The first article of this series gives an overview of the Theme Room training campaign that was implemented in the training centre Bau-ABC in November 2015. This second article gives insights into the processes of peer learning and into use of digital media during the workshop sessions. Below the two main sections inform of the activities and learning experiences with the themes “Social media as support for learning” and “Preparation of digital learning materials”.
Here it is worthwhile to note that these observations refer mainly to the group in which the author served as a co-tutor. In addition, some general remarks are made on the group dynamics in the parallel groups (based on knowledge sharing between the tutors).
1. The role of Social Media as support for learning
In most groups the tutors from Bau-ABC were hosting Facebook groups for their trade and the apprentices were actively involved as contributors and readers. Yet, not all training staff was in favour of using Facebook. However, it was acknowledged by the participants that the existing Facebook groups of Bau-ABC have played a positive role. Therefore, the exercises with Facebook served as a natural ‘starter’ for this theme – to be followed by other media platforms and networks.
The uses of Facebook – and the importance of getting hands on Facebook
The learning exercises started with creating/activating accounts and getting informed of the settings. Here, some groups put more attention on the privacy settings, whilst others worked with sharing contents between individuals and groups. Altogether, these exercises helped to overcome the gap between users and non-users.
Getting a broader overview of social media, platforms and networks
The aim of the training was to get introduced to a wider range of social media and to get a picture of their usability in apprentice training. For this purpose, there were brief demonstrations and a brainstorming session for discussing the pros and cons with different media. In this way we covered the use of Twitter, blogs, YouTube and other media. Finally, the participants were invited to indicate their own priorities for using social media and to explain, for what purposes and with which target groups they are suitable.
2. Preparing digital learning materials for vocational training
With this theme we had somewhat different approaches in parallel groups. The groups that began with this theme started to prepare exemplary digital contents and emphasised the production and editing processes. The groups that began with the theme ‘Social Media’ put the main emphasis on working with blogs and integrating the use of different tools to their work with blogs (as digital learning environments).
Screenshot 1 and 2: Production and editing video material in Theme Room workshops
Working with videos and particular GoConqr tools
The two pioneering groups working with digital learning materials engaged the participants in producing short videos. In addition they prepared exemplary exercises for apprentices with GoConqr quiz tools. These groups used the brainstorming phases to consider the usability of videos and GoConqr applications in training. When continuing to social media, these groups discussed the role of blogs as instruments for presenting such exercises for apprentices.
Screenshot 3 and 4: Working with trainers’ blogs and GoConqr Quizzes
Working with blogs
The groups that put more emphasis on blogs had slightly different approaches. In one group the trainers were engaged to create completely new blogs and to use them for posting and commenting messages. Here the participants became familiar with the processes, techniques and editing options.
In another group the main attention was given on the existing trainers’ blogs (in particular the Zimmererblog and the Brunnenbauerblog). When exploring the existing blogs the participants discussed, how these pioneering blogs could be used as a basis for introducing similar solutions for other occupational areas. In a next step, the question of optimal uses of blogs was taken up again. The group prepared jointly a GoConqr mindmap presenting arguments for introducing different contents via blogs and for making them public or private.
The work in both groups brought more closer to each other participants who had already worked with blogs and the others who had not had experience with blogs. Furthermore, the discussion in the latter group brought forward the idea of integrated ‘packages’ as building blocks for further trainers’ blogs. These packages could link to each other text documents, photos/drawings/videos, quiz tests and links to external materials. In this respect the session paved way for introducing the Learning Toolbox.