Research projects on Information and Communication Technologies are often being criticized for overly emphasizing technical issues at the expense of considerations for where and how the technologies should be employed. The Learning Layers project is quite different in this respect as only roughly half of the overall budget will go into researching and developing technology.
The other half will be spent on gaining a deep understanding of the application fields and the practice of people, as well as the potential business opportunities and models.
The first 4 months of the project have therefore put an emphasis on establishing connections and gaining an understanding of the two application domains we are targeting, Health Care and Building and Construction. In January, we visited our partners in the Northern German Building and Construction Industry, such as Bau ABC in Rostrup and the Network for Sustainable Building and Construction in Verden.
As the pictures show, we not only held talks there, but got the opportunity to really experience the work and learning settings from a close distance.
In February, we then visited our partners in the Health Care sector in the UK. We visited one of the largest General Health Care Practices in the UK, The Ridge Medical Practice in Bradford as well as the NHS Bradford and Airedale.
Apart from the obvious differences of the two domains, it was also surprising to discover some striking similarities. Learning at the workplace and in and around work practices plays an important role in both settings. Making experiences and reflecting on those was one of the predominant modes of learning that was reported, and the need to scale these individual learning experiences to broader scope was clearly given. However, it also became quite clear that in both domains economic pressures for reducing slack time are immense. Sometimes we got the impression that with this focus on performance and productivity the time for learning and reflection are increasingly squeezed out of the work day. Clearly, applying technologies under these pressures will present a major challenge for the project.