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New FP7 IP Work-based Learning Project: Learning Layers

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John Cook
27 September 2012

BRILLE’s Professor John Cook is part of a successful submission to the EC’s FP7 for an Integrating Project (IP) called Learning Layers.  The project looks at how informal learning in the workplace can be supported by new technologies like mobile phone and tablet apps. Together with 20 partners from across Europe the project scales up support for informal workplace learning in regional clusters of small and medium sized enterprises. We will trial these innovations in two sectors that have been particularly hesitant to take up learning technologies: health care in the North East of England and building and construction in North Germany. The challenge is one of how to embed support and learning in meaningful working practices and to redesign work environments to support learning. For example, when a problem is encountered at work or when you are given a task to achieve, our system will scaffold you and your group as you ‘seek out a solution’ by putting you in contact with other people and relevant resources. One focus of the project is supporting workplace practices in SMEs that unlock peer production and hence scaffold learning in networks of SMEs. For example, we see learning materials being generated through the work process and then shared though networks of individuals and organisations as important. However, most importantly for BRILLE’s contribution will be the scaffolding of interactions with networks people. In the course of this project we hope to reshape both workplace design and designs for learning in networks.

Project Summary:

  • Top ranked on 14.5 out of 15
  • Scaling up Lifelong Learning using TEL (Technology Enhanced Learning) in large clusters of Small to Medium Enterprises in the Health Professions and building industry
  • John Cook leads workpackage ‘Networked Scaffolding – Interacting with People’
  • £0.5 million for BRILLE/UWE
Kick-off November 2012



Extra content

"Learning Layers develops a set of modular and flexible technological layers for supporting workplace practices in SMEs that unlock peer production and scaffold learning in networks of SMEs, thereby bridging the gap between scaling and adaptation to personal needs. By building on recent advances in contextualised learning, these layers provide a meaningful learning context when people interact with people, digital and physical artefacts for their informal learning, thus making learning faster and more effective. Building on mobile learning research, we situate learning into physical work places and practices to support situated, faster and more meaningful learning. Learning Layers provide a shared conceptual foundation independent of the tools people use and the context they are in. Learning Layers are based on a common light-weight, distributed infrastructure that allows for fast and flexible deployment in highly distributed and dynamic settings. We apply these technologies in two sectors that have been particularly hesitant to take up learning technologies, i.e. health care and building and construction. Involving two representative and large-scale regional SME clusters allows us to involve end-users in co-design of the system and later scale up the approach to more than 1,000 learners within 4 years. By inviting a larger set of stakeholders to adapt and build on our solutions and through research in sustainable business training models, the project will generate significant impact by boosting the ability of regional innovation systems to adapt to change and thereby remain competitive, on the individual, organisational and regional level. We demonstrate the impact in the two chosen sectors, but widen the scope to other sectors and regions towards the end of the project."


UWE/BRILLE's John Cook leads a workpackage called  Network scaffolding - Interacting with People'. How will Layers advance the current state of the art?

  • Our concept of networked scaffolding is based on a low-barrier approach that collects questions typically asked in practice

–      Community Scaffolds: effective answers emerge from  peers and experts

–      System Scaffolds: contextualized recommendations from emergent semantic layer and user model

  • We advance the state of the art in looking at meaningful domain scaffolds from networks of people, on a regional scale and focusing on practice rather than curricula

–      Educational scaffolding primarily supports self-regulation with procedural scaffolds, e.g. adaptive scaffolding (Metatutor, Azevedo 2010; AtGentive, Molenaar 2011)

–      Scaffolding using contextualized recommendation in the workplace (Ley at al. 2010; Siadaty et al. 2010) focuses on domain scaffolds, but assumes models are given and don’t emerge from meaningful practice (APOSDLE, Intelleo)

–      Work-based scaffolding research has produced evidence on face-to-face settings on an individual novice expert exchanges but has not scaled to networks of people

–      Collaborative Scaffolding (involving peers, Goos et al. 2002; and collaborative networks , Pata, 2006) has not looked at regional, cross-organizational networks

–      Basis for scaffolds are not curricula or scripts (e.g. Daradoumis, 2011), but competence in practice (e.g. see Cook and Pachler, 2012)


Elaborate on your proposed solutions in the area of network scaffolding and how current state of the art is advanced

John Cook
09:39 on 27 September 2012 (Edited 09:42 on 27 September 2012)

Embedded Content

Talk by Learning Layers Scientific Coordinator - Sept 2012

Talk by Learning Layers Scientific Coordinator - Sept 2012

added by John Cook


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