During the years 2017 – 2020 I have written regularly blog posts on my work for the EU-funded TACCLE4 CPD project. These have been published on my blog “Working and Learning” and on the TACCLE4 CPD website. As has been indicated in the blog posts, this project is the fourth in the series of transnational TACCLE projects to promote digital competences of teachers and trainers in Europe. Now, on having completed my work for the project, I have collected the blogs into a single document “Working and Learning with the TACCLE4-CPD project – Logbook of blog posts on the TACCLE4-CPD project 2017-2020”. Below I share some introductory remarks on the logbook.
The background of the TACCLE4 CPD project
The acronym TACCLE referred to the title of the first project “Teachers’ aids on creating content for learning environments” and to its main product – teachers’ handbook for developing e-learning. In the subsequent projects the emphasis was shifted to specific subject domains (TACCLE2) and to supporting the teaching of programming in general education (TACCLE3). The aim of the current project (TACCLE4 CPD) is to support the development of continuing professional development of teachers and trainers in order to enhance their digital competences. Whilst the previous projects were providing direct support for classroom teachers, the current project seeks to develop training models and provide support for those who plan CPD measures.
The challenge for the project work in the field of vocational education and training (VET)
This logbook contains primarily contributions to the work for the TACCLE4 CPD project in the field of vocational education and training (VET). However, many posts try to relate this work to the school-centred approach of the previous TACCLE projects. In particular this becomes visible in the blogs that reflect the importance of the Learning Layers project as a predecessor of the TACCLE4-CPD project.
In this respect this logbook serves as a documentation of a project-specific learning history in which achievements of prior TACCLE projects and of the Learning Layers project are brought together in order to support CPD initiatives in the field of VET. Since this is a logbook of blogs that had been written for an ongoing project, it is not appropriate to present final conclusions. Instead, the logbook provides snapshots on the development of the work at different phases of the work. Therefore, the original blog posts have been copied below as such, without further commentaries.
In my latest blog post I reported of my last contributions to the ongoing EU-funded project TACCLE4 CPD. In the same context I announced the end of my career as an active researcher and my transition to retirement. However, I then realised that I had been asked to write a short overview on the finalisation of my project work for the web page of our institute – Insitut Technik & Bildung (ITB), University of Bremen. I then thought that the best way to complete this task is to write firstly a blog post. In this way I have the chance to revisit firstly the initial idea, then the way that project work was shaped and finally results of the project. Here, it is worthwhile to note that I am not writing on behalf of the whole project but on the specific contributions that focus on the field of vocational education and training (VET).
The project idea and finding the way to work with it in the field of VET
TACCLE4 CPD project was launched as a successor of three earlier TACCLE projects that focused on promoting the digital competences of classroom teachers. The acronym TACCLE stands for “Teachers’ Aids on Creating Content for Learning Environments. The three first projects developed handbooks and online materials to support teachers who were creating contents for e-learning. The aim of the fourth project was to develop strategies and models for continuing professional development (CPD) to promote digital competences of teachers and trainers in different educational sectors.
Whilst the other partners were focusing on general education and adult education, ITB was invited to work with the field of VET. Here the main reference was the involvement of ITB in the co-design of digital tools, multimedia training for vocational trainers and pilot testing of digital tools in the EU-funded Learning Layers project. From this point of view the background of ITB experience and collaboration with practitioners differed from the approach of other partners who focused integrating the use of digital tools to school-based learning.
The above-mentioned contrast became apparent when the founder of the project, Jenny Hughes from Pontydysgu became seriously ill and then passed away during the first year. As Angela Gerrard from Pontydysgu took over the coordination, the project team had to redefine their roles in the project and find their own ways to work in their respective fields. From this point on the work of ITB became a specific sub-project thatfocused on the field of VET and built upon the work in the Learning Layers project.
The main contributions of ITB to the project
Consequently, the contributions of ITB have been special reports that link the issue of promoting digital competences to contexts of vocational and work process-oriented learning. From this perspective the reports have addressed the following themes, challenges and working perspectives:
The report on Policy analyses made transparent specific governance models in the field of VET (federal structures, stakeholder involvement) and the role of national local and sectoral innovation partnerships;
The examination of Prior and parallel innovation projects gave insights into different innovative approaches in school-based education and in vocational learning contexts;
The report on Open Educational Resources (OER) in the field of VET gave insights into specific cases in which OER had been used in vocational learning arrangements;
The research report on Strategies and Training concepts for promoting digital competences builds upon the previos reports. It makes distinctions between school-based and work process-oriented approaches, dicusses overarching frameworks and outlines different innovation paths.
The framework “Theme Room Training 2020” builds upon the research report. It revisits the experiences of training with theme rooms in the Learning Layers project. It then outlines a new set of thematic blocks in the light of the research report (e.g. the innovation paths) and other contributions (e.g. the planning tool “TACCLE Routemap”).
The report on Civic learning and new uses of digital toolsets complements the picture with newer developments. Firstly it informs of training initiatives that focus on artificial intelligence (AI). Secondly, it informs of new ways of using the Learning Toolbox (LTB) as support for self-organised learning and for online conferences during the coroca-crisis.
The final activities and results – Multiplier Event and the TACCLE4 CPD Showcase
In the final phase ITB organised a Multiplier event in the training centre Bau-ABC Rostrup – a former partner of the Learning Layers project. The event was based on a short resume of the work of the TACCLE4 CPD project and on the experiences of Bau-ABC trainers on the use of the Learning Toolbox (LTB) as support for training. Also, the experiences with training in theme rooms and the prospect of relaunching a new round of such training was discussed. The work with and in the multiplier event has been documented in and activity report.
In this context ITB presented the TACCLE4 CPD Showcase – a digital resource environment that presents the work of the project as a collection of several LTB-stacks. In this way the showcase provides a comprehensive overview and an easy access to the digital resources that have been produced and used in the project. The showcase has also been introduced in a special report for the project.
I think this is enough of reporting of the work that has been completed in the TACCLE4 CPD project. From now on I need to move on to a phase of reflecting on lessons learned – in this project and throughout my career as researcher.
During the last few months I have surprised myself by producing three new reports for the ongoing EU-funded TACCLE4 CPD project. As regular readers of this blog will know, the project has been working with strategies for promoting digital competences of teachers and trainers in different educational sectors. And, as a contrast to the three earlier TACCLE projects, the fourth one had the task to shape models and concepts for continuing professional development in educational establishments and training organisations. Furthermore, my role in the project has been to address the task for the field of vocational education and training (VET) and to bring into the project the legacy of the Learning Layers project (in which I had been working for many years).
Now, the project is in its final phase and at the same time my career as an active researchers has come to an end. During the last few weeks I have surprised myself and others by producing three new reports for the project – in addition to the five ones that I had produced by the end of last year. Below, I want to make some comments on these newer reports and how they enrich the group picture of the earlier VET-related reports.
Report 5: Promoting digital competences beyond the accustomed realm of ICT skills
During the project I had been writing blogs on innovative activities to promote digital competences via civic learning and via introduction of specific applications of the Learning Toolbox (the main product developed in the Learning Layers project). To me, the Finnish idea of developing a broad-based introductory course on artificial intelligence (AI) and its impact for the entire civil society was very inspiring. Equally, the recent progress in using the Learning Toolbox (LTB) at different contexts was impressive. In the initial pilot context, vocational trainers made new efforts to support vocational learning during the lockdown. and after the closure period they added new features to using LTB in apprentice training.
Parallel to this, other applications of LTB – mainly the use of LTB to shape ePosters for conferences (that are shifting from face-to-face events into online events) is becoming widespread. Here, it is worthwhile to note the spread from regular conferences into other kinds of of online events – such as multiplier events of EU-funded projects. Furthermore, I got informed of the progress with LTB showcases. Firstly they had been shaped for particular conferences to give a group picture of the ePosters for the respective conference. In a more mature phase the LTB showcase was used to give a group picture of all conferences and online events that were working with ePosters – of which some exemplars were portrayed in this ‘all stars’ showcase. I was happy to give visibility to the start-up company Kubify (founded by the former LTB-developers) due to their latest achievements. Altogether, this report demonstrated the progress of promoting digital competences beyond the accustomed realms of ICT skills.
Activity Report on the German Multiplier Event at the Training Centre Bau-ABC Rostrup
During my working visit in Bremen (after a long break) I had a chance to organise a Multiplier Event that took place as face-to-face event in the training centre Bau-ABC Rostrup (with whom we had worked intensively in the Learning Layers project). For me it was a pleasant opportunity to meet several trainers of the centre – some of which had been our counterparts for years, whilst some were newcomers. In my input I gave an overview, how the co-design processes (that led to to the shaping of the LTB) and the parallel training activities (that were completed with training based on Theme Rooms) worked hand in hand in the Learning Layers project. Then I gave some insights into the idea of different innovation paths (for introducing digital competences in the field of VET) and how they can be addressed in a revisited framework for Theme Room Training 2020. In addition to this I presented the new TACCLE4 CPD Showcase that pulled together the VET-related work in the Learning Layers project and in the current project.
It was interesting to note that the discussion moved on from my inputs to the practical challenges (regarding the use of LTB as support for training) and to the possibilities to take further steps with their internal training. So, in this respect the session became a genuine multiplier event. Indeed, it was concluded with a commitment to start a new round of theme room sessions – based on the ideas and needs of the active trainers and with focus on improving the use of LTB in their context.
Report 2b: The TACCLE4 CPD Showcase as a new collection of online resources
My final report for the project TACCLE4 CPD presented the above-mentioned LTB showcase for this project and how it came into being. As the pre-history I presented the earlier pilot activity to introduce the work with ePosters into the European Conference on Educational Research (ECER) in the year 2018 in Bolzano. This was a limited pilot project with some ePosters for the network program of VETNET (the European Research Network for Vocational Education and Training). As a further step from this phase the report introduced an overarching showcase for the TACCLE4 CPD project.
This showcase provided on the one hand comprehensive LTB-stacks thet presented all VET-related reports for the Learning Layers project and for the TACCLE4 CPD project. Then, it introduced thematic stacks that focused ot the use of Open Educational Resources (OER) in the field of VET and outlined the Theme Room Training 2020 framework.
Altogther, this report gave a picture of a new kind of an online resource environment. At the same time it invited the users to consider their own innovation paths and to think of their own ways to shape training with Theme Rooms.
I guess this is enough of the latest reports and of the messages I want to pass at the final phase of the project. Now that I am finishing my career as an active researcher, I have the feeling of being a runner with the torch of the Olympic Games. I am coming to the point in which I have to had out the torch for new runners – the ones in research, the ones in the software development and the ones developing their training approaches. My message to them is the following: You need to take the fire from the past, not the ashes. And: You need not go back to the long and winding roads of your predecessors – you need to find each other in the present date circumstances.
In my previous post I gave a report on the Multiplier Event of our current EU-funded project TACCLE4 CPD. The event took place on Friday the 16th of October in the German training centre Bau-ABC Rostrup in North-Germany. As regular readers of this blog know, Bau-ABC was an important application partner in our earlier EU-funded project Learning Layers (2012 – 2017). Their collaboration was crucial for the development of the main product of the project – the digital toolset Learning Toolbox (LTB). As I have also reported, how the LTB has been used across the training centre in all apprentice training programs.
During the current project I have made several working visits to Bau-ABC. On several occasions I have discussed with Bau-ABC trainers on challenges and perspectives for promoting digital competences in the context of vocational learning. These interviews gave me plenty of food for thought when I prepared my reports for the project. In the previous post I gave an account on my input and reported briefly on the discussions that we had during the session. I also mentioned that I had prepared a showcase that was powered by the LTB. In this post I try to give insights into the showcase and its contents.
The idea of preparing an LTB-showcase for TACCLE4 CPD project
I have already presented the LTB Showcase of the LTB-developers in an earlier blog post. In that showcase they had given on overview of several conferences and online events in which LTB had been used to produce ePosters for the respective events. Given the success of these ePosters, the LTB-developers had created the format of showcase to select the ePosters of one event under a common banner. With regular users they had created cumulative showcases that contain ePosters of several years. With this newest showcase the LTB-developers had provided an overview on different user-events. And by tagging the individual ePosters with the name of the user-event they made it possible for the viewers to access the specific showcase of that event. In this way I became aware that there had already been a case in which an Erasmus+ project had organised a virtual multiplier event by creating an LTB-showcase for the project and then making it accessible for virtual participants.
This gave me inspiration of preparing a similar showcase to support the forthcoming Multiplier Event that was under preparation. I understand that I have used specific terminology that doesn’t necessarily communicate clearly, what kind of product I was making. Perhaps one can characterise an ePoster (which is technically an LTB-stack) as a digital bookshelf that contains a collection of digital documents and other digital resources. The showcase that contains several ePosters (or LTB-stacks) can then be characterised as a small digital library. And the major showcases of the conferences can then be characterised as major ‘thematic libraries’, whilst the overarching LTB Showacase is a central library that refers to the ‘thematic libraries’.
Overview on the contents of the TACCLE4 CPD Showcase
Below I will first present screenshots of the contents of the showcase and of the banner that links them to each other:
I guess that the screenshots above give an impression of the kind of digital contents that have been packed to the showcase. Some of these contents have been prepared as ePosters for conferences. Some have been prepared as LTB-stacks that present project reports for the TACCLE4 CPD and Learning Layers projects.
I guess this is enough for a moment. Later on I will prepare a separate report that gives more detailed insights into the contents and explains how they can be accessed.
Last Friday, the 16th of October, I was pleased to visit the German training centre Bau-ABC Rostrup once again. As regular readers of this blog already know, I have been working together with this training centre for several years. Our cooperation started when our institute (Institut Technik & Bildung, ITB) and Bau-ABC became partners of the EU-funded Learning Layers (LL) project in the year 2012. During the LL project we worked intensively together in the co-design process that led to the development of the Learning Toolbox (LTB) and in training activities to promote the digital competences of the trainers in Bau-ABC. After the end of the project (2017) I maintained contact with Bau-ABC and was pleased to continue working with them when I became the ITB partner in the EU-funded TACCLE4 CPD project (2018 -2020). This newer project gave me an opportunity to reflect on the achievements of the earlier one and to develop models and strategies for continuing professional development (CPD) of vocational teachers and trainers. Now, at the final phase of the project I was pleased to visit Bau-ABC and to organise the German Multiplier Event of the current project together with trainers of Bau-ABC. Below I will give a brief account on the event as such and in my next post I will discuss the contribution that I prepared for the event – a new LTB-showcase of LTB-powered stacks that I prepared for the TACCLE4 CPD project.
The preparation of the Multiplier Event – the long and winding roads
Originally I had prepared the initial plan for such an event together with my ITB colleagues. We had the idea of a bridging event that links the results of the TACCLE4 CPD project to their ongoing work with Open Educational Resources (OER) and with new developments with artificial intelligence (AI) in the field of vocational education and training (VET). We had drafted an invitation list that would bring together vocational teachers and trainers from different organisations – vocational schools and training centres – in the nearby region. The event was supposed to take place in June – between two travel periods when I was working outside Germany. BUT the corona-crisis made it impossible to implement these plans. Instead of returning to Bremen at that time I had to stay a longer period in my home country Finland. And due to the lockdown and the subsequent restrictions it was not possible to organise any presence event at the university campus before the summer holidays. Neither could we expect that vocational teachers and trainers could have had time to participate in such events when the schools and training centres were able to start anew at the end of May.
During the summer months it became apparent that there will be no chance to organise any kind of face-to-face event with external participants at the university campus. On the contrary, the access of university researchers and supporting staff was strictly restricted and meetings were transformed into online events. From this perspective it seemed impossible to go further with plans that would include inputs from different projects and bring together participants from different organisations. For some time it seemed that the only way to implement the Multiplier Event would be to produce a pre-recorded webinar and then invite online participants to access the online material. However, due to the travel restrictions I was stuck in Finland and even if I could have returned earlier, it would have been difficult to put together a good quality online resource to attract participants at the beginning of a new school year or the training period of apprentices.
When returning to Bremen in the beginning of October I didn’t have high hopes of getting a decent multiplier event organised (whether as a face-to-face event or as a virtual even). However, things changed when I contacted Melanie Campbell, coordinator of Continuing Vocational Training at Bau-ABC and the key person for promoting the use of LTB during the LL project and afterwards. We came to a conclusion that it would be possible to have a face-to-face event on Friday, the 16th of October in the afternoon (when the apprentices had already left for the weekend but the trainers were still there). We agreed on the input that I would make on the TACCLE4-CPD project (and the earlier LL project) and on her input concerning the current use of LTB in Bau-ABC.
The inputs for the Multiplier Event
So, we had the short time frame of two hours on Friday afternoon at our disposal – just as had been the case with the Theme Room training sessions in November 2015. This time there were additional challenges due to the corona restrictions and due to the fact that some of trainers were tied up with examination duties. But, with the thirteen trainers representing different trades and different training activities we had a qualified audience.
In my input I tried to give a picture, how three aspects of fieldwork in Bau-ABC became vital threads of the work of the Learning Layers project and its Construction pilot:
Joint analyses of work processes ans work-realated learning in different trades of construction sector;
Co-design of the digital toolset Learning Toolbox and different design events with trainers, apprentices and construction sector professionals who all gave their views, how a digital toolset could support them;
Multimedia training and ThemeRoom training that paved the way for the introduction of the LTB as a toolset that is being used regularly in the apprentice training and vocational learning activities provided by Bau-ABC.
In a similar way I emphasised the special approach to the field of vocational education and training (VET) to promoting digital competences and to shaping continuing professional development of teachers and trainers:
We are not discussing merely about integrating the use of digital tools to teaching school subjects. Instead, the challenge is, how to link the use of tools to vocational learning and occupational work.
We are not discussing merely about use of new educational technology to support school-based learning. As a contrast, the challenge is, how to link the use of appropriate digital toolsets that contribute to changes in working life and work-related learning.
We are not merely talking about promotion of digital competences of individual teachers (responsible of their subject matter). As a contrast, the holistic approach to vocational learning requires that teachers and trainers have a common approach to using digital tools.
In the light of the above I made the point of different innovation paths for introducing the use of digital tools. In this context I referred to different ITB projects that I had described in my reports:
The Kompetenzwerkstatt projects have been (re)designing the curricula (as a whole) for different vocational learning contexts. Here, the use of digital tools has been built in into specific curriculum processes.
The Learning Toolbox has been introduced as a new integrative toolset to be used in exemplary learning projects and to be spread in further projects via internal knowledge transfer and peer tutoring.
The Brofessio project had to deal with process industry cases in which the processes were sealed and could not be made transparent for learning in the context of work. As a contrast, it was necessary to introduce micro-learning units for off-the-job training to support work-related learning.
The use cases of introducing Opene Educational Resources (OER) were taken from specific vocational of pre-vocational learning contexts. Altogether they opened a perspective from relatively simple exercises to more complex uses of high-tech resources and to collaborative learning that involves learners from different trades.
Finally, I discussed the Theme Room experience of the year 2015 and the rethinking of the Theme Room approach for present date use. Firstly, I emphasised that the concept of training with Theme Rooms was a well-thought format but we couldn’t benefit of all the richness since we couldn’t integrate the use of LTB to the training. Secondly, I emphasised the need of making a situation assessment on the challenges in the occupational fields, on the capability of trainers and learners regarding the use of digital tools and on the path to follow in the training. In this respect I underlined that the Theme Room Training 2020 framework (that I had drafted for the project) invites the users the design their own theme rooms with their own themes instead of following a ready-made guideline.
The discussion takes off – coming together
When opening the discussion Melanie Campbell pointed to the importance of the Theme Room training in 2015 as atraining campaign for all trainers of Bau-ABC. The aim was to bring the digital competences of trainers to an equal level – as much as this could be achieved. Since then the use of LTB in different trades has taken the main attention and the practical issues have come up as the main concerns.
In the discussion many trainers brought into picture different problems that delimit the use of LTB at the training sites. Partly these are of infrastructural nature, partly there are difficulties in using the functions of LTB with given software solutions. Thus, the trainers have noticed that LTB is frequently used over the weekend. Melanie Campbell took note of these issues and suggested that similar Friday afternoon sessions should be used for troubleshooting and for sharing knowledge, how to overcome the difficulties.
Some of the trainers made the point that the Theme Rooms should be brought back to picture. Others commented that more emphasis should be given on overcoming the problems and getting more users at same level. Once this has been achieved, then it would be possible to take further steps in deepening the understanding on digital tools.
Altogether, the discussion reflected the situation in a training centre that had the experience of being early users of digital tools. In this respect it seemed that a period of “Theme Forums” would be needed to deal with the current problems befor heading to new cycle of Theme Rooms. Yet, when looking back at the earlier phases of the Learning Layers project in 2014 and 2015, the ones of us who had shared experiences of that time could agree that we come a long way further. Indeed, much of what we discussed as something desirable, had become lived practice of present date.
I guess that this is enough of the event and of our discussions. In my next post I will give insights into the LTB-showcase of the TACCLE4 CPD project that I presented in the event.
Last week I got informed that Mr Stephan Albani, a German MP (Bundestagsabgeordnete) visited the training centre Bau-ABC Rostrup during his field visit in the region. Here it is worthwhile to note that Mr Albani is a representative of that very region but also a member of the special commission of the German Parliament for Vocational Education and Training (VET) in the digital world of work (Enquete-Kommission “Berufliche Bildung in der digitalen Arbeitswelt“). Given this background, it was interesting to hear, what he thought of the use of digital tools to support apprentice training and further vocational learning in Bau-ABC. After all, a team of us from Institut Technik & Bildung (ITB), University of Bremen had worked together with Bau-ABC in the EU-funded project Learning Layers (2012-2016) to co-design and pilot test digital tools to support work process -oriented learning. The main result was the digital toolset Learning Toolbox (LTB) that has then been implemented in Bau-ABC in their apprentice training.
Impressions from the visit of Mr Albani
As I read it from the Facebook-update of Mr Albani and from the attached pictures, he has informed himself very thoroughly on the training of apprentices in different trades and on the use of digital toolsets (notably the LTB). He gives great praise for tthe digital competences of trainers and apprentices and declares Bau-ABC as a parade example, how to implement digitization in the field of VET.
Insights into the demonstration of Learning Toolbox during the visit of Mr Albani
Thanks to the photos that Mr Albani has shared in his update we can take a closer look, how the use of digital toolsets (and notably of LTB) has been presented to him. As we see it from the photos, he got a hands-on training and his tutor was an apprentice who had become an advanced user. So, wee see them working with a mobile device and with the LTB-terminal that makes everything transparent for the apprentices in the workshop and to the supervising trainers (Lehrwerkmeister) in their office. And this guided tour is managed by the apprentice.
Perspectives for new innovations regarding digitization in the field of VET
In addition to the above-quoted Facebook-update of Mr Albani I have heard that Bau-ABC Rostrup is involved in a major innovation project that runs until the year 2023. From this perspective it has been important that a prominent politician has informed himself of the state of the art and given positive feedback on the quality of training and learning.
In my latest blog I had reported of the achievements of our former partners from the Learning Layers (LL) project with ePosters powered by the Learning Toolbox (LTB) in different online conferences. As regular readers of this blog know, the LTB was developed as a digital toolset to support workplace-based and vocational learning in the Construction pilot of the LL project. After the project the LTB-developers have developed a spin-off innovation with ePosters that use the functionality of the LTB. The further development and commercialisation is carried out by the start-up company Kubify BV and up-to-date information is delivered via their Twitter feed Kubify – LTB for ePosters. After I had written my latest post I discovered that the LTB-developers had released a new Learning Toolbox Showcase that presents a gallery of ‘all stars’ of ePosters in recent conferences. Below I will give some insights into this interesting resource environment.
ePosters conquer new grounds
So far I have been able to observe the progress with the LTB-powered ePosters from the conferences of the Association of Medical Educators in Europe (AMEE) in the years 2017 and 2018. I have also become aware that they have been able to mainstream the use of ePosters in several conferences – mainly in the healthcare sector. In my recent blog I referred to the new interest of several conference organisers who have had to transform the conferences into online event. Yet, my picture of the progress has been fragmentary and my awareness of the range of LTB-users has been narrow.
Now, when looking at the selected ePosters of the LTB Showcase I realise, how widely the innovation has spread – both in geographic and in domain-related terms. What is of particular interest, is the fact that some of the early users have incorporated the ePosters into their regular conference culture – no longer as an optional space but as a mainstream approach. Moreover, some of the new users have directly stepped into a broad-based introduction of ePosters. And last but not least – whilst the main activity around the ePosters will take place during the conference dates, the ePosters are visited in great numbers also after the conferences (as the statistics of the LTB-developers show it).
Concerning the spread of the ePosters, this new showcase makes it transparent that they are really widely used in several conferences and online events. In fact, the sample that is presented is merely the top of an iceberg. Behind the chosen ones there is a critical mass of other ones. So, when clicking the names of the events (attached to the ePosters) you will get a link to the respective showcase with many more to explore. Below I try to give a brief group picture.
The ePosters made their breakthrough in conferences of the healthcare sector, in particular addressing educators of healthcare professionals. Already this field brings into picture quite a variety thematic areas:
AMEE – the annual conference of medical educators in Europe
ADEE – the annual conference of dentist educators in Europe
Clinical Education Network Symposium
SESAM – the conference on simulations in healthcare education
Future Physiology – the conference of early career researchers of the Physiological Society
In addition to the above-listed regular conferences, ePosters have been used widely in special events focusing on other themes that are related to the healthcare issues, such as:
Mirots – the multiplier event of the project for internationalisation of occupational therapy
APS – the conference for plant health
Furthermore, ePosters have been used in other kinds of contexts, such as
Midlands4Cities Digital Research Festival – a regional R&D festival with a broad variety of topics
EC-TEL and DELFI Poster and Demo Track – a section in the online conference on technology-enhanced learning
IMEX Association Day – a discussion group in a conference of event organisers.
ePosters bring richness to knowledge sharing
When looking at the topics covered in the various showcases it is interesting to see different aspects of expertise and professional development being covered by different ePosters. Then, having them arranged as a conceptual neighbourhood in the common showcase, they give a group picture of current progress in the respective online community. And finally, the fact that the ePosters remain accessible in the showcase after the conference, they remain as sustainable knowledge resources that can be reused as support for domain-specific learning.
I think that this is enough of the new Learning Toolbox Showcase and of the thematic showcases that provide the background for this ‘all stars’ formation. Altogether I am impressed. And I am eager to learn more, how such ePosters and showcases can be used to support the promotion of digital competences of teachers and trainers.
In my latest post on this blog I reported on the new Support pages for users of Learning Toolbox (LTB) and Demonstration page with brief introduction and a video presentation. At the end of the post I mentioned that the developers of the LTB had also published three new videos that present innovative use of the LTB in the apprentice training of Bau-ABC Rostrup for different construction trades. These videos had been produced for promoting the use of LTB among other similar training centres in Germany. Therefore they are (for the moment) only available in German. All three videos are available on the following web page: https://support.ltb.io/fallvideos-learning-toolbox-im-bau-abc-rostrup/
Below I present some screenshots of these videos and then give a nutshell summary of the key messages that are conveyed by the respective videos.
Apprentice Jonas reporting on his carpenter’s project with the help of LTB
The two screenshots demonstrate, how apprentice Jonas documents an interim phase in his project in carpentry with the help of the LTB-app on his mobile phone. He takes a photo, gives it a title and then uploads it into the LTB-Stack of his trade as contribution to the current project. The trainer, who is supervising the project gets a notification and sees immediately from the LTB-Terminal in his office, what Jonas has reported and what he has to do in the next phase.
Apprentice Jannis using LTB in the context of masonry
Here the two screenshots demonstrate, how apprentice Jannis uploads the instructions for his new project in masonry by reading the QR-code from a mini-poster with his LTB-app. Firstly he synchronises the LTB on his tablet with a Leica-app on aseparate device. Then he takes a picture and edits it with a line and then takes measures with the laser of the Leica-app. At the end he shows the completely edited picture with all the necessary measurements with explanations in the picture. All this has been achieved with the help of the LTB-app on his tablet PC.
Using the shared LTB-terminal as support for trainers and apprentices in the trade of carpentry
The third video presents the LTB-terminal that has been developed for the training of carpenters – one terminal at the office of the supervising trainers and the other as a ‘kiosk’ to be used by the apprentices at the carpentry workshop. The following screenshots give insights into different potentials of the LTB-terminal.
The first two pictures show that the LTB-terminal (whether in the office or at the workshop) provides access to the training contents of the respective trade firstly as an overview on the whole training year and then at the level of particular projects. In this context it is worthwhile to note that the apprentices can compile their individual learning logs (consisting of completed projects) throughout their training and save them in their own project spaces of the respective LTB-stack. In this respect the LTB has provided a digital solution for the former paper-based White Folder of the training centre Bau-ABC Rostrup.
As further support for training and learning the LTB-terminal provides additional resources. Above the first picture demonstrates the ‘dictionary’ (Lexikon) space of carpenters. It provides overviews on training materials, health and safety and other apps that are being used in the training. All this information is based on reliable sourcesand has been validated by the responsible trainers. The second picture demonstrates the 3D-viewer for carpentry that gives multiple insights into wooden constructions.
I think this is enough of these videos. As I see it, the trainers and apprentices have made great progress as users of the LTB. Thus, the toolset (with these further user-initiated additions) has made its case as support for vocational and workplace learning in the construction sector. Moreover, it is worthwhile to follow the further developments in the field.
With my three previous posts I have started a series of blogs that report on the discussions of former partners of the Learning Layers (LL) project on the impact of our work. The discussion started, when I published a blog post on the use of Learning Toolbox (LTB) in the training centre Bau-ABC to support independent learning while the centre is closed. This triggered a discussion, how the digital toolset Learning Toolbox – a key result from our EU-funded R&D project – is being used in other contexts. This then gave rise to collect such experiences and to start a joint reflection on the impact of our work.
In the first post I gave an overview of this process. In the second post I presented the main points that I and my co-author Gilbert Peffer outlined on the use of LTB to support vocational and workplace-based learning in the construction sector. In the third post I gave insights into the use of LTB in other contexts based on spin-off innovations and on refocusing the use of the toolset. With this concluding post I try to summarise – from my perspective – what factors have contributed to the sustainability of the Learning Toolbox. Here I will make use of some aspects that were outlined for the authors of particular case studies that were brought together in our joint discussion. The points that I present below reflect the views of me and my co-author Gilbert Peffer on our experiences with the construction pilot of the LL project and its follow-up phase.
Strong focus on co-design and stakeholder engagement
As we see it, the co-design, pilot implementation and wider deployment of LTB in the training centre Bau-ABC Rostrup underlines the importance of well-functioning research & development dialogue. Many elements in the project design of Learning Layers provided favourable starting points – e.g. the emphasis on co-design practices, iterative processes and flexible teamwork. Yet, during the work, the partners had to find their ways – time and again – to adjust the guiding principles, the practical pedagogic orientations and possible software solutions to each other.
Flexible collaboration between partners during the follow-up phases of the project
By the end of the project it was not certain, in what ways the innovations could be sustained and the collaboration between researchers, technical partners and practitioners could be continued. From this perspective it was essential that the developers of the LTB and the accompanying researchers from research institute ITB took several initiatives to launch follow-up activities with partner organisations in the construction sector. These efforts were not always successful in terms of acquisition of new funded projects. Yet, they provided new insights into potential use of the LTB in organisational contexts and between dispersed work processes.
Rethinking the contextual opportunities and applying technology in previously unforeseen contexts
Due to many intervening factors the progress with the follow-up activities had not been a direct process of scaling up the innovation. Instead, the interested partners have had to find new paths for working further with the Learning Toolbox in new contexts. Partly the success in using Learning Toolbox in vocational training and partly the spread of using ePosters in conferences have inspired new users. Partly the feasibility studies in the construction sector have opened new prospects for using Learning Toolbox for organisational knowledge sharing – as has been the case latterly in the healthcare sector.
Shaping of R&D projects as innovation hubs/ platforms
On this point our experiences suggest a common success conclusion: R&D projects should not be understood and planned out as mere research studies. Neither should they be looking for allegedly integrated solutions (‘one size fits all’, ‘one format suits all’). Instead, they should rather be shaped as networked innovation hubs or platforms. In such context research elements can receive initial validation and a team to start an innovation process. As we see it, the strength in the construction pilot of the LL project was the continuity of a participative research & development dialogue that kept the processes vivid and helped to overcome difficult periods. Moreover, the multiple support activities helped the practitioners to take ownership of the innovation and become multipliers of new practices.
I think that this is enough of our reflections for the moment. I will get back when we know, on what forum and in what way we will be presenting our joint findings and conclusions from all case studies.
With my two latest posts I have started a series of blogs that report on the discussions of former partners of the Learning Layers (LL) project on the impact of our work. As I have told earlier, the discussion started, when I published a blog post on the use of Learning Toolbox (LTB) in the training centre Bau-ABC to support independent learning while the centre is closed. This triggered a discussion, how the digital toolset Learning Toolbox – a key result from our EU-funded R&D project – is being used in other contexts. And – as I also told earlier – this gave rise to the initiative of the leader of the Learning Layers consortium to collect such experiences and to start a joint reflection on the impact of our work. In the first post I gave an overview of this process of preparing a joint paper. In the second post I presented the main points that I and my co-author Gilbert Peffer presented on the use of LTB to support vocational and workplace-based learning in the construction sector. In this post I try to give insights into the use of LTB in other contexts based on spin-off innovations and on refocusing the use of the toolset. Firstly I will focus on the development of ePosters (powered by LTB) in different conferences. Secondly I will give a brief picture on the use of LTB for knowledge sharing in the healthcare sector.
Insights into the development of ePosters powered by LTB
Here I do not wish to repeat the picture of the evolution of the ePosters – as a spin-off innovation of the LTB as it has been delivered by the responsible co-authors. Instead, I try to give firstly my impressions of the initial phase of this innovative use of LTB to support poster presenters in conferences. Then, I will give a glimpse, how we tried to present the ePoster approach to the European Conference on Educational Research and to the VETNET network. Here I can refer to my blog posts of that time. Then I will add some information on the current phase of developing the work with ePosters – as presented by the responsible authors for the joint paper on the impact of LL tools.
In October 2017 I became familiar with the breakthrough experience that the developers of the LTB and the coordinator of the healthcare pilot of the LL project had had with the development of ePosters for conferences. In the annual conference of medical educators (AMEE 2017) they had introduced the ePosters (prepared as LTB stacks) as alternatives for traditional paper posters and for expensive digital posters. At that time I published an introductory blog post – mainly based on their texts and pictures. Foe me, this was a great start to be followed by others. Especially the use of poster cubicles to present mini-posters that provided links to the full ePosters was very impressive. Another interesting format was the use of ePosters attached to Round Tables or Poster Arenas was interesting.
In the year 2018 we from ITB together with the LTB-developers and with the coordinator of the VETNET network took the initiative to bring the use of ePosters into the European Conference on Educational Research 2018 in Bolzano/ Bozen, Italy. We initiated a network project of the VETNET network (for research in vocational education and training) to serve as a pioneering showcase for the entire ECER community. In this context we invited all poster presenters of the VETNET program to prepare ePosters and the LTB-developers provided instructions and tutoring for them. Finally, at the conference, we had the ePoster session and a special session to e approach for other networks. This process was documented by two blog posts – on September 2nd and on September 11th – and by a detailed report for the European Educational Reseaarch Association. The LTB-stacks stacks for the ePosters can be found here, below you have screenshots of the respective web page.
In the light of the above the picture that the promoters of ePosters have presented now is amazing. The first pilot was with a large, international medical education conference in 2017. In 2018 it was used at 6 conferences across Europe. In 2019 this number grew to 14 and also included US conferences. The forecast for 2020 is that it will be used by more than 30 conferences with growth in the US being particularly strong. The feedback from users and the number of returning customers suggest that the solution is valued by the stakeholders.
Insights into the use of LTB in the healthcare sector
Here I am relying on the information that has been provided by the coordinator of the healthcare pilot of the Learning Layers and by the former partners from the healthcare sector. Therefore, I do not want to go into details. However, it is interesting to see, how the use of LTB has been repurposed to support knowledge sharing between the healthcare services across a wide region. This is what the colleagues have told us of the use of LTB:
“LTB has been used to create stacks for each practice and thereby improve the accessibility of the practice reports as well as to enable the sharing of additional resources which could not be included in the main report due to space. The app has thus improved the range of information that can be shared, and links are also shared which allow users to read more in-depth into the topic areas. The use of LTB has also enabled the spread of information more widely, as the team suggested that the stack poster (a paper-based poster displaying the link to the stack and a QR code) should be displayed in the practice to allow any interested staff to access the stack and resources. The use of the stack also allows for all the information to be kept by interested staff in one central place, so previous reports and resources can be referred back to at any point. It can also be accessed via a personal mobile device, so gives the opportunity for users to access the information at the most convenient time for them, and without the need to have the paper report or to log in to a system.”
I think that this is enough of the parallel developments in using the LTB after the end of the LL project and alongside the follow-up in the construction sector. The final post of this series will discuss some points that have supported the sustainability of the innovation and contributed to the wider use of the LTB.
Continuing Professional Development for ICT in Education and Training