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Work Package 1 comprised two parallel strands of research in the first year of the Learning Layers (LL) project. First, an exploratory study investigated the state-of-practice in the two pilot clusters construction and healthcare in an empirical strand of research. The goal was to improve our understanding of how learning currently takes place at in our two pilot clusters to identify ways in which technology could effectively support and enhance this learning. Second, a design strand of research coordinated the co-design interactions between end users, designers and developers. The goal here was to create design ideas and prototypical implementations which were co-developed with end users in a participatory design process.
We started the empirical strand of research with an initial inquiry and used the results to inform and guide the co-design work during the application partner days which were held separately for the two pilot clusters construction and healthcare and the design conference which brought representatives of the two pilot clusters together. Building on the extensive feedback, we continued the empirical investigation with an in-depth inquiry. The key results of the exploratory study were condensed into 14 user stories, twelve Personas, eleven stories of workplace learning and nine process models. The key characteristics and the challenges regarding the support of informal learning were investigated for both pilot clusters. We additionally identified trends that influence the development of informal learning support: employees create more multimedia contents; learning can be traced; information load for knowledge consumers increases; complexity for knowledge distributors increases; the physical context is increasingly important; and the opportunities for knowledge acquisition are extended.
Four design ideas were developed in the design strand of research. First, CAPTUS aims at enhancing informal learning by applications for capturing, annotating and sharing best practices especially with physical artefacts in a way that would be meaningful to workers. Second, PANDORA pursues the goal of facilitating the creation of living local guidelines to support the construction of locally trusted personal learning networks. Third, BITS AND PIECES targets support of the collection of notes and gathered material during work time, to sort and organise them into topics or assign them to a learning space and to facilitate sense making. Fourth, SHARING TURBINE has the goal to develop a toolset for enriching, revising, tracking and reverting of changes, structuring, assembling, searching, sharing and working collaboratively with digital artefacts.
The consortium has been extraordinarily active in creating an agile and engaged work atmosphere despite the physically highly distributed character of the project. Work package one has taken on a key role in addressing the challenge of coordinating the co-design activities in the technical work packages, and facilitating that results gained from empirical studies are taken up by the design process. End users, empirical investigators, conceptual researchers, designers and developers have embarked right from the kick-off in Barcelona on a continuous process of exchanging ideas, concepts, design artefacts, theories, opportunities, constraints, rich contextualized material and particularly stories from real-world professionals. In addition to texts, graphs, sketches and figures, the project has been particularly keen to develop audio, video, multimedia and physical artefacts representing rich user stories, both, directly taken from the professional world and condensed into important cornerstones of our work. Designers and developers readily took up on this plentiful material and in turn provided design artefacts in various formats to enrich the development of the LL vision. We performed a number of initiatives that were specifically targeted at boosting the take-up of the material created in the exploratory study, with contextual maps and posters, user story visualisations, Persona avatars, a design survey, videos on stories of workplace learning as well as a Persona voting being the most prominent ones.
While first year activities in work package one were geared towards in-depth exploration of the thick context of professional workplace learning, second year activities will extend this focus towards networks of professionals across organisational boundaries. Networks will be selected in both the construction as well as the healthcare sector using characteristics along a number of dimensions, e.g., size, formality, knowledge intensity, diversity of membership, success, importance for scaling LL. Studying practices of learning, knowledge sharing and knowledge development aims to identify opportunities and barriers for adopting technologies supporting learning in networks of professionals from the viewpoint of organisations in healthcare and construction networks. The co-design process will change focus for the second year on scaling up technology, personal and social networks, and peer production. The Open Design Library will be a place to increase the interaction between users and developers but also between users and users. Hence, the LL project in general as well as the empirical and the design streams of research in particular will benefit in the second year from refocusing work package one activities on networks of professionals. The consortium plans to continue design activities within the four groups CAPTUS, PANDORA, BITS AND PIECES and SHARING TURBINE and also intends to continue its agile path of intertwined empirical, conceptual and design activities coordinated with the help of strong personal collaboration as well as sophisticated shared artefacts using advanced multimedia capabilities.