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.

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