Category Archives: General

DevOps Gamification Workshop at JTEL Summer School

At early July 2015, the 11th Joint European Summer School on Technology Enhanced Learning took place on the island of Ischia in Italy. The summer school was attended by PhD students in Technology Enhanced Learning mainly from Europe. Learning Layers was represented by multiple participants and several workshops. One of the workshops was about Gamification for DevOps, hold by RWTH Aachen members.

DevOps Gamification teams

Both DevOps and Gamification are hot topics currently. The term DevOps became very popular in recent years to describe an improvement in the collaboration structure between developers and operators, leading to increased communication and better coordination when evolving and rolling out new versions of software. DevOpsUse is a logical continuation of this paradigm and stands for the involvement of users in the loop. Gamification on the other hand is a paradigm that brings in concepts known from games into real-world use cases. A famous example is Foursquare’s app called Swarm that allows checking in to places such as cafés and shops. Swarm users are rewarded with badges and virtual mayorships.

Motivated by real-life strategies in the Layers project, we started by presenting the DevOpsUse life cycle model that we developed for embedding innovative end users in the software development process. Requirements Bazaar is a Web based application developed at RWTH that adresses the needs of DevOpsUse communities. It allows developers and end users to talk about new ideas and bugs. The software was developed earlier in the ROLE project and then underwent a redevelopment within the Layers project to account for the project’s focus on mobile frontends and generally, faster development cycles. After presenting Requirements Bazaar in the workshop, we introduced the participants to the basics of gamification.

DevOps Gamification group

In the last part of the workshop, participants formed three groups to discuss and then present possible gamification elements for the Requirements Bazaar. The workshop itself was gamified, letting users spend virtual money to vote for their favorite gamifications. The teams’ solutions turned out to be very creative; the team “Game Overs” raised $32 for their idea of introducing badges for users. Also, users should get points for likes, requirements and comments. A profile page should then show an overview of the achievements. The second ranked group’s “Mediterraneans” idea raised $19 for introducing badges for achievements like being online every day. Certain challenges could further motivate users to participate in the race to get more points and badges. The third group, “M.E.D” finally raised $16 for the idea of game money that could be earned when entering requirements that are later realized. Additionally, the virtual currency could be used to underline the need for the realization of certain ideas.

After the workshop, the ideas developed in the workshop have been analyzed and entered into the Requirements Bazaar as new requirements.

3 publications in ECETEL from the Layers project

ECTEL was really competitivve this year, it has received 176 valid submissions, out of which 27 were accepted as full papers, 19 as short papers, 13 as demos and 33 as posters. 131 Full Papers were submitted – so this makes an acceptance rate of 20,6% for full papers, and 35% for full papers plus short papers.

  • From them we’ve had a poster-Paper accepted: Ruiz-Calleja, A., Dennerlein, S., Tomberg, V., Pata, K., Ley, T., Theiler, D. & Lex, E. (2015). Supporting learning analytics for informal workplace learning with a social semantic infrastructure. In Proceedings of the European Conference on Technology Enhanced Learning, Springer International Publishing (in press).
  • We present KnowBrain, an open source Dropbox-like knowledge repository with social and collaborative learning features for informal workplace learning. KnowBrain enables users (i) to share and collaboratively structure knowledge, (ii) to access knowledge via sophisticated content- and metadata-based search and recommendation mechanisms, and (iii) to discuss artefacts by means of multimedia-enriched question-answer. As such, KnowBrain can support, integrate and foster various collaborative learning processes related to daily work-tasks by leveraging and improving inherent meaning making processes.
  • Demo-Paper: Dennerlein, S., Theiler, D., Marton, P., Santos Rodriguez, P., Cook, J., Lindstaedt, S. & Lex, E. (2015). KnowBrain: An Online Social Knowledge Repository for Informal Workplace Learning. In Proceedings of the European Conference on Technology Enhanced Learning, Springer International Publishing (in press). This paper presents the potential of a social semantic infrastructure that implements an Actor Artifact Network (AAN) to support learning analytics at the workplace. It presents a such infrastructure and two example applications that make use of it. A preliminary evaluation with end users shows that the infrastructure is able to create an AAN out of the data and artifacts created by both applications, thus opening the possibility to implement learning analytics at the workplace.

Learning Layers presented to the Director-General of UNESCO Irina Bokova

On May 5th we had an honour to introduce the work done and the objectives we pursue to the the director-general of UNESCO, Irina Bokova. During her short visit our Tallinn partner TLU presented their research on open educational resources, workplace learning, digital textbooks, learning analytics and MOOCs. Aso talked about the contribution to the educational policy making in Estonia, collaboration with industry partners and contribution to the educational innovation on the global level.

3 LAYERS track at the 15th iKnow Conference

Learning Layers sponsors three special tracks at the the 15th anniversary of the I-Know Conference ( The topics will cover social knowledge management, education for smart industry and recommender systems. Submissions are welcome until the 22nd of June (abstract by 8th of June).


Social Knowledge Management: from collections of documents to connections of people and physical objects

Chairs: Ronald Maier, Andreas Schmidt

Although knowledge has always been considered as inherently situated in the heads of people, knowledge management has started out with a technocratic focus on representations of knowledge in documents. The manifold developments of knowledge management since then include aspects of semantics and ontologies, activities and processes, assessment and evaluation, integration and visualization and a focus on the dynamics of knowledge maturing from emergent knowledge created by individuals to standardized knowledge applied by societies at large. With the advent of social software and the recent developments in networking of physical objects, knowledge management has shifted its attention more recently to collaboration and social relationships in collectives of people, from small teams to large crowds, termed social knowledge management, as well as to the inclusion of representations of and the interaction with physical objects, termed the Internet of things.

We solicit submissions that address the following topics:

  • Knowledge creation and knowledge maturing – from teams to crowds
  • Social collaboration, social networks, social spaces
  • Boundary spanning and the boundaryless organization
  • Connectivity in teams and organizations
  • Role of physical objects in knowledge management
  • Motivational aspects of social knowledge management

Industry 4.0: educating the workforce for smart industries

Chairs: Martin Wolpers, Ralf Klamma

The introduction of smart factories, internet of things and cyber-physical systems (in Germany coined “Industry 4.0″) changes the industrial manufacturing and production workplaces dramatically.
Companies and employees are faced with new requirements regarding the workplace. It is questionable if existing pedagogical and technological concepts address the new emands on the workforce sufficiently and adequately. Today, and in spite of political wishes, industry 4.0 related workplaces are still at the verge of emergence.

This track aims to foster discussions on new learning and training challenges in smart industries where products will „know“ the workforce. Papers are invited that discuss Industry
4.0 related learning scenarios and how they are being addressed.

Topics of interest include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Collaborative learning
  • Micro-format learning
  • Just-in-time learning
  • Education with/cyber-physical systems
  • Wearables for learning purposes
  • Smart factory learning scenarios
  • Personalization and adaptation
  • Recommendation
  • Learning resource creation and management

Recommender Systems: from algorithms to Big Data recommendation systems

Chairs: Alexander Felfernig, Elisabeth Lex

Recommender systems combine historical data on user preferences, (user) similarities and past behavior to suggest and predict items a user might be looking for. While they have been proven successful in e.g. e-commerce applications, they can also support organizations in better identifying competences, help engage users in a continuous and dynamic knowledge exchange, and customize dissemination of knowledge as much as possible.

The objective of this special track is to bring together researchers and practitioners involved in developing, testing, and fielding recommender systems, especially in the area of knowledge management. The special track focuses on all aspects of recommender systems and it will provide a forum for discussing current practice and recent research results

Topics include but are not limited to:

  • Personalization and recommendations in knowledge management
  • Recommender algorithms
  • Case studies of real-world implementations
  • Evaluation methodologies for recommender systems
  • Field and user studies of recommender systems
  • Context-aware recommenders
  • Cold-start problem
  • Expert recommenders
  • New trends and challenges in recommender systems
  • Machine learning for recommendation
  • Social recommenders
  • Semantic technologies for recommendations
  • Recommendations in TEL
  • Trust and reputation in recommender systems
  • User modelling for recommendations
  • User interfaces for recommender systems
  • Scalability of recommender systems


Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre

Learning Layers – AMEE 2015 Conference

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Leaning Layers is pleased to announce their presence at the annual AMEE 2015 (an international association for medical education)

Glasgow – Conference 4 – 9th September 2015.

AMEE 2015 Conference  is widely recognised as the key annual medical and healthcare professions education venue, regularly attended by 3,500 participants from around the globe.

There is a big focus on e learning with the draft programme seeing an  eLearning Symposium ‘Shaping the future of Technology-Enhanced Learning’ and a Masterclass in Computer Enhanced Learning.

Learning Layers will be showcasing 5 submissions alongside having an exhibition with demo tools throughout the 6 days of the conference. The Learning Layers team will be collecting feedback on the tools and building new links with healthcare stakeholders.

eLearning Symposium (5th – 6th September)

  • 1. A dynamic co-design approach to developing technology based help-seeking services that enhance workplace learning in healthcare, Micky Kerr, John Cook, Tamsin Treasure-Jones (Short Communication)
  • 2. LivingDocuments – Turning conversations into reliable knowledge, Andreas Schmidt, Martin Bachl, Christine Kunzmann, Tamsin Treasure-Jones, David Zaki & Ed Bellamy (Poster)
  • 3. Building a Healthcare Learning Toolbox, Raymond Elferink, Tamsin Treasure-Jones, Graham Atwell (PechaKucha Presentation)

Main Conference (7-9th September)

  • 4. Making sense out of informal learning at the workplace, Sebastian Dennerlein, Tamsin Treasure-Jones, Vladimir Tomberg, Dieter Theiler, Elisabeth Lex & Tobias Ley (Poster)
  • 5. Towards understanding informal learning in networks of healthcare professionals – Results of a qualitative empirical study, John Bibby, Micky Kerr, Ronald Maier, Stefan Schäper, Stefan Thalmann & Lena Waizenegger (Poster)

The abstracts for the submissions are available on our Googledrive.

AMEE 2015 will take place at the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre (SECC) and runs for 6 days .  For more information about the conference see our event entry here.


Focus group sessions and presentations of Y2 findings of the LAYERS project at the Tyrolean IT Day

The UIBK team prepared the evaluation of the Learning Layers tools in the fourth year of the Leaning Layers project. We decided not just to perform a standard evaluation, rather we want to perform a next generation evaluation (see for details). As a starting point for the preparation and planning phase, we conducted focus group interviews with the developers and researchers at the Design Conference in Helsinki in March 2015. We jointly developed initial evaluation criteria and identified the main stakeholders of the prototypes. The next focus groups with the end-users will take place in the upcoming two months in UK and Germany. There, the tools will be introduced in order to get stakeholder feedback about the usability and the prototypes’ potential to be used during their daily work.

Besides the focus group interviews, the Tyrolean IT-Day was held in Innsbruck on May 7th where the UIBK team presented the findings of our year two of the empirical study. We shared our insights in the research fields (1) knowledge protection, (2) ICT use for informal learning, and (3) constant connectivity. We provided four strategies aiming to find a balance between knowledge sharing and protecting. Furthermore, presented the most important ICT tools for informal workplace learning, which are especially: email as conventional media and WhatsApp as social media. Moreover, we provided four different strategies for people to be able to cope with constant connectivity and increase the efficiency and productivity of their work online.



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The 4th Tyrolean  IT-Day at May 7th, 2015 in Innsbruck, Austria is a meeting for practitioners and researchers from Tyrol.  Local IT-Companies were presenting their new innovations and products and several talks about recent topics were  held. In 2015, the exhibition was focusing on the digital interconnection and education within IT-Companies and provided a platform for knowledge exchange between industry experts, potential customers, researchers as well as politicians.


The LAYERS team of the University of Innsbruck attended the poster session and presented a LEARNING LAYERS poster summing up the findings of the empirical study from the second project year and shared the project ideas with interested visitors.


Learning Layers represented by two talks at the FOSDEM 2015 open source conference in Brussels

Over the last weekend of January, the Learning Layers project contributed two Lightning Talks to FOSDEM 2015, one of the biggest open source conferences worldwide. The talks gave an overview of two of our open source projects, the Requirements Bazaar and the Yjs framework for real-time group editing on the Web. Both talks were attended by around 250 people in the room and several more on the live stream.

FOSDEM (Free and Open Source Software Developers’ European Meeting) is an annual two day conference held in Brussels that attracts around 5000 open source developers yearly. Various open source projects like Mozilla, KDE, OpenStack, Gnome, Jenkins, etc. are represented at FOSDEM by over 500 talks and various booths.

Requirements Bazaar is a continuous innovation platform developed by RWTH Aachen University that plays a big role in the co-design process of the Learning Layers project for eliciting various requirements for the Layers apps. We presented the idea behind the platform which enables end users to enter, vote and comment on requirements. Moreover, via the Requirements Bazaar developers may discuss with end users and decide together to implement certain features or solve particular issues. In particular, we presented the new version of the platform that is directly targeting feature requests by partners of the Layers consortium.

Petru Nicolaescu and Kevin Jahns presenting the Yjs library at FOSDEM 2015 in Brussels

The second talk introduced Yjs, a framework developed by RWTH Aachen University for real-time peer-to-peer group editing on the Web. Driven by its modular approach, Yjs allows to easily attach collaborative features to existing Web sites with a few lines of code. The framework automatically solves editing conflicts occurring in near real-time collaboration on arbitrary data types and can be used with multiple communication protocols. After the talk, various developers asked us about further details of usage and integration possibilities with other open source projects.

Besides disseminating our software and frameworks, we actively visited various booths at FOSDEM to discuss with representatives of projects such as OpenStack, Xen and ownCloud that back our Layers infrastructural offerings through the Tethys cloud.

The Learning Toolbox

The Learning Layers project has brought into picture new ways of using digital media, web tools  and smartphones in the context of work and workplace learning. At the BAU-ABC training centre (Construction sector at Germany), the trainers themselves have launched their blogs and brought their apprentices to demo sessions on the Learning Toolbox. The apprentices have greeted this with enthusiasm. They and their companies have now new prospects for using these tools for working and learning – not as distraction and waste of time. From this perspective the trainers are keen to take further steps forward in piloting.

[ Read more about the Learning Toolbox in our Open Design Library … ]

Learning Layers workshop with CAMERA: Plymouth University Peninsula Schools of Medicine and Dentistry

On 23rd July 2014 representatives from the Learning Layers project collaborated with Plymouth Peninsula Schools of Medicine and Dentistry (CAMERA) to run a half-day workshop for a group of educational technologists, medical educators and GPs. The aim was to present Learning Layers to an audience of GPs and academics from Plymouth, on the south coast of England, and to explore how we might work with them.

Following a general introduction to the Learning Layers project and discussion of the role of technology in Continuing Professional Development, we gave hands-on demonstrations of each of the prototype tools for healthcare (Bits and Pieces, Help Seeking, Living Documents and Reflect).

The participants were able to explore the prototypes, ask questions about their functionality and feed back with suggestions for uses and improvements. We also gained feedback on whether the findings of our research chimed with the experiences of the participants and whether there were other networks or tools which they used to support their informal learning.

The event was a success and a great way of getting some validation of our findings from a new area outside of the Yorkshire region where we have been doing all our testing to date.

Feedback from the event was very positive, with participants commenting that they could see good potential for the tools to be used and to provide a benefit to end-users. The healthcare sustainability scenario was discussed as part of the workshop and this approach was also endorsed by the participants who felt that it was essential that any new tools fitted within both the working practice and the current IT systems used within GP practices. So the Learning Layers link with Intradoc was regarded as being very important. All the participants have jointed the Learning Layers Stakeholder Network and several have expressed an interest in trying out the tools in their own practice next year.

Note: CAMERA is the Collaboration for the Advancement of Medical Education Research and Assessment at Plymouth University. CAMERA is a stakeholder in the Learning Layers project which was awarded our “high engagement stakeholder” badge earlier this year due to its joint work with us in the healthcare sector.


LivingDocuments wins I-KNOW 2014 Best Demo Paper Award



The LivingDocuments system has been demonstrated to the audience of ECTEL 2014 and I-KNOW 2014, two leading conferences in technology-enhanced learning and knowledge management, which were co-located in Graz this year. The system that has been developed by Karlsruhe University of Applied Sciences in close collaboration with the application partners in Leeds and the colleagues from University of Leeds has won the Best Demo Paper Award.

Martin Bachl, David ZakiAndreas SchmidtChristine Kunzmann
Living Documents as a Collaboration and Knowledge Maturing Platform
In: International Conference on Knowledge Management (I-KNOW 2014), ACM, 2014