Category Archives: Learning Toolbox Chronicle

Construction pilot articles and videos available on Learning Toolbox (LTB) Chronicle

The articles and videos published via Learning Layers website page “Construction” are now available as Learning Toolbox (LTB) Chronicle, Vol. 1-3. In this way the Construction pilot team wants to highlight the importance of the Learning Toolbox as the main product of the project work and make transparent the process documented on the project website.

Below you will find the links to the overview posts of each volume and the overview on the LTB videos recorded in the training centre Bau-ABC Rostrup in 2014.

Learning Toolbox (LTB) Chronicle Vol. 3, 2016 – Overview

Learning Toolbox (LTB) Chronicle Vol. 2, 2015 – Overview

Learning Toolbox (LTB) Chronicle Vol. 1, 2014 – Overview

Learning Toolbox videos from Bau-ABC (2014) – Overview

LTB Videos from Verden: Use of Learning Toolbox (LTB) for managing construction site (2016)

What is the Learning Toolbox? – The Online Guide

Learning Toolbox (LTB) Chronicle Vol. 3, 2016 – Overview

Construction pilot articles of the Learning Layers project (Year 4)

Pekka Kämäräinen

The Learning Toolbox Chronicle is a collection of articles on the work of the Construction pilot of the Learning Layers project. The co-design process that was initiated in 2013 by the project partners from the training centre Bau-ABC Rostrup has led to the development of the integrative toolset Learning Toolbox (LTB) to support online learning and knowledge sharing.

The articles of Vol. 3, 2016 report on the pilot activities of the fourth year of the Learning Layers project – on the major training campaign in Bau-ABC, on the pilot testing of Learning Toolbox and on reporting on the results.

Article 1/2016 Insights into “Theme Room” training on digital media in Bau-ABC

This article covers the launch of the Theme Room training campaign in Bau-ABC and the interim assessment of the implementation Theme Room workshops (in November 2015).

Article 2/2016 Peer learning and using digital media in Theme Room workshops

This article gives insights into peer learning in Theme Room workshops with focus on the themes ‘Social media’ and ‘Digital learning contents’.

Article 3/2016  Piloting with Learning Toolbox (LTB) takes off in Bau-ABC

This article gives a picture on the preparation, launch and early follow-up of the piloting with Learning Toolbox in Bau-ABC (from March 2016 on).

Article 4/2016  Piloting with other Learning Layers Tools in Bau-ABC – Learning Toolbox in good company

This article reports on the piloting with two other Learning Layers tools in Bau-ABC – the video annotation tool AchSo and the social augmented reality application SOAR.

Article 5/2016  New fields of piloting with Learning Toolbox (LTB) in Bau-ABC

This article reports on peer tutoring sessions with Bau-ABC trainers to promote the use of Learning Toolbox in new trades and in the overarching learning area ‘Health and Safety’.

Article 6/2016  Learning Toolbox for trans-national mobility – preparing stacks with and for Spanish apprentices

This article reports on a workshop with Spanish apprentices who are getting apprentice training in Bau-ABC within the Mobipro-EU project. In the workshop we explored the possibility to use Learning Toolbox as support for such trans-national mobility.

Article 7/2016  Recent reports on the use of Learning Toolbox in practice – in Bau-ABC training and at a construction site in Verden

This article reports on a recent findings on the use of Learning Toolbox in Bau-ABC training and on at a construction site supervised by Thomas Isselhard (from Netzwerk Nachhaltiges Bauen) in Verden.

Article 7/2016 Recent reports on the use of Learning Toolbox in practice – in Bau-ABC training and at a construction site in Verden

Pekka Kämäräinen

In the earlier articles I have reported on the introduction of the integrative toolset Learning Toolbox (LTB) into apprentice training in our partner organisation Bau-ABC Rostrup (later on referred to as Bau-ABC). In the beginning of September 2016 I made a field visit with Markus Manhart (UIBK) and Jaanika Hirv (TLU) to collect feedback on the way trainers and apprentices have used the LTB. Below I report firstly some of our findings from focus group sessions and interviews. I also make some points on further uses of LTB to overcome some challenges in Bau-ABC training that we have discussed during the project work.

Shortly before that visit our research team organised a workshop for representatives of construction companies on the uses of LTB at construction work. In this workshop, architect Thomas Isselhard from our other partner organisation NNB (Netzwerk für Nachhaltiges Bauen) in Verden gave a presentation on using LTB at a construction site. He describes very lively, how their organisation started with the basics and got their contractors and other counterparts interested in the benefits of such toolset. The presentation was recorded on video and the links to the video are shared below.

In the final reflections I discuss, how we as a research team have interpreted the value of  these findings and reports as basis for future-oriented scenarios in construction work.

Case 1: Learning Toolbox as support for apprentice training

In earlier articles on this page we have reported, how Bau-ABC trainers (Lehrwerkmeister) in have used LTB to support their training. In the beginning of the piloting (with new groups of apprentices in Bau-ABC) they prepared specific stacks and content tiles to support the apprentices’ project with which they were starting (on stacks and tiles, see the Learning Toolbox online guide). In order to spread the use of LTB and to consolidate the learning of apprentices, to patterns of cooperation and peer tutoring emerged:

  • The pilot group of well-builders (Brunnenbauer) rotated in a short time across several neighbouring trades (metalworking, road-building, pipeline-building) to get basic training in their areas. To support their learning, the trainers had built further stacks that matched closely with that of the well-builders for the other trades.

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Screenshots 1 and 2: Stacks from two neighbouring trades – well-builders and pipeline builders

  • The pilot group of carpenters (Zimmerer) was involved in a joint project with bricklayers (Maurer) which required learning in both trades (Projekt Holzrahmenbau). Here the trainers of the two trades had built a set of stacks bringing together information on the joint task and background knowledge from both trades.

Screenshot_HolzrahmenbauScreenshot_Holzrahmenwände

Screenshots 3 and 4: Linked stacks built for the joint project of carpenters and bricklayers

In the interviews with trainers and focus group meetings we found interesting differences in the training approaches:

  • Trainers who follow a problem-oriented training strategy tend to equip  learners with comprehensive resources. The apprentices need to search as self-organised learners  to find the problem-relevant information. The apprentices accepted this as training for their work situations on remote working sites when they have to be prepared for In a nutshell surprises. For them, the LTB can be characterised as a ‘well of information’.
  • Trainers who follow an interest-oriented training strategy tend to provide in the beginning fewer resources and only gradually open access to new resources. The learners are nurtured step-by-step with new impulses and challenges once they have started to find their own solutions and ways of working. In this case, the LTB can be characterised as a ‘watering can’.

When preparing scenarios for further use of LTB I shifted the emphasis to other challenges we had discussed with Bau-ABC trainers during the project – how to make training in Health and Safety (Arbeitssicherheit und Gesundheitsschutz) more inspiring.  Another similar issue was, how to provide easy and filtered access to DIN norms that are relevant for skilled workers working on the site.

In both cases it is possible to support learning by providing filtered access to information via overview on the respective resources on Moodle (or similar platform). Then linking LTB to the respective Moodle application (or similar application) the users could find the resources easier (LTB as a well’). Then, in the training with such resources the training can introduce some kind of ‘gamification’ to guide the learners from tasks that require general knowledge to more demanding cases that call for special expertise (‘LTB as a watering can’).

Case 2: Using LTB at construction site – making it happen

Our second case is based on Thomas Isselhard’s presentation on the use of LTB as support for coordination of the work at a construction site. Two videos recorded on his presentation show, how the use of LTB helps to avoid communication gaps between different parties involved (video 1) and how to get new users accustomed to work with LTB (video 2).

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Screenshots 3 and 4: Retrieving updated construction plans with the help of LTB mobile app

The situations that Thomas presents as examples show, how the functionality of LTB help to overcome the gaps. Likewise, he demonstrates, how LTB as an integrative toolset can be customised for the users and by the users. Furthermore, he give insights into the ways in which new users get introduced to using LTB on the same occasion when getting their instructions for the construction work. With further examples he shows, how the contractors (or their construction workers) benefit from using the LTB for real-time knowledge sharing – instead of using outdated plans or wasting time for unnecessary searches. Also, they could send photos as progress reports to the LTB stack of that construction site immediately.

When preparing scenarios for promoting further use of LTB, it was possible to draw upon the mutually linked Verden-based organisations and networks for ecological construction work and outline their respective functions and target groups. In this way the ‘scenario’ became a set of working agendas addressing the uses of LTB by architects, craft trade companies, trade-specific networks, the permanent exhibition in Verden and the newly established regional competition of the Federal State of Lower Saxony to award energy-efficient building and renovation projects (“Die Grüne Hausnummer”).

Reflections

As researchers we have used these cases to interpret the above presented findings in the light of our background theories and concepts:

  • For us the first case – the Bau-ABC trainers’ transition to use LTB – is an example of gradual digital transformation and as enhancement of their pedagogy. Here, it is worthwhile to emphasise that the trainers have challenged apprentices to become self-organised learners and to take ownership on their learning. With the use of LTB they have seen more possibilities – and the learners have felt themselves more empowered. In this way the use of LTB has strengthened the training and learning culture based on action-oriented learning (Handlungsorientiertes Lernen) in Bau-ABC.
  • For us the second case – the use of LTB at the construction site in Verden – is a micro-case that demonstrates organisational and cross-organisational learning in a local context. Here we underline that ‘organisational learning’ is not merely a result of good management skills or good consultancy. Instead, the key point is in finding the way to promote interactivity and real-time knowledge sharing between the construction site manager, craftsmen and other stakeholders involved.

From the perspective of application partner organisations we see that the LTB has been developed to the degree of maturity to support the application partners. Also, both trainers in Bau-ABC and the networks of Verden have found their ways to customise the functionality for different use cases in apprentice training and construction work. In addition, new areas of training, networking and cross-organisational learning have been identified for follow-up initiatives have been identified.

Learning Toolbox (LTB) Chronicle Vol. 3, 7/2016

Article 6/2016 Learning Toolbox for trans-national mobility – preparing stacks with and for Spanish apprentices

Pekka Kämäräinen

The first three articles of this series have informed of a multimedia training campaign, of piloting with the integrative toolset Learning Toolbox (LTB) and with new complementary tools. All this has happened in Bau-ABC Rostrup, the major vocational training centre of construction sector in North Germany. This sixth article introduces a new context and target group for piloting with LTB – providing support for Spanish apprentices that participate in the trans-national mobility scheme Mobipro-EU.

On the transnational mobility scheme Mobipro-EU and how it works

The mobility programme Mobipro-EU is an initiative of the German Ministry of Labour and it is managed by the German Employment Agency (Bundesagentur für Arbeit). Its aim is to support the mobility of interested young people from other EU Member States to Germany to get apprentice training in the dual system of apprenticeship. The scheme provides support for the applicants firstly  in their home countries (advice, application & selection procedure and three months’ language training). Secondly, it provides a project organisation that takes care of the training arrangements and accommodation. Altogether, the programme provides the necessary support for foreign apprentices to complete the regular German apprentice training. The programme was started in 2013 and Bau-ABC has become a regional coordination centre for apprentice training in construction sector in 2015.
Bau-ABC received its first group of Spanish apprentices (initially 15) in 2015. Some of the apprentices were placed in companies in Bremen and its immediate neighbourhood, others into North-German municipalities near Bau-ABC. Concerning the language learning, the programme envisages that the participants have completed intensive language course and language test (B1) already in their home country. However, upon request of the companies providing the apprenticeships, Bau-ABC has made local arrangements for additional language teaching for the groups in Bremen and in Rostrup.

LTB as support for learning and social integration of apprentices from Spain

The companies and Bau-ABC trainers have got a good impression of the motivation and commitment of the apprentices and want to continue the training. Thus, Bau-ABC and its partner companies will soon receive 50 new apprentices from Spain to be trained in construction companies in Bremen and in North-West Germany. Taking into account the progress with Learning Toolbox (LTB) in the intermediate training in Bau-ABC, Melanie Campbell started to develop a stack for the Mobipro-EU scheme to support the training of the present and new Spanish apprentices.

In the light of the above we organised a short LTB-workshop in Bremen on Friday 10th of June. In the beginning we gave a picture of the Learning Layers (LL)  project and on the role of Learning Toolbox (LTB). Then we looked at the prototype stack for Mobipro-EU prepared by Melanie – see below a copy – and discussed, how to develop it further.

Screenshot 2016-06-16 16.24.28

Issues raised by Spanish apprentices in the workshop

We had a very lively discussion. Here I try to give some impressions of topics that came up and tensions to be considered:

  • Making the move to Germany: The apprentices were pleased with the thick handbook (full of relevant information) provided by the Spanish consulate.
  • Making progress with the language skills: The apprentices had completed an intensive course and (most of them) passed the required language test. When coming to Germany they were surprised that their language skills were not always trusted and they were not encouraged to speak German.
  • Getting used to working for construction companies in Germany: Most of the apprentices had attended some kind of school-based vocational education with eventual workplace placement. Yet, the transition to a German apprentice contract (which is essentially an employment contract) provided a major cultural change.
  • Peer learning: Many of the problems and challenges encountered by the apprentices are such that no one has prior information – the members of the pioneering group have had to find their own solutions . In this respect the blog of Carlos has served as a forum, on which he has discussed questions of others. In this respect the LTB has a chance to provide a “Questions and Answers” section and a forum for new issues.
  • Recognition of prior learning: One of the shortcomings in the implementation of the Mobipro-EU programme has been the fact that far too little attention has been paid on the recognition of prior competences. Thus, it appears that apprentices may be guided to new occupations (that are alien to them) although they have received a school-based education in another.

We discussed these (and other) issues from many perspectives. We came to the conclusion that Learning Toolbox can play a significant role in supporting the newcomer group(s) with their start and with their adjustment to the new circumstances. We were pleased to see that the pioneering apprentices are willing to contribute to the development of LTB stacks and tiles and to share their valuable experiences.

Learning Toolbox (LTB) Chronicle Vol. 3, 6/2016:

Article 5/2016 New fields of piloting with Learning Toolbox (LTB) in Bau-ABC

Pekka Kämäräinen

This article reports on further steps to introduce the use of Learning Toolbox (LTB) to their areas of specialisation – by the trainers themselves (without the presence of supporting R&D partners of the Learning Layers project). The first case deals with extending the piloting to a new trade. The second case deals with the transversal learning area of Health and Safety.

New project for Brunnenbauer apprentices in Rohrleitungsbau

Originally the author had come to discuss with Bau-ABC trainer Stefan Wiedenstried the question, how to link his areas of specialisation (Strassenbau – road-building and Rohrleitungsbau – pipeline building) with the LTB-piloting. However, it appeared that the next group with whom he should work was the initial pilot group of the well-builders (Brunnenbauer) with whom his colleagues Lothar Schoka had started the LTB pilot in that area. Also, the same group had been the test group to whom the colleagues from Aalto University had presented the LL tool AchSo when they were having training in metalworking (see Article Four below).

This gave Stefan a clue, how to start. He looked at the stack that was prepared for the Brunnenbauer project in which the apprentices first time used LTB (Projektordner Schoka). And based on this model he started to develop his own stack (Projektorder Wiedenstried) in a similar format as the original.

The project  “Waagerechter-Verbau” takes shape as an LTB stack

The title of his project is “1-03-04 Waagerechter-Verbau nach Din 4124″. The task is to prepare the grounds for laying pipelines for drinking water in exactly horizontal position according to the norm DIN 4124. After the introductory message Stefan created a collection tile that contains the project description and a set of photos that illustrate the task. He then tested the functioning of the chat function with Lothar Schoka, who also linked this stack to the ‘parent stack’ of this group of well-builders. After all these preparatory measures Stefan announced the stack on the Facebook-page of his trade “Tiefbau im Bau-ABC Rostrup”, see below:

Screenshot 2016-06-10 11.15.07Learning Toolbox for the area ‘Health and Safety’

We had already had some preliminary talks with the Health and Safety specialist (Sicherheitsfachkraft) of Bau-ABC, Thomas Weerts, on the use of LTB for this special area. At that time we came up with ideas, how to make essential reference materials and practical tools accessible for users with the LTB. Now it was time to put these ideas into practice.

We considered that this stack should not be exclusively for users in Bau-ABC but also in construction companies. Therefore, we named it as ‘Health and Safety in construction sector’ (Arbeitssicherheit in construction sector).  Thus, it should support in-company trainers (betriebliche Ausbilder) and shop stewards for this area (Sicherheitsbeauftragten).

Firstly, (after an introductory message) Thomas prepared a collection of materials with links to web-based reference materials of Berufsgenossenschaften (public trade-specific bodies for hazard prevention and social insurance in industry and crafts & trades). Also, this collection introduces their mobile apps and compendia that are available as CD-ROMs in companies and training centres.

Screenshot 2016-06-16 15.02.01

Secondly, Thomas prepared another collection with links to tools for individual users to assess health and safety risks in the context of work tasks (Gefährdungsbeurteilung). In apprentice training this is a mandatory task and it is supported by special worksheets provided by the respective Berufsgenossenschaften.

Screenshot 2016-06-16 15.02.43At that point we stopped, since Thomas had other duties. However, he had already created a prototype-stack by which gives an overview of some reference documents and on some tools to be used by construction workers and apprentices. He was prepared to continue with the next steps to bring more domain-specific issues and interactivity into picture. Here, the parallel work with trade-specific stacks (e.g. for carpenters, bricklayers and well-builders) can give some clues, how to draw attention to health and safety issues in these trades.

Learning Toolbox (LTB) Chronicle Vol. 3, 5/2016

Article 4/2016 Piloting with other Learning Layers Tools in Bau-ABC – Learning Toolbox in good company

Pekka Kämäräinen and Sanna Reponen

This  article provides insights into a working visit, during which Learning Layers partners have presented two new tools – the AchSo app for video annotation and the SoAR app for real time video communication in work environments. The tools were presented by our colleagues from Aalto University (Finland). Alongside the pilot sessions our colleagues from the University of Innsbruck (UIBK) collected feedback on the use of the LTB in the pilot groups that piloted with this toolset since March. Project team members from ITB and Pontydysgu accompanied the activities and supported the sessions.

1. Bau-ABC apprentices work with AchSo

Earlier development of and piloting with AchSo in Finland

Originally the video annotation tool is based on prior work done in RWTH Aachen – and they gave the name ‘AchSo’ to illustrate the learning effect when using the tool. Later on the Finnish partner Aalto University (shortly: Aalto) has taken further the tool development. The Aalto team has piloted with the AchSo tool with a Finnish counterparts in the construction sector. In the Finnish pilot the users of AchSo have been trainees in full-time vocational schools that have an obligatory workplace learning period (Praktikum) in construction companies. Their vocational school teachers are responsible for the final assessment of the learning at workplace as well. By using annotated videos trainees could document their working and learning tasks and demonstrate their learning achievements.

Introduction of AchSo to apprentices and trainers in Bau-ABC

The introduction in Bau-ABC was started with the group of apprentices that were specialising in well-building (Brunnenbau) but were having one week’s course period in metalworking. Firstly Sanna Reponen (Aalto) gave the background information on AchSo and how it functions. 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. At the end of the day the videos were shown as a gallery and some exemplary videos were played.

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. In general, their project tasks are 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 in Bau-ABC workshops makes it easier to inform the vocational school teachers and the companies on tasks their learning gains in the training in Bau-ABC.

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Screenshot 1 and 2: Apprentices in metalworking workshop presenting videos to trainer

Altogether, we had the impression that the introduction of AchSo in this group worked well. This impression was confirmed during the next day when a new group of apprentices started with AchSo. The first video by an apprentice was uploaded already during the introductory presentation.

2. Introducing Augmented Reality to construction vehicle drivers

The idea of Social Augmented Reality (SoAR)

The second tool – the Social Augmented Reality (SoAR) – has also been developed by the Aalto team to support real time video communication in working environments. This tool uses at the same time different functions 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. Finally, they can save the recordings on their devices.

The introduction of SoAR in Bau-ABC

On the third day of the working visit SoAR was introduced to apprentices specialising as construction vehicle drivers (Baugeräteführer) who had used AchSo on the day before 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. Now, 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.

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Screenshot 3 and 4: Construction vehicle drivers using AchSo and SOAR in their training

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.

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 interested to learn more of the tools. In a similar way the trainer had made a very positive experience with his testing. Altogether – after all these sessions – we concluded that AchSo and SoAR are very positive complementary tools to be used within the Learning Toolbox toolset.

Learning Toolbox (LTB) Chronicle Vol. 3, 4/2016

Article 3/2016 Piloting with Learning Toolbox (LTB) takes off in Bau-ABC

Pekka Kämäräinen

In February and March 2016 the Learning Toolbox (LTB) was introduced into the apprentice training of Bau-ABC. As has been indicated in previous articles of this series, the Theme Room training campaign (in November 2015) had already provided a good basis for the pilot activities. This third article gives firstly insights into the preparation of the piloting by Bau-ABC trainers – supported by Learning Layers (LL) partners. Secondly it provides a brief report on the kick-off event and on a follow-up visit of LL partners. The point of the interest is to see, how trainers of Bau-ABC develop their own patterns of using the LTB.

1.Preparation of pilot activities by trainers: three exemplary cases

In the preparatory talks Bau-ABC trainers presented three exemplary cases for implementing LTB in their training.  The first case focuses on the trade of well-builders. The second case deals with the learning area ‘health and safety’. The third case presents a joint project of two trades – carpenters and bricklayers.

a) In the trade of well-builders (Brunnenbauer) the use of LTB is being brought via support materials and activities. The responsible trainer Lothar Schoka is creating stacks that provide access relevant guidelines and instructions (e.g. extracts of DIN-norms). Also, the apprentices can access digital worksheets (lists of tools and materials) via LTB.

b) Regarding the theme ‘health and safety’ (Arbeitssicherheit und Gesundheitsschutz), the competent body in the construction sector (BG Bau) provides a comprehensive set of modularised reference materials (Baukasten) and a special materials for young craftsmen. In addition, Bau-ABC uses a brief compendium for trainers (KomPass). These materials are available on the net. Moreover, when starting their training project , the apprentices have to fill a risk analysis form related to the tasks (Gefährdungsbeurteilung). The potential benefits of using LTB is that it can provide

  • easy access to Internet documents (to be checked later on),
  • Immediate access to compressed information (checklists, extracts of information sheets, model solutions with feedback),
  • access to quiz tools (ordinary quiz or specific variants for detecting errors).

c) The joint project of carpenters (Zimmerer) and bricklayers (Maurer) is based on a traditional technique of building houses with wooden frames and brick walls (Fachwerkhaus). The apprentices’ project with a small construction using this technique provides cooperation opportunities for these two trades. The trainers of these trades (Markus Pape and Kevin Kuck) see the advantage in using LTB and in creating joint stacks in the following way:

  • LTB gives an overview on the common project (as a whole) and on related standards.
  • LTB stacks help to organise the exercises of the two groups (carpenters and bricklayers) in each others’ tasks.
  • LTB stacks help to coordinate the collaboration between the groups during the project.

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Screenshot 1 and 2: Building LTB-stacks for a joint project of carpenters and bricklayers

2. Observations on the Kick-off event 14.3.2016 and during the follow-up visit

On the 14th of March a kick-off event was organised for the pilots with LTB in two trades – the carpenters and the well-builders. Several LL partners supported the event with their contributions. Some time later, a group from ITB and Pontydysgu visited Bau-ABC to collect feedback and to discuss further steps in the  piloting with the Learning Toolbox (LTB).

Below I give firstly some insights into the work with the group of carpenters (Zimmerer) during the kick-off event. Then I give a brief report on the follow-up visit and on points that were raised in our discussions with Bau-ABc trainers.

Kick-off of LTB pilot with the carpenters

In the group of carpenters the LL partners presented firstly the project and the functionality of LTB as an integrative toolset. Then, the apprentices installed LTB on their smartphones. Once this was achieved, the trainer Fidi Bruns gave an overview on the above mentioned training project. In the next phase the trainer Markus Pape presented the LTB stacks with which the apprentices are expected to work (and how they can be used).  After these instructions the LL partners organised a group discussion. In this discussion the apprentices gave feedback on the new toolset and what benefits they could immediately see in using it.

Building upon the work of the pioneering trades

As has been indicated, the carpenters and bricklayers started immediately with a joint project. A similar cooperation opportunity was identified with the pioneering group of well-builders. In the next phase they will continue in Bau-ABC with the trade of machinery and metalworking (Maschinen- und Metalltechnik). Lothar Schoka agreed to work with his colleagues in this trade to develop stacks for them and to advise them in the use of LTB. Likewise, we discovered that the trainers working with road-builders (Strassenbauer) and pipeline-builders (Rohrleitungsbauer) can work together to develop new stacks on the basis of existing pilot stack for road-builders.

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Screenshot 3 and 4: Building closely matching LTB-stacks for the pilot group getting taining in neighbouring trades (well-duilding, pipeline-building)

In this respect we saw that LTB pilots can be brought further via natural cooperation between the neighbouring trades. However, we also noted several challenges and hurdles that need to be taken up in Bau-ABC and in the LTB developers’ team. And we saw a possibility to proceed to a new phase of Theme Room training with the use of LTB as one of the themes.

Learning Toolbox (LTB) Chronicle Vol. 3, 3/2016

Article 2/2016 Peer learning and use of digital media in Theme Room workshops

Pekka Kämäräinen

The first article of this series gives an overview of the Theme Room training campaign that was implemented in the training centre Bau-ABC in November 2015. This second article gives insights into the processes of peer learning and into use of digital media during the workshop sessions. Below the two main sections inform of the activities and learning experiences with the themes “Social media as support for learning” and “Preparation of digital learning materials”.

Here it is worthwhile to note that these observations refer mainly to the group in which the author served as a co-tutor. In addition, some general remarks are made on the group dynamics in the parallel groups (based on knowledge sharing between the tutors).

1. The role of Social Media as support for learning

In most groups the tutors from Bau-ABC were hosting Facebook groups for their trade and the apprentices were actively involved as contributors and readers. Yet, not all training staff was in favour of using Facebook. However, it was acknowledged by the participants that the existing Facebook groups of Bau-ABC have played a positive role. Therefore, the exercises  with Facebook served as a natural ‘starter’ for this theme – to be followed by other media platforms and networks.

The uses of Facebook – and the importance of getting hands on Facebook

The learning exercises started with creating/activating accounts and getting informed of the settings. Here, some groups put more attention on the privacy settings, whilst others worked with sharing contents between individuals and groups. Altogether, these exercises helped to overcome the gap between users and non-users.

Getting a broader overview of social media, platforms and networks

The aim of the training was to get introduced to a wider range of social media and to get a picture of their usability in apprentice training. For this purpose, there were brief demonstrations and a brainstorming session for discussing the pros and cons with different media. In this way we covered the use of Twitter, blogs, YouTube and other media. Finally, the participants were invited to indicate their own priorities for using social media and to explain, for what purposes and with which target groups they are suitable.

2.  Preparing digital learning materials for vocational training

With this theme we had somewhat different approaches in parallel groups. The groups that began with this theme started to prepare exemplary digital contents and emphasised the production and editing processes. The groups that began with the theme ‘Social Media’ put the main emphasis on working with blogs and integrating the use of different tools to their work with blogs (as digital learning environments).

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Screenshot 1 and 2: Production and editing video material in Theme Room workshops

Working with videos and particular GoConqr tools

The two pioneering groups working with digital learning materials engaged the participants in producing short videos. In addition they prepared exemplary exercises for apprentices with GoConqr quiz tools. These groups used the brainstorming phases to consider the usability of videos and GoConqr applications in training. When continuing to social media, these groups discussed the role of blogs as instruments for presenting such exercises for apprentices.

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Screenshot 3 and 4: Working with trainers’ blogs and GoConqr Quizzes

Working with blogs

The groups that put more emphasis on blogs had slightly different approaches. In one group the trainers were engaged to create completely new blogs and to use them for posting and commenting messages. Here the participants became familiar with the processes, techniques and editing options.

In another group the main attention was given on the existing trainers’ blogs (in particular the Zimmererblog and the Brunnenbauerblog). When exploring the existing blogs the participants discussed, how these pioneering blogs could be used as  a basis for introducing similar solutions for other occupational areas. In a next step, the question of optimal uses of blogs was taken up again. The group prepared jointly a GoConqr mindmap presenting arguments for introducing different contents via blogs and for making them public or private.

The work in both groups brought more closer to each other participants who had already worked with blogs and the others who had not had experience with blogs. Furthermore, the discussion in the latter group brought forward the idea of integrated ‘packages’ as building blocks for further trainers’ blogs. These packages could link to each other text documents, photos/drawings/videos, quiz tests and links to external materials. In this respect the session paved way for introducing the Learning Toolbox.

Learning Toolbox (LTB) Chronicle Vol. 3, 2/2016

Article 1/2016 Insights into “Theme Room” training campaign in Bau-ABC Rostrup

Pekka Kämäräinen

One of the highlights in the Construction pilot of the Learning Layers (LL) project in 2015 was the training campaign based on the “Theme Room” approach in the training centre Bau-ABC Rostrup. Originally the idea of such a campaign was initiated by the traininers (Lehrwerkmeister) of Bau-ABC in their internal discussions. They wanted to have a flexible training model that would link to each other regular presence workshops and self-organised learning with peer tutoring and online support. This was brought together in the concept of “Theme Rooms” (Themenräume).

1. The “Theme Room” approach takes shape and is implemented

The key idea of the Theme Room concept was to agree on a set of key themes that would be covered by parallel (or successive) workshops. The continuation of learning should also be supported by online learning spaces and peer tutors. The participants will work their way through the set of Theme Rooms in an agreed time frame (to be adjusted to the tempo of the participants). With the help of online learning spaces and peer tutoring the participants should be supported to make their way through the learning tasks in the Theme Rooms.

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Screenshot 1 and 2: Grouping into Theme Rooms and Overview on learning materials

In the preparation the following set of themes was considered for the Theme Room training:

  1. Use of social media as support for learning
  2. Preparation of digital learning materials
  3. Intellectual property rights, licensing and sharing information
  4. Use of Learning Toolbox (LTB) as an integrative toolset.

In the detailed planning we chose to start with fewer themes and to organise two workshops for each of the two selected key themes. We agreed to start with the themes ‘Social media’ and ‘Digital learning materials’. The theme ‘Intellectual property rights’ was then introduced by a short  contributions from a special tutor (Dirk Stieglitz) who visited the groups one after another. Finally, we agreed to postpone the introduction of the Learning Toolbox (LTB) to a later phase of the Theme Room training.

With these content-related preparations we then started the training campaign that involved the whole training staff of Bau-ABC (in Rostrup) and the parallel centre ABZ (in Mellendorf). For each parallel group (altogether 5) we appointed one peer tutor from Bau-ABC staff (Lothar Schoka, Kevin Kuck, Markus Pape, Stefan Wiedenstried, Melanie Campbell) and a co-tutor from the ITB team (Pekka Kämäräinen, Joanna Burchert, Lars Heinemann, Werner Müller, Ludger Deitmer). In addition, Dirk Stieglitz served as a special tutor and Jaanika Hirv (Tallinn University) was supporting the overall implementation of the training.

2. Interim assessment after the first Theme Room workshops

Insights into the thematic workshops and into the learning experiences will be given in another article (see Peer learning and use of digital media in Theme Room workshops). Therefore I will make a shortcut to the interim assessment that took place after the cycle of four workshops in a joint wrap-up meeting in Bau-ABC. Below I have picked up some  points from the discussion:

a) The learning experiences in the groups

The participants from Bau-ABC started with comments on their special learning experiences and with positive feedback on the learning climate in the groups.  Here, it was worthwhile to note that several positive comments came from participants who indicated themselves as beginners. Also Director Emken (in the role of a participant) emphasised the importance that everyone had a chance to participate as a peer learner (and to learn more in one’s own pace). In this respect there was no pressure to try to know more (and to show more) than one was able.

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Screenshots 3 and 4: Reporting on learning by two groups with their GoConqr mindmaps

b) Feedback on practical arrangements

Concerning the practicalities, there were several comments. Firstly, the timing of the sessions on Friday afternoon was not considered quite ideal  for such learning new things.  Yet, we could agree that the groups had always overcome the fatigue and got inspired during the sessions. We got a clear signal that it was worthwhile to have two workshops for the same theme and a to maintain continuity across the themes. In a similar way the trainers appreciated the continuation of work with the same tutors in their groups.

c) Organisational implications

Director Emken referred to the need for Bau-ABC to position itself as users of digital media, web tools and mobile technologies in training. In this respect Emken emphasised that Bau-ABC is in the position of learner and has to make progress, but it is clearly moving on step by step. Here, Emken reminded that Bau-ABC needs to keep its industrial counterparts with it on the journey. From this perspective it was clear to him and to the participants that there is a commitment to continue with the Theme Room program and to make the best of it.

Altogether, the comments were positive and expressed willingness to work further with such training. We as Learning Layers partners were pleased to conclude the event by looking forward to good continuation. The Theme Room training had made its case and provided a good basis for the next steps.

Learning Toolbox (LTB) Chronicle Vol. 3, 1/2016

Learning Toolbox (LTB) Chronicle Vol. 2, 2015 – Overview

Construction Pilot articles of the Learning Layers project (Year 3)

Pekka Kämäräinen

The Learning Toolbox Chronicle is a collection of articles on the work of the Construction pilot of the Learning Layers project. The co-design process that was initiated in 2013 by the project partners from the training centre Bau-ABC Rostrup has led to the development of the integrative toolset Learning Toolbox (LTB) to support online learning and knowledge sharing.

The articles of Vol. 2, 2015 report on activities of the third year of the Learning Layers project Construction pilot that paved the way for the piloting with the Learning Toolbox in the fourth year of the project.

Article 1/2015 The Learning exhibition “nachhaltig.bauen.erleben” opened in Verden (25.4.2015)

In April 2015 the application partner Agentur experienced a highlight when the joint exhibition and office building of the organisations for ecological construction work (Agentur, NNB and NZNB) was inaugurated. In this context the Learning Exhibition “nachhaltig.bauen.erleben(sustainable.construction work. lived experience) was opened.

Article 2/2015 Training Day on Learning Layers tools in Bau-ABC Rostrup (11.5.2015)

In May 2015 the application partner Bau-ABC organised its annual Training Days for training its own staff. In this context the research partners ITB and Pontydysgu were invited to organise workshops to explore the use of Learning Layers tools – in particular of the Learning Toolbox – with Bau-ABC trainers and continuing vocational training coordinators.

Article 3/2015 Learning Layers meets Finnish promoters of apprentice training (Espoo 4.6.2015)

In June 2015 the research partners ITB and Aalto organised a meeting with Finnish promoters of apprentice training to share information on the Learning Layers pilots in construction sector (in Finland and Germany) and to discuss the developments in Finnish apprentice training.

Article 4/2015 Learning Layers presents the Learning Toolbox Beta version in the International VET conference and on a field visit to Bau-ABC (Rostrup/Bremen 2.9.-3.9.2015)

In September 2015 the developers of the Learning Toolbox launched the public Beta version via Google Playstore. This was was combined to a field visit to Bau-ABC (with ITB and Pontydysgu) and to a workshop in Bremen International Vocational Education and Training conference. 

Article 5/2015 Learning Layers in dialogue with other projects at ECER 2015 (Budapest 9.9.2015)

In September 2015 the research partners ITB and Pontydysgu participated in the European Conference on Educational Research (ECER 2015) in Budapest. Here the Learning Layers project was presented in an ITB-led symposium that brought the project into dialogue with two other projects working with digital media and web resources as support for learning.

Article 6/2015 Learning Layers meets Singapore Workforce Development Agency (Bremen 16.9.2015)

In September 2015 the research partners ITB and Pontydysgu received a 14-person delegation from Singapore Workforce Development Agency, led by the Chief Executive and Chief Research Officer. The working meeting with the delegation focused on the development of Learning Layers tools and their use to support learning in workplace contexts. The visitors informed of their new innovation program iN.LEARN 2020.