The reports of ITB for the TACCLE4 CPD projects are published on the website and on ResearchGate

November 18th, 2020 by Pekka Kamarainen

In my latest blog posts I have announced that I have completed the work on behalf of Institut Technik & Bildung (ITB) for the TACCLE4 CPD project. I have described the finalisation of the latest reports and given a group picture. In this way the journey from preparatory analyses to addressing key points in promoting digital competences of vocational teachers and trainers has become more transparent. Moreover, the revisited framework Theme Room training 2020 and theTACCLE4 CPD Showcase have been set to a context. And the glimpses to the newer work with the theme ‘Artificial Intelligence and VET’ and the progress with using the digital toolset Learning Toolset (as support for online conferences) have been added to the picture.

Now it is time to announce that all these reports have been made available on the TACCLE4 CPD website in the section

Developing Technology Enhanced Learning in VET.

In addition to this, the reports are also available on ResearchGate in the project space

TACCLE CPD and VET.

And, as has been mentioned above, they are also accessible via the above-mentioned LTB-powered resource environment

TACCLE4 CPD Showcase.

The project work with focus on the field of vocational education and training (VET) has been completed and the results have been delivered. Now it is time for follow-up activities and for reflecting on lessons learned.

More blogs to come (but from different perspective) ….

Finishing the last reports for TACCLE4 CPD project – Handing over the torch for other runners

October 31st, 2020 by Pekka Kamarainen

During the last few months I have surprised myself by producing three new reports for the ongoing EU-funded TACCLE4 CPD project. As regular readers of this blog will know, the project has been working with strategies for promoting digital competences of teachers and trainers in different educational sectors. And, as a contrast to the three earlier TACCLE projects, the fourth one had the task to shape models and concepts for continuing professional development in educational establishments and training organisations. Furthermore, my role in the project has been to address the task for the field of vocational education and training (VET) and to bring into the project the legacy of the Learning Layers project (in which I had been working for many years).

Now, the project is in its final phase and at the same time my career as an active researchers has come to an end. During the last few weeks I have surprised myself and others by producing three new reports for the project – in addition to the five ones that I had produced by the end of last year. Below, I want to make some comments on these newer reports and how they enrich the group picture of the earlier VET-related reports.

Report 5: Promoting digital competences beyond the accustomed realm of ICT skills

During the project I had been writing blogs on innovative activities to promote digital competences via civic learning and via introduction of specific applications of the Learning Toolbox (the main product developed in the Learning Layers project). To me, the Finnish idea of developing a broad-based introductory course on artificial intelligence (AI) and its impact for the entire civil society was very inspiring. Equally, the recent progress in using the Learning Toolbox (LTB) at different contexts was impressive. In the initial pilot context, vocational trainers made new efforts to support vocational learning during the lockdown. and after the closure period they added new features to using LTB in apprentice training.

Parallel to this, other applications of LTB – mainly the use  of LTB to shape ePosters for conferences (that are shifting from face-to-face events into online events) is becoming widespread. Here, it is worthwhile to note the spread from regular conferences into other kinds of of online events – such as multiplier events of EU-funded projects. Furthermore, I got informed of the progress with LTB showcases. Firstly they had been shaped for particular conferences to give a group picture of the ePosters for the respective conference. In a more mature phase the LTB showcase was used to give a group picture of all conferences and online events that were working with ePosters – of which some exemplars were portrayed in this ‘all stars’ showcase. I was happy to give visibility to the start-up company Kubify (founded by the former LTB-developers) due to their latest achievements. Altogether, this report demonstrated the progress of promoting digital competences beyond the accustomed realms of ICT skills.

Activity Report on the German Multiplier Event at the Training Centre Bau-ABC Rostrup

During my working visit in Bremen (after a long break) I had a chance to organise a Multiplier Event that took place as face-to-face event in the training centre Bau-ABC Rostrup (with whom we had worked intensively in the Learning Layers project). For me it was a pleasant opportunity to meet several trainers of the centre – some of which had been our counterparts for years, whilst some were newcomers. In my input I gave an overview, how the co-design processes (that led to to the shaping of the LTB) and the parallel training activities (that were completed with training based on Theme Rooms) worked hand in hand in the Learning Layers project. Then I gave some insights into the idea of different innovation paths (for introducing digital competences in the field of VET) and how they can be addressed in a revisited framework for Theme Room Training 2020.  In addition to this I presented the new TACCLE4 CPD Showcase that pulled together the VET-related work in the Learning Layers project and in the current project.

It was interesting to note that the discussion moved on from my inputs to the practical challenges (regarding the use of LTB as support for training) and to the possibilities to take further steps with their internal training. So, in this respect the session became a genuine multiplier event. Indeed, it was concluded with a commitment to start a new round of theme room sessions – based on the ideas and needs of the active trainers and with focus on improving the use of LTB in their context.

Report 2b: The TACCLE4 CPD Showcase as a new collection of online resources

My final report for the project TACCLE4 CPD presented the above-mentioned LTB showcase for this project and how it came into being. As the pre-history I presented the earlier pilot activity to introduce the work with ePosters into the European Conference on Educational Research (ECER) in the year 2018 in Bolzano. This was a limited pilot project with some ePosters for the network program of VETNET (the European Research Network for Vocational Education and Training). As a further step from this phase the report introduced an overarching showcase for the TACCLE4 CPD project. This showcase provided on the one hand comprehensive LTB-stacks thet presented all VET-related reports for the Learning Layers project and for the TACCLE4 CPD project. Then, it introduced thematic stacks that focused ot the use of Open Educational Resources (OER) in the field of VET and outlined the Theme Room Training 2020 framework.

Altogther, this report gave a picture of a new kind of an online resource environment. At the same time it invited the users to consider their own innovation paths and to think of their own ways to shape training with Theme Rooms.

I guess this is enough of the latest reports and of the messages I want to pass at the final phase of the project. Now that I am finishing my career as an active researcher, I have the feeling of being a runner with the torch of the Olympic Games. I am coming to the point in which I have to had out the torch for new runners – the ones in research, the ones in the software development and the ones developing their training approaches. My message to them is the following: You need to take the fire from the past, not the ashes. And: You need not go back to the long and winding roads of your predecessors – you need to find each other in the present date circumstances.

More blogs to come … (but from a different perspective)

Multiplier Event of TACCLE4 CPD project – Part Two: Presenting the LTB-Showcase of the TACCLE4 CPD project

October 18th, 2020 by Pekka Kamarainen

In my previous post I gave a report on the Multiplier Event of our current EU-funded project TACCLE4 CPD. The event took place on Friday the 16th of October in the German training centre Bau-ABC Rostrup in North-Germany. As regular readers of this blog know, Bau-ABC was an important application partner in our earlier EU-funded project Learning Layers (2012 – 2017). Their collaboration was crucial for the development of the main product of the project – the digital toolset Learning Toolbox (LTB). As I have also reported, how the LTB has been used across the training centre in all apprentice training programs.

During the current project I have made several working visits to Bau-ABC. On several occasions I have discussed with  Bau-ABC trainers on challenges and perspectives for promoting digital competences in the context of vocational learning. These interviews gave me plenty of food for thought when I prepared my reports for the project. In the previous post I gave an account on my input and reported briefly on the discussions that we had during the session. I also mentioned that I had prepared a showcase that was powered by the LTB. In this post I try to give insights into the showcase and its contents.

The idea of preparing an LTB-showcase for TACCLE4 CPD project

I have already presented the LTB Showcase of the LTB-developers in an earlier blog post. In that showcase they had given on overview of several conferences and online events in which LTB had been used to produce ePosters for the respective events. Given the success of these ePosters, the LTB-developers had created the format of showcase to select the ePosters of one event under a common banner. With regular users they had created cumulative showcases that contain ePosters of several years. With this newest showcase the LTB-developers had provided an overview on different user-events. And by tagging the individual ePosters with the name of the user-event they made it possible for the viewers to access the specific showcase of that event. In this way I became aware that there had already been a case in which an Erasmus+ project had organised a virtual multiplier event by creating an LTB-showcase for the project and then making it accessible for virtual participants.

This gave me inspiration of preparing a similar showcase to support the forthcoming Multiplier Event that was under preparation. I understand that I have used specific terminology that doesn’t necessarily communicate clearly, what kind of product I was making. Perhaps one can characterise an ePoster (which is technically an LTB-stack) as a digital bookshelf that contains a collection of digital documents and other digital resources. The showcase that contains several ePosters (or LTB-stacks) can then be characterised as a small digital library. And the major showcases of the conferences can then be characterised as major ‘thematic libraries’, whilst the overarching LTB Showacase is a central library that refers to the ‘thematic libraries’.

Overview on the contents of the TACCLE4 CPD Showcase

Below I will first present screenshots of the contents of the showcase and of the banner that links them to each other:

I guess that the screenshots above give an impression of the kind of digital contents that have been packed to the showcase. Some of these contents have been prepared as ePosters for conferences. Some have been prepared as LTB-stacks that present project reports for the TACCLE4 CPD and Learning Layers projects.

I guess this is enough for a moment. Later on I will prepare a separate report that gives more detailed insights into the contents and explains how they can be accessed.

More blogs to come …

New report for TACCLE 4 CPD on Artificial Intelligence and progress with Learning Toolbox

September 29th, 2020 by Pekka Kamarainen

At the end of last year I wrote a series of blog posts with which I presented a set of reports that I had delivered for the EU-funded project TACCLE4 CPD. As regular readers of this blog know, the aim of the project is to design models for continuing professional development (CPD) that focus on promoting digital competences of teachers and trainers. The earlier TACCLE projects had focused mainly on school-based and subject-based learning in general education. However, in the concept of the current project the aim was also to address also the  field of vocational education and training (VET). From this perspective our institute, Institut Technik & Bildung (ITB) was invited as the partner responsible for VET.

During the work I found it necessary to prepare special VET-related reports to clarify the boundary conditions, specific needs and emerging potentials for shaping VET-related approaches to promoting digital competences. From this perspective I presented in November and December 2019 the following set of  VET-related reports:

  • Report 1: Policy analyses (with focus on different contexts, approaches and strategies to promote digital competences in the field of VET
  • Report 2: Legacy of predecessor projects (with a differentiated interpretation of the approaches of prior TACCLE projects and the Learning Layers project)
  • Report 3: Use of Open Educational Resources in VET (with specific insights into the opportunities to use OER in particular vocational learning contexts)
  • Report 4a: Research-based reflections on strategies and training models (with specific emphasis on different innovation paths and feedback from practitioners)
  • Report 4b: The “Theme Room Training 2020” framework (as an outline of a training concept for the field of VET, based on different thematic blocks)

At that time I felt that the series of VET-related reports had been completed.

Elements on the report – training on Artificial Intelligence and uses of Learning Toolbox

During the later phase of the TACCLE4 CPD project I had some exchanges with the newest TACCLE project on Artificial Intelligence and Vocational Education and Training (AI and VET). I visited their kick-off meeting and learned about their project plans. Then I became aware of the Finnish  initiative “Elements of Artificial Intelligence” that was promoted as important civic learning for the whole civil society. And later on I got access to the first report on the project AI and VET and became aware of the issues that they had explored in the initial phase of their work. This gave rise to a blog post on the challenges for civic learning (in general) and for VET providers (in particular).

In addition to this I have had intensive exchanges with the developers of the Learning Toolbox (LTB) who were our former partners from the Learning Layers (LL) project (see my previous blogs). In this way I got information, how training centres equipped their apprentices for independent learning during the corona crisis – with the help of LTB-stacks. Also, I learned how the LTB-developers made use of the quiet period by preparing new instructions and demonstration videos. Furthermore, I learned of the successful use of LTB as support for ePosters in online conferences and workshops. Finally, the publishing of the new Learning Toolbox Showcase made transparent the wide range of conferences and themes that had been covered by numerous ePosters. I have shared this information by publishing several blog posts.

The idea of a new report takes shape

When writing this blogs I was focusing on separate issues. And indeed – the themes ‘training on artificial intelligence’ and ‘reporting on successful use of Learning Toolbox’ seemed to be different cups of tea (or different pairs of shoes). However, once I got further with the blogs on using Learning Toolbox – during the training in exceptional times and in the transformation of conferences into online events – I found a new perspective. Both themes can be treated with the help of a similar (non-linear) story line: facing a challenge – search for an approach – finding a solution – piloting with innovation – facing new challenges with the innovation – transfer of innovation. In this context I wanted to draw attention to the ideas that came up with the training initiatives that link to each other civic learning and vocational learning when introducing artificial intelligence in working life. Furthermore, I wanted to underline the aspect of re-inventing the ordinary practice when adjusting vocational learning or conference cultures into new constraints – when contact learning and presence events are no longer available. As I see it, the work with Learning Toolbox has progressed in a fantastic way but remains work in progress.

The report “Promoting digital competences beyond the accustomed realm of ICT skills – New challenges for civic learning and continuing professional development” is already available on ResearchGate and will be published on the website of the TACCLE4 CPD project.

With these reflections this report completes the series of VET-related reports for the TACCLE4 CPD project. As I see it, this report links current expertise on promoting digital competences to future-oriented challenges and to continuing professional development in real working life. We have put a lot of effort in this project but there is a lot of work for future projects.

More blogs to come …

Impressive Learning Toolbox Showcase presents the success of ePosters

September 25th, 2020 by Pekka Kamarainen

In my latest blog I had reported of the achievements of our former partners from the Learning Layers (LL) project  with ePosters powered by the Learning Toolbox (LTB) in different online conferences. As regular readers of this blog know, the LTB was developed as a digital toolset to support workplace-based and vocational learning in the Construction pilot of the LL project. After the project the LTB-developers have developed a spin-off innovation with ePosters that use the functionality of the LTB. The further development and commercialisation is carried out by the start-up company Kubify BV and up-to-date information is delivered via their Twitter feed Kubify – LTB for ePosters. After I had written my latest post I discovered that the LTB-developers had released a new Learning Toolbox Showcase that presents a gallery of ‘all stars’ of ePosters in recent conferences. Below I will give some insights into this interesting resource environment.

ePosters conquer new grounds

So far I have been able to observe the progress with the LTB-powered ePosters from the conferences of the Association of Medical Educators in Europe (AMEE) in the years 2017 and 2018. I have also become aware that they have been able to mainstream the use of ePosters in several conferences – mainly in the healthcare sector. In my recent blog I referred to the new interest of several conference organisers who have had to transform the conferences into online event. Yet, my picture of the progress has been fragmentary and my awareness of the range of LTB-users has been narrow.

Now, when looking at the selected ePosters of the LTB Showcase I realise, how widely the innovation has spread – both in geographic and in domain-related terms. What is of particular interest, is the fact that some of the early users have incorporated the ePosters into their regular conference culture – no longer as an optional space but as a mainstream approach. Moreover, some of the new users have directly stepped into a broad-based introduction of ePosters. And last but not least – whilst the main activity around the ePosters will take place during the conference dates, the ePosters are visited in great numbers also after the conferences (as the statistics of the LTB-developers show it).

Concerning the spread of the  ePosters, this new showcase makes it transparent that they are really widely used in several conferences and online events. In fact, the sample that is presented is merely the top of an iceberg. Behind the chosen ones there is a critical mass of other ones. So, when clicking the names of the events (attached to the ePosters) you will get a link to the respective showcase with many more to explore. Below I try to give a brief group picture.

The ePosters made their breakthrough in conferences of the healthcare sector, in particular addressing educators of healthcare professionals. Already this field brings into picture quite a variety  thematic areas:

  • AMEE – the annual conference of medical educators in Europe
  • ADEE – the annual conference of dentist educators in Europe
  • Clinical Education Network Symposium
  • SESAM – the conference on simulations in healthcare education
  • Future Physiology – the conference of early career researchers of the Physiological Society

In addition to the above-listed regular conferences, ePosters have been used widely in special events focusing on other themes that are related to the healthcare issues, such as:

  • Mirots – the multiplier event of the project for internationalisation of occupational therapy
  • APS – the conference for plant health

Furthermore, ePosters have been used in other kinds of contexts, such as

  • Midlands4Cities Digital Research Festival – a regional R&D festival with a broad variety of topics
  • EC-TEL and DELFI Poster and Demo Track – a section in the online conference on technology-enhanced learning
  • IMEX Association Day – a discussion group in a conference of event organisers.

ePosters bring richness to knowledge sharing

When looking at the topics covered in the various showcases it is interesting to see different aspects of expertise and professional development being covered by different ePosters. Then, having them arranged as a conceptual neighbourhood in the common showcase, they give a group picture of current progress in the respective online community. And finally, the fact that the ePosters remain accessible in the showcase after the conference, they remain as sustainable knowledge resources that can be reused as support for domain-specific learning.

I think that this is enough of the new Learning Toolbox Showcase and of the thematic showcases that provide the background for this ‘all stars’ formation. Altogether I am impressed. And I am eager to learn more, how such ePosters and showcases can be used to support the promotion of digital competences of teachers and trainers.

More blogs to come …

Great progress with LTB-powered ePosters as support for conferences and learning

August 15th, 2020 by Pekka Kamarainen

Earlier this year I have blogged about problems that the Corona-crisis had caused for conferences. In that context I drew attention to the potential of ePosters – powered by Learning Toolbox (LTB) as support for transforming conferences into online events. At that time I was informed by the developers of the LTB of the requests that they had received and on their efforts to create appropriate solutions for different conferences.

(As regular readers of this blog already know, the Learning Toolbox was created in our EU-funded project Learning Layers to support workplace-based learning in construction sector. In that context our job as accompanying researchers was to document and support the practitioners’ and technical partners’ work during the co-design process. After the project some of the partners continued the further development of the LTB and introduced the concept of ePosters to support conferences. With this blog I have tried to keep myself and my readers updated on the success of this spin-off innovation from our project.)

Recently, via the Twitter account of the LTB-developers – Kubify – LTB for ePosters – I have become aware of the progress they have made and how it has been appreciated by their counterparts. Below I want to give insights into their work and into their achievements. At best I can do this with quotes and screenshots from the blog of our colleague Tamsin Treasure-Jones and by sharing links to the complete blog articles.

What all is going on with using LTB for ePosters in conferences?

Let us firstly have a look at the  multitude of activities and achievements that Tamsin presents on the opening page of her blog. The screenshot below gives an idea, what has been going on and how the LTB-developers’ company Kubify has supported different users with their challenges and initiatives. Then, below, two special cases are highlighted.

Kubify to the rescue! (The Oman case)

A special case to be highlighted was the introduction of Kubify’s ePoster system to rescue a medical informatics course at Sultan Qaboos University (SQU), Oman. The organisers of the course were hit by the sudden departure of the students due to COVID-19. SQU, however, could not afford to let medical courses lapse, so medical students began online learning. Here, as Tamsin tells us in her blog post, the ePoster system powered by LTB met the quality requirements to keep the course running and enable the assessment of the students’ contributions.

Kubify to the rescue!

The look and sound of creativity (The Midlands4Cities case)

The other special case took place, when the Midlands4Cities Doctoral Training Partnership chose to use Learning Toolbox for the ePosters at their 2020 Research Festival. As Tamsin tells us in her blog post, their ePoster showcase is an excellent example of the rich content and interactions that can be supported by the platform.

The look and sound of creativity

– – –

I guess that this is enough of the newest developments in using the LTB-powered ePosters to support online learning and (online) conferences. As I see it, such exemplary cases are important for the ongoing TACCLE 4 CPD project and its multiplier activities. I am eager to learn more from my colleagues at the company Kubify who have been involved in these activities.

More blogs to come … 

 

 

 

 

 

Reflections on the impact of the Learning Layers project – Part Three: The use of Learning Toolbox in new contexts

April 29th, 2020 by Pekka Kamarainen

With my two latest posts I have started a series of blogs that report on the discussions of former partners of the Learning Layers (LL) project on the impact of our work. As I have told earlier, the discussion started, when I published a blog post on the use of Learning Toolbox (LTB)  in the training centre Bau-ABC to support independent learning while the centre is closed. This triggered a discussion, how the digital toolset Learning Toolbox – a key result from our EU-funded R&D project – is being used in other contexts. And – as I also told earlier – this gave rise to the initiative  of the leader of the Learning Layers consortium to collect such experiences and to start a joint reflection on the impact of our work. In the first post I gave an overview of this process of preparing a joint paper. In the second post I presented the main points that I and my co-author Gilbert Peffer presented on the use of LTB to support vocational and workplace-based learning in the construction sector. In this post I try to give insights into the use of LTB in other contexts based on spin-off innovations and on refocusing the use of the toolset. Firstly I will focus on the development of ePosters (powered by LTB) in different conferences. Secondly I will give a brief picture on the use of LTB for knowledge sharing in the healthcare sector.

Insights into the development of ePosters powered by LTB

Here I do not wish to repeat the picture of the evolution of the ePosters – as a spin-off innovation of the LTB as it has been delivered by the responsible co-authors. Instead, I try to give firstly my impressions of the initial phase of this innovative use of LTB to support poster presenters in conferences. Then, I will give a glimpse, how we tried to present the ePoster approach to the European Conference on Educational Research and to the VETNET network. Here I can refer to my blog posts of that time. Then I will add some information on the current phase of developing the work with ePosters – as presented by the responsible authors for the joint paper on the impact of LL tools.

  • In October 2017 I became familiar with the breakthrough experience that the developers of the LTB and the coordinator of the healthcare pilot of the LL project had had with the development of ePosters for conferences. In the annual conference of medical educators (AMEE 2017) they had introduced the ePosters (prepared as LTB stacks) as alternatives for traditional paper posters and for expensive digital posters. At that time I published an introductory blog post – mainly based on their texts  and pictures. Foe me, this was a great start to be followed by others. Especially the use of poster cubicles to present  mini-posters that provided links to the full ePosters was very impressive. Another interesting format was the use of ePosters attached to Round Tables or Poster Arenas was interesting.

  • In the year 2018 we from ITB together with the LTB-developers and with the coordinator of the VETNET network took the initiative to bring the use of ePosters into the European Conference on Educational Research 2018 in Bolzano/ Bozen, Italy. We initiated a network project of the VETNET network (for research in vocational education and training) to serve as a pioneering showcase for the entire ECER community. In this context we invited all poster presenters of the VETNET program to prepare ePosters and the LTB-developers provided instructions and tutoring for them. Finally, at the conference, we had the ePoster session and a special session to e approach for other networks. This process was documented by two blog posts – on September 2nd and on September 11th – and by a detailed report for the European Educational Reseaarch Association. The LTB-stacks stacks for the ePosters can be found here, below you have screenshots of the respective web page.

  • In the light of the above the picture that the promoters of ePosters have presented now is amazing.  The first pilot was with a large, international medical education conference in 2017. In 2018 it was used at 6 conferences across Europe. In 2019 this number grew to 14 and also included US conferences. The forecast for 2020 is that it will be used by more than 30 conferences with growth in the US being particularly strong.  The  feedback from users and the number of returning customers  suggest that the solution is valued by the stakeholders.

Insights into the use of LTB in the healthcare sector

Here I am relying on the information that has been provided by the coordinator of the healthcare pilot of the Learning Layers and by the former partners from the healthcare sector. Therefore, I do not want to go into details. However, it is interesting to see, how the use of LTB has been repurposed to support knowledge sharing between the healthcare services across a wide region. This is what the colleagues have told us of the use of LTB:

“LTB has been used to create stacks for each practice and thereby improve the accessibility of the practice reports as well as to enable the sharing of additional resources which could not be included in the main report due to space. The app has thus improved the range of information that can be shared, and links are also shared which allow users to read more in-depth into the topic areas. The use of LTB has also enabled the spread of information more widely, as the team suggested that the stack poster (a paper-based poster displaying the link to the stack and a QR code) should be displayed in the practice to allow any interested staff to access the stack and resources. The use of the stack also allows for all the information to be kept by interested staff in one central place, so previous reports and resources can be referred back to at any point. It can also be accessed via a personal mobile device, so gives the opportunity for users to access the information at the most convenient time for them, and without the need to have the paper report or to log in to a system.”

I guess this is enough of the parallel developments in using the LTB after the end of the LL project and alongside the follow-up in the construction sector. In the final post of this series I will discuss some points that have supported the sustainability of the innovation and contributed to the wider use of the LTB.

More blogs to come …

 

Reflections on the impact of the Learning Layers project – Part One: New discussions in the project consortium

April 28th, 2020 by Pekka Kamarainen

Three weeks ago I published a blog post in which I reported on the use of the Learning Toolbox (LTB) to support vocational learning during the corona crisis. I shared it on the mailing list of the partners of the former Learning Layers project consortium. As an immediate reaction some partners from the UK healthcare sector informed, how they have made wide use of LTB among general practice (GP) units for sharing knowledge on the patterns to prescribe certain medications. Also, this exchange of messages brought into picture the growing use of LTB as support for e-posters (see my previous post).

This gave rise to the initiative of Tobias Ley, the leader of the former Learning Layers consortium, to report on such sustainable use of Learning Layers tools after the end of the project in a conference paper. And this led to a rapid process of collaborative writing that involved several research partners of the former consortium. The results are now being finalised and will be presented in the respective conference (provided that the proposal will be accepted). Therefore, it would be premature to discuss our findings in toto before the submission has been reviewed and accepted. However, I think that it is appropriate to discuss some of the cases that were examined in this discussion and some lessons that I and my co-author Gilbert Peffer have highlighted in our contributions to this process.

Altogether, this has been an interesting collaborative reflection process that brought together several partners that have been working with the two pilot sectors of the project (construction and healthcare). Also, it has given us a fresh picture on the development of the ePosters (powered by LTB) as a spin-off innovation emerging from the Learning Layers project. So, in my next posts I will discuss different topics that were taken up in our joint discussions.

More blogs to come …

Notes on the Blogchat of February – ePosters powered by Learning Toolbox are not merely e-posters

February 5th, 2020 by Pekka Kamarainen

Some time ago I had a chat with my colleague Gilbert Peffer on the recent progress with the Learning Toolbox (LTB) that was developed in our common project. I was so impressed that I wrote a blog post on our discussion.  Moreover, we agreed to continue these discussions and to introduce a new format of communication – Blogchat. This means that we agree on regular online sessions on agreed themes and that I will publish notes on our talks. So, here we go.

ePosters as a major spin-off of the Learning Toolbox (LTB)

Ever since our EU-funded Learning Layers project came to an end in the beginning of the year 2017 I have engaged myself in the follow-up activities with focus on the Learning Toolbox (LTB). In particular I have been interested in the success story of the ePosters (powered by LTB) that have become popular in many conferences. I have been writing blogs on the first pilots in conferences of medical educators and educational technologists. And I was heavily engaged in the pilot that we organised (together with the LTB-developers) at the ECER 2018 in Bolzano/Bozen, Italy. That pilot could not be continued since the organising body – European Educational Research Association (EERA) was at that point tied up with other change agendas. So, afterwards my knowledge on the use of ePosters was rather sporadic. Indeed, I have become aware of many awards that the LTB-developers have received and congratulated them via my blog posts. Yet, I have not got an overview, how strongly our colleagues are making progress. So, it was high time to get a proper update.

Firstly, I was impressed when Gilbert told me about the conferences with which they are working. In the year 2019 the LTB-developers supported fourteen (14) conferences that used ePosters (powered by LTB) in their program. Most of these took place in Europe. For the year 2020 they have already fifteen (15) agreements, half of them taking place in Europe and the rest outside Europe. Moreover, they have agreements with biennial conferences that take place every two years. And, what is most interesting, is the fact that almost all conferences that have piloted with ePosters are now regular users. They have found their ways to integrate the ePosters to their conference cultures.

ePosters are more than mere e-posters

As I have seen it – from afar and from our joint experience – the ePosters made their breakthrough as alternatives to traditional paper posters. For many conferences that had struggled with the space needed for poster sessions and for accommodating the desired number of presentations on a limited number of poster sessions this was a relief. Moreover, some conferences had been frustrated with commercial e-poster software (that didn’t bring much added value). From that perspective the functionality of LTB-powered ePosters was a great step forward:

  • All ePosters could be presented as mini-posters on a poster wall or poster cubicle throughout the conference.
  • With the help of QR-codes all conference participants could download the ePosters they were interested in and access them whenever they had time.
  • It was possible to arrange informal meetings between presenters and participants in the vicinity of the poster walls in a flexible way.
  • The presenters didn’t need to use much time in poster discussion sessions – they could be shaped as actively interactive events (such as barcamps or ePoster arenas).

However, this is not the whole story of ePosters as an innovation in conference culture. Some conferences have become concerned about travel expenses, carbon footprints and travelling times due to presence sessions in conferences. In this respect  one of the forthcoming conferences is organising a pre-conference week that is based on the availability of ePosters on the web already one week before the presence conference. The organisers invite presenters and online participants to a Zoom meeting on the respective ePosters. Then, the recording of the discussion session will be added to the respective LTB stack. From this perspective the emphasis is gradually shifting from ePosters (to be viewed) to ePresentations (that can be discussed with the help of digital media).

Finally, a major asset with the ePosters is that they provide for conference organisers a domain, on which they can keep the legacy of ePosters in successive conferences. This is already the case with the pioneering conferences of healthcare educators. They can now give access to ePosters of their conferences during the last few years.

I guess this is enough of this Blogchat session. I got a much more comprehensive overview of what kind of enrichment the ePosters can provide for conferences. I think that there are some lessons to be learned.

More blogs to come …

Learning Toolbox going strong to the year 2020

January 29th, 2020 by Pekka Kamarainen

Yesterday I had a lengthy catch-up talk (via Skype) with my Barcelona-based friend Gilbert Peffer. As regular readers of this blog know, we had worked together intensively in the EU-funded Learning Layers (LL) project and in the follow-up phase. For the success of the LL project it was crucial that Gilbert (on top of his other duties) engaged himself in the development of the Learning Toolbox (LTB). And as we know, the LTB was the key product of the project – and in particular of the Construction pilot. Yet, although the LTB was successfully implemented by construction sector partners, the follow-up phase has not been that easy.

No question, the LTB has pointed out to be a powerful digital toolset for supporting learning in different contexts of Vocational Education and Training (VET). Thanks to the successful implementation of LTB, the LL project was awarded with the VET Research Project Award of the European Vocational Skills Week in Vienna 2018. And during his visit as ‘apprentice’ in the training centre Bau-ABC the prime minister of the Federal State of Lower Saxony, Stephan Weil was very impressed of the use of digital tools that were presented to him by apprentices. Here, the use of LTB was essentially part of this success story.

Also, as we have noticed it during the years after the project, the ePosters powered by LTB have been taken up in numerous conferences. With this spin-off innovation the LTB developers had reached numerous conferences that have started used ePosters powered by LTB as an alternative for traditional posters or alongside them. Also, on this front the LTB developers have received several awards as remarkable service providers.

Indeed, I have blogged on all these success stories and celebrated with the LTB developers. And indeed, in my reports for the EU-funded TACCLE4 CPD I had highlighted the use of LTB with the expression “The Learning Toolbox path”. In this way I had set the approach to a wider context. I see it as one of the innovation paths for promoting digital competences of teachers, trainers and learners in the field of VET and as a contribution to vocational learning culture. So far so good. However, now that I am in the transition to the full retirement phase I was afraid that I loose sight of the development of this innovative approach.

From this perspective it was rewarding to hear the news of Gilbert. It strikes me that the LTB developers are making progress on all fronts – with uses of LTB in training and in events. Now the LTB developers are working with several German training centres in the construction sector – and our partners in the LL project serve as multipliers in promoting the use of the toolset. In addition it strikes me that they have found new ways to use LTB in the healthcare sector in England – and the healthcare pilot partners of LL have been co-developing the new working perspectives. Furthermore, other healthcare service providers in Spain have identified new ways to use LTB to support the relatives of patients who need training for sensitive issues in their engagement with the patients.

This all has shown me that the work with the LTB is not fading away – on the contrary, it is conquering new terrains. This triggered once again my instincts of accompanying researcher and of inspired blogger. Even if I go on retirement, I want to follow these processes as best I can and support my colleagues via blog posts. So, we agreed with Gilbert on a new format for our cooperation – a monthly Blogchat. In this way Gilbert (who is very busy with the practical work around LTB) can report in a quick way on recent developments. And I can then write blogs that give visibility for the innovation. In this way we are continuing our long and successful cooperation with the innovation that is worth celebrating.

More blogs to come …

 

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