Category Archives: mobile learning

Working further with the Learning Toolbox – Overview on current activities in construction sector

After the final review of our EU-funded Learning Layers (LL) project (see my blogs from January and February) I have tried to report on the follow-up activities in North Germany and with our partners in construction sector. In my blogs in March, April and May I have reported on ongoing projects or new initiatives in which the use of Learning Toolbox (LTB) has played an important role. As these blogs have been based on particular meetings or workshops, the picture may have remained somewhat fragmentary. However, this week we have had a series of meetings with different counterparts. This has made it possible to create a group picture of ongoing activities.

Below I will report on the discussions in the three first meetings of this week in which I was present. Here it is worthwhile to note that none of these meetings was focusing only on specific uses of LTB Continue reading

What comes after “Learning Layers”? – Part Three: Getting deeper with vocational learning, ‘health and safety’ and digital media

In my two previous blogs I referred to the fact that our EU-funded Learning Layers (LL) project had come to an end and that we (the ITB team involved in the construction sector pilot) are working with follow-up activities. I then described briefly, how I came to start a joint initiative on digital media in the area of ‘health and safety’ (Arbeitssicherheit und Gesundheitsschutz) with trainers of the training centre Bau-ABC. In my previous post I sketched the initiative roughly. Now – after our second meeting – I can give more information and I need to reflect on lessons  learned already at this stage.

Looking back – the achievements with the Learning Layers project

Firstly I need to remind myself how this initiative drew upon the achievements of the LL project. During the project some of the trainers had created WordPress blogs to present their training contents (Project Continue reading

Final Review of Learning Layers – Part Two: Presentations on the Construction Pilot

In my previous post I started a series of posts on the concluding event of our EU-funded Learning Layers (LL) project – the Final Review. I also explained how we came to the idea to organise the event primarily at the Norddeutsches Zentrum für Nachhaltiges Bauen ((NZNB) – North-German Centre for Ecological Construction Work in Verden, near Bremen).  I tthen gave a picture of the arrangements and the agenda of Review Meeting and how we made use of the spaces provided by the NZNB to present our work in a more dynamic and dialogue-oriented way. In this post I focus on our reporting on the Construction Pilot – what we reported and how we presented our message (taking into account the different arrangements we had prepared before the review panel arrived.

Construction Pilot: Exhibition space and presentation session

We started our contributions with a ‘guided tour’ round the Exhibition Continue reading

Once more Learning Layers – Part Three: Reflections on parallel pilots in construction and healthcare

In this series of posts I am working with one of the final tasks in our EU-funded Learning Layers (LL) project – analysing the work in the two sectoral pilots – construction and healthcare – from a comparative perspective. At the end of the work it is necessary to consider, what we have learned from parallel pilots and what conclusions we can draw on the basis of comparative analyses. In this respect I am presenting extracts from a joint draft document on which I am working with my colleagues Tamsin Treasure-Jones and Graham Attwell. With these posts I try to ‘blog into maturity’ the preliminary thoughts we have put into discussion. In the previous posts I presented some starting points and insights into the processes. In this post I present our reflections on the parallel pilots – to be continued in the final post with conclusions across the pilots. (Here, Continue reading

Once more Learning Layers – Part Two: Comparative insights into both pilot sectors

In this series of posts I am working with one of the final tasks in our EU-funded Learning Layers (LL) project – analysing the work in the two sectoral pilots – construction and healthcare – from a comparative perspective. At the end of the work it is necessary to consider, what we have learned from parallel pilots and what conclusions we can draw on the basis of comparative analyses. In this respect I have been working with my colleagues Tamsin Treasure-Jones and Graham Attwell with a joint draft document. In this series I present extracts from our document as ‘loud thinking’ to ‘blog them into maturity’. In my first post I presented our approach and the starting points of the sectoral pilots. In this post I present some insights into project work in the two pilots. In the final posts I will present our reflections and some emerging conclusions. (Here, Continue reading

Once more Learning Layers – Part One: Learning lessons from both pilot sectors

Twice I have already tried to say goodbye to project work in our EU-funded Learning Layers (LL) project – in vain. Having completed the reporting on the construction pilot with the the forthcoming web documents (impact cards, learning scenarios and methodology documents) I thought that I could step to a follow-up phase. However, at that point I had not realised that there is one more pending task that we need to address in the context of our reporting. We need to have a closer look at the efforts, achievements and experiences in the two sectoral pilots – construction and healthcare – with a comparative view. We need to see, what specific lessons we have learned in each of them and what conclusions we can draw on the basis of both sectoral pilots. So, now I am working with my colleagues Tamsin Treasure-Jones and Graham Attwell to summarise the picture of Continue reading

Goodbye Learning Layers (Version 2.0) – Welcome follow-up activities

Two weeks ago I wrote and published my ‘Goodbye’ message to our EU-funded Learning Layers (LL) project. Obviously, I was too hasty – my work in the project was not over although my contract had come to an end. And apparently my colleagues guessed this because they didn’t react as if it were really the end. During the two last weeks I have been heavily involved in finalising the contributions of the LL Construction Pilot to the final deliverable. Now – as far as I am concerned – that work is done. I pass the ball and leave the field.

In the meantime I pulled the original ‘Goodbye’ blog out. Now it is time to publish it again. Here it comes:

The Goodbye Message

During the last four years most of my blogs have been related with our EU-funded Learning Layers (LL) project (2012-2016). I have used my blog to Continue reading

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.


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.

Baugeräteführer_ Training-areaBaugeräteführer_AchSo-video

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