Tag Archives: user engagement

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

Pekka Kämäräinen and Marjo Virnes

In Spring 2015 the Learning Layers partners from Aalto University worked in a pilot project to test the AchSo video annotation tool in construction sector. The project was organised in collaboration with Finnish Construction Trade Union, the construction company Skanska and the regional vocational schools in Tampere and Valkeakoski. This pilot was reported in a news article in the Rakentaja (Builder) journal of the trade union. The article was translated and published (as English and German versions) by the Learning Layers project (see http://learning-layers.eu/construction/ and http://learning-layers.eu/german/aktivitaten/).

As a follow-up initiative the Learning Layers partners ITB and Aalto arranged a joint event with Finnish organisations that are promoting apprentice training and workplace learning. The invited participants represented the Finnish agencies for apprentice training (Annukka Norontaus, Terttu Konttinen) the Finnish association of ‘”Promoters of Apprenticeships” (Kari Viinisalo) and the Finnish vocational teacher education institute in commerce and hospitality (Virve Vainio).

Firstly ITB and Aalto informed of the Learning Layers project and of its overall development in the years 2013 and 2014, secondly of Finnish pilots with the AchSo tool (in vocational education in the construction sector and in the healthcare sector) and thirdly of the development of the Learning Toolbox as an integrative toolset to support learning in the context of work.

ScrShot_LTB-projectScrShot_AchSo-Demo

Screenshots 1 and 2: Apprentice’s project supported by Learning Toolbox (LTB) and using Video Annotation Tool AchSo at construction site

The Finnish participants shared information on current government policies and civic initiatives to promote apprentice training as well as of forthcoming conferences. Some participants reported of their ongoing studies on the societal and economic impact of apprentice training.

The participants agreed to maintain communication and created a joint mailing list for sharing news. Also, the participants agreed to contribute to Verkko-Osaaja (web-based news bulletin of the association of the agencies for apprentice training) with articles on the event, on developments in Learning Layers and on individual studies.

Learning Toolbox (LTB) Chronicle Vol. 2, 3/2015

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

Pekka Kämäräinen, Ludger Deitmer, Werner Müller and Lars Heinemann

The Training Days are a regular training event for the staff of Bau-ABC Rostrup, the application partner of the Learning Layers project. This year the research partners ITB and Pontydysgu were invited to organise three workshop sessions during the first day. Two of these sessions for targeted for different groups of trainers (Lehrwerkmeister) and the third one for the coordinators of continuing training (including also the ICT support staff).

LL_Training-Day_1

All these sessions followed the same structure. Firstly there was a brief overview on the Learning Layers project as a whole, on the Learning Toolbox as the central ‘tool’ for our pilots in the construction sector. Secondly there was a brief explanation how these elements were brought into a joint system architecture that is managed with different software solutions. Thirdly, there was an online-demonstration that presented the functionality of the Learning Toolbox that was being developed for the forthcoming Beta-version.

LL_Training-Day_2

These presentations paved the way for group work. For these sessions the trainers had selected thematic projects that they use in apprentice training. In the group with continuing vocational training we discussed the phases of presence training and the phases of self-organised learning as contexts for using Learning Layers tools. In addition we discussed the issue of engaging visiting trainers (Referenten) as users of Learning Layers tools.

During the group work the trainers identified points of intervention for using Learning Toolbox (i.e. retrieving information, using third party apps, documenting phases of work with videos and annotating videos). In the group work with the representatives of Continuing Vocational Training (CVT) the research partners gathered points to be taken up in a spin-off project that was being prepared for a specific CVT program.

Learning Toolbox (LTB) Chronicle Vol. 2, 2/2015

Reaching out to Developers

developer

One of the things I am working on in the Learning layers project is user engagement.
Learning Layers is based on user centred design model, involving end users and organisations in developing solutions to promote both formal and informal learning using technology in clusters consisting of:

  • Small and Medium Enterprises.
  • Regional Education and research institutions; typically upper secondary level and tertiary level)
  • regional authorities, national and European – policymakers responsible for incentive systems for regional growth and innovation, and for developing policies and initiatives for initial and continuing vocational education and training
  • Investors, banks, investment funds, business angels, public bodies- funding and supporting innovation.

Engaging with users and involving them in design of new solutions is also part of the research strategy. Layers researchers obtain research data from the interaction with users in the design based research model.

I am basing the strategy on a model of open innovation and will publish more about our ideas on this over the next few days. One of the things is to move away from the traditional project approach of dissemination of the end results to potential users and stakeholders to a model based on active participation – and on an architecture of participation. We have produced a table of different stakeholders in the project and are trying to understand from what direction their interest might come, what they want to get out of the project and what active contribution they might make.
Based on this we are putting forward a number of concrete initiatives the project can take over the next three and a half years.
One such idea is Layers PBL, standing for Layers Problem Based Learning, Practice Based Learning or Project Based learning depending in your way of looking at it (I see it as all three). This involves connecting outwards to engage with student groups, who in computing or business ICT are often required to undertake a one semester programme undertaking a real project in conjunction with companies.
We have piloted this approach with a team of students from HsKA, the Technical University of Karlsruhe. They are working on an idea for an app based on talks we had with a doctor at a Layers meeting held in Bradford earlier this year. The idea is that in their limited free time (in the car between appointments and meetings) users can reply to a series of questions on their phone. They can move between questions through a voice command and the app will communicate with a webs interface to produce a transcript of their answers which can then be edited and downloaded. The web interface also allows people to build their own (scaffolded) sequence of questions – which we call a stack – and to share them with other users if they wish. They can also rate different stacks.
So far it is going pretty well. The web interface is pretty much finished and they are now developing the mobile interface. The students are using SCRUM programming with weekly sprints. We usually meet online for about 20 minutes a week for them to present their progress and for us to provide feedback.
Last week I talked with Chris Whitehead who ia programmer with Tribal, another partner in the Layers project. Chris has helped develop m-learning. a content development tool for mobiles. And he suggested that we could link the app being developed by the Karlsruhe students (code named Reflect) to the m-learning application. I talked about this to Andreas Vratny, one of the Karlsruhe lead developers, on Friday. And hey presto, by Sunday we had an API and an OAuth system to allow single log in to the two systems.
The present version of the app is being developed for the Android operating system. We will release it on the Pontydysgu site as soon as it is ready, as well as on the Android store. If it catches on we will try to port it to iOS. And we are thinking about extending our development activities to further universities with a the development of a Layers Design Library to support developers. If anyone is interested please get in touch.