education and training (VET) for education, economy and society. Our European VETNET network has also played a role in drawing attention to the contribution of VET research to the development of VET. However, due to several intervening factors I have not been able to attend to these events. Yet, this time I was somewhat more engaged in the preparation and followed more keenly the news from Vienna.

The competition for European VET Excellence Awards 2018

As usual, during the EVSW, there was also this year the competition for European VET Excellence Awards for different kinds of contributions to the development of VET. In the category “European VET Research Excellence” the jury had nominated two European research projects for the final competition:

  • The Learning Layers (LL) project that carried out a complex Europe-wide R&D project for studying the use of digital tools, web resources and mobile technologies to support learning in the context of work. The project engaged application partners in healthcare sector (UK) and construction sector (Germany) in co-design, pilot testing and actual use of new tools. In the competition the project was represented by the scientific coordinator Tobias Ley from Tallinn University.
  • The Modelling Vocational Excellence (MoVE) project is a transnational project that has studied World Skills competitions at the national, European and wider international contexts. The aim of the project is to draw conclusions from competition processes for the development of everyday life practice in the field of VET. This project was represented by the scientific coordinator Petri Nokelainen from Tampere University.

After the nomination the finalists were presented on a special website for public voting that took place during the last weeks before the event and during the first two days. On the evening before the closing ceremony the finalists in different catergories had the opportunity to give short pitches to make their case. Then, in the closing ceremony the nominees of each category were invited and the winner was declared. Concerning the award for VET Research Excellence I was pleased to see a video recording and to hear the words: “The award goes to … Learning Layers”. As fair competitors Petri and Tobias congratulated each other. And then Commissioner Marianne Thyssen handed the award to Tobias Ley.

Learning Layers Awarded 2018-11-09Learning Layers Awarded 2018Tobias with the award

Celebrating the award winner Learning Layers

Firstly, let us do justice to both finalists – the two international projects and the teams involved – and for the fair competition. This was a good way to present European and international VET research at such an event.

Then, coming to our Learning Layers project: Why are we so happy that we got the award fror European research in the field of VET (vocational education and training)? Here I am speaking in particular for the partners of the Construction pilot – research partners, technical partners and application partners from the construction sector. I would like to raise the following arguments for us as award winners:

  1. A substantial part of Learning Layers pilot activities were carried out in the context of apprentice training for construction sector in North Germany. In this context the project was developing a digital toolset “Learning Toolbox” to support work process-oriented learning. Now, in the initial pilot context – the training centre Bau-ABC – the Learning Toolbox will be introduced to the training of all occupations.
  2. The co-design and tools deployment processes were carried out as participative Research & Development dialogue. In this dialogue practitioners, technical partners were developing tools that promote a culture of self-organised learning in different craft trades.
  3. The project organised training of trainers in such a way that they could act as promoters of innovation and adjust the use of tools to match their pedagogic priorities (self-organised search of knowledge within a wide set of resources vs. gradual extension of resources that are available for learner). The ‘theme room’ approach is being used in the further promotion of the tools by other trainers.
  4. After the end of the Learning Layers project there have been several follow-up initiatives to spread the use of Learning Toolbox to support practice-based learning in Vocational and Higher Education (e.g. in Estonia and Spain). These pilots have involved also other sectors (e.g. education/training in healthcare and media occupations).
  5. A major spin-off arising from the Learning Layers is the use of Learning Toolbox as support for ePosters in conferences. This was started in the conferences for medical and dental education (AMEE, ADEE) and in the conference for technology-enhanced learning (ECTEL). Most recently the ePosters were piloted in the European Conference on Educational Research (ECER) in the network for research in vocational education and training (VETNET).

The points above make it clear that the Learning Layers project was not merely a theory-driven or a tool-driven project. Instead, the project took a high risk in launching open-ended co-design processes and was very much dependent on the cooperation with practitioners in the pilot sectors. Moreover, the tools that were developed in the project – notably the Learning Toolbox – reached the stage of viable products. But in order to bring them further as tools for regular use, additional efforts were needed by the tool developers, practitioners and supporting researchers. These efforts have pointed out to be successful and it was fortunate that reports on recent success were communicated in the event. Thus, the award was a recognition of all the work that contributed to our success. Now we can celebrate, next week we have to take further steps in our work.

More blogs to come …

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Bringing Learning Toolbox to wider use in training for construction sector

November 5th, 2018 by Pekka Kamarainen

Last week I returned from my long sick leave. And I had immediately the possibility to attend a working meeting at the training centre Bau-ABC Rostrup. With this training centre we had worked in the EU-funded Learning Layers project many years to develop digital tools to support work process -oriented learning. During the project we reached the stage that Learning Toolbox (LTB) was ready as a viable product to support training and learning processes. The pilot testing in the final phase of the project proved that trainers and apprentices can use the toolset in their training processes. Yet, there were several practical issues that slowed down a wider use of the LTB. Thus, the trainers that had been involved in the pilot testing kept on using the toolset but a wider use was delayed.

Now, in our meeting last week we were facing a new situation. In the meantime most of the hurdles had been overcome and there was full confidence among all parties involved that LTB can be introduced in the apprentice training of Bau-ABC for all trades, Now the pioneering trainers, the management/administration representatives and the LTB developers were discussing, how to support a full-scale implementation of the toolset. From this perspective there was a need to harmonise the use of LTB stacks across the trades and to ensure effective ICT support. Secondly, there was a need to create awareness of good practice in different trades and to share experiences across the trades. In this context the presence of us – researchers from the research institute ITB – was relevant, since we are working in TACCLE projects that support training of trainers and we can draw upon the work in Bau-ABC.

WS-participants 1WS-participants 2WS-participants 3

Insights into the uses of LTB to support training in different trades

Here it is not possible to give a complete overview of all the examples that were presented by Bau-ABC trainers representing different trades. Below, I have selected exemplary cases that show, how the use of LTB had been incorporated into the the work process -oriented learning projects of Bau-ABC apprentices:

  1. Pipeline-builders (Rohrleitungebauer) were using LTB to draft joint plans, how prepare the grounds for the pipelines. Instead of just doing the spadework individually, they made their plans as teams – they divided the tasks and allocated responsibilities for controlling.
  2. Road-builders (Strassenbauer) had prepared a comprehensive overview of the machines provided by the company W&N with nutshell versions of users’ guides (based on the original materials).
  3. Tilers (Fliesenleger) had prepared a comprehensive overview of technical tools that were used in their trade with links to the instructions provided by the manufacturers.
  4. Construction plant operators (Baugeräteführer) had prepared electronic forms as checklists for the inspection of the vehicles before starting to use them. Only after completion of the form and reporting that the vehicles were in order the operators got clearance to start working.
  5. Carpenters (Zimmerer) had been working in a joint project “WorkCamp GreenHouse” with other training centres in Germany. In the project they had developed several modules for ecological construction work (focusing on their trade and the use of materials). In this project they had used LTB as a common toolset and developed a common project plan structure to guide the creation of mother stacks and daughter stacks.
  6. In the area “Health and Safety” (Arbeitssicherheit und Gesundheitsschutz) trainers from different trade had worked together to shape a common stack structure that presents the overarching regulations and the local instructions in the training centre. Within this structure different trades had the possibility to present trade-specific content (e.g. concerning their trade-specific personal safety outfits).
  7. In all trades the apprentices (Auszubildende) were using the LTB to upload photos as progress reports on their work and learning in the projects. The trainers used specific background colours for the tiles that documented apprentices’ work.

LWM-stacks 1LWM-stacks 2LWM-stacks 3

The relevance of the recent progress for apprentice training and vocational learning

If the points that I have listed above are taken only as separate inputs with dedicated tools, it would not appear very “revolutionary”. But the essence of the recent progress is that the trainers are working with an integrative digital toolset – the LTB. They have already used LTB for giving instructions and worksheets for apprentices’ projects. Now, with these newer features the range of using LTB in working and learning contexts is expanding. And – as already mentioned – the trainers are themselves leading the innovation and sharing experience with each other. Moreover, for the apprentices the use of LTB is not just a matter of receiving instructions and reporting of the completion of their tasks. As we have seen it from the examples, the use of LTB requires from them a holistic view on their projects and a professional attitude to completion of the tasks. This has been the spirit of working with the LTB in Bau-ABC.

Now, at this stage we were happy to see that Bau-ABC is organising the wider use of the LTB independently of externally funded projects and within its own organisational frameworks – in collaboration with the LTB developers. And, moreover, Bau-ABC is looking for ways to spread the use of LTB across its professional networks. As we see it, the work of the Learning Layers project bears fruit! We – as accompanying researchers – are happy to observe this also in the future.

More blogs to come …

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Reflections on #ECER2018 – Part Two: Transfer of Innovation after the Learning Layers Project

September 11th, 2018 by Pekka Kamarainen

In my previous post I started to report on our activities at the European Conference of Educational Research (ECER 2018) that took place last week in Bolzano/Bozen. In the first post I concentrated on the sessions that focused on the use of Learning Toolbox (LTB) as a digital toolset for preparing and presenting ePosters in conferences. In this second post I will concentrate on my own contributions that focus on the follow-up phase of our EU-funded Learning Layers (LL) project and on the issue ‘transfer of innovation’ after such a project.  Firstly I will discuss my presentation on the research background of the LTB – prepared for the EERA session on using the LTB for ePosters. Secondly I will discuss my paper presentation on the theme “Transfer of Innovation after the Learning Layers project”.

However, this time I don’t want to provide simple summaries of two presentations. After all, we were at #ECER2018 with a pilot project in which the poster authors were trained to convert their traditional posters into ePosters with the help of LTB. So, I also took our own medicine and transformed my ‘ordinary’ PowerPoint presentations into hybrid presentations by using the LTB. Therefore, I want to give insights into the ePoster-versions of my presentations and what all has been packed into them alongside the initial PowerPoint presentations. Let me firstly give the link to the EERA showcase, where they can be found among others. Then we can have a look at each of the two presentations individually.

The research background and the  research-related potential of the Learning Toolbox

Research background of Learning Toolbox

Mini-Poster  “Research background of Learning Toolbox (LTB)”

The ‘ordinary’ ppt-presentation gives insights into the Learning Layers project, into the co-design activities in the Construction pilot, into the shaping and pilot testing of the Learning Toolbox (LTB) and into the reporting of the results. Then, the presentation gives an overview of research themes with which I have tried to put the innovation agenda into a wider context. And I have added a lot of references to relevant literature.

In my ‘ePoster-version‘ I have prepared an LTB-stack and told my story with few tiles that accommodate text documents. In addition I have used other tiles to link to web documents for presenting our project documentation and reporting. Then, on further screens I have given access to my research papers and to videos presenting our application partners’ views. In this way the ePoster-version provides a richer resource environment on the background of the LTB.

The ‘transfer of innovation’ issue before, during and after the Learning Layers project

Mini-poster "Transfer of Innovation after Learning Layers"

Mini-poster “Transfer of Innovation after Learning Layers”

Here, the ‘ordinary’ ppt-presentation gives some background information on the Learning Layers projects, on the co-design and pilot activities in the Construction pilot and describes the transition to the follow-up phase. Then, the second part discusses the ‘transfer issue’ as it was analysed in the light of earlier German Modellversuche, in more recent innovation programs and in specific pilots to promote transfer via ‘encounters’ and joint search processes. The presentation makes some comparisons between these earlier examples and our present situation. And here again, we have some literature.

In my ‘e-poster version‘ I have prepared a simple LTB-stack with two screens. The home screen gives access to the ppt-presentation and to the full paper and to my author information. The additional resource screen gives access to essential web links: the reports on Learning Layers results, the documentation of the Construction pilot as the “LTB-Chronicle”, the EERA-showcase with other ePosters. And concerning the literature, it provides two content tiles – literature on the transfer issue in Modellversuche (only paper-based) and my research papers uploaded on ResearchGate. In this way the ePoster-version has provided a somewhat richer resource environment.

I think this is enough of my contributions. I hope that this blog post helps to get access to the ePosters and to the resources they make available. If that is the case, it was worthwhile preparing them. But this is not all about the #ECER2018.

More blogs to come …

 

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Reflections on #ECER2018 – Part One: Bringing Learning Toolbox and ePosters ‘home’ to ECER

September 11th, 2018 by Pekka Kamarainen

As usual, I have also this year participated in the European Conference on Educational Research (ECER). This year the conference was organised in Bolzano-Bozen – in the bilingual South-Tyrolean area next to the Dolomites. But for me and my colleagues this was not at all a touristic mission. In addition to the ordinary conference program we were in charge of the pilot activities with ePosters powered by the Learning Toolbox (LTB). In my previous post I have reported on our preparatory activities. Now it is time to report, how we put it all into practice and what kind of experiences we made. Below I give first insights into the Interactive ePoster session of the VETNET network (European Vocational Education and Training Research Network). Then I report on the EERA special session for discussing the use of the new toolset – the LTB – for preparing ePosters in a wider context.

The Interactive Poster Session of VETNET with ePosters presented in a session room

As I have reported in my previous post, we had invited all authors who had proposed posters to be presented in the VETNET (Network 2) program of the ECER 2018 to prepare ePosters and to present them in an Interactive Poster Session in the VETNET area. We were pleased that all authors had agreed and that we had their ePosters ready in the EERA showcase prepared by the LTB developers. However, we had very little advance information on the venue and very little time to prepare the room for the session. Thus, the best we could do was to organise a similar session as an ‘ordinary’ paper session – but now presenting ePosters. A major difference, however, was the fact that we had a full set of mini-posters presented on ‘poster wall’ in the session room before the session and it remained after the session.

Mini-posters for the VETNET ePoster session at ECER 2018

Mini-posters for the VETNET ePoster session at ECER 2018

We had an additional difficulty in the fact that the EERA session was scheduled immediately after the ePoster session, so we had to organise the presentation and discussion on six posters in a tight time frame to get in time to our next session. For this purpose we grouped the presentations into pairs that had some commonality in their themes. Here again, our authors were flexible and the arrangement suited them.

Firstly. Wilko Reichwein presented insights into the cross-university cooperation in shaping vocational teacher education by linking subject disciplines and pedagogic know-how to each other. Then Marta Virgós Sánchez provided insights into the implementation of ‘dual’ training models in Spain. Cooperation between learning venues (Lernortkooperation) was discussed from the perspective of educational planning (the German presentation) and from the perspective of feedback from the parties involved (the Spanish presentation).

Secondly, on behalf of a Hungarian research team Marta Takacs Miklósi and Attila Karoly Molnar presented their comparative studies between the preconditions for education, training and learning in the prisons in Hungary and Poland. Then they presented insights into the learning opportunities and the role of andragogy (adult-oriented support for learning) in Hungary and Slovakia.

Thirdly, Maria Christidis gave insights into the communication culture and learning culture within the training of nurse assistants in Sweden. Then Katharina Peinemann provided insights into the inclusion issues in the German pre-vocational learning provisions (the ‘transitional system’ ) and into challenges for teachers’ professional development.

Altogether, we suffered from the time constraints, but we could stimulate some discussion. And since the authors could stay a little longer at the ‘poster wall’, they could advise interested participants, how to upload the richer LTB stacks (with the help of the QR-code) to mobile phones and get further information.

The special EERA session “Using Learning Toolbox for presenting Educational Research”

Our next session – the EERA-wide event to inform participants from other networks on the ePosters and the LTB – had been proposed and planned before we knew how successful we would be with the VETNET session. Therefore, we had planned firstly a presentation that gives a report on the development of the LTB in the Learning Layers (LL) project. This was prepared by me. (I will get back to this input in my next post.)

How to start with ePosters - extract from Gilbert's presentation

How to start with ePosters – extract from Gilbert’s presentation

The main input for this session was prepared by Gilbert Peffer on behalf of the LTB-developers. He gave insights into the functioning of the LTB, on the process of preparing and presenting ePosters and on possible uses of ePosters at different conference venues. Also, he presented newer ideas for developing ePoster sessions, e.g. the ePoster Arena. (This includes a central podium for presenting several short pitches and then distributed round tables for discussions with presenters.)

New engagement formats - extract from Gilbert's presentation

New engagement formats – extract from Gilbert’s presentation

In the discussion we had feedback from the authors of the VETNET ePoster session and further questions from representatives of other networks. Also, we got several questions concerning the use of LTB as support for practice-based learning in vocational and higher education. We still have a lot of impressions to digest and a lot of points to be made to EERA as conclusions on our pilot project.

I guess this is enough of this pilot project. But I will keep the topic ‘ePosters’ present when I give an account on my own presentations. I also did my homework in preparing ePosters although I presented in somewhat different sessions.

More blogs to come …

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Learning Toolbox goes (to) ECER – Welcome ePosters prepared with EERA-Toolbox

September 2nd, 2018 by Pekka Kamarainen

One of the most successful spin-offs from our EU-funded Learning Layers (LL) project has been the use of the Learning Toolbox (LTB) in conferences to prepare ePosters. As regular readers of this blog know, I have covered the work of the project and its construction pilot since 2012. And in the recent years (during final phase of the project and in the follow-up phase) I have written a lot of the flexible mobile toolset that was named “Learning Toolbox( LTB)” since it was designed to support vocational and workplace learning in the construction sector. BUT one of its most interesting applications has been the preparation of ePosters as an alternative for traditional paper posters. And, as I have written (somewhat enviously), our colleagues have been successful in introducing it to conferences of medical educators (AMEE), dentist educators (ADEE) and educational technologists (EC-TEL). However, now it is the time to announce that LTB will be introduced into our field – to the European Conference on Educational Research (ECER) in the annual conference of the European Educational Research Association (EERA) that will take place in September 2018 in Bolzano/Bozen in Italy. Below I will give a brief report how this has come into being and what we are doing next week in the conference.

The two proposals: a special EERA session and the VETNET network project

During the preparation of the ECER 2018 we (the VETNET network) prepared two proposals. Firstly, we proposed to have a specific EERA-wide session to promote awareness on the usaes of LTB for shaping ePosters in research conferences. Parallel to this we prepared a proposal for an EERA-funded “Network project” to be implemented by the VETNET network. Both proposals were linked to the idea to organise an interactive VETNET poster session in which the authors would presented their posters as ePosters within the VETNET programme. We were happy to see that the proposals were approved by the EERA authorities and that we could go ahead with the initiative.

The preparation of the VETNET pilot with ePosters

During the preparation phase the LTB developers prepared a special web page “FAQ ECER” in whch they gave all possible advice for the conference participants who had proposed posters for the ECER programme. With short instruction videos and with a well edited Webinar recording the authors were advised, how to enrich their original posters into ePosters by using the LTB.

Getting ready for the conference

During the last few weeks we have made the positive experience that all authors have been able to make use of the LTB and prepared their own ePosters. Now they are available on the page “EERA showcase“.

In addition, I have prepared my presentation for the EERA session (on the research background and usability of the LTB) also as an ePoster (or hybrid presentation) using the LTB. And furthermore, I have prepared my presentation “Transfer of Innovation after the Learning Layers” also as an ePoster (or hybrid presentation) with the help of LTB – or as we could call it in this context “the EERA-Toolbox”.

So, we have done quite a bit of work to bring the ePosters to the ECER 2018 and to demonstrate that the EERA could follow the example of other conference organisers. We are eagerly looking forward, how our pilot sessions will be received and what kind of feedback we will get from the authors and the audience. I will surely report on that in a short while.

More blogs to come …

 

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