Looking back – One year from the Learning Layers meeting in Tallinn

June 12th, 2016 by Pekka Kamarainen

My latest posts on our EU-funded Learning Layers (LL) project have focused on the recent progress with introducing the integrative toolset Learning Toolbox (LTB) to new users in construction sector. Quite suddenly I happened to look at my blog archives and spotted the entries that I had written one year ago. It struck me that at that time we were just having our LL consortium meeting in Tallinn. It is interesting to look, what kind of issues we were discussing at that time as tasks for the near future. And it is even more interesting to see, what all we have been able to implement in practice. Below I will list some of the main points for the construction pilot of the LL project:

1.  Multimedia Training concept based on “Theme Rooms”

During preparatory meeting of the construction pilot team the Bau-ABC colleagues presented first time the idea of “Theme Rooms” (see my blog of the 25th of June 2015). In their internal discussions the Bau-ABC trainers had proposed a new format for organising Multimedia Training in consecutive workshops (with ‘virtual rooms’ as support areas). We all got enthusiastic about this idea. Yet, it took some time to put it into practice.

However, in November 2015 we ( = Bau-ABC with support from ITB, Pontydysgu and TLU) managed to implement the first cycle of Theme Room workshops. It involved all Bau-ABC training staff (and the training staff of parallel training centre ABZ Mellendorf) during all Friday afternoons of the November month. As we experienced it, the training campaigned provided important support for the piloting with the Learning Toolbox (LTB) and other LL tools.

2. Making use of Learning Toolbox in Bau-ABC trainers’ projects

In the session on construction pilots we (ITB and Bau-ABC) presented firstly examples of Bau-ABC trainers’ projects that could be supported with LTB. Then, the technical developers presented the functions of the LTB to be expected in the forthcoming beta release. At that time these presentations were two different things. Here again, we needed some time to get ourselves worked in and to organise proper instruction for Bau-ABC trainers.

Looking at the current situation, we have noticed that since the preparation of the kick-off event of LTB pilot (preparation in February 2016, the event itself in March 2016) we have noticed rapid progress. The piloting trainers have soon learned their own ways of creating and linking stacks to organise parallel or consecutive learning activities. Furthermore, they have been able pass their know-how to each other and to learn from each others’ products.

3. Spreading Learning Toolbox to other contexts and new users

For the Tallinn meeting we (ITB, Bau-ABC and Agentur) had prepared posters with which we visualised the exploitation landscapes in which we will be working with spin-off projects for which we expected funding decisions in a short while. Now, looking at the present situation we can give the following update:

  • The project DigiProB (digital support for continuing vocational training – construction site managers) has started recently. The stakeholder interviews give points of orientation for introducing LTB and complementary tools in the next phase.
  • The regional implementation of the transnational mobility scheme Mobipro-EU is bringing to Germany the second cohort of apprentices from Spain (to be trained in construction companies during the next 3-3,5 years). Some apprentices of the first cohort have participated in an LTB-workshop and support the shaping of specific stacks to support the new group of apprentices (50 persons arriving in July 2016).
  • The projects NaBus and DieDa (with focus on ecological construction work) have started and are looking forward to introduce LTB in their training programmes (scheduled for Autumn 2016). Here they can use as points of reference the stacks prepared for the ‘Learning exhibition’ in Verden and the prototype stacks for presenting LTB to member companies of the Netzwerk Nachhaltiges Bauen (NNB).
  • The project HAKS (promoting the theme energy-efficiency in vocational education and training) has started and is looking forward to introduce LTB in the next phase of its training activities (also in Autumn 2016).

4. Making use of AchSo and SoAR in the training of Bau-ABC

In Tallinn meeting the team of Aalto University presented two tools. With the video annotation tool AchSo they had already proceeded to field pilots in Finnish construction sector. With the Social Augmented Reality (SoAR) tool they were still in the initial steps. With AchSo they had only provided Android versions and there issues regarding the integration with LTB. Therefore, our impression was that some time will be needed before they can be introduced to the German pilot sites.

Now we have just experienced a three-day event during which the Aalto colleagues have introduced AchSo to two groups of apprentices (and their trainers) and SoAR to the latter group. All events proved to be successful and the apprentices and trainers are looking forward to next steps. For a wider deployment of AchSo the Aalto colleagues are working with the export function of AchSo to be able to use the tool with ordinary videos. (This step is most welcomed by the above mentioned spin-off projects.)

– – –

I think this is enough to show what kind of progress we have made with the LL construction pilot since the Tallinn consortium meeting one year ago. We know that we still have work to do, but can clearly build on our achievements.

More blogs to come …

 

Piloting with AchSo and getting feedback on Learning Toolbox – Part Three: Introducing Augmented Reality to construction vehicle drivers

May 26th, 2016 by Pekka Kamarainen

In my two latest blogs on the EU-funded Learning Layers (LL) project I started a series of reports on a field visits in the construction sector – and in particular in the training centre Bau-ABC. Our visitors from Aalto University (Finland) have introduced their tools and our colleagues from the University of Innsbruck (UIBK) gathered feedback on our pilot with the Learning Toolbox (LTB). In my first post I reported on the introduction of video annotation tool AchSo. In my second post I  reported on the feedback that apprentices have given after using the LTB. In this third post I will report on the introduction of Social Augmented Reality (SoAR) – also a tool developed by the colleagues in Aalto University.

The idea of Social Augmented Reality (SoAR)

For lay people (like myself) the most likely encounters with Augmented Reality have been the commercial applications that have provided some kind of pop-up information windows or visuals that enrich web-based information. In such applications there is a basic layer of information that is complemented with an additional one – to the benefit of the consumer-viewer. As a contrast, the idea of the Social Augmented Reality (SoAR) is to provided enriched communication with all channels of mobile devices: speech, video and tagging (drawing). When using SoAR in mobile phone calls, the counterparts can see each other and talk to each other (like using Skype), they can switch the screens that they are viewing and they can tag live videos by drawings. Whilst this idea had been presented in some consortium meetings of the LL project, we had first put the emphasis on introducing the integrative toolset Learning Toolbox (in March) and then the video annotation tool AchSo (on the two first days of this field visit). On the third day of the field visit we had the chance to introduce SoAR to a group of apprentices specialising as construction vehicle drivers (Baugeräteführer).

The introduction of SoAR in Bau-ABC

Since the visitors from Aalto and UIBK had spent the second day of visit introducing the AchSo video annotation tool for a group of construction vehicle drivers (Baugeräteführer), the step to introducing AchSo (see my first blog of this series) was a smooth transition from one tool to another. Sanna Reponen presented the functionality of the tool at the outdoor training areas and the testing started immediately. Normally, the driving and operating of construction site vehicles (caterpillars with different additional features) is organised in groups – one is the driver, two others are supporting the lifting and adjusting operations while others are waiting for their turns. The supervising trainer is not all the time present – since the training is based on the culture of self-organised learning (apprentices are expected to grow into independent task preparation, planning and implementation).

Now, in the beginning, the trainer got a mobile phone in which SoAR was uploaded and one of the apprentices got another one. In this way the trainer was able to rotate between different training areas and his office without losing contact with this group of trainees. During one of the first test calls there was a real problem case, when the cylinders of the caterpillar started making unusual noises – just when the trainer was out of sight. Thanks to the use of SoAR the apprentices could show him the case and from the noise he could conclude, where the problem might be. And he could give in real time advice, what measures to take to solve the problem (or at least to avoid any damage). After this ‘real’ case, several other apprentices made similar test calls and the trainer responded from different locations. Altogether, the communication worked well but the background noise from the engines of the vehicles was a major disturbance. (However, the trainers have already tested earmuffs that can filter the background noise and these can be used with SoAR as well.)

At the end of the day we had a feedback session with the apprentices. They gave very positive feedback on the test situation and were looking forward to further development of the tool. In a similar way the trainer had made a very positive experience with his testing. Altogether, we concluded that SoAR is a very positive add-on to the Learning Layers tools.

– – –

I think that this is enough of this field visit. We made immediate arrangements to push forward the work with Learning Toolbox in some further trades and in the area of health and safety (Arbeitssicherheit und Gesundheitsschutz). We also made preliminary arrangements for a similar field visit (for introduction of AchSo and SoAR combined with further evaluative measures). So, there is more work to be done before and after the summer break.

More blogs to come …

Piloting with AchSo and getting feedback on Learning Toolbox – Part Two: Apprentices’ views on using the Learning Toolbox

May 25th, 2016 by Pekka Kamarainen

In my latest blog on the EU-funded Learning Layers (LL) project I started a series of reports on our latest field visits in the construction sector – and in particular in the training centre Bau-ABC. We are now having visitors from Aalto University (Finland)to introduce the tools AchSo and SoAR. In addition, our colleagues from the University of Innsbruck (UIBK) are getting feedback on the use of Learning Toolbox (LTB). In my first post I reported on the introduction of AchSo and how it was received. In my second post I will report on the feedback that apprentices have given using the LTB. Here I just want to give some impressions on the procedure and on the discussions in the groups that I observed. I leave it to the UIBK colleagues to give more detailed account.

The pioneering groups and their learning paths with Learning Toolbox

As I reported in my earlier blogs on the kick-off event of the pilots with Learning Toolbox (LTB) – see my posts of the 3rd of April and of the 6th of April – we started with two trades: carpenters (Zimmerer) and well-builders (Brunnenbauer). With the group of carpenters their trainer Markus Pape had designed a joint project with the trainer of bricklayers (Maurer), Kevin Kuck. This project was about traditional building techniques with wooden frameworks for brick walls (Holzrahmenbau, Fachwerkhäuser). Accordingly, the trainers developed a parent stack that covered the information resources and pointed to specific stacks for the two trades involved in the project and for accessing further knowledge resources. Considering the schedule of the group, they were at the moment having a school period in the nearby vocational school. Afterwards they will continue this project with the bricklayers. During our visit the UIBK colleagues arranged a group discussion with the apprentices at the school.

Concerning the group of well-builders, they started with a project in their own trade. Their trainer Lothar Schoka used the stacks to give them access to selected supplementary materials that are relevant for their project work. In the next phase the group proceeded to neighbouring trades (like machine and metal techniques or pipeline building) in which they get the foundation level training. At the moment they were having a period in Bau-ABC with metal technique. Thus, also the feedback on the use of LTB could be implemented alongside their work with the elementary exercises. Below I will give insights into feedback collected from discussions with this group.

Apprentices’ views on uses of LTB in training centre and in real work situations

The UIBK colleagues put on the board small posters that presented statements picked up from the kick-off event in March. Each statement expressed expectations on benefits of using the LTB. Now each participant had the chance to give votes, which of these expectations had come true – and which he would see as the most important (first, second, third). Here I could see in two groups, how the votes concentrated on a few statements. We were somewhat surprised that the apprentices found LTB easy to use – once the initial difficulties had been overcome. Also, given the relatively limited amount of stacks (and the structure of stacks for their domain) they found it easy to search the information they needed. Also, the chat function was praised as a functioning hotline for passing quick messages to trainers (although this was dependent on the online presence of individual trainers). Furthermore, the LTB was seen as a good tool to have an overview on the learning contents and on keeping the contents available (as priority contents) when needed.

After several positive remarks on the use of LTB as such, the apprentices in all groups made the point that they see the major benefits in using LTB in the intermediate training arrangements in Bau-ABC – which is primarily a learning environment. In the companies there are less people around, questions and answers are passed more directly, there is less chance to do searches and there is more time pressure. Furthermore, there is less tolerance for mistakes or discussing them on the web (privacy and data protection aspects). Partly these reservations are related to generation issues – younger construction site managers are more positive than older.

Then the UIBK colleagues asked, whether the apprentices would prefer to carry out their projects entirely with paper-based documentation or with LTB (if the latter option would be available). In this context the apprentices in all groups voted almost unanimously for the LTB option.

Finally, the UIBK colleagues asked about their expectations on using AchSo. Here they also emphasised the use in Bau-ABC. They drew attention to the possibility to focus on very small but important details or on points in which most mistakes are being made. They also referred to different potential in manual work as well as in complex activities with heavy machinery. They also pointed to the possibility to use video to facilitate the learning processes of those, who do not speak German as their mother tongue. In some groups there were discussions on the use of AchSo in instruction videos (prepared by trainers) and documentation of learning (prepared by apprentices). Altogether, the apprentices saw quite a number of possibilities. Yet, there was a tension between the fact that they have to complete their projects individually, whilst the use of videos requires cooperation with their peers.

– – –

I think this is enough at the moment. The UIBK colleagues will work more thoroughly through the material. But as a first impression this feedback already shows that the work with LL tools is received well and that both trainers and apprentices are making progress. In my next post I will report on the presentation of the SoAR tool (SocialAugmented Reality) by the Aalto colleagues in a further session in Bau-ABC.

More blogs to come …

 

 

 

 

Piloting with AchSo and getting feedback on Learning Toolbox – Part One: Bau-ABC apprentices work with AchSo

May 24th, 2016 by Pekka Kamarainen

In my recent blogs on the EU-funded Learning Layers (LL) project I have mostly focused on our pilot activities in the construction sector – and in particular on the introduction of the toolset Learning Toolbox (LTB) in the training centre Bau-ABC. This week we are again having field events in Bau-ABC but the main emphasis is given on the introduction of the complementary tools AchSo and SoAR that are presented by our colleagues from Aalto University (Finland). Alongside these activities our colleagues from the University of Innsbruck (UIBK) have been organising focus group meetings to get feedback on the use of LTB in the pilot groups that started with this toolset in March. In this first post I will focus on the introduction of AchSo and how it was received by Bau-ABC trainers (Lehrwerkmeister) and apprentices (Azubis).

Development of and piloting with AchSo in Finland

Whilst the Learning Toolbox (LTB) has been developed in the context of the co-design process in construction sector – and Bau-ABC as the main pilot environment to support the process – the development of AchSo has mainly been promoted in Finland. The LL partner Aalto University (later on referred to as Aalto) has taken further the video annotation tool that was so far developed by RWTH Aachen. With the name “AchSo” the developers want to highlight the usability of a video annotation tool in the context of (informal) learning at workplace. This is achieved by the functionality for shooting short videos, for visual tagging of details and for adding short written comments.

As has I have reported earlier on my blog and on an article on the LL website, the Aalto team has piloted with the AchSo tool with a Finnish construction company, regional vocational school centres and with the Finnish Construction Workers’ Trade Union (see my blog of the 27th of March 2015 and the article of the 7th of July 2015 on the Learning Layers website). In the Finnish construction pilot the users of AchSo were trainees in full-time vocational schools that were completing their workplace learning period (Praktikum) in construction companies or apprentices that had switched from full-time education to apprentice contract. In both cases the vocational school teachers were responsible for the final assessment of the learning of trainees and apprentices. By using annotated videos the trainees and apprentices could document their working and learning tasks and demonstrate their learning gains.

Introduction of AchSo to apprentices and trainers in Bau-ABC

Now that we – the had got the pilot activities with the LTB started and some progress had been made, it was an appropriate time to introduce the AchSo tool and explore, how it could be integrated into the ongoing piloting with the LTB. For this purpose two colleagues from Aalto – Sanna Reponen and Matti Jokitulppo – came for a three-day event to introduce AchSo to different groups of apprentices. During the first day they presented AchSo to a group of well-builders (Brunnenbauer) who had already used LTB when being trained in their own trade. Now they were receiving training in the neighbouring trade of machine- and metal techniques. In this context the Bau-ABC colleagues chose to add the work with video annotation as an additional feature to the apprentices’ projects.

We started together with the group of apprentices when they were beginning their first mini-projects (duration one day) with metalworking. Firstly Sanna Reponen  gave the background information on AchSo and how to use it. In this context we also clarified the data protection, privacy and sharing-related issues when using such tools. Secondly the apprentices installed AchSo on their own devices or got spare devices from Aalto for the session. Thirdly the Bau-ABC trainers introduced the project task – cutting a metal plate to a measure, filing the edges and marking spots at given distances for further processing. This ‘project’ is a traditional elementary exercise with which apprentices and trainees are guided to pay attention to appropriate use of tools and to paying attention to quality requirements. After the introduction the apprentices started working with the tasks and – once they had made some progress – shooting videos of each others’ work at different phases. Parallel to this, one of the trainers also shot some videos on the work of apprentices.

It appeared that some apprentices shot only one video, whilst some others tried to cover all major phases of work with short video clips. One of the videos showed deliberately inappropriate use of tools. Others tried to portray good practice. At the end of the day the videos were shown as a gallery and some exemplary videos were played. In particular the videos with comments were shown. After this viewing we had a discussion on the benefits of the tool, on possible improvements that apprentices would wish and on the prospects for using it in the training at Bau-ABC and in the companies (with which the apprentices have their apprenticeship contracts).

Immediate feedback on working with AchSo

On the whole the apprentices were positive about shooting videos – although it was an additional task and required cooperation, whilst the project task was individual and each one had to complete it on his own. In the discussion the apprentices emphasised that they paid more attention to different phases of work when selecting, which of them to be documented with videos. The trainer emphasised that videos shot by apprentices gave him a better overview on the work of apprentices (instead of just going around the workshop and monitoring them individually in the short time). Secondly, it was agreed that such a documentation of training that takes place in Bau-ABC workshops makes it easier to inform the vocational school teachers of the the tasks that have been carried out in the training centre. At the moment the apprentices agreed that it was easier to start using the new tool with such elementary exercises. Yet, they saw more potential and more challenges in integrating the use of annotated videos into the more complex projects in well-building (Brunnenbau).

We also discussed some hurdles and limitations for using AchSo in real work situations (these were very similar to the issues that came up with feedback on LTB, so I will take these up in my next post). However, the trainer of the well-builders, Lothar Schoka, expressed his interest to get from his apprentices annotated videos from construction sites of their companies. These could highlight specific working tasks that could be observed on joint visits of the whole group or discussed more thoroughly in training sessions in Bau-ABC.

– – –

Altogether, we had the impression that the introduction of AchSo in this group worked well. However, we became aware of some technical issues that need to be observed when proceeding from such initial introduction to wider use of the tool. Yet, it appears that the use of AchSo as a complementary tool to LTB is not a problem to the trainers or to the apprentices. In my next post I will report on the feedback that we got in the sessions organised by the UIBK colleagues alongside the work with AchSo.

More blogs to come …

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