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Working and Learning with the TACCLE4 CPD project - Logbook of blog posts on the TACCLE4 CPD project 2017 - 2020

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This document is a collection of the blog posts that I have published on the work of the EU-funded TACCLE4 CPD project from December 2017 on.. This project is the fourth in the series of transnational TACCLE projects to promote digital competences of teachers and trainers in Europe. The acronym TACCLE stands for “Teachers’ aids on creating content for learning environments”. The abbreviation CPD stands for continuing professional development – the central theme of this project. The logbook contains primarily contributions to the work for the TACCLE4 CPD project in the field of vocational education and training (VET). Many posts try to relate this work to the school-centred approach of the previous TACCLE projects. In particular this is the case with 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 projects are brought together in order to support CPD initiatives in the field of VET.
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Working and Learning with the TACCLE4 CPD project
- Logbook of blog posts on the TACCLE4 CPD project 2017 – 2020
by Pekka Kämäräinen
Introduction
This document is a collection of the blog posts that I have published on the work of
the EU-funded TACCLE4 CPD project on my blog “Working and Learning” from
December 2017 on. Later on the blogs have been published also on the TACCLE4
CPD website. This project is the fourth in the series of transnational TACCLE
projects to promote digital competences of teachers and trainers in Europe. 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.
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.
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Post 1: TACCLE 4 CPD Developing continuing professional
development for teacher trainers December 9th, 2017
At the end of November we had the kick-off meeting of the new Erasmus Plus
project “TACCLE 4 – CPD” hosted by ITB at the University of Bremen. This project is
a new kind of follow-up of a series of projects with the brand name ‘TACCLE’. So, let
us firstly have a look at the development of these projects.
The TACCLE projects as support for teachers who are developing online learning
TACCLE 1 took the pioneering task to prepare a handbook as “Teachers’ aids for
creating content for e-learning”. The result was a generic handbook that informed of
basic web tools and online learning resources and equipped teachers to use them.
TACCLE 2 shifted the emphasis to work with online handbooks that were targeted
for teachers in different subject areas as well as to primary school teachers.
These projects were also supported by specific TACCLE courses funded by the
Comenius and Grundtvig programmes.
TACCLE 3 shifted the emphasis to teaching programming and coding for school
children and worked mainly with the project website.
More information on the two first generations of TACCLE projects is availble on the
video interviews with Jenny Hughes (recorded for the Coop-PBL in VET project in
2012):
Jenny Hughes on TACCLE 1 project: Getting teachers to produce their own
web content (Part1)
Jenny Hughes on TACCLE 2 project: Reaching out to new teacher groups and
subject areas (Part2)
TACCLE 4 project as support for teacher trainers with focus on technology-enhanced
learning and online resources
Looking back, the earlier TACCLE projects have been successful and even more the
TACCLE courses. This had created a demand for courses, workshops etc. based on
the projects and their materials. This gave rise to a new project that focuses on
practitioners who are developing Continuing Professional Development (CPD)
initiatives for teachers and trainers in different educational sectors. From this point of
view the TACCLE 4 – CPD project was shaped to draw upon the prior experiences
and to expand the work from school-based education to other educational sectors –
Adult Education (AE) and Vocational Education and Training. From this perspective
the project was based on a limited number of partner organisations, some of which
had been involved in the previous ones and some bringing new countries and/or
educational sectors into the picture.
For our institute – ITB – this project is an opportunity to draw upon the experiences
of multimedia training and co-design of digital tools (mainly for construction sector) in
the Learning Layers project (2012 – 2016). In the kick-off meeting we presented the
work with the Learning Toolbox (LTB) and the follow-up activities in different
contexts:
1. In the initial VET the HAKS project with craft trade companies and by the
informal working groups of Bau-ABC trainers;
2. In the continuing vocational training by the DigiProB project that is developing
a new software ecology that links together the course management and (via
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moodle) the trainers’ curriculum design platform (WordPress) and the
learners’ interface (LTB):
3. In the designed project ProBauKo and in a prior feasibility study the ITB team
and the LTB developers have explored the possibility to link the use of LTB to
company-specific knowledge processes and learning opportunities.
In the TACCLE 4 – CPD project we have to see, how to link these working
perspectives (and the role of vocational schools) to the way in which the TACCLE
projects have supported training of teachers and trainers. I am looking forward to an
interesting period of work.
Post 2: Taking further steps with the TACCLE4-CPD project Part One:
Setting the scene for project activities in the field of VET February 21st, 2018
In December 2017 I wrote a blog on the kick-off meeting of the EU-funded
TACCLE4-CPD project that took place in our institute ITB at the University of
Bremen. In that blog I described the background of TACCLE projects and presented
the achievements of the pioneering TACCLE1 and TACCLE2 projects. I also drew
attention to the legacy of the recently completed EU-funded Learning Layers
project (2012-2016) upon which our institute can draw in the present project. As we
see it, the Learning Layers’ Construction pilot was in many respects a
predecessor of the present project in the field of vocational education and training
(VET). Now it is time to have a closer look at our context of work and make more
specific plans for the forthcoming activities. I will start this with an updated
description of the TACCLE4-CPD project that I prepared fro the ITB website and
then move on with the stock-taking (with focus on the Learning Layers’ successor
activities and with the project neighbourhood that I have found from our own
institute).
TACCLE4-CPD in a nutshell: What is it about?
The ErasmusPlus project TACCLE4-CPD promotes strategies for integrating digital
technologies into teaching/learning processes. From this perspective the project
supports teacher trainers and organisations that develop teachers’ and trainers’
digital competences. The project builds upon the digital tools, web resources and
training concepts that have been created in prior TACCLE projects or other
predecessor activities. From the ITB point of view, this project provides an
opportunity to work further with the Learning Toolbox (LTB), a key result from the
Learning Layers project.
TACCLE4-CPD in a closer look: What is it trying to achieve?
The TACCLE4-CPD project is funded by the ErasmusPlus programme as a ‘strategic
partnership’. It promotes educational strategies for integrating digital technologies
into teaching/learning processes in different educational sectors. From this
perspective the project puts the emphasis on supporting teacher trainers and/or
organisations that develop teachers’ and trainers’ digital competences. When doing
so, the project builds upon the digital tools, web resources and training concepts
that have been created in earlier TACCLE projects and other predecessor projects.
Regarding the earlier TACCLE projects the current project can make use of the
TACCLE Handbook (that will be updated), the TACCLE2 websites and the separate
TACCLE courses. Regarding the Learning Layers project the current project can
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build upon the work with the Learning Toolbox (LTB) and on the Multimedia training
schemes (that were organised with construction sector partners).
Whilst the previous TACCLE projects have been working directly with pioneering
teachers, the TACCLE4-CPD project addresses now the training of trainers. In the
same way the emphasis is shifted from particular teaching/learning innovations to
shaping models for continuing professional development. In this respect the partners
promote community-development among professionals and organisations that
support the delivery of digital competences and their integration into learning culture.
Regarding ITB, it has a specific possibility to develop cooperation and synergy
between ongoing European and German projects – in particular between TACCLE4-
CPD and the parallel projects STRIDE and DMI.
I think this is enough of the starting points of the TACCLE4-CPD and how I interpret
our task in the project. In my next blogs I will continue by looking more closely what
we can bring into the project from the Learning Layers’ follow-up and from the
neighbouring projects.
Post 3: Taking further steps with the TACCLE4-CPD project Part Two:
Revisiting the legacy of the Learning Layers project February 26th, 2018
With my latest blog I started a series of blog posts with which I want to take further
steps with the ongoing EU-funded TACCLE4-CPD project. Already in December I
had posted of our kick-off meeting and shared some links to videos that presented
the work of earlier TACCLE projects (that equipped teachers with capability to use
digital tools and to create online content for their teaching). Now, the current
TACCLE project – the fourth one – is focusing on continuing professional
development (CPD). The partners from different countries focus also on different
educational sectors (general education, adult education, vocational education and
training (VET)). Moreover, the partners bring into the project different background
experiences in introducing digital tools and web resources as well as enabling the
practitioners to reach e-maturity in their own context.
In my previous post I gave a nutshell description, how our institute (Institut Technik &
Bildung, ITB) positions itself in the project as the partner responsible for the field of
VET. With this post I try to give an idea, how we worked in the predecessor project
Learning Layers (LL), and how we have been able to build on the legacy of the
project and its successor activities. In particular I will highlight the training activities
and the piloting with the digital toolset – the Learning Toolbox (LTB).
The role of training campaigns in promoting e-maturity the case of Bau-ABC
Initially the Learning Layers (LL) project was launched primarily as an ambitious co-
design project – with a Europe-wide consortium and with multiple development
agendas to be implemented in the pilot sectors Construction and Healthcare. The
key impulses were given in the first Design Conference in Helsinki, in which also the
idea of digitisation of training and learning materials of Bau-ABC was taken on
board. However, in practice the co-design process turned out to be more
complicated than expected (see below).
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In the light of the above it was of vital importance for the Construction pilot that we
started the Multimedia training activities in Bau-ABC at a relatively early phase – with
a smaller number of pioneering trainers who volunteered to participate in training
workshops that took place on Friday afternoons and Saturday mornings. In the first
phase of these training sessions the participating trainers got an overview on the
most important digital tools and enhanced their skills in producing and editing videos.
For a short interim period they continued to engage themselves with digital media in
Friday afternoon sessions. Then, at a crucial phase in the project work the trainers
initiated a training scheme for the whole organisation – based on the idea of “Theme
Rooms” to be visited in a series of workshops. This idea was put into practice at the
end of the year 2015 as a joint effort of ITB researchers and the pioneering trainers.
In the final phase of the project we knew that these training campaigns were of vital
importance for the co-design process and for the pilot activities.
Learning Toolbox from digitisation of training materials to a flexible toolset with
many applications
As has been mentioned above, the co-design process in the Construction pilot (and
in particular in the Bau-ABC) started with the idea to digitise the training and learning
materials – hitherto collected into the “White Folder”. However, after a rather short
explorative phase, the process took a new course – to develop a digital toolset (that
can be used with mobile devices) – the Learning Toolbox (LTB). Here, it is
worthwhile to not that the explorative phase helped to put an emphasis on supporting
workplace-based learning of the users. This process was carried out – parallel to the
training campaigns – and completed with a viable product that the Bau-ABC trainers
could use. Primarily they presented working & learning tasks, share relevant
knowledge resources and managed training-related communication. Parallel to this,
the first applications were developed, in which LTB was used to support the
coordination and management of construction work and related communication on a
construction site.
Based on this founding phase, Bau-ABC has continued with its internal follow-up
activities, whilst new challenges have come to picture in projects that extend the use
of LTB to construction work in decentralised work organisations (and decentralised
training and learning within continuing vocational training).
Moreover, a very different context for using LTB has been discovered in the
conferences of former LL partners. In the Helsinki conference of the Association for
Medical Education in Europe (AMEE) in 2017 the LTB was used to reshape the
poster area and to shift the emphasis from paper posters to ePosters that were
shaped with the LTB. In some other conferences in 2017 a different approach is
introduced with a limited number of hybrid posters or hybrid presentations that are
linked to LTB-stacks. In this way the use of LTB is spreading to other contexts.
I guess this is enough of the legacy we bring to the TACCLE4-CPD project from the
predecessor project Learning Layers. In particular the latter overview shows that the
Learning Toolbox (LTB) is not only viable but also transferable – in the original
contexts and in new ones. Therefore, I have to keep my eyes open to see, what all
we can learn from the transfer activities.
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Post 4: Taking further steps with the TACCLE4-CPD project Part
Three: Mapping the approaches and contributions of parallel ITB
projects March 16th, 2018
With my two latest blogs I have been started a series of posts with which I want to
take further steps with the ongoing EU-funded TACCLE4-CPD project. In the first
post I gave a nutshell description, how our institute (Institut Technik & Bildung, ITB)
positions itself in the current TACCLE project as the partner responsible for the field
of vocational education and training (VET). With the next post I summarised the
legacy of the predecessor project Learning Layers (LL), and how we have been able
to continue the work with the Learning Toolbox (LTB) – the main result from the LL
Construction pilot – in its successor activities. With this post I will give a brief
overview on the neighbouring ITB projects that focus on introducing digital media
and web tools in the field of VET and on training of teachers and trainers.
Mapping the neighbouring projects what for?
We started our discussions on the approach that ITB should take in the TACCLE4-
CPD project with the question, how we could at best support for continuing
professional development (CPD) activities in the field of VET. Our earlier activities in
the LL project had brought us quite far in a strong multiplier-organisation in the
construction sector (the training centre Bau-ABC Rostrup). Also, in the follow-up
activities we had been able to witness, how practitioners in VET are ready to use the
Learning Toolbox (LTB) in different contexts. Yet, we were short of an overview,
what else is going on in projects that promote the use of digital media and web tools
to support vocational learning and/or (informal) learning in organisational contexts. In
order to fill this gap I interviewed several of my ITB colleagues and prepared a
similar moodle-based overview as I had done on the training activities in the LL
project and on the shaping and further use of the Learning Toolbox.
Below I will give brief characterisations on the projects that I have explored and on
their neighbourhood relations with the ongoing TACCLE4-CPD project.
Research-intensive projects with focus on the pedagogy of VET and workplace
learning
The exemplary projects for this theme are in particular the following ones:
The DieDa project studies empirically, how patterns of self-organised
learning are developing in continuing vocational training for ecological
construction work (and in parallel cases of CVT provisions in other sectors).
The INTAGT project studies vocational learning and issues on health &
safety in companies that introduce ‘Industry 4.0’ and draws conclusions for
the development of VET provisions.
With these projects I experienced the closest neighbourhood relation to TACCLE4-
CPD and also the greatest interest to work with the Learning Toolbox (LTB) as
support for training the trainers.
Support for digital strategies and creative learning designs in vocational schools
The exemplary projects for this theme are in particular the following ones:
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The STRIDE project supports the development of digital strategies in partner
schools in Ireland, Italy, Turkey and Poland. The partners from Germany (ITB)
and Spain serve as expert partners that coordinate the studies and the
training workshops.
The RISE project promotes Design thinking and creative learning
arrangements in vocational schools. The three partner schools and three
expert organisations from Germany (ITB, Wilhelm Wagenfeld Schule), Spain
and Slovenia develop concepts of ‘social enterprises’ and ‘innovation hubs’ to
promote such concepts and validate the ideas in several workshops.
With these projects the working concepts are somewhat different but there are
common interests – also concerning the use of the Learning Toolbox (LTB).
Support for learning and knowledge processes in specific occupational contexts
The exemplary projects for this theme are the following ones:
The NABUS project for supporting training in ecological construction and
renovation work.
The MeMoApp project for supporting the use of mobile apps and digital tools
in the logistic and transport occupations.
The LiKa 4.0 project for promoting innovation transfer from the previous
Kompetenzwerkstatt projects to craft trades.
The LaSiDig project for promoting health and safety awareness in the
logistic and transport occupations.
Here the projects were rather heterogeneous and some of them were at the
beginning stage, whilst others had very dedicated software solutions. Therefore,
further talks were needed to clarify the cooperation prospects.
Post 5: The TACCLE4-CPD project takes further steps in its work
Part One: Reflections on our project meeting June 10th, 2018
As I had told in my earlier blog of December 2017, our institute ITB is involved in a
new European project TACCLE4-CPD. This project is the fourth one in the
TACCLE project family that supports teachers and trainers in integrating the use of
digital tools and web resources into teaching and learning processes. Our project is
developing tools and concepts for continuing professional development of teachers
and trainers in different educational sectors.
Now we had our second project meeting and we were able to see, how we can bring
our activities with different educational sectors and with different “Intellectual
Outputs” together. As I had mentioned in my previous blog, the earlier TACCLE
projects had been working with general education – with primary and (lower)
secondary schools. In our project some partners continue the work with focus on
these educational sectors whilst others bring into project insights from adult
education (AE) and vocational education and training (VET). In our kick-off meeting
we had a first look at the work program and on the starting points of different
partners. Now we were having reports on activities of different partners – both
concerning the fieldwork and the conceptual work. In this way we were able to take
further steps in adjusting our activities to each other and in including different
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contributions to the Intellectual Outputs. Below I will firstly discuss the progress with
our work program and then some specific issues from perspective of the German
team and of the VET sector.
Progress with ‘streamlining’ the work program and the partners’ activities
In our meeting the dynamics was as follows: We had firstly activity reports of one or
two partners, then we noticed that they served as a lead-in to some of the Intellectual
Outputs. We had a brief debate with some challenging issues – and then ended up
with a common conclusion that ‘streamlined’ the work for all of us. Below I will take
up some topics that illustrate this:
Analyses of current policies to promote digitisation and digital
competences: With the activity reports we were caught with the contrast
between countries that have centralised educational policies (driven by the
National Curriculum) and others with more fragmented power structures and
policy processes. This led us to a brief debate on what is merely
‘local/regional’ and what counts as ‘policies’. With a little help of mindmaps
and diagrams from other project we found a good formulation for streamlining
our mapping and analyses: “Policies looking for appropriate practices –
innovative practices and R&D initiatives looking for policy support”. In this way
we could provide a European group picture without giving too much emphasis
on explaining different policy contexts and instead draw attention to the
‘implementation realities’.
Developing a tool for quality assurance: In this context the responsible
partner informed of their ongoing qualitative study with schools participating in
the eTwinning programme. This triggered a discussion, whether other
partners should replicate a similar study or not. However, in the course of
discussion we noted that the study is shaping a matrix for analysing quality
issues and in this way contributing to the project.
Developing a Route Map for promoting digital competences and
Planning tools for institutional managers: In this context the responsible
partner presented earlier versions of such Route Maps. They had been
successfully implemented in earlier TACCLE projects and in national follow-up
activities. Another partner presented a somewhat simplified and more
condensed version (developed in another predecessor project) that could be
taken as a basis of the planning tool. We agreed to merge the tasks and work
with both variants of the tools.
I guess this is enough as reporting on our meeting. We had several other points to
discuss in the meeting. I will get back to them in due time. In my next post I will
discuss the mapping and analysing of policies from the German perspective and with
emphasis on the VET sector.
Post 6: The TACCLE4-CPD project takes further steps in its work Part
Two: Reflections on policy mapping in (German) VET sector June 10th, 2018
In my previous post I reported on the second transnational meeting of our EU-funded
project TACCLE4-CPD and our efforts to develop tools and concepts for continuing
professional development of teachers and trainers. As has been the case with earlier
TACCLE projects, we focus on integrating the use of digital tools and web resources
to pedagogic approaches. In my previous post reported on the meeting itself and on
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our progress in adjusting our work program and the partners’ activities to each other.
With this post I want to take a closer look at one of the tasks – mapping and
analysing current policies – and what it requires from us (the German partners)
working in the field of vocational education and training (VET). Below I try to give an
overview on the role of regulative frameworks, innovation programmes and R&D
initiatives in this context.
On the role of regulative frameworks
When discussing the role of educational policies, colleagues from other countries
tend to refer to the “National Curriculum” as a key instrument and its implementation
as the central process. This doesn’t apply to Germany. Since the founding of the
Federal Republic of Germany (and after the German unification) the regulative
powers have been given to the Federal States (Länder), not to the Federal
Government (Bund). Thus, there are 16 autonomous Federal States deciding their
own curriculum frameworks – with some level of mutual adjustment in the Standing
conference of cultural ministers (KMK). Yet, the differences between larger states
(like Bavaria and Lower Saxony) and the city states (like Hamburg and Bremen) can
be considerable.
When it comes to the field of vocational education and training (VET), there are
further complications in the picture. For the dual system of apprenticeship (the
mainstream model), the regulative powers have been divided. The Federal
Government (Bund) has the power to regulate the workplace-based training, whilst
the Federal States (Länder) are responsible for the school-based education.
Furthermore, the intermediate training centres (überbetriebliche Ausbildunsstätten)
that support training in the construction sector and in the craft trades are managed
by the umbrella organisations of the respective industries and trades.
In the light of the above, tracing the policy processes at the level of regulatory
frameworks reminds me of putting together a jigsaw puzzle with numerous pieces.
On the role of national innovation programmes
Whilst the Federal Government (Bund) doesn’t have the regulative powers in (shool-
based) education, there is a growing consensus that Federal funding is needed to
promote digitisation and digital competence throughout the society – including the
education and training system. For this purpose the key instruments are the Federal
innovation programmes – such as the ones promoting the use of digital media in
VET (DiMeBB and DiMeBB2). This funding includes R&D projects in which
education and training providers work together with service providers and supporting
researchers.
Parallel to this, the Federal Government has provided special funding to promote
digitisation and digital competences in the intermediate training centres. This funding
is allocated partly to support the updating and upgrading of equipment and partly for
supporting the staff training.
This reminds me of putting together a mosaic when all the pieces are not (yet)
available.
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On the role of local/ regional/ domain-specific initiatives
In the light of the above it is worthwhile to pay attention on specific measures and
initiatives in a local/regional context or in domain-specific training. These may
influence heavily the ‘implementation realities’ in digitisation and in the acquisition of
digital competences. Also, it is worthwhile to pay attention to the impact of earlier
R&D activities – inasmuch as they may have had a sustainable impact on the
education and training cultures. Here I can refer to the long-term engagement of ITB
in introducing Project Management training in schools (in particular in Bremen and
the neighbourhood). In a similar way we need to pay attention to the use of the
Learning Toolbox (LTB) as a digital toolset to support vocational learning and
organisational knowledge sharing.
All this reminds me of describing changing facets of a caleidoscope. I think this is
enough to illustrate, how complex these mapping and analysing exercises may be.
However, the formulation that we agreed – “Policies looking for (appropriate)
practices; Practices and initiatives looking for policy support” – is helpful. In this spirit
I find it easy to continue our work with this task.
Post 7: Remembering Jenny Hughes Part One: Personal
memories on our cooperation October 31st, 2018
Last Sunday we got from Graham Attwell the sad news: Jenny Hughes has passed
away. As we know it, Graham is a long-time friend of Jenny over decades. In his
blog Graham has already given us a picture what all Jenny has been up to during the
years they have known each other (see Graham’s recent blog post). I have also
known Jenny and Graham quite some time – our cooperation dates back to the year
1996 when I started monitoring EU-funded cooperation projects as a project
manager of Cedefop (European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training).
Little did we anticipate, what all we would experience together in the years to come
and what kind of initiatives we could bring forward. Below I try to cover some of the
main themes with which we have worked together in the field of vocational education
and training (VET). In this context I will try to give a picture, how Jenny has
contributed to European networking and community-development through all these
years.
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Professionalisation of teachers, trainers and VET professionals altogether
The first time I met Jenny (and also Graham) in Bremen in January 1996 in the kick-
off meeting of the European cooperation project “Europrof”. The project was initiated
by Institut Technik & Bildung (ITB), University of Bremen, but they chose to employ
Graham as the coordinator. Jenny was representing the UK (Welsh) partner
organisation. I was representing Cedefop – as an additional accompanying
researcher. The aim of the project was to shape a new integrative framework for
VET professionals – to overcome the divide between teachers (in school-based
education) and trainers (in workplace-based training).
The conceptual starting point inspired many European colleagues to join in at a later
stage – as affiliated expert partners. However, the project had difficulties in working
its way forward from a critical ‘state of the art analysis’ to a realistic change agenda
that could be adjusted to different VET cultures. Yet, the work in the Europrof
workshops prepared the grounds for a Europe-wide ‘invisible college’ and
community-building process that was continued in other projects. In the beginning
phase I remember that Jenny was critical about the ‘European English’ terminology
that we (non-native English speakers) were using. It took some time for us to
understand that we were not disagreeing on the underlying ideas but instead we
were not aware of the connotative meanings in British English – that made our
message weaker or diluted it altogether. Once we understood this, we were happy to
work with Jenny on our side.
The Europrof project had tried to outline an integrative change agenda for promoting
education and training for new VET professionals (covering the school-based and
workplace-based VET). The successor projects tried to develop a differentiated
approach – addressing teachers and trainers in VET as different target groups. The
TTplus project (2006 – 2008) was initiated by Graham (now representing
Pontydysgu and bringing Jenny with him). I joined this project as a freshman in ITB,
based in Bremen. In this project we looked at the instances of change and interests
that we could trace in different countries – in order to draw common conclusions. In
this project Jenny provided insights into the training practices in Welsh organisations
and outlined a framework for continuing professional development (for countries that
did not have strong established frameworks at place).
A third phase of such European cooperation took shape in the European
Consultation seminars 2007 -2008. The European Commission had decided to
launch a consultation process based on six ‘regional’ workshops involving EU
Member States and EFTA cooperation partners. The workshops had the task to
bring different stakeholders to joint discussion on the role of European policies in
promoting the professionalisation of teachers and trainers in VET. The project was
led by ITB and supported by Pontydysgu. In the light of the difficulties that we had
experienced in previous projects it was of vital importance that Jenny was able to
shape a set of interactive workshops that kept the participants busy in common
discussion instead of getting stuck with institutional and systemic differences.
Here some of the key points of this workshop concept:
1. Mapping of concerns of teachers and trainers: What are the issues – what are
common to both, what are different? The issue cards were written and set on
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the wall – illustrating the sense of commonality or relative distance between
teachers and trainers.
2. Witness sessions: Participants reported of recent reforms in their countries
and of current European projects that they perceived as innovative.
3. Problem and Solution cards: Participants wrote on one side of the card a
pressing problem and on the other side a possible solution. These were then
discussed in groups.
4. Mapping policies: On a matrix the participant groups were asked to indicate,
what European policies do more and what less and what national policies
should do more and what less.
5. Taking a message home: Participants were asked to formulate their own
conclusions as messages to take home.
6. Self-evaluation of the workshop: Participants indicated on flipchart, what had
worked well and what was less well in the workshop process – and the
process could be improved.
During the workshops the participants worked mostly in mixed groups and language
support was provided on demand. Also, at different phases of the process that
participants changed groups. In this way the workshop stimulated cross-cultural
dialogue and knowledge sharing on key issues and emerging initiatives. The
participants emphasised the value of such process and hoped that it would be
continued. Unfortunately the Commission services were expecting the process to
deliver a Common European framework that would make such exchanges gradually
redundant.
From ‘distance learning’ and ‘e-learning’ to the TACCLE projects
Another key theme for Jenny has been the promotion of teachers’ and trainers’
competences in e-learning – remote learning, open distance learning, multimedia
learning, e-learning, technology-enhanced learning – whatever it has been called at
different times. The major flagship projects in this context have been the TACCLE
projects (I will get back to this in my next blog) and the related TACCLE courses. In
these projects and in the supporting courses Jenny had the chance to shape
handbooks, web-based support materials and workshops that brought the e-learning
competences ‘home’ to the work of different teachers and trainers. As a personal
memory I can refer to the Multimedia Training workshops that Pontydysgu and ITB
organised together for the full-time trainers of the training centre Bau-ABC Rostrup in
Germany. The lively approach that Jenny radiated throughout the training made the
construction sector trainers do their best to get something useful for them in their
own work. At a later phase of the Learning Layers project these pioneering trainers
served us the champions in introducing the digital toolset Learning Toolbox to their
training. And later on they have served as peer tutors in their own organisation and
multipliers in a wider context.
Networks, communities and real life wisdom
One important aspect in Jenny’s career has been her role in European networks and
community-building processes. She may not have pushed herself into the
representative positions but yet her contribution has been vital. I still remember the
start of the European “Forum” network that was launched in 1995 as a ‘learning
community’ for European researcher. This network tried to avoid premature
institutionalisation. Instead, it developed a culture of regular thematic workshops –
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and included specific workshops for emerging researchers. Gradually, it became
necessary to apply for funding and to develop a formalised structure for thematic
knowledge development – and in this way the project-specific goals for producing
publications in each work package took over the process dynamic. During this
development Jenny was trying to maintain the culture of ‘learning community’ and
resist the atomisation of the network.
Throughout her career Jenny has been remembered as an advocate of ‘real life
wisdom’. She took seriously the challenges of academic knowledge development but
at the same time she always work together with practitioners and supported their
development. We have lost Jenny but her legacy inspires us from now on.
Post 8: Remembering Jenny Hughes Part Two: Reflections on the
TACCLE projects October 31st, 2018
This post is a continuation of my previous post in which I gave a picture of my long-
term cooperation with Jenny Hughes who sadly passed away last Sunday. When
discussing different themes I mentioned that I would get back to the TACCLE
projects in a separate post. This was not only due to the fact that the TACCLE
projects have been the flagship projects in Jenny’s career and their continuation
proves that they have been a success story.
However important this may be alone, another argument is that I have authentic
video material in which Jenny reflects the experience earlier TACCLE projects and
outlines her plans for forthcoming projects. This discussion was recorded for another
European project (Co-op PBL in VET) in 2012 but it was reused and republished
couple of times in the context of the Learning Layers project. The introductory text
below is based on my earlier blog of April this year. Let us give the floor for Jenny
with this adapted text and the videos!
The continuing learning process through different TACCLE projects
The series of TACCLE projects started with the first TACCLE project (Teachers’ Aids
on Creating Content for Learning Environments) that worked in 2008 and 2009. It
prepared an E-learning handbook to support the e-learning competences of
classroom teachers. In the Taccle2 project the work was differentiated to address
different subject areas and alongside them the primary education teachers. In the
Taccle3 the emphasis on teaching programming and coding for school children.
The project Taccle4 focuses on developing materials and media to support
continuing professional development of teachers and trainers in different educational
sectors. The most recent project – Taccle5 – focuses primarily on the field of
vocational education and training (VET). As the following two interviews were
recorded already in 2012, so the it was not quite clear, in what order the successor
projects would come up, but the vision was clear – this work merits to be continued.
Jenny Hughes on TACCLE 1 project: Getting teachers to produce their own
web content (Part1)
Jenny Hughes on TACCLE 2 project: Reaching out to new teacher groups and
subject areas (Part2)
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And the story goes on
As I have indicated above, the series of Taccle project was continued to a somewhat
different direction than anticipated in the video interview above. The next theme (and
target group) to be picked up after the subject teachers in Taccle2 pointed out to be
teaching coding in primary schools (Taccle 3). This was a clear response to new
educational priorities at European and national levels. The theme ‘continuing
professional development of teachers’ (Taccle4) was an urgent need because the
resources of Taccle partners were not sufficient to meet the demand for Taccle
courses. And finally, the field of VET was taken up in the Taccle5 project.
As we sense it from the videos, Jenny had put her heart and soul into the work in
these projects. She learned a lot, how to bring these new competences to teachers
in such a way that they became owners of their own learning. She also learned. how
to meet the demands of the time. In Taccle1 it was necessary to work with hard copy
book to get the teachers on board. In Taccle2 it was necessary to move to an online
platform in order to manage the multiple contexts. In Taccle3 it was necessary to
bring the coding specialists into work with teachers. All this required learning and
mutual adjustment.
As I have said it earlier, we have lost Jenny but we have learned a lot of her and we
can work further in the same spirit.
Post 9: The TACCLE4-CPD project is making further progress Part
One: Giving new emphasis on the development of CPD November 26th, 2018
Last week our EU-funded project TACCLE4-CPD had its third transnational project
meeting in Pontypridd, Wales. I have reported on this project in my earlier blogs
(December 2017 and June 2018). We are developing frameworks and support for
continuing professional development (CPD) of teachers and trainers in promoting
their digital competences. As I have told earlier, this project is based on the work of
three earlier TACCLE projects that provided direct support for teachers in integrating
digital competences to their teaching. This project has the task to develop
frameworks, concepts and support resources for CPD measures in different
educational sectors (general education, adult education and vocational education
and training (VET).
And as I have mentioned elsewhere, the success of all TACCLE projects has been
based on the founding work and intellectual leadership of Jenny Hughes. In this
respect our meeting was located to Pontypridd to meet Jenny at her home grounds
and to make contacts with her local counterparts. Sadly, we lost Jenny shortly before
the meeting. In the new situation we had to make a new situation assessment plan
our work without counting on Jenny’s active support. Below I try to summarise some
key points in our general discussion on the main Intellectual Outputs of the project.
In my next blog I will discuss my contributions to the project and how they are related
to this discussion.
What does ‘developing CPD’ mean for the project?
To be sure, we had discussed already in the first meetings the aims of our project
and the background from where the project idea arises. Yet, at this meeting we had
a special need to revisit these discussions. And here we were partly guided by
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Jenny’s legacy. In an earlier video interview she had told of the time lag between the
proposal for the TACCLE1 project (for supporting the development of e-learning
content for classroom teaching) and the actual start of the project. During that period
the introduction of Web 2.o tools had taken off massively and the project had to
catch up with this development. According to jenny, this was managed and the
project integrated introduction to Web 2.0 tools into its original idea.
In our project meeting we found ourselves facing a similar challenge. Initially the
TACCLE4-CPD project had been planned to scale up the work of the TACCLE
courses and related local and regional teacher training activities. Whilst some
sections of the proposal were referring to policies, strategies and management
choices, other parts were very close to planning specific training activities and
support materials for classroom teachers. However, the key idea was to proceed one
level up in making transparent the policy choices for shaping training programmes,
providing organisational learning opportunities and for linking them to progression
models. And as we now saw, it several international organisations were active in
mapping this landscape, developing new frameworks and in promoting pilot
activities. These newer developments provided us a challenge in keeping up with the
discussion and linking our work to it. Below, the implications for two Intellectual
Outputs are discussed in this respect.
Implications for our work with Policy Analyses, Route Maps, Frameworks etc.
Concerning policy analyses we were aware of the problem faced by many European
projects when they had provided national reports presenting the education and
training policies of their countries. Although the aim of these reports had been to
inform each other and to facliitate mutual learning, they often highlighted systemic
differences and strengthened cultural barriers.
From this point of view it was important to get insights into new patterns of sharing
policy concepts and adapting policies that had been trialled in other countries (as
Graham Attwell reported on the work of Unesco with a group of East-African
countries. Also, for our common understanding of ‘policy learning’ it was important to
share information on the European DigCompEdu framework that promotes new
kinds of developments across different systemic frameworks.
In the light of the above we could give a new emphasis on the work with an
integrative mindmap that Koen de Pryck had started. Instead of separating different
countries, we were able to create an overview on policies for promoting digital
competences at different levels:
international policies (impulses and support),
policies for different (general) educational sectors – primary, lower & upper
secondary education, (higher education) and adult education (as educational
policies promoting lifelong learning)
policies for VET (as an institutional interface between education/training and
working life) and to
specific policies for promoting competences of teachers and trainers (with
emphasis on digital competences).
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In this context the specific ‘Routemap’ and ‘EMM-framework’ concepts that we had
discussed earlier, could be seen as part of a wider group picture and could be linked
to other elements. Thus, we could see the seemingly separate tasks as mutually
complementing elements within an integrative framework. Also, we could see that
the Mindmap could guide different users to find their levels of activity, perceive the
dependencies and chances as well as address questions and outline options.
Implications for our work with Open Educational Resources
In a similar way we revisited the question, how to create collections of Open
Educational Resources for TACCLE4-CPD. In the earlier TACCLE projects it was
clear that the OER collections should equip teachers with teaching materials and
pedagogic advice for their work. To some extent this emphasis was present in the
proposal. However, as a consequence of the newer developments at different policy
levels – and due to newer approaches to ‘policy learning’ – there is a demand for
OER collections that cover different levels and address strategic dependencies
and/or opportunities for pioneering. From this perspective we concluded that the
work with the Mindmap is also the core structure for shaping a collection of OER
(with sufficient amount of commentary).
I think I have grasped above the crucial steps in revisiting the proposal and
reworking our way further. Based on these new perspectives we could see, how
many elements of our work were growing together. Also, this discussion helped us to
see, how to link input and influences from earlier or parallel projects to our work. In
that sense I could see more clearly the importance of the work with the Learning
Layers project and its follow-up measures. I will discuss this in my next post.
Post 10: The TACCLE4-CPD project is making further progress Part
Two: Linking my contributions to the common approach November 27th, 2018
With my previous post I started to blog on the third transnational project meeting of
our EU-funded project TACCLE4-CPD that took place in Pontypridd, Wales. This
project is working with frameworks, pedagogic concepts and arrangements for
continuing professional development (CPD) of teachers and trainers in promoting
their digital competences. It builds upon the achievements of three previous
TACCLE projects that worked directly with teachers and provided support for
promoting their digital competences. The fourth project has the task to support
training providers and managers in shaping adequate arrangements for CPD in
different educational sectors and enhancing appropriate digital competences.
In my previous post I gave a picture, how we revisited the key idea of this project and
in what respect we have to face different challenges than the earlier TACCLE
projects. The main difference is that we have to support policy-developers,
educational managers and training providers – not immediately acting teachers and
trainers. This has consequences for the policy analyses and frameworks to be
developed in the project – as well as for our approach to collecting Open Educational
Resources (OER). In general, we reached a common conclusion on giving a central
role for our work with a Mindmap as an integrative tool. However, as I see it, this
provided further challenges, how to link my contributions to this approach.
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Linking the sector of vocational education and training (VET) to the work of
TACCLE projects
In this context it is worthwhile to remind that the TACCLE projects have so far
focused on general education (and general adult education). Thus, the emphasis has
been on school-based education and classroom teaching. In this respect the field of
vocational education and training (VET) with different institutional settings and with
different interfaces between education and working life has not been present. As a
contrast, our institute (ITB) had recently worked in a major EU-funded project
Learning Layers in which we worked together with construction sector and with a
training provider for work process -oriented learning. As a contribution to this project
we had organised two campaigns for training of trainers to enhance their digital
competences. In the proposal for the TACCLE4-CPD project this background had
been highlighted as a major asset of our institute ITB in the current project.
However, when the TACCLE4-CPD project started working, it became clear to me
that I have to provide insights into the legacy of the Learning Layers project and what
needs to be considered when discussing CPD policies and measures in the field of
VET. Also, I noticed that there is a need to provide insights into the institutional
complexity of the German VET system – in order to grasp the role of different policy
levels and R&D programmes. In this respect we from ITB had to work ourselves into
the TACCLE4-CPD projects and that we had to open new perspectives for the
project work. Below I illustrate this process with three key themes.
Critical analyses of policies for promoting digital competences in the field of
VET
Already in an earlier blog I had addressed the institutional complexity of the German
VET system – with reference to the federal governance model and the dual system
of VET (based on workplace-based training supported by school-based education).
Taking into account the diversified power structures on education and training it is
possible to understand the relevance of R&D projects and of specific sectoral
partnerships. Therefore, I had produced for our November meeting a report that
firstly gave a brief overview on the governance structures in education and training in
Germany. Then I presented an overview of selected R&D projects that have a
relevance for promoting digital competences and in shaping patterns of CPD.
Thirdly, I included some interviews from actors in the field to highlight, what kind of
impact different policies and initiatives have at the local level.
When I presented this contribution, I realised that it was written in the old way as a
national report. In the light of our discussion on the critical analysis of policies I
needed to transform the perspective to a general approach to the field of VET. Then
I needed to outline different systemic models and levels of policies – after which the
German governance structures could be given as examples. In a similar way the
level of R&D programmes should be outlined with some main themes – under which
the selected cases should be given as illustrative examples. Finally, the engagement
of actors in the field should be discussed in the light of lead initiatives and by
presenting modes of participation. In this way the report would provide (to some
extent) an introduction to the VET section in the MindMap and should also address,
how the MindMap can be used.
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Exploring the project histories of TACCLE projects and of Learning Layers
As a second contribution I had prepared a discussion paper that compared the
project histories of the three earlier TACCLE projects and that of the Learning Layers
(LL) project (with focus on the Construction pilot). In both project histories I noticed
similar phases of search, reorientation and enrichment and encountering new
challenges. From the perspective of LL project experience I emphasised the central
role of Learning Toolbox (LTB) as an integrative toolset for supporting vocational and
workplace-based learning. From this perspective there is a slight tension vis-à-vis
the former TACCLE projects that focused on general school education and
emphasised the role of teachers’ handbooks.
When discussing this contribution I realised that I had not been able to reach the
perspective of TACCLE4-CPD. Here, in addition to the work with the MindMap, it is
worthwhile to take a look at the DigCompEdu framework as a bridging approach.
Based on this framework it is possible to see the legacy of the LL project (including
the co-design process, the training campaigns and the introduction of the LTB) as a
systematic effort to link occupational competences, pedagogic competences and
learners’ competences to each other. Here, the LTB served as a toolset that was
shaped to support such integrative processes. From this perspective I needed to
rework the paper to emphasise this approach and to avoid an impression that I
would only be pushing the tool as such.
Reflections on different training models for promoting digital competences
A further important theme that we discussed was comparison of different training
models. We noticed a general trend towards divisive grouping of training models as
abstract lists. In our discussion we found it more appropriate to reinterpret such
‘models’ as ‘characteristics’ and to look, how different characteristics can be
combined in holistic training concepts. From this perspective the “Theme Room”
training that was used in the LL project would serve as an interesting case. In
particular the prospect of further development of this concept – including the use of
LTB during the training and after it – is an interesting challenge.
Post 11: Catching up with the TACCLE4-CPD project Part One:
New version of policy analyses March 31st, 2019
During the last few weeks – after getting my computer problems sorted out – I have
tried to catch up with my duties for our ongoing EU-funded TACCLE4-CPD project.
As I have told in my blogs last year, this project is looking at concepts and models for
promoting continuing professional development (CPD) of teachers and trainers with
emphasis on digital competences.
The project builds upon a series of TACCLE projects that worked with classroom
teachers. Now, the challenge is to develop CPD models for wider use – including
also adult education (AE) and vocational education and training (VET). In particular
the extension of the scope to the field of VET provides a challenge since this brings
into picture different governance models, different training providers and different
learning venues.
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In the light of the above I have written a document with the heading “Policy analyses
as background for continuing professional development of teachers and trainers in
the field of vocational education and training (VET)”. Here I share a summary of my
interim conclusions:
“This document was started with an overview of educational governance and
steering models in the field of vocational education and training (VET). After a rough
overview a closer look was taken on the specific features of federal governance and
dual system of organizing VET in Germany. As we have seen, the picture of policies
promoting digital competences has remained somewhat patchwork-like.
The third section has given a closer picture of local educational and VET contexts as
well as of recent R&D projects. These descriptions have given an understanding on
the state of the art and of pioneering initiatives. Also these descriptions have given a
picture of a patchy landscape of local developments. From this perspective it is
worthwhile to ask, what kind of role integrative frameworks can play and how they
can be shaped.
The European “DigCompEdu” framework was presented in the fourt section. It differs
clearly from European Qualification Framework (EQF) or European Frameworks for
Credit Transfer (ECTS and ECVET) or from European Quality Assurance
mechanisms. This framework is not paving the way to intergovernmental agreements
with signatory states. Instead, it provides practical assistance for linking digital tools
and enhancement of digital competences to different learning contexts.
However, from the perspective of the VET sector, the DigCompEdu framework
remains very generic. Yet, in this sector, there are very specific challenges for
promoting digital competences. Therefore, the framework study of the project
Berufsbildung 4.0 starts with a useful differentiation between ‘digitisation’ (at
operative level) and ‘digital transformation’ (at the level of whole organisations and
networked production/service processes). Taking into account both levels the project
is looking for development perspectives for future-oriented VET provisions. From
these starting points the project has worked with several theses and feedback
workshops and synthesised the results in transversal themes and analyses that
focus on different levels or educational steering and change management.
Altogether, the above-presented sections provide very heterogeneous impulses for
anyone, who wants to grasp the essence of policy processes and their impact on
policy implementation in the field of VET. Yet, the impulses, insights into field and
explorations on framework documents or framework studies need to be considered
when taking further steps in shaping continuing professional development of
teachers and trainers. For this purpose the next working document is looking more
closely at developments in the previous TACCLE projects and in the parallel project
Learning Layers. Both projects have a history in developing training for teachers and
trainers. Now it is time to put these developments into a wider European picture.”
These were my interim conclusions from the ‘policy analyses’ with which I tried to
provide a background understanding for discussing the theme ‘promoting digital
competences’ in the field of VET. This takes me further to the next document with
which I have been working recently – but that is already a topic of its own.
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Post 12: Catching up with TACCLE4-CPD project Part Two: Revisiting
the legacy of prior TACCLE and Learning Layers projects March 31st, 2019
With my previous post I started a series of blogs that report on my recent
contributions to our ongoing TACCLE4-CPD project. As I mentioned, we are looking
at concepts and models for continuing professional development (CPD) of teachers
and trainers with emphasis on promoting their digital competences. In my previous
post I reported on the document that I had produced for our policy analyses (with
emphasis on the field of vocational education and training (VET)). With this post I
want to draw attention to the predecessor projects – the three earlier TACCLE
projects with focus on classroom teachers and the Learning Layers project with
focus on vocational and workplace-based learning.
Below I present my starting points for revisiting the legacy of the predecessor
projects:
“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 training activities provided impulses
for shaping the successor activities of the on-going projects.
2. The main point of interest in revisiting the Learning Layers (LL) project history
is to give a picture of the multiple activities and different project phases. Here,
it is essential to see, how the work in the Construction pilot grew together with
focus on the development of the Learning Toolbox (LTB).
3. When comparing the project histories of the TACCLE projects and the LL
project, the main point of interest is to find out, how the training activities
(alongside the project work) were related to the end products with which the
projects were working. Here it is worthwhile to note the differences between
TACCLE courses and the training campaigns during the LL project.
4. In the light of the above-mentioned differences it is essential to have a closer
look at the impulses for the development of a transfer-oriented training model
that we can trace from different phases of the LL project. Here, it is equally
important to have a look at the training/learning activities as well as the co-
design and pilot testing of new digital tools.
5. Finally, it is necessary to consider, how the TACCLE and Learning Layers
projects have grown out of their initial scripts and responded to newer
challenges that they have met during the project work. In particular it is
essential to reflect, how the Learning Layers’ experiences on training the
trainers and co-design of new digital toolsets have enriched idea of promoting
digital competences.
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Based on these explorations the document draws conclusions on the importance of
project histories as a basis for CPD concepts that seek to promote digital
competences of teachers and trainers – in particular in the field of VET. So, this is
how I started my revisiting journey.
Post 13: Catching up with the TACCLE4-CPD project Part Three:
Drawing conclusions for future-oriented training March 31st, 2019
With my previous posts I have started a series of blogs that present my contributions
to our ongoing TACCLE4-CPD project. In this project we are looking at concepts and
models for continuing professional development (CPD) of teachers and trainers with
emphasis on promoting their digital competences. In my first post I reported on the
document that I had produced for our policy analyses (with emphasis on the field of
vocational education and training (VET)). In the second post I presented my starting
points for revisiting our predecessor projects – the three earlier TACCLE projects
with focus on classroom teachers and the Learning Layers project with focus on
vocational and workplace-based learning.
In this post I want to present a summary of my results – conclusions for future-
oriented training (with emphasis on the field of VET):
“Looking back at the project 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. In
particular this is important when discussing the value of the legacy of prior TACCLE
projects and the Learning Layers project 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. The training campaigns that were
implemented in earlier phases of work have served as preparatory phases.
However, when looking at future-oriented training for trainers, the role of such
toolsets as support for vocational and work process -oriented learning needs
to be taken into account.
In addition to the above-mentioned points it is necessary to consider the twofold
meaning of ‘digital competences’ in the context of VET. As has been emphasised in
recent studies (see Sloane et al. 2019 and Gessler & Ahrens 2019), this concept
refers to mastery of ‘digitisation’ at the operative level and to mastery of ‘digital
transformation’ at the level of work processes at organisational level (and across
production, supply and service networks).
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From this perspective it is appropriate to revisit the ‘theme room’ approach from the
perspective of bringing together different training impulses and addressing different
training needs with the help of different instruments to promote training and learning.
Here, it is possible to build upon the success factors of the TACCLE and Learning
Layers projects. Yet, it is necessary to take into consideration critical issues and
challenges that emerge in the current work with digital tools in education and
training. In this respect it is possible to outline the ‘cornerstones’ of a future-oriented
training model on the basis of the training concepts of TACCLE and Learning Layers
projects (in particular with reference to the ‘Theme Room’ and the peer tutoring in
the introduction of the Learning Toolbox). However, this legacy needs to be enriched
with new experiences in the field.”
So, I have taken the course to update the “Theme Room” model and to enrich it with
newer experiences from the field of VET – in particular regarding the the use of
digital toolsets like the Learning Toolbox and taking into account different meanings
of ‘digital competences’. There is work to be done.
Post 14: Field visit in the region with a group from Namibia Part
One: Fresh impressions from the field April 12th, 2019
This week our institute – Institut Technik & Bildung (ITB) of the University of Bremen
– has hosted a study visit of a prominent delegation from Namibia. This study visit is
part of a cooperation process that has been started with smaller steps and now there
is an ongoing discussion, how to deepen the cooperation. As I have not been
involved in these discussions I leave it to my colleagues and to the Namibian
authorities to find the best ways forward.
As a part of their program the delegation visited on Tuesday two interesting
organisations in the nearby region. With the training centre Bau-ABC I had had
active cooperation for many years in the EU-funded Learning Layers project. But in
the follow-up phase I had only had a chance to make some occasional visits.
As a contrast, I had not visited the vocational school BBS Wildeshausen before.
Instead, I had had several conversations with one of the teachers who is also
working in several projects of our institute. By joining the study visit group on
Tuesday I had a chance to catch up with newer developments in Bau-ABC and to
get live impressions from BBS Wildeshausen (of which I knew only via our talks in
Bremen). Below, I will give a brief account of the visits in both places. In my next
post I will outline some conclusions for my work in the ongoing EU-funded project
TACCLE4-CPD.
Visiting the training centre Bau-ABC Rostrup
At the training centre Bau-ABC Rostrup the delegation was interested in finding out,
how such an intermediate (industry-supported) training centre has been embedded
into the dual system of vocational education and training (VET). Here, the
representatives of host organisation were able to give a picture of the mutual
agreement of the Social Partners (employers’ confederations and trade unions) that
such an intermediate learning venue was necessary in the construction sector.
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Likewise, they could explain funding arrangements and the organisational setting via
which the industry and the craft trade companies were supporting the training centre.
In addition, the visitors got a picture of the role of the training centre at different
phases of apprentice training. Finally, the visitors got insights into the continuing
vocational training (CVT) that provide a vocational progression route to managerial
qualifications in the construction sector.
During our round tour at the workshops and outdoor training areas we could see,
how the pedagogic ideas were put into practice. We got impressions of apprentice
training via holistic occupational work processes, of learners’ rotation from major
learning areas to supporting areas and of the patterns of self-organised learning. In
particular we had a chance to see, how a digital toolset (the Learning Toolbox) was
used in delivering instructions and collecting apprentices’ project reports. Here we
could see that results of the EU-funded Learning Layers project were actually used
to support training.
Visiting the vocational school BBS Wildeshausen
The second part of the visit was somewhat different, because only some teachers of
the BBS Wildeshausen were present (the school holiday period had already started).
Yet, we had a good possibility visit the integrated vocational learning facilities of
different occupations. In Wildeshausen the school architecture had abolished the
separation of classrooms, workshops and laboratories and instead provided
integrated spaces. This was already a great support for integrating theoretical and
practical learning. Yet, the major innovations that were presented to us were in the
pedagogic sphere.
When describing the learners’ projects the teachers drew attention to the role of real
occupational tasks and to controlling the quality by the learners themselves.
Moreover, some projects engaged the learners in constructing devices that were
needed in their training or in manufacturing products that could be used in the
training. In the agricultural and automotive workshops we saw vehicles that had been
constructed by nearby industries to make the functioning of the machinery more
transparent (and to give easier access for diagnostic measures and repair work.
I guess this is enough of the observations during the field visit. The visitors from
Namibia were very impressed and inspired. Since they were in a process to start
new cooperation activities, the visit gave a lot of food for thought. As for me, I had
joined them to make appointments with Bau-ABC trainers and teachers in BBS-
Wildeshausen to discuss the next phase of my work in the TACCLE4-CPD project.
And in this respect this was a very productive and helpful field visit. I will discuss my
ideas and interim conclusions in my next post.
Post 15: Field visit in the region with a group from Namibia Part
Two: Getting ideas for future-oriented training April 12th, 2019
In my previous post I reported of a field visit to regional training provider
organisations with a prominent delegation from Namibia. I joined the group partly
because I needed to arrange meetings with vocational teachers and trainers from
both organisations. With the help of these meetings I wanted to revisit the materials
from the training activities of the EU-funded Learning Layers project (2012-2016). My
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aim is to develop with a future-oriented training concept for promoting digital
competences of teachers and trainers in vocational education and training (VET).
With the trainers in the training centre Bau-ABC I can refer to our shared experience
in implementing training schemes during the Learning Layers project and to the
introduction of the digital toolset Learning Toolbox (LTB). With teachers of BBS
Wildeshausen I was interested of other pedagogic solutions and of the use of Open
Educational Resources (OER). These all should be taken on board when preparing
the support materials for developing continuing professional development (CPD) to
promote digital competences of teachers and trainers in the field of VET.
When listening to the contributions of the teachers and trainers during the field visit I
got more and more convinced that such materials should not be shaped as
overarching ‘encyclopedia’ of digital tools, web resources and mobile apps. Also, I
understood that the materials should not be written in the style of cookbooks with
ready-made recipes. Instead, they should be well-selected and contextualised
exemplary stories that inspire the readers to find their own solutions. And these
solutions should give a picture, how to use appropriate toolsets and web resources
for the respective vocational learning environment. Also, these materials should
open the perspective to using digital tools and web resources from the initial steps to
first strategic choices and to wider use of tools, resources and complex teaching-
learning arrangements.
From this perspective I started to outline an updated and extended training model
based on the “Theme Room” metaphor that we used in the Learning Layers project.
The ‘theme room’ can refer to a physical space or to a virtual space that has been
made available for a selected theme and for a flexible time frame. Once the
participants have completed the learning tasks and checked themselves out, the
theme rooms can be furnished with other themes. That was the original idea.
Below, inspired by the impulses from the field visits I would like to outline a rough
draft for an updated “Theme Room” structure:
Theme Room 1 Entrance lobby: Getting used to work with some basic digital tools and
apps with the aim to make use of them in one’s own teaching or training activities.
Theme Room 2 Starting points for working with integrative digital toolsets: Brief
introductions to integrative toolsets that are appropriate in vocational learning contexts
such as the Learning Toolbox or the Kompetenzwerkstatt toolsets.
Theme Room 3 Using enriching web apps and platforms: Working with apps, tools and
platforms that help to make learning tasks more inspiring and challenging such as the
toolsets provided by Go Conqr and H5P platforms.
Theme Room 4 Working with complex teaching-learning arrangements: Insights into
learners’ projects that involve construction of new tools/devices or manufacturing of new
products that can be used in learning contexts.
Theme room 5 Using the digital toolset “Learning Toolbox” to support vocational
learning processes: Insights into the use of Learning Toolboox as an instrument for
delivering training and for promoting self-organised learning.
Theme room 6 Using the digital toolset “Kompetenzwerkstatt” to support vocational
education and training processes: Insights into different Kompetenzwerkstatt tools that
raise learners’ awareness of their progress in vocational learning.
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Theme room 7 Using Open Educational Resources (OER) to support vocational
learning processes: Insights into the work of OER-communities (and support agencies)
and into their services.
Theme Room n Workshops on the options for digital transformation in one’s own
domain: Whilst enhancing one’s own digital competences in the context of vocational
learning tasks or project, it is necessary to keep an eye on the big picture of transformations
in entire production and services processes & networks.
I guess this is enough for a rough structure. As I said, this should not be seen as a
basis for a ‘cookbook’ or for a ‘product catalogue’ but as an introduction to
explorative learning in order to find one’s own solutions and in order keep oneself on
track with new developments. This is the challenge – there is work to be done in the
meetings with teachers and trainers.
Post 16: Trainers’ views on introducing digital tools to vocational
learning Part One: Trainers’ reflections on craftsmanship and
pedagogy May 20th, 2019
During the last few weeks I have been doing interviews with vocational teachers,
trainers and supporting researchers or consultants for the TACCLE4-CPD project. In
this project we focus on continuing professional development (CPD) of teachers and
trainers in order to promote their digital competences. Here, the main point of
interest is to find appropriate uses of digital tools and web resources in order to
enhance the quality of learning. My contribution to the project is to provide analyses
from the field of vocational education and training (VET) and to develop models and
materials for CPD measures in the field of VET. I am still in the middle of the
interviews but I find it appropriate summarise some first impressions from my
discussions with trainers in the vocational training centre Bau-ABC with which we
have worked together several years. In this first post I will take up some pedagogic
points on the role of digital tools in craft trades and vocational learning.
Craftsmanship vs. use of digital tools
In many interviews the trainers pointed to 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
introduction of stand-alone tools and apps has not always been successful.
Moreover, many allegedly user-oriented apps or instruction videos are not of
sufficient quality to support learning. Furthermore, when introducing new
technologies, there is often an anxiety that this brings more work to the trainers or
craftsmen – 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.
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Vocational learning vs. use of digital tools
Concerning the newer generations of apprentices, it is worthwhile to note that they
have been less exposed to manual work, getting in touch with the materials and
working with traditional tools. Moreover, their computing skills tend to concentrate on
operating their smartphones. This provides a challenge for trainers and craftsmen –
how to incorporate the use of digital tools into vocational learning without
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 work process -oriented
learning. And 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.
Thoughts on the future of craftsmanship
At the end of the interviews we shifted the emphasis from promoting digital
competences in the current craft trades to a bigger picture of digital transformation
through entire production, service and marketing networks. In the public debate we
see often the dominance of negative scenarios that anticipate redundancy of
craftsmanship and replacement of human workforce by robots, advanced automation
and ‘internet of things’. From the perspective of their own trades the trainers made
the following points that 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 in the position to guarantee
the required safety and sustainability.
I guess this is enough of these aspects. I still have some interviews listed for this
week. If needed, I will update this post with further post. However, in my next post I
would like to discuss, how the trainers commented the usability of the Learning
Toolbox as a digital toolset to support work process -oriented learning.
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Post 17: Trainers’ views on introducing digital tools to vocational
learning Part Two: Views on the use of Learning Toolbox May 23rd, 2019
With my previous post I started a series to report on interviews with vocational
teachers, trainers and supporting researchers or consultants for the TACCLE4-CPD
project. The project seeks to develop continuing professional development (CPD) of
teachers and trainers – with focus on enhancing digital competences. As I have
mentioned, my work concentrates on the field of vocational education and training
(VET). I still have some interviews on my list. Yet, it has been helpful to write down
some points raised by full-time trainers of the training centre Bau-ABC. In this
second post I will draw attention to the use of the digital toolset that we have co-
developed in the Learning Layers project. I will start with the transition from the
common project work to using the main product after the project.
Getting clarity on terms of service and permissions to use the toolset
The Learning Layers (LL) project had been a wide trans-national research and
development (R&D) project in which many research partners, technical partners and
application partners had been involved. During the long funding period they had co-
designed, co-developed and pilot tested digital tools to support learning in the
context of work. The digital toolset Learning Toolbox (LTB) was the main product
that was developed in the Construction pilot of the LL project. After the project the
LTB-developer team launched a startup company (StackServices) to develop the
LTB further and to support user organisations. This provided the basis for further use
of the toolset after the project. After the funding period the service provider has
developed a differentiated set of contracts and permissions to regulate the use of the
LTB software, the use of the LTB platform and the use of the services of the LTB-
developers.
Shaping common structures for trade-specific LTB-stacks and overarching
themes
In the LL project the LTB was shaped as a digital toolset that provides stacks
(consisting of different kinds of tiles) for the users. During project the trainers who
participated in the pilot testing developed their own stacks for their own apprentices
and based on their own pedagogic priorities. After the project the trainers have
developed a common structure for trade-specific stacks and for overarching themes.
Also, they have coordinated the filing of digital worksheets and of photos. Thus, they
have common patterns to work with the LTB.
Using LTB to enhance vocational (work process -oriented) learning
In the LL project the use of LTB was adjusted to the apprentices’ learning projects
(that were shaped from the perspective of holistic look at planning, task preparation,
task implementation and assessment). The learners were guided to self-organised
(individual or team-based) learning. Whilst the LTB was at that time used mainly as
trainers’ tool to provide guidance and instructions, it is now increasingly used as
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apprentices’ tool to report on their projects. Moreover, the use of specific Apps like
GoConqr quiz apps has considerably enriched the learning process.
In particular LTB has served well as a central channel to essential web resources,
such as the norms or regulations (as summaries) that need to be taken into account
in construction work and to users’ guides for machinery and vehicles (also as
summaries).
Using LTB from the perspective of apprentices
In all the interviews I got the picture that the apprentices have received well the use
of LTB – once they have got the login sorted out and created their own account. The
WLAN functions better and there are tablet PCs available at the training workshops.
Via LTB the apprentices get advance information on the forthcoming training projects
with which they will work during 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. However, the final reporting
with the apprentices’ portfolio reports has not yet been digitized – that is depending
of training regulations (not a matter for local decisions).
I guess this is enough of the general picture on using Learning Toolbox as support
for training. In my next blog I will discuss the relevance of Learning Toolbox for two
overarching learning areas – training and learning in ‘health and safety’ and support
for learning German as foreign language (with focus on domain-specific vocabulary
in construction sector).
Post 18: Trainers’ views on introducing digital tools to vocational
learning Part Three: Insights into special areas of learning May 23rd, 2019
With my previous post I started a series to report on interviews with vocational
teachers, trainers and supporting researchers or consultants for the TACCLE4-CPD
project. The project seeks to develop continuing professional development (CPD) of
teachers and trainers – with focus on enhancing digital competences. As I have
mentioned, my work concentrates on the field of vocational education and training
(VET). In my two previous posts I have summarised some of the pedagogic points
raised by the trainers and their general views on the use of Learning Toolbox (LTB)
as support for apprentice training. With this third post I want to draw attention to the
role of LTB as support for two special areas of learning. Here I am reporting directly
from an interview with an expert partner in health and safety and in supporting
language learning on foreign apprentices. Here it is worthwhile to note that in both
areas the use of LTB was started at the end of Learning Layers (LL) project and the
trainers of Bau-ABC have been developing their own solutions.
Using Learning Toolbox (LTB) to support training in health and safety
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Concerning the area of health and safety, trainers from different trades 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, it makes the
health and safety material present in a new way – it is no longer info sheets in a
folder. 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.
Using Learning Toolbox (LTB) to support foreign apprentices’ language learning
The LTB-stack to support Spanish apprentices in learning occupational vocabulary
has been created together with trainers and an external language teacher. It has
been enriched with quiz tasks that have made the learning more exciting. Also, this
stack has included health and safety terminology. The stack has been helpful in
preparing the apprentices for their tests and it will be developed and updated
regularly. The usability has been greatly enhanced by the fact that Spanish is
provided by LTB as an optional language.
I think this is enough of these examples. Altogether these interviews have given me
a good feeling that the main result of our joint LL project – the Learning Toolbox –
has been used actively. Moreover, it has become clear that the LTB has not been
whatever digital tool among others. Instead, in the context of vocational learning it
has proven to be a strategic toolset to promote digital competences and to enhance
vocational learning. But we need to work further with these themes.
Post 19: Finding strategies to promote digital competences of teachers/
trainers Part One: The Four-Step Model of TACCLE4-CPD June 4th, 2019
In my recent posts I have reported of my fieldwork for our EU-funded TACCLE4-CPD
project. The aim of this project is to develop training models and pedagogic approaches to
promote digital competences of teachers and trainers in different educational sectors. In my
blog posts I have mainly emphasised the specific characteristics of my work that focuses on
the field of vocational education and training (VET). With this series of posts I will try to link
my work to the general framework of the project and to the work of other partners in other
educational sectors (general education, adult education) and with school-based learning.
The starting point is provided by the Four-Step Model that was developed in the recent
project meeting in Bucharest (in which I couldn’t participate). In this first post I will present
the outline of the model (as it was explained to me afterwards) and how it can be applied in
schools and adult education providers. In the subsequent blogs I will discuss, how the model
can be adapted to the field of VET and to my recent findings in the fieldwork.
The Four-Step Model for finding/developing strategies to promote digital
competences
The Four-Step Model for finding/developing strategies was shaped in the project meeting in
Bucharest, when the TACCLE4-CPD partners had workshops with interested schools. When
analysing the experiences of the workshops the partners came up with the model that is
visualised below.
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Figure 1: The Four-Step Model for finding/developing strategies to promote digital
competences in educational contexts (credit to Graham Attwell and Angela Gerrard)
As we see, the left hand side presents the process steps with key questions and related
options, how to proceed. In the middle we see the reference materials that can be used in
the process. And on the right hand side we see the underlying questions that clarify, where
the questions and answers lead us.
My interpretation of the four-step model (as it stands now)
As I read this model, it speaks out to school managers, educational authorities and
curriculum developers. They are challenged to consider, whether their organisation(s) is/are
following a policy for promoting digital competences. In this respect they are advised to
inform themselves of the European DigCompOrg frameworks (prepared by the Joint
Research Centre (JRC) of the European Union). In the next phase they are challenged to
consider their strategic approach in terms of action plans and needs analyses. Here they are
advised to have a closer look at the DigComgEdu framework (also by JRC) for specifying
their strategic orientation. Then, in the next phases the model invites to discuss, how
continuing professional development (CPD) can be organised and delivered. Here the model
refers to earlier TACCLE resources (Routemap) and to the new Handbook that is being
prepared for the TACCLE4-CPD.
As I see it, this model suits very well school-based educational contexts. However, when we
discuss the field of VET, we are dealing with a more complex policy environment and
institutional/organisational landscape. Moreover, we are dealing with diversity of learning
venues (schools, enterprises, intermediate training centres) and with domain-specific
characteristics (different occupational fields, different production and service contexts).
Therefore, it is appropriate to discuss the Four-Step Model in the light of these challenges.
That is the task for my next blog post in this series.
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Post 20: Finding strategies to promote digital competences of teachers
and trainers Part Two: Adapting the Four-Step Model for vocational
education and training June 5th, 2019
With my previous blog entry I started a series of posts with which I try to link my work in our
EU-funded TACCLE4-CPD project (with focus on vocational education and training (VET))
to the work of other partners in other educational sectors (general education, adult
education). As a starting point I presented the Four-Step Model of the TACCLE4-CPD
project that was developed in the recent project meeting in Bucharest (in which I couldn’t
participate). I found this model very helpful for finding and developing strategies to promote
digital competences. However, my critical point was that it focused primarily on schools,
adult education providers and (general) educational authorities. In this post I will discuss,
how the model can be adapted to the field of VET. Below I will follow the steps and make
some comments from the perspective of VET.
The starting point: The education and training contexts in the field of VET
As I have mentioned, the Four-Step Model has been developed to support school managers,
adult education providers and educational authorities to promote the digital competences
of teachers. When shifting the emphasis to the field of VET, it is essential to take into
account education and training partnerships between vocational schools, enterprises and
intermediate training centres. In such contexts the schools are contributing to the
enhancement of digital competences together with the other partners. Moreover, the
introduction of digital tools for learning is part of the enhancement of digital competences in
the occupational domain.
Identifying policies: educational, occupational and wider societal perspectives
When discussing with my interviewees in the field of VET I have come to the conclusion that
there are multiple policies that have an impact on promoting digital competences in the field
of VET. In this context it is worthwhile to mention government policies at the national
(federal), regional (federal state), sub-regional and municipal level. In addition there are
public innovation policies and sectoral stakeholder -led initiatives as well as local
partnership-oriented initiatives. From this perspective it is appropriate to look at the VET-
specific policy constellations that are being followed.
Identifying strategic initiatives and shaping action plans
In addition to the above-mentioned diversity, it is worthwhile to consider, what kinds of
strategic initiatives are available for enhancing digital competences in the field of VET. From
the perspective of curriculum design/development it is possible to specify the following
options:
Introduction of vocational curricula to new occupational domains or reshaping the
existing training with a new (whole curriculum) approach;
Enrichment of existing vocational learning arrangements with integrative digital
toolsets;
Enrichment of particular vocational learning arrangements with domain-specific digital
tools and web resources;
Incorporation of simulated learning opportunities into workplace contexts that do not
provide opportunities for on-the job training.
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In the light of the above, the educational actors can have very different starting points and
strategic options.
The role of a “Routemap” and a “TACCLE handbook” in the field of VET
Considering the above presented comments, it is appropriate to take a closer look at results
of the interviews with teachers and trainers and with the working perspectives that they have
outlined. Once this has been completed, it is possible to discuss, how these products can be
adapted to the field of VET. In my next blog post I will take a first step towards interpreting
the findings from my interviews in terms of ‘innovation paths’.
Post 21: Finding strategies to promote digital competences of teachers
and trainers Part Three: Examining innovation paths in the field of
vocational education and training June 5th, 2019
With my two previous blog entries I started a series of posts with which I have linked my
work in our EU-funded TACCLE4-CPD project (with focus on vocational education and
training (VET)) to the work of other partners in other educational sectors (general education,
adult education). As a starting point I presented the Four-Step Model of the TACCLE4-CPD
project that was developed in the recent project meeting in Bucharest. I found this model
very helpful for finding and developing strategies to promote digital competences. In my
second post I discussed, how the model can be adapted to the field of VET. In this post I
referred to different strategic options for promoting digital competences in the context of
vocational learning arrangements. In this post I will illustrate them in the light of my
interviews. Below I will firstly recapitulate my starting point and then discuss four parallel
innovation paths.
Strategic options for promoting digital competences in vocational learning
arrangements
As I mentioned in my previous blog, there are different options for linking the introduction of
digital tools (and enhancement of digital competences) to the development of vocational
learning arrangements. Below these options will be discussed as parallel innovation paths:
1) In some cases the main thrust of innovation is the shaping of a new curricular framework
for a new occupation or occupational field. In such contexts the introduction of digital tools
and web resources is adjusted to the curriculum processes.
2) In other cases the main thrust of innovation is to introduce integrative toolsets that provide
tools for managing training and learning processes and provide access to web resources. In
such contexts the use of the tools supports the curriculum implementation.
3) In some cases innovation projects are launched to shape off-the-job learning
arrangements to support work process -oriented learning arrangements at workplaces that
do not provide opportunities for learning alongside working. In such contexts the main thrust
of innovation is to shape a simulated or virtual learning arrangement that makes the real
work process accessible for learning.
4) In some cases the starting point of the innovation is the enrichment of ‘ordinary’ vocational
learning arrangements by introducing digital tools and web resources to support action-
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oriented learning. In such cases the innovations can be limited to particular occupational
fields or they can be promoted across different domains.
Illustrations of different innovation paths
Below I will present specific projects or innovative approaches that can be considered as
exemplary cases for particular innovation paths. All these cases have been described in my
overviews on parallel projects or in my recent interview reports (see also my earlier blogs).
1. The “Kompetenzwerkstatt” path: The Kompetenzwerkstatt project tradition grew from
vocational curriculum development projects in which the project team mobilised
vocational teachers and trainers to analyse their occupational field and to shape
curriculum structures. Later on, the project tradition was enriched with digital tools for
managing learning situations, checking prior competences and presenting learning
achievements. In the current phase the Kompetenzwerkstatt approach is being
implemented in an occupational field that is developing holistic curriculum structures for
initial and continuing training (the occupations for sanitary, heating and air-conditioning
technologies).
2. The “Learning Toolbox” path: The Learning Toolbox (LTB) was developed as the
main product of the EU-funded innovation project “Learning Layers” and its Construction
pilot. After a complex iterative process the partners involved in the Construction pilot
developed an integrative toolset to support vocational and work process -oriented
learning. From the trainers’ and apprentices’ point of view it was essential that the
toolset supported a holistic view on working and learning tasks and a culture of self-
organised learning.
3. The “Brofessio” path: The Brofessio project was launched to support work process -
oriented learning processes in such industries in which it is not possible to provide
learning opportunities alongside working. In particular this is the case with sealed
processes with major time constraints. For such industries the Brofessio project
developed the concept of agile learningbased on SCRUM project management
techniques, inquiry-based learning strategies and interactive learning culture. Thus, the
learning arrangements were organised as a series of learning sprints with key questions
and with responsible coaches. In such an approach the use of digital tools and web
resources is dependent on the policies of the partner enterprise.
4. The Smart OER-users’ paths: The fourth type doesn’t refer to a major project but
instead to parallel initiatives of responsible teachers and trainers. The key point is to
integrate the use of domain-specific Open Educational Resources into vocational
learning arrangements. Due to the pattern variance it is more appropriate to to refer to
paths (in plural) rather than to a single path. Also, it is worthwhile to highlight the
creativity of the users in finding the appropriate learning resources (rather than
celebrating the existing OER communities and their products).
I think this is enough of this topic. I am aware that I have only presented a rather vague
outline and I have to do some further work with this theme. Yet, I believe that the above
presented set of innovation paths is important for the efforts to develop continuing
professional development for vocational teachers and trainers. In particular it is important
when we try to get a deeper understanding on the role of digital tools and web resources in
vocational learning contexts.
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Post 22: Preparing for the ECER 2019 conference paper, presentation
and ePoster August 23rd, 2019
The period before and after the holiday is usually characterised by preparation for
conferences. For me, the highlight of the conference season is the annual European
Conference on Educational Research (ECER), organised by the European Educational
Research Association (EERA). The ECER 2019 will take place in Hamburg, so not that
much travelling from Bremen. But this conference will be something special, since I will go
on retirement in the year 2020. So, the tradition of participating in ECER conferences that
started in 1992 and continued regularly since 1996 it is coming to an end. But, let us leave
the memories to a later date! At the moment I am busy preparing my/our contributions for the
conference. So, let us have a look, what is going on!
Conference paper and VETNET proceedings
This year I am contributing with only one submission a joint paper with Angela Gerrard
(Pontydysgu) and my former ITB-colleague Werner Müller (now representing
stack.services). The (modified) title of the paper is “Strategies and Training Models for
promoting Digital Competences in the field of Vocational Education and Training”. This paper
focuses on our work in the ongoing EU-funded project TACCLE 4 CPD. As the acronym
tells, it is based on the work of prior TACCLE projects. These have prepared teachers’ aids
for creating (digital) content for (web-based) learning environment. The challenge for the
current project was to shift the emphasis from direct teacher training to shaping models and
patterns for continuing professional development (CPD). And, with this task the project is
looking at different educational sectors including vocational education and training (VET).
The paper gives insights into the development of the TACCLE approach through different
projects and changes in working patterns (working with hard copy handbook, shifting to
different subject areas and shaping parallel online resources). As a another root project the
paper presents the work of the Learning Layers project (co-design of digital tools to support
vocational and workplace-based learning). Based on these backgrounds the paper reflects
the transition to digital learning culture in the field of VET including risks, opportunities and
hurdles. Taking into account different VET-specific challenges the paper outlines three
exemplary ‘Innovation paths’, how to to introduce digital learning culture into vocational
curricula and learning arrangements. Then concerning the promotion of digital
competences of teachers and trainers the paper discusses the European DigCompEdu
framework and the local “Theme Room” training model that was developed in the Learning
Layers. Altogether, the paper gives a picture, how VET research can contribute to a
development-oriented project.
This year once again the coordinators of the VETNET network of EERA have invited us
to submit out papers before the summer holiday so that they can edit the VETNET
proceedings by the conference. This has put us under pressure (to finish the papers before
the holiday period) but finally it is rewarding to receive the proceedings by the conference.
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Conference presentation and the ePoster
After the summer holiday I have done some other work for the TACCLE 4 CPD project (to be
covered in another blog post) and then prepared the conference presentation. This has
helped me to take some further steps in the conclusions. However, the major effort was not
so much the traditional powerpoint presentation but the ePoster, powered by the Learning
Toolbox (LTB).
Last year, before the ECER 2018 in Bolzano/Bozen we had a mini-project of the VETNET
network (supported by EERA) to explore the use of ePosters in the VETNET program of
ECER. Together with the LTB-developers we arranged that the authors delivered their
poster contents via LTB-stacks and used them to present in the VETNET ePoster session.
Also, we had a general introductory session for other EERA networks (see my blogs of
September 2018). This year we couldn’t continue in the same way but I wanted to keep the
idea alive and add new content to the EERA showcase of ePosters. Therefore, I prepared a
new stack to present the powerpoint, the full paper and other supporting resources.
This ePoster can be accessed directly via its web link or via the QR-code of the related mini-
poster, see below:
So, this is how I have been preparing our contribution to the ECER 2019 together with my
co-authors and supported by the LTB-developers. We are looking forward to the conference
in Hamburg in a short while.
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Post 23: Preparing for forthcoming TACCLE meetings August 24th, 2019
In my previous post I wrote about preparing for the forthcoming ECER 2019 (beginning of
September in Hamburg). For a conference of educational researchers one needs to work
with research papers and related presentations that is obvious. However, later in the
Autumn I will have two TACCLE project meetings for which I have had to prepare from
another perspective.
The two parallel TACCLE projects are working to promote digital competences of
practitioners. The TACCLE-VET project focuses directly on teachers and trainers in the field
of vocational education and training (VET). The TACCLE-CPD project shapes models for
continuing professional development (CPD) in different educational sectors (general
education, adult education, VET). I have been working only in the latter project but as
responsible for the sector of VET. Now, at this point, it is high time to share experiences
between the two projects and to present some interim results for the neighbouring project.
To be sure, I have worked a lot and produced a lot. That all has contributed to the research
paper, powerpoint presentation and ePoster (as a wider digital resource). BUT now it is
necessary to prepare materials that support continuing professional development of
practitioners teachers and trainers and related planning in their organisations. Indeed, I
have written of challenges with digital learning culture and on different innovation paths
that all gives food for thought.
But now it is not just about delivering text and presenting it in attractive packages. What is
also needed, is the inspiration and encouragement to take new challenges and try
something hitherto unknown. And it is this spirit that I hope that we can grasp from our
predecessor projects the earlier TACCLE projects and the Learning Layers and their
training activities. Below I want to illustrate this with two videos.
Training in TACCLE3 project Brussels meets Dillingen
The video “Unplugged coding in Dillingen” gives an impression, how three TACCLE trainers
engaged the participants during their training visit. With such an approach the working with
digital tools is brought into lived practice. (Many thanks to Angela Gerrard for sharing this
video! And our deepest respects to Jenny Hughes who played an important role in this event
as well!)
Putting digital competences into practice after Multimedia training the Carpenters’
blog takes off
The other video from the training centre Bau-ABC demonstrates, how a full-time vocational
trainer (working in a training centre of construction sector) made rapid use of his newly
acquired digital competences. In a couple of weeks after the training session he had
developed a remarkable resource base powered by a WordPress blog. In the Learning
Layers project this was a major step forward in developing digital learning culture.
In both videos we can sense the joy of learning and of becoming owner of one’s new
competences. In the Learning Layers project this interim phase was crucial to push the co-
design process further to the phase in which the Learning Toolbox (LTB) became a toolset
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for trainers and learners. It is this creative spirit that we want to promote with our projects.
Let us see what we can achieve in the coming time.
Post 24: A German top politician visits Bau-ABC Rostrup Great praise
for the training of apprentices August 30th, 2019
Earlier this week Ministerpräsident Stephan Weil (prime minister of the Federal State of
Lower Saxony) made a field visit to the North-German training centre Bau-ABC Rostrup. As
the readers of this blog know, Bau-ABC played a vital role in our EU-funded project Learning
Layers (2012-2016) as the main application partner of the Construction pilot of the said
project. During the project researchers, technical partners and trainers of Bau-ABC worked
together to develop an integrative toolset the Learning Toolbox (LTB) to support vocational
and workplace-based learning.
Now, some time after the end of the project, it was interesting to see, how the prime minister
perceived the training and learning that was presented to him. Let us start with prime
minister Weil’s comment on his Facebook page and then give more information on the visit.
Prime minister Weil on the training and learning at Bau-ABC Rostrup
On his Facebook page prime minister Weil published the following, highly inspired update
(see below). And another picture shows that he was involved in hands-on training during the
field visit (see below).
The comment that prime minister Weil made in his Facebook-update above was the
following (translated into English by me):
“Today I have visited the training centre Bau-ABC Rostrup and I can only say the following:
They have a strong case I have not seen anything similar before. They are training young
people from all over Germany in two dozen training workshops and in very practical way to
master 22 different construction trades, Digitization is solidly integrated in all curricula. And
on top oft hat they have a broad-based provision of continuing training schemes. This is
really impressive.”
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And as we can see from the pictures, he took time to inform himself by trainers, apprentices
and managers. And he also egaged himself in discussions and in hands-on training.
Reporting on the field visit in a journal article
The field visit was covered by the article of Christian Qapp “Ein Ministerpräsident als
Azubi” published in NWZ Online. The article made the point that the prime minister took the
role of apprentice (guided by an experienced apprentice) on the drilling grounds. And at
different training sites the apprentices had a major role in presenting the training in their
trades.
From the perspective of promoting digital competences in vocational education and
training (VET) the article makes an interesting point (translated into English by me):
“The apprentices in carpentry, Vanessa Hermes, and in pipeline-building, Linus Köneking,
explained the Learning Toolbox. The App for Smartphones and Tablet-PCs was developed
in collaboration with Bau-ABC. Now it is being used there from the very first day of
apprentice training on. On the one hand it contains practical information for apprentices on
travel arrangements, Accommodation and on the daily menu of the canteen. But equally it
presents learning tasks with three-dimensional models, digital measurements and with
creating lists of necessary construction materials. With all this the apprentices can deal with
by taking the gadget from their pocket. And, moreover, they themselves can document their
own work with the help of the app.”
Reflective commentary
For us, who had been involved in the project work that led to the development of the
Learning Toolbox, it is very rewarding to hear such comments from a top politician and to
read such news reports. They deliver to us the message that the use of the digital toolset
Learning Toolbox has become lived practice. Moreover, it is clear that the apprentices are in
the best position to tell, how thwy can benefit from using it. We are happy to follow the
progress of Bau-ABC Rostrup and others who are working with the Learning Toolbox. It is
very inspiring to learn more from the users.
Post 25: Wrapping up the ECER 2019 experience Part One: The
opening session of the VETNET network, September 7th, 2019
Once again, the annual European Conference on Educational Research (ECER)
organised by the European Educational Research Association (EERA) has taken place.
This time the venue was the University of Hamburg. The advantage for us working at the
University of Bremen was that we didn’t have to travel far away. The counter side of the coin
was that we were expected to commute between Bremen and Hamburg on daily basis. That
cut us off from most of the social events and informal encounters in the evenings.
Nevertheless, there was quite a lot to experience and to share with colleagues from all over
Europe and beyond Europe. With this series of blog posts I try to cover different sessions in
the program of the VETNET network the research network for the field of vocational
education and training (VET) and give some insights into developments in the network. In
this first post start with the opening session of the VETNET program. Firstly I need to give
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some insights into the role of the networks of EERA in organising the conference and of the
specific traditions of VETNET.
EERA and ECER as common umbrella VETNET as community with its own identity
When the EERA was founded and started organising the ECER conferences on regular
basis, the common umbrella was created in two ways. The EERA was shaped as the
umbrella organisation of national associations for educational research. For the shaping of
the conferences EERA invited the member associations to propose thematic networks that
would then be in charge of organising their section in the conference programs. The network
for research in vocational education and training (VET) from the beginning on known as
VETNET was accepted as the Network 2 of EERA. The number of networks grew rapidly
and they developed their own patterns to run peer reviews, to organise social events and to
disseminate the research in their area of specialisation.
As a contrast to this general picture, the VETNET network has been from the very beginning
more than just one of the EERA networks and a small club for organising part of the ECER
program. Already in the founding phase there was a sense of building a community of VET
researchers under the EERA umbrella. Yet, we were aware that we had somewhat different
discipline-based backgrounds and in some countries the institutional commitment to VET
was a basis of special disciplinary structures. Therefore, we have also paid attention to
openness and mutual learning across the network.
In this spirit the VETNET network has developed a tradition of common Opening sessions
starting from ECER 1999 in Lahti, Finland (initiated by the VETNET program chair Johanna
Lasonen). These opening sessions have mostly been keynote speeches by prominent
researchers from the host country with comments by invited discussants. Sometimes they
have been panel discussions on critical research issues or on future research agendas. In
ECER 2007 the Opening session celebrated the 10 years’ milestone of VETNET as an
active network (as organiser of its own program). In ECER 2018 in Bolzano/Bozen the
opening session got insights into VET development in the host region from different
stakeholder perspectives (and from representatives of different lingual communities).
The VETNET Opening session at ECER 2019 insights into apprentice training at
Airbus sites in Germany
At the VETNET Opening session 2019 the invited speaker was Matthias Havekost, head of
vocational training of Airbus commercial in Germany. He had been an active practitioner
counterpart of several VET research projects of our institute (ITB, University of Bremen) and
familiar with our research approach. From this perspective it was appropriate to invite him to
discuss directly with the participants on the role of apprentice training and other training
activities at Airbus sites in Germany.
We got a lot of information on the development of apprentice training in the course of years
regarding the demographic factors (aging workforce), technological changes (balancing
between manual work and robotics) and educational changes (developing vocational
pathways to higher qualifications). In between we had glimpses to the actual contexts of
working and learning on site provided by videos that were prepared by apprentices and
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students in so-called dual studies (that are based on a combination of apprentice training
and higher education).
An interesting part of the presentation of Havekost was the example of a particular
workplace learning arrangement at an early phase of apprentice training. Instead of
explaining the task and launching the group work with the task that trainer took considerable
time for a ‘teaming up’ phase. At this phase all apprentices were invited to discuss their
views on their occupation, their understanding on their tasks and on the requirements. These
views were shared in the group and contrastive views were discussed to the point that
mutual understanding was reached. In the beginning some of the participants were annoyed
by such delay instead of going straight to the task. Yet, it appeared that the group had
developed a culture of collaboration and it finished the tasks in shorter time and with better
quality than earlier groups. Also, teachers of vocational schools and representatives of
production units noticed the change in the performance.
Another interesting aspect alongside the above-mentioned cultural change was the career
development of trainers. For Havekost it was important that the in-company trainers are
experienced in the production and keep up to date. Therefore, the trainers should be trainers
only a certain number of years and not for too long time. This kind of rotation has been
successfully implemented and those trainers who went back to other business in the
company entered real interesting and adequate jobs (e.g. production, quality, manufacturing
engineering).
In the light of the above we had a rich and lively discussion that gave food for thought for
different sessions in the VETNET program. Also, we had some discussion on the training
culture on other Airbus sites and on the role of VET systems in the respective countries.
These issues were also taken up later.
Post 26: Wrapping up the ECER 2019 experience Part Two: Glimpses
to sessions on current TACCLE projects September 7th, 2019
With my previous blog I started a series of blog posts with which I try to wrap up my
experiences with the ECER 2019 conference that took place earlier this week in Hamburg,
Germany. In my first post I focused on the Opening session of the VETNET program at the
conference. I also gave some background information on the VETNET network and its role
in the umbrella organisation EERA and its contribution to the ECER conferences. This post
focuses on the sessions that discussed the current TACCLE projects the one in which I am
working (TACCLE4 CPD) and the neighbouring project (TACCLE VET).
Presenting the TACCLE 4 CPD project at ECER
I have already blogged about my preparation for the ECER 2019 conference in an earlier
post. Now it was the time to present the message that I had prepared and to link it to the
discussions in the conference. As I had mentioned in the earlier blog, the title of the paper
was “Strategies and Training Models for promoting Digital Competences in the field of
Vocational Education and Training”. The paper and the presentation focused on our work in
the ongoing EU-funded project TACCLE 4 CPD. This project was mainly based on earlier
projects that worked with teachers and promoted their competences to use digital tools and
web resources in teaching (the TACCLE1, TACCLE2 and TACCLE3 projects). Concerning
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the field of vocational education training, the Learning Layers project could be seen as a
similar predecessor project. BUT now the challenge for the TACCLE4 CPD project was to
develop models for continuing professional development (CPD) to enable schools and
training providers to shape their own training.
For me the main challenge was to link this approach to current developments in the field of
VET to digital transformation (in work processes and occupations) and to digitization (at
the level of working and learning tasks). From this perspective I introduced four parallel
innovation paths regarding the focus on ‘whole curriculum’ solutions vs. introduction of
particular approaches and new learning arrangements. As further illustration of my analyses
and the resources I had used, I prepared an ePoster powered by the Learning Toolbox (see
below).
During the conference I noted that some presenters introduced cases that also served as
examples of the innovation paths that I had presented (see my next blog). Also, some
presenters had done similar fieldwork on the role of trainers and had come to similar
conclusions (see also my next blog). This was very rewarding and we were happy to share
ideas. Here the fact that I had prepared the ePoster and that it could be accessed via mini-
poster with QR-code (embedded into my presentation) and via direct link was very helpful.
Discussions on the neighbouring project TACCLE VET
In a further session my colleagues Graham Attwell (Pontydysgu), Fernando Marhuenda
(University of Valencia) and Ludger Deitmer (ITB, University of Bremen) presented the work
of the neighbouring project TACCLE VET.
Graham outlined a bigger picture of digital and ecological transformation in working life and
possible implications for work, technology and occupations. He then continued to the work of
UNESCO and the Joint Research Centre (JRC) of the European Commission to outline
perspectives for promoting digital competences of educators. In particular he referred to the
DigCompEdu framework of the JRC. Whilst these frameworks are in many respects helpful,
they are very generic. From this point of view the project was doing fieldwork to get closer to
the reality of vocational teachers and trainers.
Fernando continued by introducing the approach to fieldwork the focus of different partners
on their selected sectors and the mapping of interview partners’ digital competences. Based
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on the interviews the project is developing a framework that focuses on teachers’
competence areas curriculum, pedagogy, resources and assessment. In this respect the
project tries to develop a holistic and well-grounded view on promoting teachers’ digital
competences.
Ludger gave specific insights into the challenges for promoting digital competences in the
dual system of VET with multiple learning venues (enterprise, school and intermediate
training centre) and different actors. He illustrated this picture with results from a recent
apprenticeship survey carried out by the trade union IG Metall in Bremen. This survey
brought into picture gaps and shortcomings in teaching and training and a backlog in
digitisation. As a contrast he presented interim results from his interviews with vocational
teachers and trainers who served as promoters of innovation in their organisations.
Here, in the discussion we could notice a complementary relation between the two TACCLE
projects and their emphasis on innovation paths and addressing the competence areas of
teachers and trainers. Also, when discussing the role of Open Educational Resources (OER)
we noticed that a major need for training is related to copyright issues and to licensing.
Whilst the tightened copyright rules are making teachers scary about using external
resources, there is lack of knowledge on OER, different licenses and Open Access
materials. From this perspective both TACCLE projects should address these issues.
Post 27: Wrapping up the ECER 2019 experience Part Three: Glimpses
to presentations of which I want to learn more September 8th, 2019
This blog post is the third one of a series with which I wrap up my experiences at the ECER
2019 conference that took place earlier this week in Hamburg, Germany. In the first post I
focused on the Opening session of the VETNET network that is the European umbrella
network for research in vocational education andt training (VET). I also gave some
background information on the role of VETNET and other networks in ECER conferences. In
my second post I focused on the two sessions that discussed the parallel TACCLE project
TACCLE 4 CPD (in which I am working) and TACCLE VET (in which my colleagues are
working). With this post I want to discuss briefly three presentations that were of immediate
relevance for our work in the two TACCLE projects. Here I limit myself to some first
impressions I want to learn more of the work that has been done and/or is still going on.
Paderborn-based project: Adopting apprentice training to digital transformation the
perspective of in-company training
The presentation of Bernd Gössling and Tina Emmler was in many respects one of the
highlights of this conference. I had already become aware of the work of the research group
of the University of Paderborn via the report “Berufsbildung 4.0” (Sloane et alia 2018). For
me it had served as a rich resource in terms of conceptual work, empirical studies and
conclusions for future-oriented innovation agendas. In particular the distinction between
‘digital transformation’ (technological and organisational changes towards networked
production, marketing and service processes) and ‘digitization’ (introduction of digital tools
into working, training and learning processes) was very helpful. Now the presentation of
Gössling and Emmler provided a closer look into the empirical studies and findings. I do not
want to summarise their results here we need to discuss them more closely. Also, the
reflections on the new roles of trainers that Emmler outlined (in terms of “vita activa”) were
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very inspiring and reminded me of our experiences with trainers working with the Learning
Toolbox at the end of the Learning Layers project.
Bremen-based project CARO: Digital cross-action spaces in interactive nursing
education
Another highlight for me was the project CARO presented by Claudia Schepers from the
University of Bremen. This interdisciplinary research & development project had shaped
digital learning spaces to support interactive learning arenas in nursing education. Here we
need to understand the delicate nature of learning in the context of real work and the
necessity to support such work with simulations, videos and reflective learning. For me this
case was particularly important since I had been looking at different innovation paths for
introducing digital tools into vocational learning. To me, this project appeared as a
paradigmatic case for introducing digital tools and digital spaces with a ‘whole curriculum’
approach. Furthermore, all my examples that I had used were referring to technical
occupations. From this perspective a case from healthcare sector was most welcome.
Aachen-based project: Acceptance of a tutorial-creating authoring system for
workplace learning in manual assembly
A third highlight for me was the Aachen-based project presented by Marvin Goppold and
Fabian Handl. Their project focused on the role of low-skilled or semi-skilled workers in
manual assembly and their occupational perspectives in the context of digital transformation.
The key point in the project was to capture the (informal) competences and (invisible)
workplace-based learning and to make it visible via an authoring tool that generates
individual tutorials. In this way the workers were better prepared to encounter changes that
bring robotics into picture and to point out the limits of robotics. Here I do not want to go into
details, I need to learn more.
As I am concerned, the Aachen-based project served to me as a paradigmatic case for an
innovation path that uses digital tools to make visible the hitherto invisible and non-formal
learning of semi-skilled workers. So far I had referred to a case of process industry, but the
case of assembly work and the use of authoring tools is of particular interest.
Post 28: Productive project meeting in Athens Part One: Impressions
on the work of the TACCLE VET September 29th, 2019
Last week I had the chance to participate as a special guest in the project meeting of the
TACCLE VET project. This neighbouring project focuses on the prospects for promoting
digital competences in different domains of vocational education and training (VET). I am
working in the parallel project TACCLE 4 CPD with the task to develop models of continuing
professional development (CPD) for the field of VET. At this phase of work we found it
important to share knowledge with each other and find ways to work together (instead of
duplicating each others’ work). So, I attended the two-day meeting in Athens to learn more of
the work of the colleagues and to report of my interim results. We had a very productive
meeting that merits to be covered with several blog posts. In this first post I give an overall
impression on the work in the TACCLE VET meeting. Below, I give from a guest
perspective a nutshell description of some of the themes that were discussed in the
productive and creative meeting.
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Interviews with practitioners in different VET domains
The project partners had already completed their interviews with VET practitioners in
different domains. Jorge Lizandra presented the general picture in the light of the interview
results. In this context it was important that the project focused on enhancing the digital
competences in different aspects of teachers’ work contexts, resources, pedagogy and
assessment. Here, the partners paid attention to their common approach to visualising the
results in such a way that different domains and country-specific VET cultures can be
compared. Also, the partners paid attention to the fact that the use of digital tools in
assessment was underdeveloped. In this context there was some discussion, how the
proficiency statements of the DigCompEdu framework can be used as a basis for
assessment tools.
My report on interim results in the TACCLE 4 CPD project
In my report on the neighbouring project TACCLE 4 CPD I informed of the policy analyses,
on the research paper for the ECER 2019 project, on the emerging ‘Theme Room training”
handbook and on the Routemap for planning the training of teachers and trainers.
Concerning the policy analyses, we had some discussion on the DigCompEdu framework
and its limits vis-à-vis the field of VET. Here, the concepts ‘digital transformation’ (in working
life) and ‘digitization’ (in working and learning tasks) played a role. My report on the ECER
2019 conference contributions brought into picture a set of parallel innovation paths in
promoting digital competences in VET. Concerning training of trainers, I reported on the
piloting with the ‘Theme Room’ training model in the Learning Layers project (in the year
2015) and how this approach is being updated. Concerning the Routemap, I took up the
sections for institutional planning of updating/upgrading digital competences and for shaping
the corresponding training measures. These aspects were taken up several times when
discussing the subsequent points of the agenda.
Plans to shape Learning scenarios, Open Educational Resources and Exemplars of
Best Practice
When discussing the subsequent themes,the partners noticed that they can be linked to
each other more closely that they had thought originally. The learning scenarios had firstly
been thought as more generic and transversal themes. In the light of my presentation the
partners concluded that the innovation paths should also provide a basis for scenarios.
In the next phase, the partners concluded that the scenarios can be used as anchor points
for presenting a collection of Open Educational Resources (OER) and as Exemplars of good
practice. From this point of view the partners drafted a list of potential scenarios taking into
account the interviews in different domains, the propsed transversal themes and the
innovation paths that I had presented.
Training of teachers and trainers
Concerning the theme ‘training of teachers and trainers’ we concluded that the TACCLE
VET partners have access to different patterns of teacher education, training of trainers and
continuing professional development including online training. From this perspective the
partners can provide evaluative feedback. Concerning the TACCLE 4 CPD project, it will
provide a ‘handbook’ for training with Theme Rooms and take into account the patterns
studied by the TACCLE VET partners
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Post 29: Productive project meeting in Athens Part Two: Common
themes & working perspectives of two TACCLE projects September 30th, 2019
In my previous post I reported on my participation as a guest in the project meeting of the
TACCLE VET project. As I mentioned, this project focuses on promoting digital
competences in the field of vocational education and training (VET). The parallel project
TACCLE 4 CPD (in which I am working) is developing models of continuing professional
development (CPD) for different educational sectors. My task is to analyse and develop CPD
models that are appropriate for the field of VET. As I have reported in my previous post, we
found a lot of common points of interest and working perspectives. In this post I will have a
closer look at the common themes and working interfaces.
Critical interpretation of the European DigCompEdu framework
The proposal for the TACCLE VET project had given a major role for the DigCompEdu
framework and stated that the project seeks to extend it to the field of VET. The policy
analyses of the TACCLE 4 CPD provided a somewhat more critical interpretation of the
DigCompEdu framework. During the discussion the following points were made:
In general we all appreciated the framework and its integrative approach to bring
together teachers’/trainers’ professional competences, digital competences and
pedagogic competences in order to empower learners.
We also appreciated the approach to develop a progression model for promoting digital
competences and to formulate proficiency statements for different competence areas
and levels.
However, the framework tends to focus on educational subjects or academic disciplines
and take the digital competences as add-on aspects for enriching pedagogy and
subject-based learning. Moreover, the progression ladder tends to atomize the
promotion of competences.
Concerning VET it is important to take into account developments in working life and in
education/training to create an appropriate picture on the needs for promoting digital
competences.
Concerning VET providers it is essential to focus on holistic solutions for promoting
digital competences in specific occupational fields and at the level of the whole
organisation.
Consequently, the idea of ‘extension’ of the framework required also critical interpretation
and adaptation in the light of specific requirements and working perspectives for the field of
VET. Yet, as mentioned in the previous post, the competence areas andthe proficiency
statements provide an essential basis for developing evaluation tools. Below I try to
recapitulate my points that outline, how to proceed with such adaptation.
Digital transformation and digitization as challenges for VET
A major point to be considered in the field of VET is to observe the two parallel processes:
The ‘digital transformation’ has an impact across work organisations, production
processes, supply networks and service networks. These macro-level developments
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provide challenges for the role of skilled workers and for the redistribution of working
and learning opportunities.
The ‘digitization’ at the level of working and learning tasks has an impact on the
prospects of vocational learners to respond and to contribute to the macro-processes
that have been mentioned above. However, this varies in different occupational fields
and in different education/training contexts.
Innovation paths for promoting digital competences in VET
The set innovation paths that I had outlined in my research paper for ECER 2019 and then
as an adapted version in my presentation for the Athens meeting try to take the above-
mentioned processes and different VET domains into consideraration. Below I will
summarise the paths and their key characteristics briefly:
The “CARO path” refers to use of digital learning spaces to support interactive learning
in nursing education and across the whole curriculum. This path stands for ‘whole
curriculum’ solutions and for sensitive learning contexts.
The “Learning Toolbox path” refers to use of an integrative digital toolset to support
project-based training and learning in VET. This path stands for the introduction of
flexible toolsets that promote transparency and awareness of structures learning
processes.
The “innowas path” refers to introduction of specific digital tools or software solutions to
enhance the learners’ awareness of their experiential learning and/or to make
transparent the hitherto non-transparent work processes.
The “smart OER users’ path” refers to initiatives in the field of VET that combine the use
of OER, related digital tools and open access materials in the shaping of creative
learning environments.
During the discussion the innovation paths were taken into account by the TACCLE VET
partners when they extended their list of possible learning scenarios and OER solutions.
The Routemap document as a strategic tool
Finally, it is worthwhile to note that the Routemap tool (that is being developed in the
TACCLE 4 CPD project) has shifted the emphasis from the digital competences of individual
learners to the ICT capability across the organisation. Also, it has aggregated the set of
competence level to fewer levels initial, e-enabled, e-confident, e-mature. Furthermore, the
tool has formulated organisational proficiency statements for the organisational planning
how to enhance the ICT capability and for the related training measures what level do we
want to reach.
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Post 30: Visiting the “Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Vocational Education
and Training (VET)” project November 2nd, 2019
At the end of the week I had a chance to give a guest input at the kick-off meeting of the new
Erasmus Plus project “Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Vocational Education and Training
(VET)”. The project is coordinated by our institute, Institut Technik & Bildung (ITB),
University of Bremen, and in person by my colleague Ludger Deitmer. The partners come
from Greece, Italy, Lithuania and the United Kingdom/Wales. All partners are known to us
from previous European cooperation activities, so the project team was in a good position to
have a rapid start. My role as a visitor was to give an overview of some predecessor projects
and their recent/ongoing work. In addition I had a surprise input to deliver on top of my
presentation. (This time I didn’t need to travel elsewhere, since the meeting took place at
ITB.)
Looking at the work of earlier and parallel projects
As I mentioned above, the partners were all old acquaintances to ITB, but they had not all
been working in the same projects for promoting digital competences. Therefore, Ludger
asked to give a presentation of the immediate predecessor projects the TACCLE projects
and the Learning Layers project and their achievements. In particular the point of interest
was, how these projects have contributed to training of teachers and trainers regarding
digital competences. For this purpose I could use my presentation that I had given when
visiting the recent meeting of the TACCLE VET project in Athens.)
In my presentation I gave brief historical overview on the development of TACCLE projects,
starting with the shaping of a generic e-learning handbook for teachers (TACCLE1), in
shaping a differentiated set of online handbooks for selected subject areas (TACCLE2) and
then shaping online resources for teachers who teach coding and programming in primary
education (TACCLE3). Whilst these projects were directly addressing particular teacher
groups, the ongoing TACCLE4-CPD has the task to analyse and develop models for
continuing professional development (CPD) for different educational sectors including
general education, adult education and vocational education and training (VET). From the
perspective of VET and workplace learning I added to the picture the work of the Learning
Layers project, in particular the shaping of the Learning Toolbox (as a digital toolset to
support work process -oriented learning).
Based on the overview I drew attention to several points with which I am currently working in
the TACCLE4-CPD project:
Policy analyses that draw attention to measures and initiatives to promote digital
competences of teachers and trainers in VET (at schools, training centres and work
organisations);
The role of the European DigCompEdu framework and the adapted TACCLE Routemap
as support for CPD;
The need to pay attention to digitization in education/training contexts and to digital
transformation in working life;
The impulses that are given by particular exemplary projects for specific ‘innovation
paths’;
48
Revisiting the “Theme Room training” that was piloted in the Learning Layers project
with the training centre Bau-ABC (in North Germany).
We had a lively discussion and then I left the project team to continue its planning of the
work to be carried out during the working period that had just started. (Below some photos of
the previous session that I observed.)
My special input: the citizens’ course in Artificial Intelligence in Finland
As I mentioned above, we had a lively discussion after my presentation. Yet, it was not so
much about the predecessor project or on the points with which I am currently working. The
partners who have been working in the said projects (and attended the recent Athens
meeting ), had already become familiar with these contents. To others, these were new
impulses. However, I had also an additional input for the project.
On the same morning I had listened to the German radio channel Deutschlandfunk and its
program “Europa heute”. At the end they had a special report from Finland presenting a
course on Artificial Intelligence that had been designed for a wide audience. (See the
transcript of the report “Digital-Vorreiter Finnland: Künstliche Intelligenz fürs Volk.)
I then visited the website of the course “The Elements of AI“, designed by the University of
Helsinki and the special agency Reaktor. And in the meeting we then had a closer look, what
kind of civic knowledge the course delivers for wide audiences. These impressions triggered
a lot of thoughts and comments. (Below screenshots on different chapters of the course.)
I guess this is enough of my visit and of my guest input. I was happy to share some
information on past/parallel projects and to provide an interesting example of a an ongoing
49
online course that is reaching wide audiences in my home country. We will follow, how this
course is being developed in the coming times.
Post 31: Presenting my contributions to TACCLE4 CPD project Part
One: Composing a short description November 24th, 2019
At this time of the year our research institute Institut Technik & Bildung (ITB) is busy
preparing a report for the regular meeting of our advisory board (Beirat). At he same time I
am having final run to complete my contributions to the ongoing TACCLE4 CPD project.
Concerning the report for the ITB Beirat, I need to prepare a short description of the project
and update the list of my publications. Concerning the delivery for the TACCLE 4 CPD
project, I want to get my reports published as soon as possible. At this point I find it
appropriate to give a short progress report on both accounts.
Finding a role for VET research in a development-oriented project on technology-
enhanced learning
In general, the preparation of short description of an ongoing project wouldn’t appear as a
major challenge in particular since there is one from last year to be updated. However, the
circumstances have changed, the work in the project has moved on and the instructions for
preparing the project descriptions set new accents.
Looking back at the beginning phase of the project, I was struggling to find an appropriate
approach to work in the project. In general, the project design was based on the earlier three
TACCLE projects that prepared handbooks an/or online resources for classroom teachers to
make them fit for introducing technology-enhanced learning in their teaching. The project
work had close links to parallel TACCLE courses in which teachers were trained to use
digital tools and to develop their own teaching/learning arrangements. After three projects of
this kind, the promoters wanted to shift the emphasis to shaping of strategies and models for
continuing professional development (CPD) of teachers (and trainers) regarding their digital
competences. As a distinction to the earlier projects, the fourth TACCLE project aimed to
include adult education (AE) and vocational education and training (VET) as new
educational sectors.
Whilst the field of VET had not been a target field in the earlier TACCLE projects, in the early
phase of the Learning Layers project (and its construction pilot) we (ITB and Pontydysgu)
had organised a multimedia training similar to the TACCLE courses for construction
sector trainers. This was the point of reference for inviting ITB to join in the TACCLE4 CPD
project. However, after that phase, the Learning Layers project had taken further steps in
training activities, co-designing new digital tools to support vocational learning and in
bringing these tools into practice. From this perspective, there was quite a lot of need to
discuss, how to integrate the VET-specific challenges and working perspectives into the
project. Finally, this require much more research-oriented work that was anticipated in the
project design. Therefore, the project description that was prepared for ITB Beirat one year
ago, was not yet up-to-date concerning the role of VET research in the project.
50
Making the role of VET research in the TACCLE4 CPD project transparent
Now, when preparing the updated project descriptions we have been invited to make more
transparent the research-oriented character of our projects whether they are initiated by
ITB or whether we are involved as partners. In this respect I can at best characterise the
work of ITB with focus on VET as research-oriented contribution to a development project.
From this point of view I can use the headings of the given template for project descriptions.
Problem statement: The successful work of three TACCLE projects to promote digital
competences of teachers required a follow-up project to shape strategies and models for
continuing professional development (CPD). The aim to cover a wider range of educational
sectors made it necessary to launch specific research-oriented activities to cover the field of
vocational education and training (VET).
Goal-setting: The aim of the VET-specific research activities is to raise awareness of the
relations between digital transformation in working life, prospects for digitization in education
and training and on the possibilities to develop proactive vocational learning arrangements.
Research approach: The set of VET-specific research activities has consisted of the
following analyses and field studies:
Policy analyses: Here the task has been to give an overview on different national,
regional and local initiatives for promoting digital competences in the field of VET. Also,
these analyses have given insights into the European DigCompEdu framework and the
German framework study “Berufsbildung 4.0”.
Revisiting the legacy of predecessor projects and examining newer R&D projects in
VET: Here the main thrust has been to describe the evolution in the predecessor
projects regarding the shaping of digital learning culturesand implications for updating
the training approaches. In this context impulses from newer R&D projects in VET have
been discussed.
Analyses on the use of Open Educational Resources (OER) in VET: Here the task has
been to make transparent the uses of in the context of vocational learning arrangements
and for empowering vocational learners.
Drawing conclusions for flexible CPD approaches in VET: Here the task has been to
revisit the “Theme Room” training model that was used in the Learning Layers project
and to reshape a future-oriented approach.
Results: The results of the work of ITB will be presented in five reports: Report 1 Policy
analyses; Report 2 Examination of prior and parallel projects; Report 3 Analyses of OER
in VET; Report 4a Research paper on conclusions; Report 4b Revisited Theme Room
training concept.
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Post 32: Presenting my contributions to TACCLE4 CPD project Part
Two: Insights into the completed reports November 24th, 2019
In my previous post I have told that this is the season for producing a short description on
the ongoing project TACCLE4 CPD for the regular reviewing in our institute and for finalising
the contributions to the project. I have also explained, why our contribution to the TACCLE4
CPD project has needed more research-oriented work that was anticipated in the project
design. In general, the partners working with general and adult education have been able to
rely more directly on the work of previous TACCLE projects. These have promoted digital
competences of teachers in general education with focus on classroom teaching. Moreover,
when developing strategies and models for continuing professional development (CPD)
these partners have perceived school directors, local educational authorities and national
educational authorities as their target audiences.
For the work of ITB as the German partner in the project the task to develop strategies
and models for promoting digital competences in the field of vocational education and
training provides more complex challenges. The field of VET is not merely another
educational sector (under educational authorities) but involves different learning venues,
education and training providers and governance structures. Moreover, the promotion of
digital competences of teachers and trainers is not merely a matter of digitization within
education but requires understanding of digital transformation in working life. These
challenges have been taken up in the following reports that have been produced for the
TACCLE 4 CPD project.
Report 1 Policy analyses: Raising awareness of multiple policies and initiatives
This report has been produced to cover policies and strategies at different educational levels
and taking into account different governance models. The report draws attention to following
characteristics of policies in the field of VET and to recent developments in innovation
strategies to promote digital competences of different actors in VET:
1. Distribution of power structures in different educational systems: The report makes
transparent the differences between central and federal governance models in
education.
2. Distribution of functions and competences in dual systems of vocational education and
training: The report presents the roles of different VET providers and stakeholders
(companies, schools and intermediate training centres, chambers and governing bodies)
and the regulations guiding different parties.
3. Joint agreements, innovation programmes and strategic alliances: The report gives
insights into joint agreements (between different bodies), innovation programmes
(launched by central governments) and strategic alliances (at different levels for
temporary actions in particular focal areas of VET development). In this context the
report also informs of local initiatives.
4. New frameworks at European and national level to promote digital comtences in
education and training: The report discusses the key points of the European
DigCompEdu framework as a general orientative framework for promoting digital
competences in different educational sectors. In addition it discusses the more VET-
52
specific accents that have been raised in the German study “Berufsbildung 4.0” (VET
4.0) that has outlined a future-oriented innovation programme.
Report 2 Legacy of predecessor projects and finding new approaches to promote
digital competences in the field of VET
This report has been 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. In
addition it gives an overview on more recent R&D projects in the field of VET. The report
serves the following purposes:
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.
Report 4a Research paper that draws conclusions for the development of CPD in the
light of the analyses
1. This report has been produced to draw conclusions for a specific project contribution for
the field of VET. The report serves the following purposes:
2. Summarisation of the conclusions from the comparisons between predecessor projects:
Here the report gives insights into the process dynamics, into the role of training
measures and into the role of outreach activities.
3. Raising awareness of different policy contexts for promoting digital competences in
schools and in VET contexts: Here the report gives a brief overview of parallel
possibilities.
4. Drawing attention to the relevance of general frameworks or studies in the field of VET:
Here the report reflects the role of the European DigCompEdu framework vis-à-vis the
challenges in the field of VET as outlined by the German framework study
“Berufsbildung 4.0”.
5. Raising awareness of different outreach approaches for innovations in school contexts
and in VET contexts: Here the report draws upon experiences of the earlier TACCLE
projects and on the outreach prospects identified after the Learning Layers project
6. Drawing conclusions on the importance of TACCLE Routemap approach and the
Theme Room training model (of the Learning Layers project) for shaping CPD concepts
to promote digital competences in the field of VET.
Here it is worthwhile to note that the Report 3 with focus on the use of Open Educational
Resources (OER) in vocational learning contexts is still under preparation. Then, on the
53
basis of all above-mentioned reports it is possible to prepare the Report 4b a reworked
version of the Theme Room training model for promoting digital competences in the field of
VET. (Initially the Theme Room model was developed in the Learning Layers project for
training all trainers of a construction sector training centre.)
Post 33: Presenting my contributions to TACCLE4 CPD project Part
Three: Reflections on using Open Educational Resources in Vocational
Education and Training November 30th, 2019
In my previous post I have given an overview of the reports for our ongoing TACCLE4 CPD
projects that I had completed so far. At the end I mentioned that the next one to be
completed would be Report3 on the use of Open Educational Resources (OER). This week I
have worked on this report. I have had the great pleasure to have my ITB colleague Jan
Naumann with me as an expert in this matter and as a co-author. So, the best thing for me to
do was to explore with him different contexts of vocational education and training in which he
has been working with OER. Below I present the conclusions of our report.
Conclusions: Using Open Educational Resources in Vocational Education/Training
Here it is worthwhile to note that this report has not the aim to give a comprehensive
overview on Open Educational Resources (OER) that may have relevance for vocational
education and training (VET). Such a task would no longer be manageable. Currently there
is such a richness of OER also ones that address explicitly the field of VET. As a contrast,
this report has provided insights into exemplary cases of using OER to enhance vocational
teaching/learning arrangements and to empower vocational learners.
Also, concerning the range of occupational fields that these cases cover, the report is far
from comprehensive. Yet, when looking more closely at the cases, there is a pattern
variance and a gradual shift from rather simple cases to more complex vocational
teaching/learning arrangements. In a similar way the degree of using OER grows from
elementary engagement to specific interventions and to more complex incorporation of OER
into vocational learning culture.
In a nutshell the key messages of the above-presented cases can be summarised in the
following way:
Rather simple and elementary vocational learning exercises can be transformed into
creative learning projects. This is the case, when the learners are challenged to think,
what they can achieve with the results (products) they produce. The first case in which
the learners produce their own tools underlines this point. Individual teachers who
create such learning projects can become producers of OER.
Hitherto separate subject areas and learning projects can be linked to each other with
the help of OER. This may happen with the help of hands-on exercises using Open
Resources and quiz exercises using OER. The second case of integrated learning paths
underlines this point.
Neighbouring occupations can be brought together with the help of OER to work with a
joint learning project if it is sufficiently challenging and interesting to all parties involved.
54
The third case with an integrated working and learning project with robotics serves as a
demonstration.
Vocational learning arrangements can be made attractive to apprentices and to trainees
in pre-vocational education (also with socially disadvantaged background). The fourth
case with the complex teaching-learning arrangement around organising a series of Go-
kart races provides an example of this. Here, by organising learners as occupational
teams and bringing the contributions of teams to a common effort the learners worked
for a common goal. This was facilitated by manifold use of OER and by documenting the
whole concept as OER.
Altogether, the cases are selected examples They do not provide hard evidence that the use
of OER would guarantee successful learning. Yet, they have given insights into the prospect
of shaping of vocational teaching/learning arrangements as creative learning spaces.
Post 34: Presenting my contributions to TACCLE4 CPD project Part
Four: Shaping a new Theme Room Training framework December 8th, 2019
In my previous posts I have given an overview of the reports for our ongoing TACCLE4 CPD
projects that I had completed so far. At the end I have mentioned that all the reports so far
provide contributions to a new framework for developing training for teachers and trainers
with emphasis on promoting digital competences in the context of vocational learning.
Already in the previous reports I had made the point that this should be based on the Theme
Room training concept that was initiated and implemented in the Learning Layers project.
During last week I have written a draft report to outline such a framework. Below I will
present some background information and the concluding section of the report. I think that
they will give an idea, what kind of framework is taking shape.
The idea of Theme Room Training origins and new perspectives
This framework is being prepared as a final product of the EU-funded project TACCLE4-
CPD. The project has continued the work of earlier TACCLE projects in promoting digital
competences of school teachers. However, concerning the field of VET, this project drawn
upon the experiences of the EU-funded project Learning Layers (LL). The LL project
developed digital tools and training concepts to support workplace-based and vocational
learning. The concept of “Theme Rooms” was developed as a part of the LL project to
promote digital competences of vocational trainers.
The training in ‘Theme Rooms’ was initiated by the above-mentioned trainers who wanted to
develop a more systematic training arrangement. With this approach they wanted to reach
all training staff in their organisation. In this way they wanted to promote the use of digital
tools in all areas of apprentice training.
The idea of Theme Rooms was based on the following pedagogic principles:
Combination of real and virtual learning spaces for focused thematic blocks for
promoting digital competences;
Signing in into ‘theme rooms’ for completing the learning sessions with exercises and
then signing out (with a flexible tempo);
Working together in teams in terms of peer learning and peer tutoring;
55
Rotating between different themes in order to reach common awareness of the subject
matter and to develop a common competence base.
The concept of Theme Room training was put into practice as a staff training campaign
during one month. This training campaign based on the Theme Room concept helped the
trainers to become users of the LTB in their own training. Now, in the current situation, it is
possible to identify many parallel approaches to introduce digital tools and new media into
vocational learning. At the same time there are new qustions concerning the significance of
digital technologies in the context of vocational education and training (VET). These are
taken up in the new framework.
What does the new framework stand for?
The main elements of the framework are thematic blocks that can be used as a basis for the
Theme Rooms of the updated training concept. The following set of thematic blocks is
presented in the further sections below:
In the first thematic block the framework draws attention to digital transformation (as a major
socio-cultural challenge) and to digitization (as a more specific development). This block
invites to think, how VET provisions can prepare for such processes and/or provide co-
shaping contributions.
The second thematic block discusses the readiness of older and younger learners to use
digital media and tools in the context of vocational learning. This block invites to think, how
older teachers, trainers and workplace mentors can find their own ways to use such tools to
promote vocational learning. Also, it invites to think, how younger learners can best
familiarise themselves with work processes, uses of traditional tools and digital tools in their
own learning.
The third thematic block presents a set of parallel “Innovation paths” for introducing digital
tools into vocational learning contexts and to enhance the digital competences of teachers,
trainers and learners. Four of these paths have been named on the basis of specific projects
or their final products the Kompetenzwerkstatt, Learning Toolbox, Brofessio and CARO
paths. The fifth path refers to smart uses of Open Educational Resources (OER). This block
invites to think, what kind of vocational learning contexts are relevant for the user and what
can be learned from the exemplary cases.
The fourth thematic block presents insights into the TACCLE4 CPD Routemap tool and its
uses for organisational planning (of the use of ICT resources) and development of training
(with focus on promoting digital competences). For both purposes the Routemap outlines
levels of proficiency with corresponding criteria. In this way the tool invites to think, at what
stage is the organisation regarding its use of ICT resources and what kind of steps can be
taken with the help of training.
Altogether, the framework invites the readers to think of their own solutions and to find their
own ways to promote digital competences in their field. Thus, the framework provides
starting points and gives further impulses and references for further developmental work.
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Post 35: Presenting my contributions to TACCLE4 CPD project Part
Five: Working with the annexes to the Theme Room Training 2020
framework December 13th, 2019
Last week I was happy to announce that I had completed the text to my final deliverable for
the TACCLE 4 CPD project the Theme Room Training 2020 framework for promoting
digital competences of vocational teachers and trainers. At the same time I made the point
that the mere drafting of such a framework on the basis of the given thematic blocks is not
enough. I made it clear to myself and to the readers that I still have to prepare Annexes to
the framework as coordinates, how to work with it. Now I have prepared a set of Annexes
and I think that I have done my job to answer the question so what“. Below I try to give a
picture, what the annexes are and what they stand for.
Annexes to the Framework text what do they stand for?
The first annex that I have prepared is an annotated list of reference materials to the Theme
Room Training 2020 framework. As it is the case, not all thematic blocks have been based
on publications. To some extent there are publications that can be referred to. But equally,
there are field interviews and working documents and emerging educational resources. I
have tried to do justice to all these as relevant reference materials to the framework.
The second annex provides an overview, how the German framework study has interpreted
the concepts ‘digitization’ (in education and training) and ‘digital transformation’ (in working
life) and what implications they have on vocational education and training (VET). In
addition, the annex presents a selection of thought-provoking theses, with which the
research team challenged practitioners and stakeholders to reflect the ongoing and future
changes.
The third annex is a seemingly simple interview guideline to discuss the readiness of older
and younger learners to take up the use of digital media and toolsets in the context of
vocational learning. However, these questions were not the ones that I originally posed in
the beginning of my field interviews with vocational trainers. Instead, they were the ones that
I identified on the basis of our discussions I had posed narrower questions, the trainers
broadened and deepened the scope.
The fourth annex presents the use of Learning Toolbox (LTB) for preparing ePosters to
promote knowledge sharing and transfer of innovation. So far I had promoted the use of
ePosters in research conferences and prepared my own ones on the basis of my research
papers for the European Conference on Educational Research (ECER). This week I had the
pleasure to work with my colleague Jan Naumann to prepare an ePoster on the theme “Use
of Open Educational Resources in Vocational Education and Training (VET)”. We were
happy to complete our work and to insert the related mini-poster to the annex document. The
ePoster can be accessed via the following link.
The fifth annex presents the TACCLE 4 CPD Routemap as a tool for planning the use of ICT
resources in education and training and for developing training (or CPD) initiatives for
teachers and trainers. I hope that the selection of power point slides gives a picture, what all
can be achieved when working with the Routemap.
57
Altogether, I think that the annexes have given an appropriate push to work further with the
themes that were raised in the Theme Room Training 2020 framework. After all, we didn’t
aim to provide cookboks with ready-made recipes. Instead, we have tried to raise key
themes and give impulses, how to work as innovation leaders and change agents.
Post 36: Presenting my contributions to TACCLE4 CPD project Part
Six: Complete set of reports available on ResearchGate December 14th, 2019
During the last few weeks I have worked hard to finalise my deliverables for the EU-funded
project TACCLE4 CPD. The project develops models for continuing professional
development (CPD) to promote digital competences of teachers and trainers. The acronym
TACCLE stands for “Teachers’ aids on creating contents for learning environments”. The
current project is already the fourth one in the series of TACCLE projects. The earlier ones
have focused on classroom teachers and on organising training for interested teachers. The
current project has shifted the emphasis to organisational level and to different educational
sectors including adult education (AE) and vocational education and training (VET).
My contributions (on behalf of our institute ITB have focused on the field of VET and made
transparent challenges and boundary conditions for promoting digital competences as
contribution to vocational learning. In my previous blogs I have discussed this with reference
to the particular reports once I have got them completed. Now that I have the full set of
reports ready and uploaded on ResearchGate I want to present an overview, what all has
been produced to support CPD initiatives and to draw attention to promotion of digital
competences in the field of VET.
Overview of the VET-related reports for TACCLE4 CPD project
Below I just present the titles of the reports and the links to ResearchGate. For further
information I refer to the previous blogs and to the abstracts on ResearchGate:
Report One: Policy analyses as background for continuing professional development of
teachers and trainers in the field of vocational education and training (VET).
DOI:10.13140/RG.2.2.24915.73762
Report Two: Finding new approaches to promote digital competences Legacy of past
projects and new inputs from R&D projects in vocational education and training (VET). DOI:
10.13140/RG.2.2.13171.68649
Report Three: Role of Open Educational Resources (OER) in the field of Vocational
education and Training (VET) Insights into uses of OER in vocational teaching/learning
arrangements. DOI:10.13140/RG.2.2.23552.58880 (co-authored with Jan Naumann)
Annex to Report Three: Using Open Resources (OR) and Open Educational Resources
(OER) in Vocational Education and Training (VET). Two examples of teaching/learning
designs. DOI: 10.13140/RG.2.2.10969.67684 (co-authored with Jan Naumann)
Report Four a: Strategies and Training Models for promoting Digital Competences in the
field of Vocational Education and Training Reflections on Policies, Conceptual Frameworks
and Innovation projects. (Co-authored with Angela Gerrard and Werner Müller)
58
Report Four b: The Theme Room Training 2020 framework Promoting digital competences
of vocational teachers and trainers Report 4b for the TACCLE4 CPD project. DOI:
10.13140/RG.2.2.16783.33447
Annexes to The Theme Room Training 2020 framework (Report 4b for the TACCLE4 CPD
project)
As I see it, I have completed a coherent work program starting from policy analyses,
continuing with explorations on R&D projects and use cases on introducing OER and then
landing to a synthesis report and to framework for shaping CPD measures. I hope that this
has been useful.
Post 37: Highlights in the TACCLE 4 CPD project Working with the
theme “Open Educational Resources (OER)” December 15th, 2019
In my previous posts I have presented results that have been achieved in the EU-funded
project TACCLE 4 CPD. I have drawn attention to the reports that have focused on
promoting digital competences of teachers and trainers in the field of vocational education
and training (VET). With this post I want to shift the emphasis from the final products to the
process of work that has led to results. Here I want to highlight the collaborative process that
has made it possible to achieve genuine results with the theme “Using Open Educational
Resources (OER) in the field of VET”.
Before I go any further I need to make the point that I couldn’t have brought such results on
my own as a research in VET with researcher’s view on practice. To me it has been a
highlight in this project to work together with my colleague Jan Naumann. Jan has a
background in apprentice training for two technical occupations and then a long experience
as trainer and as vocational teacher. Having completed his studies in pedagogics of VET he
has joined us as a researcher in ITB. With his manifold experience in ‘training teachers and
trainers’ projects we could focus on real use cases and teaching/learning arrangements. But
we could also bring the documentation and promotion of OER further with our join efforts.
Preparing the report on uses of OER in the field of VET
When we started working with the report for the TACCLE 4 CPD project we made a decision
that we will not try to give an encyclopedic overview on different kinds of OER. Instead, we
tried to outline an innovation path (or learning journey) in using OER to shape and enrich
vocational taeching/learning arrangements. From this perspective we presented exemplary
cases starting from simple ones and heading to more complex ones.
In the first exemplary case the use of digital tools was not highlighted. Instead with the
process in which apprentices were making their own tools the pedagogic point was that the
learners were producing tools for themselves. Thus, they were invited to think of the use of
the tools and of the quality requirements. In the second example a learning path in robotics
was enriched with the use of Open Resources (OR) into an integrative project that brought
together different areas of vocational knowledge. In the third example the use of OR in a
nodal point of hitherto separate learning path helped to link them into an integrated set of
learning paths. In the fourth example the use of OER and OR helped to bring parallel
learners’ teams (technical, administrative and catering) into a joint learning project
59
planning and organising go-kart races with self-planned project administration, self-made
vehicles and self-organised catering services.
Preparing the supporting powerpoint presentation on two exemplary cases
Whilst the report could provide rather lively summaries of cases that have been implemented
in practice, it was necessary to give closer insights into the educational designs. Therefore,
we prepared a powerpoint presentation as an annex to the said report. In this presentation
we could visualise the development, enrichment and integration of the learning designs in
the second and third exemplary case. To us, this provided a basis for discussions, how to
build upon such cases.
Preparing the ePoster to share knowledge on the report and the exemplary cases
However, we didn’t stop working when we had finalised the report and the annexed power
point presentation. We wanted to take a further step in using digital tools to promote
knowledge sharing on such innovations. Therefore, we prepared an ePoster by using
Learning Toolbox (LTB) the digital toolset that had been developed in the earlier EU-
funded project Learning Layers (LL). For this purpose we created an LTB-stack that
consisted of three screens (as they appear on the mobile app of LTB). The first screen
presents an opening message and then provides access to the report, power point
presentation and to a relevant web page for accessing OR. The second screen presents the
exemplary case of the single integrative project with additional information and detailed
presentation. In a similar way the third screen presents the integrated set of learning paths.
Finally we prepared the stack poster that can be used as a mini-poster in conferences.
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With this process of work we have tried to demonstrate, what we mean with the concept
‘innovation path’ in the context of promoting uses of OER in vocational teaching/learning
contexts. And with using LTB as means to share knowledge we have tried to work with our
own tools to deliver our message.
Post 38: Getting ready for holiday break Looking forward to next year
December 15th, 2019
In my recent posts I have summarised the results that have been achieved for the EU-
funded project TACCLE 4 CPD from the perspective of vocational education and training
(VET). In addition I have provided insights into the work with Open Educational Resources
(OER) as support for vocational teaching/learning arrangements. Altogether I have been
relatively pleased when wrapping up the achievements by the end of the year. As I see it, I
have completed my tasks for the project and thus I can enjoy the holiday break.
Before going on holiday I would like to make one point concerning the contribution of our
project to the field of adult education. At the end of October I was invited to visit the kick-off
meeting of a new EU-funded project “Artificial intelligence (AI) and vocational education and
training (VET)”. In my guest presentation I had the chance to inform the participants of the
initiative of the Finnish Government to provide online training for the whole population in
matters related to AI. By that time the course “The Elements of AI had already reached one
fifth of the population and it was gaining wider popularity. The partners of the new project
were very interested of this course. In November I wrote a blog post of this working visit.
Later on I was informed that the Finnish government has promoted this course as n initiative
of the Finnish EU-presidency. In this context the course will be made available in all EU
languages and the goal is to educate 1% of the European citizens in the basics of AI.
I cannot claim that I would be an expert in AI or in organising such online courses. But I
would assume that this particular pilot case is interesting for our project and in particular for
its contribution to the field of adult education. I leave this idea at this point and let us see if
we can get further in the beginning of next year.
I wish all my partners and contributors in the project and all readers of this blog a merry
Christmas break and a good slide to the New Year 2020!
Post 39: Learning Toolbox going strong to the year 2020 January 29th, 2020
Yesterday I had a lengthy catch-up talk (via Skype) with my Barcelona-based friend Gilbert
Peffer. As regular readers of this blog know, we had worked together intensively in the EU-
funded Learning Layers (LL) project and in the follow-up phase. For the success of the LL
project it was crucial that Gilbert (on top of his other duties) engaged himself in the
development of the Learning Toolbox (LTB). And as we know, the LTB was the key product
of the project and in particular of the Construction pilot. Yet, although the LTB was
successfully implemented by construction sector partners, the follow-up phase has not been
that easy.
No question, the LTB has pointed out to be a powerful digital toolset for supporting learning
in different contexts of Vocational Education and Training (VET). Thanks to the successful
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implementation of LTB, the LL project was awarded with the VET Research Project Award of
the European Vocational Skills Week in Vienna 2018. And during his visit as ‘apprentice’ in
the training centre Bau-ABC the prime minister of the Federal State of Lower Saxony,
Stephan Weil was very impressed of the use of digital tools that were presented to him by
apprentices. Here, the use of LTB was essentially part of this success story.
Also, as we have noticed it during the years after the project, the ePosters powered by LTB
have been taken up in numerous conferences. With this spin-off innovation the LTB
developers had reached numerous conferences that have started used ePosters powered by
LTB as an alternative for traditional posters or alongside them. Also, on this front the LTB
developers have received several awards as remarkable service providers.
Indeed, I have blogged on all these success stories and celebrated with the LTB developers.
And indeed, in my reports for the EU-funded TACCLE4 CPD I had highlighted the use of
LTB with the expression “The Learning Toolbox path”. In this way I had set the approach to a
wider context. I see it as one of the innovation paths for promoting digital competences of
teachers, trainers and learners in the field of VET and as a contribution to vocational learning
culture. So far so good. However, now that I am in the transition to the full retirement phase I
was afraid that I loose sight of the development of this innovative approach.
From this perspective it was rewarding to hear the news of Gilbert. It strikes me that the LTB
developers are making progress on all fronts with uses of LTB in training and in events.
Now the LTB developers are working with several German training centres in the
construction sector and our partners in the LL project serve as multipliers in promoting the
use of the toolset. In addition it strikes me that they have found new ways to use LTB in the
healthcare sector in England and the healthcare pilot partners of LL have been co-
developing the new working perspectives. Furthermore, other healthcare service providers in
Spain have identified new ways to use LTB to support the relatives of patients who need
training for sensitive issues in their engagement with the patients.
This all has shown me that the work with the LTB is not fading away on the contrary, it is
conquering new terrains. This triggered once again my instincts of accompanying researcher
and of inspired blogger. Even if I go on retirement, I want to follow these processes as best I
can and support my colleagues via blog posts. So, we agreed with Gilbert on a new format
for our cooperation a monthly Blogchat. In this way Gilbert (who is very busy with the
practical work around LTB) can report in a quick way on recent developments. And I can
then write blogs that give visibility for the innovation. In this way we are continuing our long
and successful cooperation with the innovation that is worth celebrating.
Post 40: Notes on the Blogchat of February ePosters powered by
Learning Toolbox are not merely e-posters February 5th, 2020
Some time ago I had a chat with my colleague Gilbert Peffer on the recent progress with the
Learning Toolbox (LTB) that was developed in our common project. I was so impressed that
I wrote a blog post on our discussion. Moreover, we agreed to continue these discussions
and to introduce a new format of communication Blogchat. This means that we agree on
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regular online sessions on agreed themes and that I will publish notes on our talks. So, here
we go.
ePosters as a major spin-off of the Learning Toolbox (LTB)
Ever since our EU-funded Learning Layers project came to an end in the beginning of the
year 2017 I have engaged myself in the follow-up activities with focus on the Learning
Toolbox (LTB). In particular I have been interested in the success story of the ePosters
(powered by LTB) that have become popular in many conferences. I have been writing blogs
on the first pilots in conferences of medical educators and educational technologists. And I
was heavily engaged in the pilot that we organised (together with the LTB-developers) at the
ECER 2018 in Bolzano/Bozen, Italy.
That pilot could not be continued since the organising body European Educational
Research Association (EERA) was at that point tied up with other change agendas. So,
afterwards my knowledge on the use of ePosters was rather sporadic. Indeed, I have
become aware of many awards that the LTB-developers have received and congratulated
them via my blog posts. Yet, I have not got an overview, how strongly our colleagues are
making progress. So, it was high time to get a proper update.
Firstly, I was impressed when Gilbert told me about the conferences with which they are
working. In the year 2019 the LTB-developers supported fourteen (14) conferences that
used ePosters (powered by LTB) in their program. Most of these took place in Europe. For
the year 2020 they have already fifteen (15) agreements, half of them taking place in Europe
and the rest outside Europe. Moreover, they have agreements with biennial conferences that
take place every two years. And, what is most interesting, is the fact that almost all
conferences that have piloted with ePosters are now regular users. They have found their
ways to integrate the ePosters to their conference cultures.
ePosters are more than mere e-posters
As I have seen it from afar and from our joint experience the ePosters made their
breakthrough as alternatives to traditional paper posters. For many conferences that had
struggled with the space needed for poster sessions and for accommodating the desired
number of presentations on a limited number of poster sessions this was a relief. Moreover,
some conferences had been frustrated with commercial e-poster software (that didn’t bring
much added value). From that perspective the functionality of LTB-powered ePosters was a
great step forward:
All ePosters could be presented as mini-posters on a poster wall or poster cubicle
throughout the conference.
With the help of QR-codes all conference participants could download the ePosters they
were interested in and access them whenever they had time.
It was possible to arrange informal meetings between presenters and participants in the
vicinity of the poster walls in a flexible way.
The presenters didn’t need to use much time in poster discussion sessions they could
be shaped as actively interactive events (such as barcamps or ePoster arenas).
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However, this is not the whole story of ePosters as an innovation in conference culture.
Some conferences have become concerned about travel expenses, carbon footprints and
travelling times due to presence sessions in conferences. In this respect one of the
forthcoming conferences is organising a pre-conference week that is based on the
availability of ePosters on the web already one week before the presence conference. The
organisers invite presenters and online participants to a Zoom meeting on the respective
ePosters. Then, the recording of the discussion session will be added to the respective LTB
stack. From this perspective the emphasis is gradually shifting from ePosters (to be viewed)
to ePresentations (that can be discussed with the help of digital media).
Finally, a major asset with the ePosters is that they provide for conference organisers a
domain, on which they can keep the legacy of ePosters in successive conferences. This is
already the case with the pioneering conferences of healthcare educators. They can now
give access to ePosters of their conferences during the last few years.
Post 41: Ideas for forthcoming Multiplier Event of TACCLE4 CPD project
bringing Learning Toolbox and OER into practice February 17th, 2020
In a previous post I told that I will be travelling quite a while and get back to my office at a
later date. But I also mentioned that we (me together with my colleagues Ludger Deitmer
and Jan Naumann) are planning a Multiplier Event on using digital tools to enrich vocational
learning culture. And we will be working together to develop our ideas further. Here I have
put on paper our first ideas:
1. What kind of event are we planning?
We are planning a Bremen-based and German-speaking Multiplier Event of the TACCLE4
CPD project to be hosted by ITB on Friday 12th June 2020.
2. What is the title of the event? What is our key message?
“Digitale Wege in der beruflichen Bildung Alibi-Ansätze oder Innovationen”
With this provocative title we want to stimulate critical discussion on halfway-thought reforms
around digitization in the field of VET. As a contrast we want to give insights into practitioner-
led innovations in vocational learning.
3. What kind of an event do we want to have and with whom?
We want to have an event for and with VET practitioners. We want to invite them to think of
their own possibilities to shape new learning arrangements with digital toolsets (e.g. with
Learning Toolbox) and open educational resources (e.g. with such learning designs that Jan
has presented in the OER-report for TACCLE4 CPD).
As participants we want to invite teachers (from vocational schools) and trainers (from
training centres) of whom we know that they
1. have an interest in enhancing their digital competences and
2. want to develop vocational learning with digital toolsets and OER.
In this respect we want to give them inspiring impulses and opportunities for hands-on
training in terms of peer-to-peer support.
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4. What contents for discussion and training have we considered?
From the perspective of TACCLE4 CPD project we discussed two main perspectives:
Use of Learning Toolbox as means to enhance vocational and workplace-based
learning culture in particular from the point of self-organised learning.
Use of Open Educational Resources (OER) as support for shaping-oriented learning
and for combining different learning paths.
From the perspective of TACCLE AI and VET project we discussed some further
perspectives that could be taken up:
The shaping of “Smart factory” competence centres in vocational schools and their
contribution to the development of vocational learning culture.
The use of humanoid robots as “assistants” to teachers in large classes with
heterogeneous learners and diverse support needs.
5. What further ideas we want to emphasise in the event?
Promoting the readiness of participants to work with new tools:
Tools with which they can co-shape their own teaching/learning arrangements;
Tools that they can develop themselves and use in their teaching and learning.
Create an understanding for the unity of culture, structures and technology in order to
achieve sustainable innovations in VET:
Culture to bring into picture and spread the innovative spirit to develop learning and to
engage colleagues and learners;
Structures to ensure the acceptance of the new ideas and the readiness of the whole
organisation to support new initiatives;
Technology to use appropriate technology for working and learning tasks.
(Points from the perspective of unsuccessful practice:
You may have inspired teachers but if the structures do not provide any flexibility, the
innovations remain isolated.
You may have up-to-date technologies, but if they are not linked to the learning culture,
their potentials are not in full use.
You may have supportive structures and adequate technologies, but if teachers are not
able/willing to take initiatives, the innovations do not take off.)
Provide insights into new learning concepts (enriched with digital tools and digital media)
and how to work with them:
Micro-learning (adjusted to vocational and workplace learning with major time
constraints)
Nuggets with max. 5 minutes digital media content to capture the concentration of
learners and to stimulate further learning.
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Post 42: Quiet period in education and training activities What news on
the project fronts? April 6th, 2020
Normally I am populating this blog with reports on field visits and project meetings or on
emerging results. Right now we are in the middle of a very quiet period. The hitherto normal
activities of education and training providers have been closed due to the spread of the
corona virus. And in a similar way all face-to-face meetings whether project meetings, field
visits or workshops with local/regional partners all such events have been cancelled or
postponed. So, it is very quiet right now. But yet, it is worthwhile to look at the possibilities
that digital tools and online services may provide under such circumstances.
Indeed, as Graham Attwell mentioned in the online meeting of our TACCLE4 CPD last week,
this crisis has been a strong push for teachers and trainers to move their activities online.
What has been so far considered as a sideline opportunity something complementary to
the ‘regular’ teaching and training in presence has to be considered as the remaining main
option. From this point of view teachers, trainers and university lecturers are making rapid
progress in implementing new online learning solutions in their own context. And at the same
time developers of online learning platforms and software solutions are doing their best to
support such transitions. All this is reflected in many online conferences and meetings. So,
even during this quiet period, there are several new developments that need our attention.
From this point of view we discussed the role of our next transnational meeting which we
cannot organise as a face-to-face meeting but as an online meeting. Nevertheless, we
agreed to book time slots to catch up with these new developments in online learning and in
knowledge sharing within online communities. Also, we discussed the prospects to organise
the forthcoming Multiplier events of the project as online events (and to use new formats for
such events). Here, we need some time for further planning. BUT, if we want to capture the
most valuable fruits of the new developments, we would need to organise the events at a
time when our target groups teachers and trainers are getting back to the new normality
after the period of lockdown. Therefore, I hope that the funding agencies are flexible enough
to extend the working periods of projects like ours.
At any rate, I am trying to bring myself back to working mode (at least after the Easter
period) and catch up with my friends and colleagues who are closer to new developments.
Let us see, what all we will find out.
Post 43: Online learning during the corona crisis The contribution of
the Learning Toolbox April 7th, 2020
In my latest blog I made the point that nowadays due to the corona-crisis the education
and training providers have to start delivering their teaching and training online. This is no
longer something as add-on to the ‘ordinary’ teaching and training. And as I mentioned, this
challenge is being taken in rapid tempo and it seems to push the developers to new
innovations. Since I have been recently travelling, I have not been able to follow all relevant
developments. Therefore, I need to catch up with my colleagues who are better informed.
However, already at this point I can refer to inspiring news on the use of the Learning
Toolbox (LTB) as support for vocational learning also during the period of lockdown.
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Learning Toolbox (LTB) as shared digital toolset for trainers and apprentices
As regular readers of this blog surely know, the Learning Toolbox (LTB) was developed in
the context of our EU-funded project Learning Layers (2013 2017). After a lengthy co-
design process the project partners managed to develop and pilot test a digital toolset to
support vocational and workplace-based learning. In our major pilot context, the North-
German training centre Bau-ABC Rostrup, the full-time trainers have continued to use the
toolset and spread it across all construction trades (for which they give training). As we have
seen it during the project and afterwards, the LTB has proven to be user-friendly both from
the perspective of trainers and apprentices. Moreover, it has served the purpose to support
self-organised learning and professional growth in the respective trades.
Use of Learning Toolbox (LTB) during the period of lockdown
So far our observations on the use of LTB have been based on working visits to Bau-ABC
during the normal training periods when the full-time trainers have supervised the
apprentices’ projects. Now, during the crisis, the training centre has been closed and the
training periods have been postponed. However, the trainers have not capitulated. Instead,
they have prepared special LTB-stacks for the closure period and announced them via
Facebook. Below, some screenshots will give an impression, how vocational learning
contents have been shared with apprentices.
Screenshots 1a and 1b: The general announcement on the LTB-stacks for different trades
Screenshots 2a and 2b: Trade-specific LTB-stacks with attached introductory messages
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At this point I will not go into details, in what ways the trainers expect that these stacks will
be used after all, no one knows, when and how the return to some kind of new normality
can take place. Nevertheless, the Bau-ABC trainers have shown that the LTB has proven to
be a valuable toolset in supporting the training and learning processes during the crisis. I will
try to catch up with the LTB-developers, the Bau-ABC trainers and other experts to learn
more during the coming weeks.
Post 44: Reflections on the impact of the Learning Layers project Part
One: New discussions in the project consortium April 28th, 2020
Three weeks ago I published a blog post in which I reported on the use of the Learning
Toolbox (LTB) to support vocational learning during the corona crisis. I shared it on the
mailing list of the partners of the former Learning Layers project consortium. As an
immediate reaction some partners from the UK healthcare sector informed, how they have
made wide use of LTB among general practice (GP) units for sharing knowledge on the
patterns to prescribe certain medications. Also, this exchange of messages brought into
picture the growing use of LTB as support for e-posters (see my previous post).
This gave rise to the initiative of Tobias Ley, the leader of the former Learning Layers
consortium, to report on such sustainable use of Learning Layers tools after the end of the
project in a conference paper. And this led to a rapid process of collaborative writing that
involved several research partners of the former consortium. The results are now being
finalised and will be presented in the respective conference (provided that the proposal will
be accepted). Therefore, it would be premature to discuss our findings in toto before the
submission has been reviewed and accepted. However, I think that it is appropriate to
discuss some of the cases that were examined in this discussion and some lessons that I
and my co-author Gilbert Peffer have highlighted in our contributions to this process.
Altogether, this has been an interesting collaborative reflection process that brought together
several partners that have been working with the two pilot sectors of the project (construction
and healthcare). Also, it has given us a fresh picture on the development of the ePosters
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(powered by LTB) as a spin-off innovation emerging from the Learning Layers project. So, in
my next posts I will discuss different topics that were taken up in our joint discussions.
Post 45: Reflections on the impact of the Learning Layers project Part
Two: Use of Learning Toolbox in vocational learning & construction
work April 28th, 2020
With my latest post I 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. This was triggered by
reports that the key result of our work the Learning Toolbox is being used in the original
pilot context (training for construction work) and is getting new users. In particular this
discussion was inspired by the fact that such tools gain new importance in the period of
corona crisis, when schools and training centres are closed and traditional conferences are
being cancelled. In my previous blog I gave a brief overview on the discussions that we have
had and on the joint paper that we have been preparing. In this blog I will summarise some
key points that I and my co-author Gilbert Peffer have raised on the case that we have
presented the use of Learning Toolbox (LTB) in the training centre Bau-ABC Rostrup.
Below I will use our draft text (that was shaped as responses to given questions) as a slightly
edited version.
The pioneering Case: Learning Toolbox in training centre Bau-ABC Rostrup
The Learning Toolbox was developed in the Learning Layers project as a response to the
needs of the training centre Bau-ABC Rostrup (a major application partner from the
construction sector). The initial design idea referred to digitisation of training materials,
instruction sheets, project reporting sheets and self-assessment procedures. However, in the
course of iterative co-design cycles, the process took the course towards shaping an
interactive toolset to support training and learning activities.
What particular problems were addressed in the co-design process?
In Bau-ABC Rostrup the apprentices spend relatively short periods (one or two weeks at a
time) and are trained by full-time trainers who are Meisters (master craftsmen) in their trade.
During each period they complete a project in the respective trade. Then, they move back to
their companies or have another training period in a supporting trade. In general, the
projects are based on genuine work tasks that are implemented in a workshop or at outdoor
training areas.
Previously, the instructions for the apprentices’ projects had been provided orally with the
help of instructive worksheets (for preparing the project plans). Likewise, the reporting on the
projects was done manually. In principle, the project cycle was based on self-organised
learning independent search for knowledge resources, drafting the plan plan, reporting the
implementation and then assessing the outcome. The functionality of Learning Toolbox
based on trade-specific stacks that consisted of different tiles provided support for learning
when completing the work tasks.
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Stakeholders who have been involved in the co-design process and pilot
activities
The co-design work was carried out as a collaborative process by researchers, technical
partners and full-time trainers from Bau-ABC. During an earlier phase of the work the project
team provided basic multimedia training for some voluntary trainers. At a later phase the
project team and these trainers provided an intensive training campaign for all trainers of the
training centre. In the pilot testing of the Learning Toolbox a core group of trainers
introduced the toolset in their training and results were monitored by the project team. Also,
at the final phase of the project, the use of the Learning Toolbox as support for construction
work processes was demonstrated for several craft trade companies. As a result, follow-up
processes (feasibility studies and project initiatives) were started with some companies.
How have the training practices been changed and what new practices have
emerged?
The functionality of the Learning Toolbox was easy to be customised for different training
purposes and according to the pedagogic priorities of the trainers. Thus, it made it easier for
the trainers to emphasise independent searches among a wide range of web resources.
(This was essential for borehole builders who were working alone on remote construction
sites). Also, it made it possible to give learners a gradual access to a wider range of
resources (and to solutions of their peers) once they had learned to develop their own
solutions to the project tasks. (This was essential for the road-builders and pipeline-builders.)
Moreover, apprentices were encouraged to document their projects with the Learning
Toolbox. This enabled the instructors to see progress of their apprentices in real time and
provide more timely feedback. The LTB has also strengthened the self-organisation of the
instructors in terms of streamlining their content and sharing common resources between the
different professions. While this approach to collaborative training was already there at Bau-
ABC, the LTB offered a further channel to systematise this practice. Altogether, the co-
design process has been characterised by a continuing research & development dialogue
that has been underpinned by the accompanying research approach of the research institute
ITB, University of Bremen.
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What has been the impact so far and what can be expected in the near future?
After the project the use of the Learning Toolbox was spread across all trades in which Bau-
ABC Rostrup provides apprentice training. Consequently, the apprentices have started to
complete their projects with the help of the Learning Toolbox. Based on this pioneering case,
other German training centres in the construction sector are in the process of adopting the
Learning Toolbox both for initial VET and for continuing VET. There are also teacher groups
at a number of medical faculties in Germany who have adopted the LTB for practice training.
Due to the closure of the training centres because of the COVID19-epidemic the trainers of
Bau-ABC Rostrup have prepared trade-specific stacks with the Learning Toolbox to support
independent learning.
What have been key aspects for sustaining the initiative so long after the end
of the project
Altogether, the co-design process, the piloting phase and the follow-up phase have been
characterised by intensive research & development dialogue (underpinned by an
accompanying a research approach that dovetails with the co-design process), adjustment
of the tool development to the pedagogic approach of the trainers and to the effort to
promote self-organised learning of apprentices. In addition, the project work and the follow-
up has been characterised by strong support from the accompanying researchers of ITB.
Furthermore, the trainers of Bau-ABC have become strong multipliers of innovation both
within their organisation and in their networking with other training centres and partner
companies. At the end of the project it was not certain, how the innovations could be
sustained and spread. In the construction sector it was essential that the developers of the
Learning Toolbox and the accompanying researchers from ITB took several initiatives to
launch follow-up activities with construction companies.
Post 46: Reflections on the impact of the Learning Layers project Part
Three: The use of Learning Toolbox in new contexts April 29th, 2020
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.
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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 postmainly 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 11thand 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.
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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 guess 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. In the final post of this series I
will discuss some points that have supported the sustainability of the innovation and
contributed to the wider use of the LTB.
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Post 47: Reflections on the impact of the Learning Layers project Part
Four: What all has contributed to sustainability of the Learning Toolbox?
April 29th, 2020
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.
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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.
Post 48: Updates on the corona crisis What news from field activities
with the Learning Toolbox? June 5th, 2020
In some of my recent posts I have discussed the impact of the corona crisis on education,
training and learning as well as on conferences that are of interest to us. In my latest
blogchat session with developers and promoters of the Learning Toolbox Gilbert Peffer
and Werner Müller I was able to get more insights into the current activities in the field:
What is happening currently with the use of LTB to support education, training and learning
during and after the lockdown period? What is happening with the use of LTB as support for
conferences that are being organised as online events? I will start with the conferences and
then proceed to the field activities in education and training.
What news on the use of Learning Toolbox (LTB) in conferences
As I have told in my recent posts (on the impact of the Learning Layers project), the Learning
Toolbox (LTB) was developed primarily to support vocational and workplace learning.
However, a very successful spin-off prospect emerged when LTB was used to prepare
ePosters (supported with mini-posters on poster walls or cubicles). This kind of
complementary use of ePosters alongside other modes of presentation started to spread
already before the corona crisis.
Now that many conferences have sought ways to convert face-to-face events into online
events, the prospect of using ePosters as a major solution has been taken up by several
conference organisers. Here, new arrangements have been made to keep the ePosters
visible online already during a pre-conference period. Then, during the actual conference
period, particular sets of ePosters have been discussed in batches in online sessions. Now
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this mode of work is taking up and will probably sustain even after the exceptional period.
For the developers and key promoters of LTB this has reduced travelling to conference
venues and participation in face-to-face events. Instead, they have done more online tutoring
and customisation of the use of LTB with supporting online communication services.
What news on the use of Learning Toolbox as support for vocational and
workplace learning
Whilst the lockdown has given a push to conference organisers in finding new solutions to
prepare online events with larger scale, the picture in the field of vocational education and
training (VET) varies. As we have seen it, the transition from classroom teaching into online
learning has been implemented rapidly in general education and higher education. For
vocational and workplace learning such a transition has not been an easy exercise. In
particular the intermediate training centres (that support work process oriented learning in
simulated learning spaces) have gone through hard times. In Germany these organisers
have been interested in promoting the use of LTB in education and training. Now, due to the
lockdown, some advanced training centres in particular the training centre Bau-ABC
Rostrup have managed to provide LTB stacks to support independent learning of
apprentices during the closure period. However, in other training centres the lockdown has
interrupted the process of getting a core group of trainers to promote the use of LTB in
several trades. Moreover, the reopening of the centres just before the examination period
has provided additional challenges.
I think these were the most important messages that I need to share in my blog. In addition
to these general impressions I had some further thoughts concerning the designed Multiplier
Event of the ongoing TACCLE4 CPD project that we want to organise by the end of the
project. As I see it know, it is not likely that we can organise it as a face-to-face event
whether before the summer holiday period or shortly after it. And since we need to organise
an online event, we still have to think about the arrangements and the timing.
As we have a short time to complete the tasks for the project, we need to opt for a pre-
recorded webinar or a series of short webinars. And with this arrangement we need to think
of a flexible mode of participation within a flexible time frame. In this way we can probably
adjust this event to the time constraints of the designed participants teachers and trainers
in the field of VET. As we have seen it, it is essential to provide new impulses at a time when
the potential participants have time and energy to work with the content we provide for
discussion.
These were my preliminary thoughts. I need to have further discussions with my colleagues
who are supporting me in the TACCLE4 CPD project. Let us see where we can get in the
coming times.
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Post 49: Instructions for (new) users of Learning Toolbox June 8th, 2020
My recent posts on this blog have focused on the digital toolset Learning Toolbox (LTB) that
was developed in the EU-funded Learning Layers (LL) project to support vocational and
workplace learning. At this point it is worthwhile to mention that the developers of the LTB
have made good use of the quiet period when they have not been able to travel to visit
interested partner organisations and run face-to-face workshops with new users.
So, instead, they have prepared new introductory web pages and demonstration pages for
the time when they can activate their contacts again. Below I want to give insights into the
main introductory page (available in English, German and Spanish) and into a demonstration
page (available in German).
Support page for new users of the Learning Toolbox
As I see it, the new support page for new users speaks for itself (see below two screenshots
and links to the respective pages):
Here you have the link to Support page in English: https://support.ltb.io/
Here the link to Support page in German: https://support.ltb.io/wie-konnen-wir-ihnen-helfen/
Insights into the demonstration page on uses of Learning Toolbox (in German)
In a similar way the demonstration page “Introduction to the Learning Toolbox in one
minute” speaks for itself. Below you find four screenshots of the introductory texts (the one
minute information package) and then a longer video presentation (slideshow with audio
introduction and subtitles in German).
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Here is the link to this demonstration page: https://support.ltb.io/learning-toolbox-kurz-und-
knapp/
The video presentation gives more detailed information on the use of Learning Toolbox in
vocational and workplace learning with an audio slideshow. Here we have four screenshots
that give insights into the contents.
I think this is enough of these introduction and demonstration pages. In my next post I will
discuss further videos that demonstrate innovative use cases of Learning Toolbox in specific
construction trades.
Post 50: New videos on innovative use of Learning Toolbox in vocational
learning June 9th, 2020
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
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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 from
the LTB-Terminal, 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.
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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.
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Post 51: Great progress with LTB-powered ePosters as support for
conferences and learning August 15th, 2020
Earlier this year I have blogged about problems that the Corona-crisis had caused for
conferences. In that context I drew attention to the potential of ePosters powered by
Learning Toolbox (LTB) as support for transforming conferences into online events. At that
time I was informed by the developers of the LTB of the requests that they had received and
on their efforts to create appropriate solutions for different conferences.
(As regular readers of this blog already know, the Learning Toolbox was created in our EU-
funded project Learning Layers to support workplace-based learning in construction sector.
In that context our job as accompanying researchers was to document and support the
practitioners’ and technical partners’ work during the co-design process. After the project
some of the partners continued the further development of the LTB and introduced the
concept of ePosters to support conferences. With this blog I have tried to keep myself and
my readers updated on the success of this spin-off innovation from our project.)
Recently, via the Twitter account of the LTB-developers Kubify LTB for ePostersI
have become aware of the progress they have made and how it has been appreciated by
their counterparts. Below I want to give insights into their work and into their achievements.
At best I can do this with quotes and screenshots from the blog of our colleague Tamsin
Treasure-Jones and by sharing links to the complete blog articles.
What all is going on with using LTB for ePosters in conferences?
Let us firstly have a look at the multitude of activities and achievements that Tamsin
presents on the opening page of her blog. The screenshot below gives an idea, what has
been going on and how the LTB-developers’ company Kubify has supported different users
with their challenges and initiatives. Then, below, two special cases are highlighted.
Kubify to the rescue! (The Oman case)
A special case to be highlighted was the introduction of Kubify’s ePoster system to rescue a
medical informatics course at Sultan Qaboos University (SQU), Oman. The organisers of the
course were hit by the sudden departure of the students due to COVID-19. SQU, however,
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could not afford to let medical courses lapse, so medical students began online learning.
Here, as Tamsin tells us in her blog post, the ePoster system powered by LTB met the
quality requirements to keep the course running and enable the assessment of the students’
contributions.
The look and sound of creativity (The Midlands4Cities case)
The other special case took place, when the Midlands4Cities Doctoral Training Partnership
chose to use Learning Toolbox for the ePosters at their 2020 Research Festival. As Tamsin
tells us in her blog post, their ePoster showcase is an excellent example of the rich content
and interactions that can be supported by the platform.
I guess that this is enough of the newest developments in using the LTB-powered ePosters
to support online learning and (online) conferences. As I see it, such exemplary cases are
important for the ongoing TACCLE 4 CPD project and its multiplier activities. I am eager to
learn more from my colleagues at the company Kubify who have been involved in these
activities.
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Post 52: Impressive Learning Toolbox Showcase presents the success
of ePosters September 25th, 2020
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).
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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.
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Post 53: New report for TACCLE 4 CPD on Artificial Intelligence and
progress with Learning Toolbox September 29th, 2020
At the end of last year I wrote a series of blog posts with which I presented a set of reports
that I had delivered for the EU-funded project TACCLE4 CPD. As regular readers of this blog
know, the aim of the project is to design models for continuing professional development
(CPD) that focus on promoting digital competences of teachers and trainers. The earlier
TACCLE projects had focused mainly on school-based and subject-based learning in
general education. However, in the concept of the current project the aim was also to
address also the field of vocational education and training (VET). From this perspective our
institute, Institut Technik & Bildung (ITB) was invited as the partner responsible for VET.
During the work I found it necessary to prepare special VET-related reports to clarify the
boundary conditions, specific needs and emerging potentials for shaping VET-related
approaches to promoting digital competences. From this perspective I presented in
November and December 2019 the following set of VET-related reports:
Report 1: Policy analyses (with focus on different contexts, approaches and
strategies to promote digital competences in the field of VET
Report 2: Legacy of predecessor projects (with a differentiated interpretation of
the approaches of prior TACCLE projects and the Learning Layers project)
Report 3: Use of Open Educational Resources in VET (with specific insights into
the opportunities to use OER in particular vocational learning contexts)
Report 4a: Research-based reflections on strategies and training models (with
specific emphasis on different innovation paths and feedback from practitioners)
Report 4b: The “Theme Room Training 2020” framework (as an outline of a
training concept for the field of VET, based on different thematic blocks)
At that time I felt that the series of VET-related reports had been completed.
Elements on the report training on Artificial Intelligence and uses of Learning
Toolbox
During the later phase of the TACCLE4 CPD project I had some exchanges with the newest
TACCLE project on Artificial Intelligence and Vocational Education and Training (AI and
VET). I visited their kick-off meeting and learned about their project plans. Then I became
aware of the Finnish initiative “Elements of Artificial Intelligence” that was promoted as
important civic learning for the whole civil society. And later on I got access to the first report
on the project AI and VET and became aware of the issues that they had explored in the
initial phase of their work. This gave rise to a blog post on the challenges for civic learning
(in general) and for VET providers (in particular).
In addition to this I have had intensive exchanges with the developers of the Learning
Toolbox (LTB) who were our former partners from the Learning Layers (LL) project (see my
previous blogs). In this way I got information, how training centres equipped their
apprentices for independent learning during the corona crisis with the help of LTB-stacks.
Also, I learned how the LTB-developers made use of the quiet period by preparing new
instructions and demonstration videos. Furthermore, I learned of the successful use of LTB
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as support for ePosters in online conferences and workshops. Finally, the publishing of the
new Learning Toolbox Showcase made transparent the wide range of conferences and
themes that had been covered by numerous ePosters. I have shared this information by
publishing several blog posts.
The idea of a new report takes shape
When writing this blogs I was focusing on separate issues. And indeed the themes ‘training
on artificial intelligence’ and ‘reporting on successful use of Learning Toolbox’ seemed to be
different cups of tea (or different pairs of shoes). However, once I got further with the blogs
on using Learning Toolbox during the training in exceptional times and in the
transformation of conferences into online events I found a new perspective. Both themes
can be treated with the help of a similar (non-linear) story line: facing a challenge search
for an approach finding a solution piloting with innovation facing new challenges with
the innovation transfer of innovation. In this context I wanted to draw attention to the ideas
that came up with the training initiatives that link to each other civic learning and vocational
learning when introducing artificial intelligence in working life. Furthermore, I wanted to
underline the aspect of re-inventing the ordinary practice when adjusting vocational learning
or conference cultures into new constraints when contact learning and presence events
are no longer available. As I see it, the work with Learning Toolbox has progressed in a
fantastic way but remains work in progress.
The report “Promoting digital competences beyond the accustomed realm of ICT skills
New challenges for civic learning and continuing professional development” is already
available on ResearchGate and will be published on the website of the TACCLE4 CPD
project.
With these reflections this report completes the series of VET-related reports for the
TACCLE4 CPD project. As I see it, this report links current expertise on promoting digital
competences to future-oriented challenges and to continuing professional development in
real working life. We have put a lot of effort in this project but there is a lot of work for future
projects.
Post 54: A German MP visits the training centre Bau-ABC Rostrup
Great praise for their digital competences October 6th, 2020
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.
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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
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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. I will try to
get more information on the new project.
Post 55: Multiplier Event of TACCLE4 CPD project Part One:
Report on the event in Bau-ABC Rostrup October 18th, 2020
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 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 could 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 could 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
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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 and 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.
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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). 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 Open 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.
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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.
Post 56: Multiplier Event of TACCLE4 CPD project Part Two:
Presenting the LTB-Showcase of TACCLE4 CPD project October 18th, 2020
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.
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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:
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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.
Post 57: Finishing the last reports for TACCLE4 CPD project Handing
over the torch for other runners October 31st, 2020
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).