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Learning Layers – Impressions on the Y1 Review Meeting (Part 3: Feedback and our responses)

December 16th, 2013 by Pekka Kamarainen

The posts of this series are about the Year One (Y1) Review Meeting of the Learning Layers (LL) project that took place last week. In the first two posts  I discussed the event as such and our inputs (as team presentations). In the final one I will discuss the feedback that was given and how we respond to it.

I am aware of the fact that the reviewers need still some time to finalise their comments. Therefore, it would not be appropriate to try to give a comprehensive summary (before the review panel has completed its own work). However, already at this stage it is possible to pick up some messages that are not controversial and pieces of advice that can be taken on board without further delay.

Below I present some comments of the reviewers that focus on the research, design and development activities.

1. Coherent approach to theories, designs and prototypes: The reviewers appreciated the knowledge of relevant theories on technology enhanced learning, workplace learning and learning in informal contexts. Yet, some of the reviewers drew attention to the fact that the designs and prototypes are based on specific assumptions on learning. The project was challenged to discuss these underlying assumptions and consider the compatibility between the conceptual orientations and the designs.

2. Commitment to action research in an explicit and reflected way:  The reviewers noted that the project has made in several deliverables commitments to action research. Yet, the relations to different traditions of action research have not been discussed thoroughly and the methodological implications are not clear. The project was challenged to organise a workshop to make the relations to different traditions and its own methodological commitments more explicit. (Here, attention was drawn to transdisciplinary action research as a strong emerging approach.)

3. Balance and coherence between different activities: The project had demonstrated a wide range of activities. This was appreciated but at the same time the reviewers pointed to the risk that the activities remain parcelled and disintegrated. In particular they emphasised that research data should not be collected for the sake of showing data. The project was challenged to demonstrate, how the collection and analysing of data supports the design and development activities.

4. Documentation of co-design and stakeholder engagement activities: The project had demonstrated a great number of events with sectoral stakeholders and their organisations. Yet, the role of such activities and the progress with the counterparts had not been clearly reflected in the deliverables. It seemed that the dynamics of the activities had been lost in the logic of reporting on the basis of work packages. The project was challenged to document the processes and the results more explicitly (not only in terms records and minutes of meetings).

At this moment I can raise some points for discussion, how the project can respond to these comments:

ad 1) Coherent approach to theories, designs and prototypes: This is clearly an issue for the whole consortium and needs a proper conversation in a near future.

ad 2) Commitment to action research in an explicit and reflected way: This comment meets our own self-assessment. In the joint meetings of the ITB and Pontydysgu teams we had already agreed to organise a joint workshop to promote dialogue between (classical) action research, accompanying research (DE), interactive research (NL) and design research (WP2).

ad 3) Balance and coherence between different activities: This comment also meets the situation assessment of several partners. Already during the review meeting we started a discussion, how to arrange the collection of research data in a more synergy-promoting and coordinated way. We also took note that the different dynamics of design activities in the two pilot regions should be taken into account in the scheduling of data collection.

ad 4) Documentation of co-design and stakeholder engagement activities: This comment draws attention to the risk of paying too little attention to the process documentation when prioritising research results or progress in design and development activities. This meets the situation assessment of the sectoral partners and the coordinators of sectoral activities. In many respects this issue is connected with the need to clarify the commitment to action research.

I think this is enough at the moment. We will discuss the feedback and our responses in greater detail when we have the report of the reviewers.

The discussion will be continued …

Acknowledgements. This work is supported by the European Commission under the FP7 project LAYERS (no. 318209), http://www.learning-layers.eu.

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