BLOOM in action

Disseminations

From 1st January 2008 to 31st December 2008 BLOOM partners took part in numerous national and international events, exhibitions and fairs in the passenger transport, logistics and communications sectors where the project was presented to various stakeholders.

Events organised/attended by BLOOM

In its first year BLOOM was disseminated at 138 events. BLOOM presentations, demonstrations and dissemination meetings took place in 15 European countries (table) and the USA.

Table. BLOOM dissemination events (per country)

       BLOOM dissemination events (per country)

A total of 25,785 people were reached through these events and an even wider audience was targeted via the BLOOM and partners’ own websites.

BLOOM dissemination has helped raise awareness in Member States of the wider issues relating to adult basic skills shortages and lifelong learning and demonstrated the potential of m-learning in addressing this need.

Case Studies

Case study 1: Using the MyLearning authoring tool

IVT Mannheim – Institut für angewandte Verkehrs- und Tourismusforschung - passenger transport research institute

The purpose of this case study was to receive and document feedback on the use of the authoring tool from an institution that works closely with several companies on a number of projects in the freight transport/logistic and passenger transport sector. More. . .

MyLearning author

Trials overseen by:

Jens-Jochen Roth and Julia Sliwinski

The organisation

IVT is an analytic research and consulting institute that has an excellent reputation both nationally and internationally for the quality of its studies on the movement of passengers and goods. IVT are particularly interested in the introduction of innovative ways of upskilling the workforce. IVT works closely with freight transport and passenger transport companies in Germany.

Methodology

The authoring tools were introduced to three IVT research staff employees in February 2008 in Mannheim, by Tribal – the maker of software. The training covered the basics of the hardware and software, using a PDA as the mobile device, together with techniques for programming the learning sequences of the PDA to make customised content for use by companies in the logistics and passenger transport sector in Germany.

IVT researchers went on to develop customised materials which they then demonstrated to prospective customers and end users.

Focus for the training in the use of the Authoring Tools

One of the key requisites of the IVT authoring tool training was that it should stimulate interest and confidence in handling a PDA, and perhaps more importantly that it should highlight to prospective purchasers (chief executive officers of the companies, etc.) the advantages of m-learning. The training also emphasised how the tools can be used to adapt the diverse learning sequences to the needs of prospective users.

Solution

Use of the Authoring Tool by IVT researchers – how material was developed

m-learning activities created by IVT

IVT developed a mixture of questions and answers to reflect the different educational levels of prospective users in the companies. Part of the solution to reaching out to the different educational levels of users was to include graphical material in addition to developing questions covering various levels of difficulty (easy, medium, difficult).

It took twelve weeks to establish the first test version ready to be used with clients. Three members of the research staff contributed to its development, and the process included several iterations of internal testing using a number of IVT employees, all who made helpful suggestions with regard to further development of the learning sequences.

A key objective was to develop material for users that was as close to the real world as possible by embedding current photos. To this end an IVT employee was charged to take suitable photos of signs, buses, streets, etc. Using software provided by Tribal, the images were integrated into the practice sequences without any difficulty. IVT staff used the authoring tool to program appropriate questions without recourse to further support from Tribal.

How the material was received by participants

Full implementation of the market testing started in June 2008. No participant showed any difficulty with using the devices and working with the materials. It was felt that the intense allocation of human resources deployed to create and develop the additional learning sequences was meaningful to end users and therefore particularly beneficial in the field study phase.

Developing the content for the passenger and freight transport sector – helping professional drivers meet German and EU regulations

A key consideration in developing all the customised material has been to focus on ensuring that the question content is relevant to the target clients – in the first instance this is bus drivers. The German BKRFQG (professional drivers qualification law), together with the curriculum framework ‘Education of Professional Drivers’, informed the development of the content. These documents will increase in importance in the future since all drivers operating in the transport industry have to prove further education at intervals of five years, as laid down by the Europe-wide Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC).

How the material was received by companies

The experiences gathered through the implementation of the market test carried out by IVT Mannheim in the framework of BLOOM revealed a big interest at company level as well as at drivers’ level. M-learning is seen to be an alternative method of delivering aspects of vocationally targeted further education study, in particular in the role of supporting material that is engaging, easy for end users to use, and which can be customised to the users’ educational level.

Martin Sokoup of Interdean International said:

‘The BLOOM authoring tool would definitely be a good thing for us when it comes to customising learning materials specifically for people in our company. I appreciate that this way of learning can take place at any time and place people choose to.’

Mohammed Aziz of AirportTransferService Vienna agrees:

‘Most of our drivers cannot participate at regular courses due to time constraints. Using BLOOM, however, they could improve their skills in a much more flexible way, for example while waiting for their customers.’

Conclusion

This case study shows how the authoring tool was used successfully to develop materials for clients in the passenger and transport sector in Germany and Austria, their enthusiasm, and need for this kind of service in order to meet current German and EU requirements for drivers.

Case Study 2: Access to learning for taxi drivers in the Liverpool city region

The purpose of this case study was to demonstrate the potential for using BLOOM as a means to deliver learning to taxi drivers in the Liverpool city region. More. . .

Interviewees

Carl Webiskey and Tony Norbury

The organisation

Carl is a self employed taxi driver and union learning representative (ULR) operating in the Liverpool area. Tony Norbury is a transport learning support worker and a union learning representative working in the training and development team, Merseylearn, at Merseytravel – the transport organisation for Liverpool and Merseyside.

Requirement

As self-employed people, taxi drivers are isolated, operating on their own as a skilled micro-business with little pre-requisite training in key areas such as customer services, local area knowledge, legislation, and key business skills such as time management. Many drivers left school at the earliest possibility, and only 11% of the workforce is qualified to Level 2. Their isolation contributes to a lack of confidence in many aspects of operating their businesses.

The Level 2 NVQ in Road Passenger Vehicle Driving has been introduced to support the delivery of the following objectives:
• Raise the profile and image of the industry.
• Achieve consistency of skills throughout the 343 licensing authorities in England and Wales.
• Assist in retaining and encouraging new drivers to the industry.
• Improve the experience of those who use the service,
• Ensure the sustainability of this essential service.
• Provide an opportunity for skills development of those working in this industry.
• Ensuring that basic skills are a component of all NVQ qualifications.

A key issue in the delivery of the training is that when drivers are not driving, they are not earning. Therefore the time and place of delivery needs to accommodate the drivers, and this may vary from group to group. Additionally, drivers need to be able to see how the training they are receiving is relevant to their work, so it is essential that the training shows how the knowledge and understanding can be applied in the workplace.

The solution

In their work to support taxi drivers in their learning requirements, Tony and Carl are strong advocates of using mobile devices to deliver learning to taxi drivers which they can use in their ‘down time’ – when they are waiting for the next client. In his work as ULR to support drivers to gain their NVQ or VRQ qualifications, Carl offers the devices to drivers to see how they get on with this method of learning. He does not force the learning agenda on drivers, but helps them to become engaged with learning in their own time and space. Carl cites mobility, the huge potential to access learning, and the absence of being judged as the key success features of mobile learning.

Tony advocates the use of mobile learning to enable drivers to update their skills, get familiar with technology and become motivated for learning as key aspects of this type of learning. He recognises its value in introducing the learning agenda to drivers who would otherwise be reluctant to forgo earnings in order to attend a learning centre. The ability to reach all learners is a strong feature of the mobile learning solution. The mobile devices enable drivers to become engaged with learning, to update their skills, to learn new concepts, to brush up on forgotten skills, to increase their confidence in their ability to learn, and to work on practice exercises.

A key issue in the task of VRQ assessment is the challenge for assessors in giving feedback to drivers. Carl and Tony see in mobile learning the potential to help learners receive impartial feedback – the multiple-choice nature of exercises enable a learner to see exactly where they have made mistakes and where they need to improve. Drivers are assured that feedback is entirely impartial – the result is automated. From an assessor’s point of view, Carl puts it this way:

‘Mobile learning makes the task of the assessor more professional. It helps me deliver feedback in a more impartial way.’

Conclusion

Mobile learning is ideally placed to support learning activities within a blend of learning activities. The method motivates learners to begin their learning journey, provides experience with learning and assessment materials, enables drill and practice, and increases confidence in the process of learning, of handling technology and of the individual’s skill level. As a result of their involvement in the BLOOM project, Carl and Tony are hoping to secured funds to purchase mobile devices for use with taxi drivers in Merseytravel.

More information about the project

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