WP3 – Creating and Maturing Instructional Material

The overall objective of WP3 is to create a living ecology of high-quality boundary objects supporting individual informal learning activities where creation and maintenance processes are sustainable, especially in terms of efforts/costs, for networks of SMEs. Its vision is thestablishment and facilitation of a collaborative and cross-organisational maturing process of both knowledge and instructional material that supports the learning of the individuals (as investigated in WP2), and in the end, the learning of the organisation. The conceptual foundation will be the knowledge maturing model (as developed in the MATURE IP), which has proven to be a successful and flexible instrument for understanding, describing, and measuring collective  knowledge development processes, and for designing supportive tools. However, the current state of the model insufficiently takes into account the cross-organisational perspective and the specific problems associated with it in the context of a network of SMEs.
The specific challenge of this work package is to investigate, design, and support such creation and development processes within the constraints of SME networks. This includes:

  • Exploitation of network effects (and barriers towards their realization). For SMEs, the efforts to support learning activities of their employees need to be kept to a minimum. They do not have training departments, and they also do not have large budgets for external providers. Similar challenges are encountered in other areas of operation where SMEs join forces with other SMEs so that they can outsource efforts to a whole network. However, this only works if the network organisation and cooperation design sufficiently takes into account the “coopetition” situation (and the associated factor of trust), i.e., while they cooperate, they still remain competititors in the market, which is a particularly sensitive issue when it comes to dealing with knowledge. Towards that end, we need to develop a sound understanding of competitive advantage (that needs to be protected), and barriers to sharing knowledge with others (which hinders both the individual company and the network to develop further). From there, we can develop both technical and non-technical (e.g., guidelines) measures to address this. 
  • Low barrier content creation and enrichment tools. Many technology-enhanced learning tools embody sophisticated ideas and technology, but lack acceptance (where they are stable enough for wide-spread use) due to conceptual complexity. Therefore we need to build on tools and services that are already available in a prototypical state and enhance or connect them – instead of development from scratch. And we need to focus on simplicity and ease of use by focussing on (i) simple metaphors (e.g., story telling), (ii) built-in support for casual users (e.g., for selecting building blocks to compose) and (iii) reduction to the “right” set of of features.
  • Quality of instructional material. In SME networks, in many cases, we need to rely on material that has not been created by individuals with a didactical background. Furthermore, the most pressing need for material is in areas with low-to-medium maturity which has not been recognized by training material providers. Thus, in LAYERS we build upon a peer-production scenario, which raises the issues of quality assurance and reliability, which in turn is a prerequisite for trust. The only viable approach lies in a network-centered quality assurance with community gardeners who need to be supported by indicators that originate in the usage, in peer-based rating, and automated analysis of the content object. Here we will build upon the results from the MATURE project and develop this further towards larger networks of SMEs. 

Specific objectives of the work package: 

  • O3.1 Empower individuals in SMEs to create meaningful, persistent and high quality boundary objects for informal learning situations
    • Address motivational aspects of individuals (based on empirical results in WP1)
    •  Provide methodological support for creation and maintenance as part of the integrated scaffolding concept between WP2-5
    • Provide low-effort tools for remixing multimedia boundary objects in cooperation with WP4
  • O3.2 Establish a socio-technical quality assurance system for such networks of boundary objects based on maturity indicators
    • Develop a conceptual model for collective development and improvement of boundary objects  Develop (possibly context-dependent) indicators for the maturity and relevance of boundary objects 
    • Provide services and tools for creating awareness, establishing trust, triggering improvement, and supporting a gardener role in a community in cooperation with WP5 
  • O3.3 Sustainable sharing and remixing of boundary objects across organisational boundaries
    • Analyse organisational barriers to sharing (based on empirical results in WP1)
    • Create awareness about opportunities and risks of sharing 
    • Provide appropriate tool functionality for sharing opportunities

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