TACCLE 4 CPD
Intellectual Output 2: Handbook for teacher trainers
Finding new approaches to promote digital competences -
Legacy of past projects and new inputs from R&D projects
in vocational education and training (VET)
– Report 2 (VET) for the TACCLE4-CPD project; November 2019
by Pekka Kämäräinen, ITB – University of Bremen
1. Insights into the work of the predecessor projects
1.1 Insights into the development of the TACCLE projects
1.2 Insights into the development of the Learning Layers project
2. Impulses from the Learning Layers project for development of a training model
2.1 Impulses from the first Multimedia training scheme (2013 – 2014)
2.2 Impulses from the Theme Room training scheme (2015)
2.3 Impulses from co-design and pilot testing of the Learning Toolbox (2014 – 2016)
3. R&D projects for promoting digital competences in education and training
3.1 The DMI! - The Inclusive Digital Media project: Mutual adjustment of digital media and inclusive
learning in primary education and in teacher education
3.2 Promoting digitisation alongside vocational curriculum development - the Kompetenzwerkstatt
3.3 Promoting digital competences in work process -oriented learning
3.4. CARO: Promoting nurses’ competences via simulated and digital work-oriented learning spaces
4. Incorporation of digital tools into vocational learning culture
4.1 Views of trainers regarding the acceptance of digital tools in the field of VET
4.2 Views of trainers on the enrichment of vocational learning with digital tools
4.3 Views of the trainers on the future of craftsmanship
5. Conclusions and discussion
This document is a special report for the TACCLE 4 CPD project, contributing to the Intellectual
Output 2: Handbook for teacher trainers.
Concerning this Intellectual Output, the initial idea had been to revisit the e-Learning Handbook of the
first TACCLE project and to extend it to different sectors. This would also have required updating and
reworking to shift the focus planning of schemes for continuing professional development (CPD).
However, when the project team started to work together, it became apparent that the team members bring
together different traditions of teacher education, teacher training and training of trainers. Partly this was
due to the fact that most partners had been primarily working with schools or school-based educational
educational establishments, whilst others had worked with dual systems of vocational education and
training. From this perspective the challenges to promote digital competences were related to different
target groups and educational cultures. This became also clear, when the team members discussed the
experiences with prior TACCLE projects (with focus on classroom teachers) and in the Learning Layers
project (that had promoted digital competences in vocational and workplace-based learning contexts).
Therefore, a special report was produced to compare the training approaches that had been applied in the
three prior TACCLE projects and at different phases of the Learning Layers project. The report serves the
1. Creating awareness of the different project histories and process dynamics: In this respect
the report gives brief overviews of the parallel project histories and different phases of work.
2. Making transparent the role of co-design and piloting with new tools in the Learning Layers
project: From this perspective the report analyses specific impulses that arise from this
background in the project work.
3. Providing insights into parallel R&D projects in education and training and their support
for training of teachers and trainer: Here the report provides examples on support for teacher
education, CPD measures for vocational teachers and CPD measures for trainers in enterprises.
4. Providing insights into recent field interviews with vocational trainers (carried out as part
of the TACCLE 4 CPD): Here the report presents trainers’ views on the prospects for linking the
use of digital tools to vocational learning culture.
Altogether, this report makes transparent the movement in the predecessor projects – from the initial
starting points to the readiness to face new challenges and to shape adequate approaches. With the
TACCLE 4 CPD project – and its aim to serve different educational sectors - this requires a closer
attention to complex vocational learning arrangements as contexts for promoting digital competences.
This document has the task to revisit training concepts that were (at least intuitively) developed and
put into practice in the series of TACCLE projects (starting from 2007 on and continued to recent years)
and in the Learning Layers project (starting from 2013 on and continued till the end of 2015). The
document has been prepared for the current TACCLE4-CPD project that develops models for continuing
professional development (CPD) based on the experiences of prior TACCLE projects and affiliated
projects. From this perspective the revisiting exercise serves the following purposes:
1. The main point of interest for revisiting the prior TACCLE projects is to clarify, how the projects
responded to the development of digital tools and web resources and how this was taken into account
in the project activities. In particular it is essential to see, how the subsequent projects faced new
challenges and developed their approaches accordingly.
2. The main point of interest in the closer recapitulation of the Learning Layers (LL) project history is
to give a picture of the multiple activities at different project phases. Here, it is essential to see, how
the work in the Construction pilot developed from early design ideas and initial multimedia training
to a more advanced training concept that paved the way for introducing new digital toolset across the
whole organisation. Moreover, the report on the introduction of the Learning Toolset indicates, how
the participative co-design and the joint training campaign enabled the full-time trainers to take
ownership of the innovation.
3. The overview of parallel and newer R&D projects that shape new vocational learning arrangements
gives a picture of a new phase of promoting digital competences in the field of VET. In the current
phase the use of digital tools and web resources is not merely an add-on to the (vocational) subject
matter but more essentially an integral part of a holistic design of training and learning processes.
4. The field interviews give impressions, how full-time trainers in construction sector – who have been
actively using the Learning Toolbox after the Learning Layers project – perceive the challenges in
integrating such toolsets into vocational learning culture. The interviews also indicate, how the work
with digital toolsets can enhance the standing of apprentice training both as an educational option
and as preparation for changes in working life.
Based on these explorations the document draws conclusions for shaping CPD concepts that seek to
promote digital competences of teachers and trainers – with focus on the specific challenges and working
perspectives in the field of VET.
1. Insights into the work of the predecessor projects
This section provides brief overviews on the project histories of the predecessor projects – the three
earlier TACCLE projects and of the different phases of the Learning Layers project.
1.1 Insights into the development of the TACCLE projects1
The acronym of TACCLE projects stands for the project title "Teachers' aids for creating content for
learning environments". In this context the project aim was to promote ‘e-Learning competences of
classroom teachers’. Here ‘e-Learning’ was interpreted as an inclusive concept – as an umbrella concept
for multimedia learning, blended learning, online learning, mobile learning etc. in different variations.
Below, a brief overview is given on the development of different generations of TACCLE projects and
how they have been built upon the achievements of the previous ones.
• The first TACCLE project was launched to develop a generic handbook for teachers (in general) to
familiarise themselves with digital media and web tools of that time (2007-2009). The idea to
produce a hard copy handbook was not self-evident. Yet, at that time it turned out to be an
appropriate choice. Teachers preferred to have a book that they could explore - rather than searching
through the websites of that time. Also, the texts were written in the style of teachers (from the users'
point of view) rather than in the style of technical experts or researchers. Now, many years after the
project has been completed, the project website has been reshaped to inform of the TACCLE books
and of the TACCLE courses that continue the work.
• The TACCLE2 project worked as a web-based project. It focused on different subject areas or
teacher groups, such as STEM (in German MINT), Humanities, Creative and performing arts, Core
skills and Primary education. The project worked with teachers from the participating countries and
produced handbooks to be downloaded from the web. Also during the second project the organised
additional TACCLE courses with separate funding. This made it possible for other teachers to
benefit from the work.
• The TACCLE3 project – TACCLE-Coding – has worked with primary education teachers with a
special duty. These teachers are responsible for teaching computing, coding and programming for
children between 4 and 14 years. The project is using a single website that supports multiple
1 This subsection is essentially based on interviews with Jenny Hughes and on conversations with Angela Gerrard.
For additional information see Hughes 2009 and the TACCLE project websites.
• The idea for the TACCLE4 project grew up as a response to increased demand on further
TACCLE courses and as a result of the changing terms of funding (that integrated training
events into projects). Therefore, a new kind of project format was launched to work with agencies or
multiplier organisations that are organising of teacher education, training of trainers or continuing
professional development of teachers and trainers. In addition to training of teachers in general
education this project has the task to cater for teachers and trainers in adult education and vocational
education and training (VET).
• The TACCLE5 project – TACCLE VET – was planned by the promoters already at an earlier stage
but due to intervening factors it was postponed. The project focuses entirely on the field of VET and
looks more closely at the measures to promote digital competences in different occupational fields.
Here, also, the contributions and resources of different training providers come into picture.
Altogether, the three first TACCLE projects have addressed classroom teachers as their target groups and
produced materials that they can use in their teaching. The TACCLE VET project is preparing empirical
analyses on the use of digital tools in the field of VET. These provide the basis for the developmental
activities. As a contrast, the TACCLE CPD project is looking at training models that can be used by
multiplier-agencies in different educational contexts to promote digital competences.
1.2 Insights into the development of the Learning Layers project2
The work of the Learning Layers project and its Construction pilot can at best be summarised as a
succession of three phases characterised by the following activities:
a) Co-design and search for appropriate digital tools to be developed for vocational and work process-
b) Training of trainers with an emphasis on using existing digital tools, multimedia and web resources;
c) Final development and pilot testing of Learning Toolbox on the basis of earlier co-design and
a. Co-design and search for appropriate tools: In the Construction pilot the co-design work was
started with interviews and participative workshops that mapped potential uses of digital tools that
could support construction work and related learning. In the next phase these impulses were
integrated to a design idea of digitising the “White Folder” of the training centre Bau-ABC. In the
2 This subsection is essentially based on the author’s own involvement in the Learning Layers project and on the
final reports written by the author (see Kämäräinen et al. 2017a - d).
White Folder the apprentices received and archived their training and learning materials during
their training. This initiative was perceived as a key step to digitise vocational education,
training and learning processes across the apprentice training in construction sector. In several
iterations this design idea was transformed into the shaping of an integrative toolset (mobile app) that
provides access to web resources, project documents and work- and learning-related contacts
(“Learning Toolbox”). This process was shaped as a strongly R&D dialogue that involved
construction sector trainers, technical partners and accompanying researchers.
b. Training the trainers: In the beginning phase of the project the stakeholder interviews and
participative workshops had given a picture of a non-transparent landscape of stand-alone l tools and
apps. According to the trainers some of these could not be considered appropriate as support for
work-related learning. Therefore, a short multimedia training campaign was launched in Bau-ABC.
The aim was to support the trainers’ digital literacy and their capability to work independently with
multimedia and web resources. The key results of this phase were the trainers’ blogs that they used
as trade-specific repositories for training materials. Later on, a broader training model, the “Theme
Room” training was initiated by the trainers of Bau-ABC. This model was implemented as a training
campaign for all trainers of Bau-ABC in November 2015.
c. Final development and pilot testing of Learning Toolbox: After a search period (and two
iterations in the co-design activities) the Construction pilot focused on the development of the
Learning Toolbox (LTB) as its key activity. The LTB was designed as an integrative digital toolset
to support vocational and work process-oriented learning. In the final year of the project in reached
the stage of maturity and was pilot tested in Bau-ABC with a limited number of trades. In this phase
the responsible trainers of Bau-ABC introduced new learning projects for apprentices – to be
completed with the help of the LTB. Some of the trainers developed joint projects for neighbouring
trades or tutored their fellow colleagues how to use LTB in their training for groups of apprentices
who had already started using LTB. By the end of the LL project there was enough practical
experience (and documented evaluation material) to conclude that the LTB was ready to be used on a
Altogether, the Learning Layers project was a complex project. When focusing on the Construction pilot,
the picture still remains more complex than in the TACCLE projects.
2. Impulses from the Learning Layers project for the
development of a training model3
In the light of the above, this section summarises different impulses from the Learning Layers project and
its Construction pilot for the development of a coherent training model. The aim of this recapitulation is
to prepare the ground for a updated and extended “Theme Room 2.0” training model that tries to promote
the legacy of the past project in current VET contexts. Here key points and achievements are underlined
for further discussion and development.
2.1 Impulses from the first Multimedia training scheme (2013 – 2014)
The early Multimedia training campaign was an initial experiment to customise a basic TACCLE-type
training scheme for full-time trainers of the training centre Bau-ABC. The workshops were organised as
weekend-events for voluntary participants (starting on Friday afternoons and continuing on Saturday
mornings). The first workshops provided insights into existing web resources and apps and to processes
of co-creating and co-developing by users). The further workshops provided increasingly hands-on
exercises with web tools and web resources (including blogs and Twitter). In the latest workshops the
emphasis was on producing and editing users’ own video material.
Figure 1: Multimedia training in Bau-ABC 2013-2014
3 This section is essentially based on the involvement of the author in the training schemes as an observer and as a
peer tutor and on the related report written by the author (see Kämäräinen et al. 2017 b).
The key result was the start of the trainers’ blogs. Four trainers developed their own way to use
blogs as means to deliver their training materials. The blogs - Zimmererblog, Maurerblog, Tiefbaublog
and Brunnenbauerblog - became prototypes for domain-specific online learning resources that reached
also wider audience.
The success factor of the training scheme was that it started with simple exercises and proceeded to web
tools and multimedia editing processes. This helped the participants to develop their own web tools and
delivered basic skills in multimedia production. In this way the earlier training equipped a core group of
Bau-ABC trainers with sufficient digital competences that they could act as peer tutors in the Theme
Room training and in the pilot testing of the Learning Toolbox.
2.2 Impulses from the Theme Room training scheme (2015)
Whilst the earlier Multimedia training scheme was organised as weekend training for a limited number of
volunteers, the Theme Room training was implemented as in-service training scheme for all trainers of
Bau-ABC. The underlying concept was drafted by the Bau-ABC trainers themselves and then adapted for
a limited pilot during the Friday afternoons in November 2015.
The initial idea sought to enable flexible participation in training (independently of physical presence at
certain times). From this point of view the training was to be organised via physical and virtual ‘theme
rooms’ (Themenräume). These rooms (or web spaces) were to be made available for interested users at
the time of their convenience and for the time they needed. Each room (or web space) was to be populated
with relevant web resources and tasks to be completed (with the support of the tutor). Once the users had
‘checked out’ from the rooms new themes were introduced (and the prior contents were archived). In
practice, not all of this flexibility could be implemented but several ideas were taken up.
Figure 2: Plans and materials for the Theme Room training 2015
The key result of the Theme room training was a twofold one: All trainers got an overview of
basic digital and multimedia competences with practical exercises. The whole organisation had a
collective experience as learners and could reflect upon, what stage they had achieved in enhancing their
digital competences. This greatly supported the subsequent phase of introducing the Learning Toolbox for
real use in the context of apprentice training. !
The success factor was that the initiative came from Bau-ABC trainers themselves, the management
agreed on the whole-organisation training (and joined in as learners) and that Bau-ABC trainers and
researchers worked as tutoring tandems. Furthermore, the training in the ‘theme rooms’ that were
implemented was kept very close to the use of digital tools in apprentice training (and presented web
applications that were usable). In this way the training prepared the grounds for working with the
Learning Toolbox although it was not yet introduced.
3.3 Impulses from the co-design work and pilot testing of the Learning Toolbox4
(2014 – 2016)
The pilot testing of the Learning Toolbox was the concluding activity of the Construction pilot of the
Learning Layers project. It was the crucial test, whether the project had developed a viable and usable
product. And here the key issue was, whether it was helpful both for the trainers (in delivering
instructions and learning materials) and for the apprentices (in working with their training projects and in
documenting their learning results). Moreover, it was of importance that the trainers could prepare their
own designs with the Learning Toolbox and that these were considered useful by the apprentices.
For the piloting in Bau-ABC it was helpful that the full-time trainers (Lehrwerkmeister) could shape
specific LTB stacks for the apprentices' projects of 1-2 weeks duration. Each project was based on a
somewhat complex working & learning task. Some of the trainers piloted with a common project that
combined training elements from two neighbouring trades – in this case of carpenters’ and bricklayers’.
Figure 3: An integrated training project for two trades
4 This subsection is essentially based on the involvement of the author in the co-design and pilot testing of the
Learning Toolbox (LTB) and on the reports written by the author (see Kämäräinen et al. 2017 a - d).
The key result of the pilot test was that the Learning Toolbox proved to be a usable and viable
product. The trainers were in the position to set their own pedagogic accents by managing the
amount of material that was available at different phases of learning. They were also ready to expand the
access to resources according to the learners’ progress and capability to produce their own solutions. A
general satisfaction to this was echoed in the workshops of apprentices that gave feedback of the piloting.
The main success factor was the previous project history with the co-design process and with the
training activities. In addition, the programmed toolset was made as user-friendly as possible (given the
limited time that had been available for its development).
The key limitation to wider transfer was the fact that the project came to an end shortly after this pilot-
testing phase. Thus, the efforts to launch successor activities coincided with gaps in project funding and
were not linked to similar accompanying research activities as during the project. Therefore, there is very
little documentation on the transfer-promoting activities and of the pedagogic and organisational issues
that have come up in the new user-organisations.
3. R&D projects for promoting digital competences in education and
3.1 The DMI! - The Inclusive Digital Media project: Mutual adjustment of digital
media and inclusive learning in primary education and in teacher education5
The starting point of this project was the launch of the funding programme of the German Telekom-
Foundation for initiatives that promote digital competences in teacher education and in the actual practice
at schools. The focus is on primary education and on related teacher education programs. In this context
the University of Bremen participated with a broad-based consortium consisting of different educational
faculty departments and special research & development institutions. The overarching idea is to introduce
the use of digital media and web tools as means to support integration of heterogeneous learners
(including children with migration background as well as children with special needs).
5 This subsection is essentially based on an interview with the ITB-researcher Christian Staden.
The consortium brings together university researchers, teacher educators and students of teacher
education programs. The project teams are developing parallel to each other seven thematic
concepts in which integrative and inclusive learning is supported with action-oriented and digital
The seven thematic concepts have the following titles and main characteristics:
1) "Let's move: Virtuelles Handeln und Bauen" focuses primarily on mathematics and on
visualising mathematic models and moving virtual objects.
2) "Let's tell interactive stories: Trickfilme und Hörspiele" focuses primarily on German language
learning. Here the use of trick films (and audio stories) helps the learners to join in a collective process
of telling stories and playing with the characters and episodes that they create.
3) "Let's figure it out: Sachlernaufgaben mit digitalen Lösungshilfen" focuses on the early phase
of natural science and environmental learning (Sachunterricht) and on related discipline-oriented
learning in natural sciences. This project builds upon earlier work with problem-based learning
designs and supports them with digital media.
4) "Let's relate: Geschichten über Geschichte" is an interdisciplinary project that encourages the
learners to come up with meaningful themes and stories in the realms of history, social learning and
5) Let's consider: Lern- und Unterrichtssoftware" is also an interdisciplinary project that works with
didactic criteria for assessing learning software for German language and mathematics.
6) Let's explore: Gestalten von multimedialen Lernumgebungen mit itslearning" is an experimental
project in which students develop learning models for explaining and visualising principles of
technology in a multimedia learning setting provided by the teachers' joint platform "itslearning".
7) Let's design: Sinne und Sensoren" is a project that takes a closer look at action-oriented
programming and construction of 'hands-on' technology constructs that make the functioning of
computers and algorithmic structures understandable for learners.
Whilst these projects are mainly located to teacher education programs of the University of Bremen, they
are also involving active teachers as well as teacher trainers of the government institute for continuing
training (LIS). Some of the projects are being developed (already as prototypes) on the joint learning
platform of Bremen teachers ("Itslearning"). Currently the project is approaching its final phase and more
up-to-date information will be available after the end of the funding period.
3.2 Promoting digitisation alongside vocational curriculum development - the
This subsection presents insights into the development of the German “Kompetenzwerkstatt” project
tradition, originally in the initial VET and then spreading into different vocational learning contexts.
3.2.1 Shaping of the Kompetenzwerkstatt approach as contributiom to vocational curriculum
The earlier phase of the Kompetenzwerkstatt projects was characterised by participative workshops that
supported curriculum development in initial vocational education. The sets of successive projects focused
on analysing different occupational fields (berufliche Handlungsfelder), identifying characteristic working
and learning tasks (Lern- und Arbeitsaufgaben) and drawing conclusions for holistic action-oriented
curricula. In these projects different occupational fields (as well as transitional learning schemes) served
as fields for piloting. In later projects the use of online tools and web resources as well as piloting with
craft trade occupations has been given a more prominent role. In the course of the work the project
promoters have systematised the approach and results from different phases into a project-specific
knowledge ecology (see the series of Kompetenzwerkstatt Handbücher: Howe & Knutzen 2011 a,b,c;
Howe & Knutzen 2012).
The most recently completed project "Kompetenzwerkstatt 2.0" studied, how the use of an e-portfolio can
improve the quality of vocational education and training. For this purpose, a special portfolio was
developed as a web-based tool on the basis of User-Story Workshops. In these workshops apprentices had
an opportunity to express their expectations and requests. Evaluative feedback has been collected with the
help of qualitative interviews and other methods. (The main results of this phase have been captured in the
newest volumes of Kompetenzwerkstatt Handbücher: Howe & Knutzen 2014, Howe & Knutzen 2015.)
The results of this phase of work have highlighted three main uses for e-portfolios in apprentice training:
1) Documentation of learning processes: For the apprentices it is essential to be able to document tasks
and assignments that they have completed. In a similar way they have to provide evidence of separate
courses and training schemes that they have attended. With the help of the e-portfolio they can present
project reports or power point presentations and collections of documents. It is also possible for the
apprentices to use e-portfolio as support for preparing documents for a job application.
6 This subsection is essentially based on the joint report on the ECER 2015 symposium (see Kämäräinen et al 2015)
and related conversations with ITB-researchers Falk Howe and Werner Müller.
2) Reflection on one’s own learning: In particular the e-portfolio can be used as support for
reflection on one’s learning (past, present and future). This can refer to current situations in the
training - to create a picture of their emergence and evolution. Or this can refer to needs to rethink the
background and context afterwards. Here the main aim is that the apprentices – supported by their
teachers and trainers – get an overview and a deeper understanding on the occupation in which they are
trained. They are expected to get insights into (and understanding on) the qualification goals, learning
contents and training processes. In this context they are required to develop awareness of their own
competences, learning gains and eventual deficits.
3) Participative co-shaping of training processes: The use of the e-portfolio as support for participative
co-shaping of training is closely related to the above discussed aspect ‘reflection on learning’. Such
initiatives can arise from special situations that require closer planning or steering of the training process.
On such occasions teachers, trainers and apprentices can jointly consider future options for shaping the
training process. Here it is essential to reach an adequate situation assessment and to set accents for the
subsequent training phases and to identify individually suitable competence areas and means for
Altogether, the Kompetenzwerkstatt 2.0 project has developed and validated user-scenarios for apprentice
training in craft trade occupations. This work has been carried out in collaboration with the apprentices,
teachers and trainers.
3.2.1 The LiKa 4.0 project: Transfer network for continuing training based on the
The background for this project was provided by a long-term cooperation between an earlier ITB-
affiliated research group FPB and a family-driven craft trade company that was interested in vocational
training. An earlier project was carried out to develop a framework for engaging apprentices to support
them in interaction with the clients – managing the orders, implementing the tasks and completing the
paperwork and invoices. Later on the company developed into a grouping of several affiliated companies
- including a collaborative training provider "Akademie Zukunft Handwerk (AZH)". The AZH provides
continuing training services including quality assurance and modern management training for craft trade
ITB has worked during the recent years with a series of Kompetenzwerkstatt projects, of which the most
recent ones have focused on craft trades. These projects have been developing a set of tools (Competence-
7 This subsection is essentially based on an interview with the ITB-researcher Michael Sander.
check tool, Portfolio-tool and Management of working & learning tasks). However, so far these
tools have been shaped and used as stand-alone tools and not as part of integrated software ecology.
In the light of the above, the DigiNet programme of the German Federal Ministry of Education and
Research (BMBF) provided a possibility to create a transfer network coordinated by the AZH and
supported by ITB, including 13 partner companies and a web-agency responsible for software
development. The aim is to promote the concept of engaging apprentices in self-organised learning via
managing real orders from clients.
This is supported via an integrative training management system based on the Kompetenzwerstatt tools
and a new platform. In this context the project provides training for trainers - both officially appointed in-
company trainers (Ausbilder) and skilled workers supporting training (ausbildende Fachkräfte).
3.3 Promoting digital competences in work process -oriented learning
Whilst the above-presented projects have worked in collaboration with regular VET provisions and
related continuing training, the following examples give insights into company-specific non-formal
training schemes and learning arrangements. In the first case – that of the Brofessio project – the main
challenge was to provide work-related learning opportunities although the work process itself didn’t
provide possibilities for on-the-job learning. In the second case – that of the Innowas project – the main
challenge was to mobilise semi-skilled workers to use authoring tools that make their workplace-based
learning transparent for peer tutoring and peer learning.
3.3.1 Promoting learning opportunities in process industry – the Brofessio approach8
The project “Brofessio” (workplace based professionalization in the producing industry, see
www.brofessio.de) was funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research of Germany during the
years 2015-2017. It studied strategies and methods to enhance industrial work practices with a specific
focus on updating and upgrading the technical/ digital competences of the workforce.
In the exemplary case of the company H the project was confronted with a production system that would
not enable opportunities for workplace-based learning on the job. Instead, the production process was
highly automated and sealed so that the skilled workers operating the process did not have an overview on
critical phases. Therefore, the process was vulnerable for manifold quality problems.
8 This subsection is essentially based on the book article by Gessler and Ahrens (2019). For further information see
the project report Ahrens et al. 2018, and a specific article by Höhner et al. 2017.
When the project analysed ther work processes, they came to the conclusion that amount of simple
quality errors could be reduced but the amount of complex errors was growing. From this point of view
the improvement of quality required a special emphasis on the familiarisation of skilled workers to
potential quality problems with the respective machinery. Here, it was essential to identify the
possibilities to intervene to eventually recurring production disorders due to ICT-failures. From this
perspective the work process -oriented learning had the task to specify the way in which the networked
processes influenced the result in the given production arrangement. From this perspective the learning
design had to meet the following learning goals:
• Ensuring and guaranteeing an adequate understanding on the machinery and its functioning;
• Ensuring a continuing awareness on up-to-date technologies to guarantee employability;
• Providing deeper insights into the mutual dependencies of the technology and its different
components and capability to analyse eventual disorders.
From this perspective the project worked with a Learning Management System that made transparent
different sealed production phases with the help of ‘Action-Cam videos’. Subsequently, the project
worked with digital tools that provided easy access to the visualised information.
Based on the above-mentioned analyses and developmental work the project outlined the necessary
guidance for analysing the problem situations and accessing the necessary tools and procedures. In this
respect the project presented an overview on the different kinds of knowledge that is required and to what
kind of contents they refer to. Likewise, the project presented overviews on the materials and resources to
Altogether, the project developed a systemic understanding on the kind of microlearning that needs to be
introduced to ensure the readiness to work with such highly automated processes. Moreover, the project
developed an understanding on the kind of pedagogic support that is needed as well as an interpretation,
how such microlearning can be accommodated alongside the production processes without disturbing the
From the project management perspective the organisation of the learning processes could be seen as
special cases of SCRUM processes. To allow an easy integration of these goals into the workplace-based
learning setting, two simple questions guide goal formulation:
● Which tasks do I want to get done in the upcoming sprint?
● Which resources do I need to achieve this?
Following the SCRUM process, the learning proceeds in incremental steps and through an iterative
process which alternates between phases of learning and doing. A steering committee which
consists of the coaches, the product owner and other corporate stakeholders is accountable for steering the
learning process and making necessary changes to ensure the success of the learning project.
3.3.2 Promoting learning opportunities in manual assembly work – the Innowas approach9
The Innowas project (Innovative Weiterbildung mit Autorensysteme) sought to develop training
arrangements and learning support for on-the job learning of semi-skilled workers in manual assembly.
Whilst there are widespread assumptions that manual assembly would become redundant due to the
development of robotics, the current phase of digitisation provides a basis for alternative approaches.
Instead of replacing human workforce, there are new opportunities to enhance the contribution of
assembly workers with digital tools and assistance systems. Also, many work processes that are carried
out by humans cannot be easily automated without the risk of a loss of quality.
From this perspective the Innowas project sought to develop a training concept that builds upon
participative on-the job learning and capturing of the tacit knowing of assembly workers. From this
perspective the project team organised workshops for analysing the work processes and introduced
authoring tools. Based on the analyses and with the help of the tools the assembly workers prepared
tutorial videos to reflect on the design and improvement of processes and document the processes,
whereby the videos could support the learning of newcomers.
Altogether, the use of the digital tools has not been merely a matter of instructing the workers to carry out
separate operations in particular phases in the assembly work. Instead, the use of the tools has served the
purpose to create more overarching work process knowledge and to enhance the quality awareness of the
workers in concern. For this purpose the training program has had a modular structure that could be
adapted to the needs of the partner enterprises. In this respect the participants of the training program have
been invited to engage themselves in self-organised planning, implementation and assessment of
assembly processes. Taking into account the heterogeneous educational background of the participants,
the project put special emphasis on targeted support and coaching during the training activities. This has
enabled all participants to produce their own tutorials and to acquire the level of competence to be
9 This subsection is essentially based on the conference presentation of Marvin Goppold at ECER 2019 (see
Goppold et al. 2019) and on the description of the Innowas project on the EPALE portal (Goppold 2018).
3.4 CARO: Promoting nurses’ competences via simulated and digital work-
oriented learning spaces10
Whilst the previous exemplary R&D projects have focused on promoting digital competences in VET
provisions for technical occupations, the CARO project has focused on healthcare sector. The acronym
CARO stands for the project title “CAre Reflection Online”. The aim of the project has been to create a
work process -oriented learning environment that links together theoretical, situated and reflective aspects
in the education of nurses. Here, the challenge has been to incorporate the interaction with patients into
the education of nurses without violating the privacy of patients but giving realistic insights into critical
situations in healthcare. In this respect the project has worked with interactive learning spaces and
supporting digital cross-action spaces.
From this perspective the project has prepared exemplary learning situations on treating patients with
dementia, on non-violent behaviour and on trans-cultural competences. Based on interviews with
experienced nurses the project prepared drama episodes (with actors from a theatre of Bremen) and
produced two instructive films. With the help of the digital tools developed for the CARO project the film
was made accessible for multiple uses at interactive learning spaces and digital cross-action spaces.
Concerning the role and functionality of the digital tools of the CARO project it is worthwhile to note the
With the help of these tools it is possible to shape the interactive learning spaces by presenting the visual
support material and the films as a basis for discourse, workshop tasks and reflection on the appropriate
handling of situations and treatment of patients. Likewise, the tools enable the shaping of cross-action
spaces that cater for different episodes and content units. In this way the CARO tools are not primarily
10 This subsection is essentially based on the presentation of Claudia Schepers at the ECER 2019 (see Schepers et al.
2019b) and on the related article (Schepers et al. 2019a).
designed to enhance digital competences as such but to enhance the occupational competences of
nurses via creative use of digital tools.
4. Incorporation of digital tools into vocational learning culture11
When discussing the promotion of digital competences in the field of vocational education and training
(VET), it is essential to consider the readiness of trainers and learners to accept digital tools as their own
tools. When looking back at the introduction of the Learning Toolbox (LTB) at the end of the Learning
Layers project, it was not clear that the pilot testing would lead to a sustainable and expanding use of the
toolset. From this point of view the further history of working with this toolset provides interesting
insights into overcoming the resistance and gaining ownership of new tools. From this perspective several
interviews were carried out with trainers in the training centre Bau-ABC. Below, some of the key points
have been summarised.
4.1 Views of trainers regarding the acceptance of digital tools in the field of VET
Below some points of the trainers give insights into the acceptance issues (regarding digital tools) among
older trainers and craftsmen. Then, some points are made on the appropriate ways to introduce digital
tools to enhance the vocational and work-related learning of young apprentices.
a) Views on traditional craftsmanship and on the use of digital tools
One of opening themes that the trainers raised was the traditional idea of craftsmanship – to make
something with your own hands. This refers to the sense of working with manual tools, to feel the
materials with your own hands and to be able to assess the quality with your own senses. From this
perspective older trainers and craftsmen have often reservations regarding the use of digital
technologies as support for working and learning: “That’s how we have always done these things
Also, the earlier phase of introducing stand-alone tools and apps for construction sector was not
always successful. Moreover, many allegedly user-oriented apps or instruction videos have not been
of sufficient quality to support vocational learning. Furthermore, when introducing new
technologies, there is often an anxiety that this brings more work to the trainers or craftsmen –
11 This section is entirely based on field interviews in the construction sector training centre Bau-ABC with full-time
trainers who had been involved in the piloting with the Learning Toolbox (LTB) and had made regular use of it after
the project. In the current follow-up phase they have served as promoters of the innovation and as peer tutors in their
instead of offloading them. In the light of the above it is important to approach the trainers and
craftsmen with solutions that work in practice and support working and learning in their trades.
b) Views on vocational learning and the use of traditional and digital tools
Concerning the newer generations of apprentices, the trainers noted that they have been less exposed
to manual work and working with traditional tools. Also, the computing skills of young people tend
to concentrate on operating smartphones. This provides a challenge for trainers and craftsmen – how
to incorporate the use of digital tools into vocational learning. There is a need to induct the learners
to working with traditional tools instead of making shortcuts to using only digital tools. Otherwise,
there is a risk of losing touch with the basic work processes and the material and transforming the
learning process into a virtual world.
In the light of the above it is of vital importance that the use of digital tools shall serve the planning,
preparation, implementation and assessment of learners’ working and learning projects. Here the role of
digital tools is to deepen the understanding of one’s learning, not as a shortcut to answers provided by
someone else. This is in particular the case when using digital tools with the cross-cutting theme ‘health
and safety’ at work.
4.2 Views of trainers on the enrichment of vocational learning with digital tools
The main themes in the interviews were the trainers’ experiences in using the digital toolset Learning
Toolbox (LTB) in their training. In particular it was essential to have their views, how the apprentices
had made use of the digital toolset to enhance their vocational and work-related learning. Below this is
discussed with reference to the apprentices’ trade-specific working and learning projects and to the cross-
cutting theme ‘health and safety’.
a) Trainers views on using Learning Toolbox in apprentices’ projects
According to the trainers, their apprentices got well along using the LTB – once they had got through
login process and created their own account. After the Learning Layers project the WLAN was
upgraded and at the training workshops were equipped with iPads for apprentices. Via LTB the
apprentices have got advance information on the forthcoming training projects of the next presence
period in the training centre. When they are working with the projects the LTB serves as a
documentary toolset for recording the interim results and final results.
Moreover, the apprentices can check whether they are working correctly and eventually ask for
advice (with reference to their photos etc.). And if something is not quite right, they can take the
necessary measures and update their documentation.
b) Trainers views on using Learning Toolbox with the theme ‘health and safety’
Concerning the theme ‘health and safety’, trainers from different trades had worked as an
informal working group. This effort supported the creation of a coherent LTB stack and helped the
trainers to prepare their domain-specific instructions in a coherent way. Now that the trainers and
apprentices in all trades are using LTB, this makes the ‘health and safety’ material present in a new
way. The materials are no longer papers in a bulky folder. Instead they are accessible via LTB from
the tablet PC or from smartphones. The LTB can be accessed by trainers and by apprentices at any
time. This has helped to make the training in health and safety more creative and situation-adjusted –
as lived practice.
4.3 Views of the trainers on the future of craftsmanship
The main theme of the interviews was, how to promote digital competences in the current training for
craft trades. At the end of the sessions there was a brief discussion on the bigger picture of digital
transformation (through entire production, service and marketing networks). Here, some questions were
raised on the role of skilled workers in craft trades in the context of major technological changes. From
the perspective of their own trades the trainers made the following points that – instead of following the
negative scenarios – outline new possibilities for advanced craftsmanship:
• Concerning carpenters, there will always be a need for advanced craftsmanship in the renovation of
traditional buildings. Parallel to this, thanks to the new construction techniques, wooden constructs
are being used as the structures of high buildings. Moreover – even when human workforce can be
replaced by robots – this can be used as a basis for new complementarity in which craftsmen are
engaged in creative tasks and robots in heavy tasks.
• Concerning well-builders and tunnel-builders, there are new possibilities for using geo-data and
advanced sensors and new techniques for drilling. Yet the risk analyses, when starting drilling
(horizontal or vertical) require communication between craftsmen on the site and authorized experts.
• Concerning welding, the use of welding robots is widespread in the industries. Yet, in outdoor
construction work in which the results should sustain heavy strain and climate changes, it is essential
to have a good understanding of materials, circumstances and differences in the quality of work. The
sensors of welding robots may not be secure enough to ensure the required safety and sustainability.
4.4 Reflective commentary
As has been indicated above, the interviews focus on the follow-up of the work of the Learning
Layers project in a partner organisation and on the use of the Learning Toolbox in apprentice training.
However, it is likely that the trainers’ observations on the resistance to digital tools with reference to the
tradition of craftsmanship and on the possibilities to overcome such resistance are valid in wider contexts.
In a similar way the trainers’ observations on narrower digital competences of young learners (who focus
mainly on operating smartphones) give a picture of a general challenge. In this context it is worthwhile to
note the trainers’ reflection, to what extent the apprentices should be inducted to traditions of
craftsmanship and how the introduction of digital tools could then enhance vocational learning culture.
From this perspective the positive comments on the usability of Learning Toolbox can be seen as progress
reports in one innovation path but at the same time indications, how peer tutoring and peer learning can
function within a training organisation. Also, the statements show that the use of digital tools or toolsets
can be successful if it makes sense both for the trainers and for the learners. Altogether, these interviews
have drawn attention to the challenges in the learning culture of older and younger generations and to the
necessity to introduce digital tools in such a way that the learners make use of them as their own tools for
their own uses.
5. Conclusions and discussion
Looking back at the histories of the predecessor projects it becomes clear that the project teams have been
able to ‘hatch out’ of the original scripts and face challenges that were not anticipated in the proposed
work plans. Therefore, it is appropriate to consider the past training concepts as impulses for a future-
oriented training approach – instead of taking them as ready-made models to be replicated. This is
important when discussing the value of the predecessor projects for future work in the field of VET.
From this perspective it is worthwhile to pay attention to the following differences between the training
concepts in the early TACCLE projects and the Learning Layers project (and its Construction pilot):
• For the TACCLE projects the key instruments for promoting the teachers’ digital competences have
been the TACCLE handbooks. The TACCLE courses have been closely linked to the preparation of
the handbooks and to use of their contents.
• For the Learning Layers project (and its Construction pilot) the key instrument for promoting
trainers’ and apprentices’ digital competences has been the digital toolset Learning Toolbox (LTB).
The training campaigns that were implemented in earlier phases of work have served as preparatory
phases. The recent interviews for the TACCLE 4 CPD project suggest the conclusion that
now, when the trainers have got used to working with the LTB, it is necessary to shift the
promotion of digital competences to development of learning arrangements that include the use of
• In a similar way the overview on parallel or more recent R&D projects suggests the conclusion that
promoting digital competences in the field of VET is no longer an‘add-on’issue on top of the
subject matter. Instead, the key point is in incorporating the use of digital tools into the vocational
learning arrangements in specific occupational contexts. The above-presented R&D projects provide
a variety of approaches, how to promote digital competences in different occupational fields and
related vocational learning contexts. Also, they provide insights into learning arrangements that
make transparent highly automated and digitised work processes transparent for human interventions
and optimisation. Furthermore, the cases make transparent the potential of digital learning spaces as
support for learning in healthcare occupations.
Consequently, the above-discussed examples provide a gallery of different cases for promoting digital
competences within and alongside vocational learning. In order to get an overview of such diversity it is
worthwhile to discuss different cases as examples of different innovation paths – taking into account the
occupational fields, the role of vocational curriculum development and the specific boundary conditions
for learning in the context – or alongside – the process of work.
Finally, the shaping of training and CPD initiatives to promote digital competences of teachers and
trainers in the field of VET requires a proper situation assessment concerning the needs, challenges and
possible working perspectives. From this perspective the interviews with trainers have brought into
discussion several fresh impulses on linking the digital competences to vocational learning culture.
Altogether, the impulses from the previous projects, parallel R&D activities and from actors in the field
need to be treted as themes with their own right. From this perspective it is appropriate to revisit the
Theme Room training concept that was used in the Learning Layers project and to develop it further.
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“Remembering Jenny Hughes – Part Two: Reflections on the TACCLE projects”