Sharing Turbine: a design idea to support workplace learning in the construction work

[Read this post in German here] The European project Learning Layers (LL) is developing a variety of web tools and applications for supporting learning at the workplace. One of pilot areas for testing and wider implementation is the construction sector (in particular the SMEs of construction trade). Here, it is important to take into account the needs and interests of different users. Therefore we need iterative  processes process that enable feedback from skilled workers, apprentices and managers of SMEs.

What kind of problems and solutions are on the agenda?

In different phases of initial and continuing vocational training it is often difficult to link the specific requirements of the work situations and the training contents to each other. Here we see special challenges for the common training activities of training centres that support different companies. E.g. the training at Bau ABC (partner of the LL project) is based on a series of thematic working and learning projects. The apprentices get their assignments on paper and they report their progress and their solutions with reporting sheets. This paper-based pattern has clear disadvantages. The White Folders in which the reporting sheets are compiled do provide an overview on completed tasks and learning progress. Yet, such materials cannot be used as knowledge resources alongside the daily work at construction sites.

How would the design idea of Sharing Turbine change the picture?

The Sharing Turbine (one of the design teams of the LL project -see about the other design teams here) seeks to find models, solutions and links to existing apps. Such tools should make it possible for apprentices and craftsmen in the construction trade to link their experiences at worksites (both problems and solutions) closer to their learning processes.

The use of web tools and multimedia makes it possible to develop richer and more detailed patterns of reporting. In particular they open the possibility to present physical objects and tools as they are used in real working situations. In this way the currently static White Folder could be gradually transformed into an e-portfolio. Thus, the apprentices could use mobile devices (e.g. smartphones), web applications and special software to upload audio, photos and videos. In particular the wider use of mobile device could stimulate workplace-based learning.

We are not talking of mere digitalisation of the White Folder. It is more about capturing learning experiences in the work process and bringing them into context. And here a well-thought use of mobile devices, web tools and multimedia can help in harvesting learning gains at worksites and link them to the projects of the  Bau ABC.

What is the project doing?

At the moment the Sharing Turbine team is doing fieldwork (to get a picture of the use of web tools and apps) and at the same time developing Wireframes (graphic models of tools and apps). Wireframes can be drafted quickly on the basis of our analyses and used at local design Workshops to specify the ideas before shaping prototypes. In the coming weeks we will organise participative design workshops with apprentices, skilled workers and master craftsmen (Meister). For further information please contact the following persons:


Bau ABC, Bad Zwischenahn, Melanie Campbell,;

ITB,  the University of Bremen, Ludger Deitmer,;

Pontydysgu (Bridge to Learning), UK, Graham Attwell,

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About pekka

Pekka Kämäräinen is an educational researcher with focus on comparative research in vocational education and training (VET). He started his career as a VET researcher in the University of Tampere, Finland. Between 1994 and 2002 he worked as a Project Manager at the European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training, CEDEFOP. Since 2005 he works at Institut Technik & Bildung (ITB), University of Bremen in international cooperation projects on VET teacher education, training of trainers and innovations in workplace learning.