Article 1/2014 From Application Partner Days to creation of Design Ideas

Pekka Kämäräinen

The first article of the Learning Toolbox (LTB) Chronicle focuses on the Application Partner Days (in January 2013) and on the creation of initial design ideas of the Learning Layers project.

Application Partner Days as an early step to co-design

The idea to organise Application Partner Days (joint visits to application partner organisations) was brought into discussion in the kick-off meeting and accepted unanimously. The work plan envisaged rapid work with initial interviews and a quick transition to shaping of design ideas. Therefore it was useful to arrange visits to the training centre Bau-ABC in Rostrup and to the premises of the Agency for ecological construction work (Agentur für Nachhaltiges Bauen) and its affiliated organisations in Verden.

Visit at Bau-ABC Rostrup

Our first visit was hosted by our partner organisation Bau-ABC, one of the major intermediate training centres in Germany in the construction sector. The main task of Bau-ABC is to arrange workshop- and pilot site -based training for apprentices in initial vocational training (Erstausbildung). Altogether, the initial training covers ca. 20 occupational areas. In addition, Bau-ABC provides a wide range of continuing training schemes (Weiterbildung), including training of Master Craftsmen (Meisterschulung) as well as training for other professional positions as construction specialists (e.g. Geprüfter Polier).


The afternoon program of the visit consisted of two parallel sessions. One session was organised as a Focus Group involving some of the research partners, a number of trainers (Lehrwerkmeister) and participants in advanced training programs from Bau ABC. Parallel to this session there was a small ‘carousel’ workshop in which some of the technical partners hosted small tables and participants from construction sector rotated between the tables. Via these discussions the visitors informed themselves of problems or challenges in construction work and in workplace learning. This paved the way for looking for possible solutions in the forthcoming co-design processes.

Visit at the Agency for ecological construction work in Verden

The second visit was hosted by Agentur für Nachhaltiges Bauen and its network organisations in Verden. The Agentur is part of an organisational grouping that is based in Verden and has formed a joint network to promote ecological (sustainable) construction work. The network provides training courses for craftsmen and other participants who are interested in using straw and clay as building materials. The network also is active in monitoring the legal regulations for building with sustainable materials. The idea of “Learning exhibition” has been initiated by the network to inform wider audiences about new possibilities for ecological construction work. To make this exhibition more sustainable, digital tools shall be used in addition to traditional ways of presentation.


After a tour round the premises, the hosts brought us to a seminar room and organised a ‘carousel’ workshop. The topic tables were based on the following issues:

  • Meister Manfred K. (Entrepreneur in carpentry and woodwork) hosted a topic table in which he informed of the development of an iPad app for his company to inform their cost calculation program of the time needed for specific jobs at the construction site.
  • Architect Enno P. (Director of the Agentur and co-founder of the network) hosted a table in which he informed of everyday life experiences about lack of knowledge sharing between contractors (entrepreneurs) and their staff (craftsmen who do the job).
  • Architect Ute G. (Member of the network) hosted a table in which she informed of the plans for the opening exhibition during the inauguration of the new building. The idea is to provide a “learning exhibition” that makes good use of live experience on site, of effective web demonstrations and active contact with different target groups (to serve them better on site and via web). She underlined that valid knowledge should be presented in the exhibition.
  • Project managers Melanie C. (Bau-ABC) and Tobias F. (Agentur) hosted a table in which they facilitated discussion on knowledge sharing, collaboration and networking in craft trades. This triggered a discussion on factors that restrict or increase willingness to cooperation (“business as usual” or “competitive advantage with holistic solutions”).

From Application Partner Days to design ideas and co-design processes

Looking back, it was important that the Learning Layers project organised these Application Partner Days in the two pilot regions (around Bremen for construction sector and in Leeds/Bradford area for healthcare). For the whole consortium it was easier to focus on proposals for design ideas that were raised by application partners themselves and to organise co-design processes. Further discussion took place in the Helsinki Design conference in March 2013.

Based on the discussions during the Application Partner Days, two design ideas were agreed for the construction sector:

  1. Bau-ABC proposed to develop a digital learning environment on the basis of the paper-based White Folder. This became the task of the design team “Sharing Turbine”.
  2. Agentur proposed to work with a digital agenda to support the Learning Exhibition. This became the task of the design team “Captus”.

These tasks were taken up in the co-design workshops and field visits that were started immediately after the Design Conference in spring 2013.

Learning Toolbox (LTB) Chronicle Vol. 1, 1/2014

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