Category Archives: technology

Technology is not a panacea

As regular readers will know, one of teh major projects we are involved in is the Learning layers project, focused on technology support for informal learning in the construction and health sectors. As part of this we are involved in ongoing scoping, concerning both the introduction of new technologies and the changes in work practices and organisation that this entails.

Probably the biggest news in construction is the introduction of Building Information Modelling (BIM) defined by Wikipedia as “a process involving the generation and management of digital representations of physical and functional characteristics of places”. BIM has been seen as almost revolutionising the construction industry and offering considerable savings in the coordination and execution of construction projects, improved logistics, waste saving and the long term management of buildings. The adoption of BIM is mandatory in the European Union for public construction contracts, although different European member states have different Continue reading

Technology is not a panacea

As regular readers will know, one of teh major projects we are involved in is the Learning layers project, focused on technology support for informal learning in the construction and health sectors. As part of this we are involved in ongoing scoping, concerning both the introduction of new technologies and the changes in work practices and organisation that this entails.

Probably the biggest news in construction is the introduction of Building Information Modelling (BIM) defined by Wikipedia as “a process involving the generation and management of digital representations of physical and functional characteristics of places”. BIM has been seen as almost revolutionising the construction industry and offering considerable savings in the coordination and execution of construction projects, improved logistics, waste saving and the long term management of buildings. The adoption of BIM is mandatory in the European Union for public construction contracts, although different European member states have different Continue reading

Sustaining learning

I am in Tallinn in Estonia experiencing an early reminder of how cold and wet north European winters can be. I am here for a consortium meeting of the EU sponsored Learning layers project. Consortium meetings in these large projects can have a considerable number of participants, some 50 researchers and application partners attended the last meeting in Bad Zwischenahn in Germany.

Tomorrow am am helping organise a two and half hour workshop with the perhaps not particualrly sexy title of Sustainability, Scalability & Replicability. Whats it all about?  The problem is that far too many projects – esepcially in the area of technology enhanced learning – fail to develop finished products. And even those that do usually fail to get ream traction around such products let alone work out how to sustain the development. We don’t want that to happen with Learning layers. We think we are well Continue reading

How do apprentices use mobile devices for learning?

Last autumn, we undertook a survey of how apprentices in the German construction industry use mobile devices. This was undertaken as part of the Learning Layers project. We produced a report on this work in December, when some 581  apprentices had completed the survey. Now we have more than 700 replies. We plan to update our analysis to include those who responded after that date. However a number of people have asked me for access to the report as it is and so I am publishing it on this blog.

In summary we found

  • 86,7 per cent of apprentices survey have a smartphone, 19,4 per cent a tablet
  • 94 per cent  pay for internet connectivity themselves
  • 55.6 per cent use their smartphone or tablet more than 10 times a day
  • 42.8 per cent say they use their mobile or tablet often or very often for seeking work-related information. Continue reading

Requirements Bazaar – enable users and developers to innovate together (RE’13 best tool demo award)

Turning user requirements into solutions is a major challenge of software development. It is tough bazaarfor developers to fulfill the user’s needs. Strikingly, often this is not due to a lack of technology but due to insufficient communication between users and developers. This issue is approached by the Requirements Bazaar.

Experiences from earlier projects showed that traditional requirements engineering techniques (interviews, focus groups, etc.) become virtually unfeasible in highly distributed settings involving multiple diverse domains. Usually, traditional techniques are challenged by a lack of scalability, increased efforts and travel expenses, numbers of end-users >> number of developers, lack of traceability, lack of unified process. The Requirements Bazaar and its underlying Social Requirements Engineering approach were developed to address exactly these challenges.

The Learning Layers Project is the perfect match for the application of a social requirements engineering process – multiple spatially distributed partners, test-beds in multiple domains, high demands for open source support. Thus, we employ the Requirements Bazaar as a platform for end-users and developers to elicit, negotiate, and prioritize requirements together. First, requirements for one overarching infrastructure for SME collaboration in domain clusters were collected and prioritized by end-user contributed votings. In the context of task T6.1, the requirements and prioritizations collected with the Requirements Bazaar served as input for the construction of a House of Quality document. Furthermore, the informal comments posted by end-users on the Requirements Bazaaron individual requirements helped to clarify misunderstandings and elaborate requirements. In the further development process in Learning Layers we envision to employ the Requirements Bazaar again for requirements engineering wrt. to mobile applications to be developed for the two domain clusters from construction and healthcare.

The Requirements Bazaar has been included as  a demo by the prestigious IEEE International Conference on Requirements Engineering. The 21st IEEE International Conference on Requirements Engineering will take place in Rio de Janeiro, Brasil, July 15th-19th, 2013. We will present the software there and report about our experiences in the Learning Layers Project.

Update: The Requirements Bazaar was awarded the best tool demo of RE’13. In contrast to previous years, best poster and tool demo awards were judged by the conference audience. Each conference participant could vote by attaching sticky notes in different colors standing for different amounts of points. Our demo received by far the most sticky notes with “good colors” in comparison to the 7 other demos. In the end, we won the prestigious RE’13 Best Tool Demo award.

Dominik Renzel, Malte Behrendt, Ralf Klamma, Matthias Jarke: An Open Requirements Bazaar for Social Requirements Engineering in the Long Tail, accepted for IEEE RE 2013.

Abstract—Current globalized service orientation poses great challenges to traditional Requirements Engineering (RE). The innovation potential of specialized niche communities often re- mains inaccessible to service providers due to a lack of effective negotiation between these two groups. Social Requirements Engineering (SRE) aims at bringing together communities and service providers into such a negotiation process. Communities should be supported to express and trace their requirements and eventually receive a realization. Service providers should be supported in discovering relevant innovative requirements to maximize impact with a realization. Addressing these challenges, this paper presents the Requirements Bazaar, a browser-based social software for SRE. In particular, we focus on four aspects: requirements specification, a workflow for co-creation, workspace integration and personalizable requirements prioritization.

… read more about it here (also you can test it)

Involving users and scaling up applications for learning

I am spending a lot of time working on the Learning Layers project at the moment. There are two interlinked areas on which I have been thinking. The first is design processes – more particularly how we can develop a user centred or co-design process. And the second is how we can scale the uptake of applications and approaches to learning with technology to significant numbers of users.

the two are interlinked, I think, because if we involve users in every part of the design process, we have a reasonable chance of developing software which is relevant to users. However, having said that, we are realising that different users have very different interests. We are working in two main sectors – or industrial clusters – in the construction sector and in the health sector. Motivations and restrains on the use of technologies for learning vary greatly between the two sectors. Continue reading