Tag Archives: clusters

Layers and cluster visitors: What did we learn in Bau-ABC today (Part 1)

During the last few weeks quite a lot of effort in the Learning Layers (LL) project have been put to reporting and drawing conclusions from the Y2 activities. Also, a lot of effort has been put to the technical development of the tools. This might give a false impression that our fieldwork in the construction sector pilots has gone to standstill. We wouldn’t accept this interpretation. Yet, since we have not been able to organise major events, it is difficult to give a picture, what is going on  in the field. (For several practical reasons we had to postpone a new round of field workshops to the beginning of the year 2015.) From this point of view we were happy to receive visitors from the Norwegian Tretorget cluster organisation and to make a joint field visit to Bau-ABC with them. Below, in the first post I presents some observations Continue reading

What is Learning Layers project about?

Despite the recognized importance of informal learning at the workplace, most technological solutions are targeted towards a learning model based on the ideas of direct formal instruction. In contrast to formal instruction that is organized along curricula, workplace learning takes place through work processes, is multi episodic, is often informal, is problem based and takes place on a just in time basis and often involves the passing on of skills and knowledge from skilled workers. While this learning from individual experience is highly effective and intrinsically motivating for the individual, it does not scale very well: if individual experiences are not further taken up in systematic organizational learning practices, learning remains costly, fragmented and unsystematic.

In the project, we aim for building technology and the capacity to employ it. We especially aim for empowering regional clusters to deploy our technologies, solutions and services for widespread adoption for learning at work. As a long-term outcome, we want to empower regions to create a talented workforce with the skills and competencies needed for smart specialisation, innovation, and growth.

This should be enabled by a new workplace learning pedagogy and technology that allows scaling informal learning, and a technical infrastructure that can be flexibly deployed in a variety of different scenarios while ensuring scalability, privacy and security. It also requires a large co-creation effort that involves a large number of stakeholders, which leads us from open research, to open development and innovation.

The Learning Layers project has therefore set out to achieve the following challenging objective:

  • to scale-up informal learning technologies in SME clusters to create meaningful learning opportunities and thereby.
  • to improve sustained competitiveness of individuals, SMEs and the cluster as a whole.

The project tackles scaling on a number of levels:

  • First, and to ensure technological means are in line with current practices, we are extending our knowledge on informal learning practices especially with a focus on SMEs in more traditional sectors, their work and learning in physical workplaces and across organisational boundaries.
  • Second, the project aims to deliver a set of interaction technologies that unlocks peer production in networked SME settings and scaffolds individuals for meaningful learning. The approach is visualized in Figure 1.

Approach-for-scaling-informal-learning

Figure 1: Concept for Scaling Informal Learning Technologies in SME Clusters

SMEs participate in co creating and sharing learning resources and opportunities. At the same time, their interactions with these needs to be scaffolded to help individuals meaningfully learn from those opportunities. Driven by the main types of informal learning interactions (people, digital and physical artefacts), we particularly focus on the following three types of interaction technologies that will mediate informal learning:

    • Technologies to scaffold interpersonal help seeking in a networked enterprise context
    • Technologies to create, remix and share dynamic, up-to-date and high quality learning content in a cost-effective way within and across organisational boundaries
    • Technologies that capture and mediate meaningful informal learning interactions in work processes and practices in physical contexts using physical artefacts

These interaction technologies will draw upon social semantic technologies for capturing and supporting the negotiation of meaning that arises from within informal organisational and cross-organisational learning processes.

To sustain our efforts, we will deliver a service-based open-source technology platform that empowers key stakeholders to build upon our solutions and allows for delivering novel ways of cloud-based informal workplace learning support. We will also develop a business training model that demonstrates how technologies and methodologies can be adopted rapidly and effectively by SME networks and engage key stakeholders and potential commercial adopters to ensure integration with their future business models

We will finally demonstrate the usefulness and scaling of the technologies and methodologies in the context of two representative and large-scale regional clusters in two highly dynamic and competitive sectors in the healthcare and the building & construction domains multiple users.

Connecting the designers and the users – Stories about healthcare workplace learning – sharing


This video is an example of how Layers is using technology to share initial reports from the fieldwork with the developers and researchers in the design teams. Leeds is undertaking explorative studies with 3 GP practices in the UK, spending time with their staff to understand how they currently learn at work. These videos were made to share early stories and observations from the fieldwork with the Layers developers/researchers to help them to get a richer feel for the healthcare working and learning context. Pseudonyms have been used in these stories; none of the GP practice staff or GP practice names referred to are real. In many cases the stories do not refer to one individual’s story, but to a pattern that the researchers have observed in several situations. This particular story focuses on individual learning then being shared with colleagues.

Connecting the designers and the users – Stories about healthcare workplace learning – help seeking


This video is an example of how Layers is using technology to share initial reports from the fieldwork with the developers and researchers in the design teams. Leeds is undertaking explorative studies with 3 GP practices in the UK, spending time with their staff to understand how they currently learn at work. These videos were made to share early stories and observations from the fieldwork with the Layers developers/researchers to help them to get a richer feel for the healthcare working and learning context. Pseudonyms have been used in these stories; none of the GP practice staff or GP practice names referred to are real. In many cases the stories do not refer to one individual’s story, but to a pattern that the researchers have observed in several situations. This particular story focuses on help seeking beyond your own practice/organisation.

Learning Layers visits Doctors and Construction Workers

Research projects on Information and Communication Technologies are often being criticized for overly emphasizing technical issues at the expense of considerations for where and how the technologies should be employed. The Learning Layers project is quite different in this respect as only roughly half of the overall budget will go into researching and developing technology. Continue reading

Learning Layers: supporting the emergence of innovation clusters

My colleague Pekka from the University of Bremen has posted a series of useful reports on this site about the Application Partner Days, held as part of the Learning Layers project, funded by the European Commission IST programme.

Learning layers is aiming to increase the use of technology for learning in Small and Medium Enterprises in Europe, particularly through the use of mobile devices for informal learning in two ‘industry clusters, in the north German construction industry and in the medical sector in north east England.

Obviously such a project faces a number of challenges, given the slow take up of technology enhanced learning in SMEs. The Application Partner Days are designed to bring developers and researchers together with potential end users in organisations in the two sectors. And prior to the Application partner Days in north Germany, we also spent two days visiting companies and organisations in the Continue reading