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Industry 4.0 and identity transformation

Graham Attwell - Tue, 2017-09-19 15:45

I gave this presentation last week at a panel discussion on Industry 4.0 at the Bundeswehr AusBildungs Kongress in Hamburg. Firstly – for those of you who do not live in Germany where the term is verywhere, what is Industry 4.0. According to Wikipedia:

“Industry 4.0 is a name for the current trend of automation and data exchange in manufacturing technologies. It includes cyber-physical systems, the Internet of things, cloud computing and cognitive computing.

Industry 4.0 creates what has been called a “smart factory”. Within the modular structured smart factories, cyber-physical systems monitor physical processes, create a virtual copy of the physical world and make decentralized decisions. Over the Internet of Things, cyber-physical systems communicate and cooperate with each other and with humans in real time, and via the Internet of Services, both internal and cross-organizational services are offered and used by participants of the value chain.”

In other words – pretty much everything going on in technology today. But the particularly German take on it is how such developments will effect manufacturing and services and what it implies for education and training.

I was a bit concerned with how the presentation would work -given that it is based on research and development in the Public Employment Services. But it seemed to work extremely well.  It is not so much the threat to jobs coming from new technologies and AI, but the impact this is having on the organisation of work and the skills and competences required in the workplace. Professional identity, is a key factor in developing resilience in a world characterised by uncertainty. It empowers individuals, and determines motivation and openness to new developments – and overcomes obstructionism and frustration often associated with change processes. Identity transformation describes the processes through which people can change their professional identity to deal with new work demands. Even more it describes how individuals and groups of people can themselves use their competence and skills to shape the processes and results of introducing new technologies.

The first half of the presentation looks at the research behind identity transformation, the second half at different activities and intervention we have undertaken in the Employ-ID project to support identity transformation for staff in Public Employment services in Europe.

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Conversational learning and evidence based education

Graham Attwell - Tue, 2017-09-12 18:38

I have missed out on this autumn’s conference circuit. I just don’t have the money to pay for fees and travel (let alone beer) in attending these events. I am not sure that I actually miss the conferences themselves, but I do miss meeting friends and catching up with what is going on.

And of course, it is increasingly possible to at least dip in to conferences online these days. What with mobile phones and twitter you can almost watch the slides progressing in real time. This morning I noticed one presentation seemed to be getting a lot of my twitter feed. It was Mike Sharples speaking at the ALTALC tagged conference – it took me some time to suss out the ALC stood for the Active Learning Conference taking place at Anglia Ruskin University.

A couple of slides interested me.The slide above is based on the Open University FutureLearn platform. This sums up perfectly how we have used the platform in the EmployID project for running (sadly not open) courses on the Future of Work for employees from the UK Department for Works and Pensions (the UK Public Employment Service. The evaluation showed the courses to be a great success (more on this tomorrow). But I am not so convinced to what degree the FutureLearn platform helped our pedagogic approach – at best I would say it hindered us less than other MOOC platforms we have used.

The second slide also rings true – at least to my experience in using technology for professional development. It is not always easy to link online professional development to practice. But I am ever more sure this is critical to effective learning. Learning spaced over time is an interesting idea in an age of quick bite learning. Of course it depends learning over how much time. Ideally the learning should evolve in line with the practice – but that is not easy to achieve.

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Facilitating informal learning in SMEs: Kick-off of the Learning Layers project

Andreas Schmidt - Fri, 2017-06-02 20:15

Ever since I have been engaged in technology enhanced learning (at that time, most of it was called e-learning), I have been suspicious about viewing learning only to happen in formal, dedicated learning activities (such as university courses, business trainings and seminars – or e-learning courses). Jay Cross has made the 80-20 paradox popular: 80% of learning at the workplace happens informally, while only 20% of budget goes into these activities. Within Learning in Process, we had tried to integrate more formal with informal learning activities through a recommendation approach that blended formal and informal opportunities. This has led to a more holistic perspective to the various forms of learning: the knowledge maturing model conceptualized the characteristics of learning dependent on the maturity of the knowledge an individual interacts with, from creative idea generation to teaching novices about standardized topics. It has helped to understand how diverse approaches to supporting learning of employees fit together, such as human resources development, knowledge management, e-collaboration, and idea management. We have explored this from a empirical and design perspective within the four years MATURE IP, which is now continued in the Knowledge Maturing Consulting Networkfrom a practical perspective.

In terms of organizational contexts, we tend to think about larger organizational entities. But the true backbone of our economy are small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), which themselves are a diverse group, but share the fundamental need to cooperate with others, to form networks of mutual benefit in various areas. This has been very successful in the field of formal training, such as vocational training. But so far little has been done to address the 80%: informal learning. The major challenge to support informal learning at the workplace is scaling. At the moment, informal learning at the workplace works well in small groups, but has its difficulties in larger contexts, but at the same time offers huge potential through sharing and peer production. How can we support individuals in finding their way in the huge abundance of material available in SME clusters? How can we improve the capabilities of individuals to create, improve, and remix materials that are meaningful and of value to others? This will be the research theme for the Learning Layers IP that has officially started on November 1, but for which I have been busy over the last two months at least. Tomorrow will the physical kick-off meeting (after a Flashmeeting pre-kick-off last week). I am looking forward to working with all the others on this exciting topic and to continuing the research I have been pursuing for now over ten years – now also at my new position at Karlsruhe University of Applied Sciences.

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Inaugural lecture on Knowledge Maturing

Andreas Schmidt - Fri, 2017-06-02 20:12

Today I finally had my inaugural lecture at Karlsruhe University of Applied Sciences, which went well and engaged the audience in an interesting discussion afterwards. It was also a good opportunity to meet former colleagues and friends again. The lecture was about my favourite topic: knowledge maturing, and it summarizes the results of the last seven years of research on the subject.

Wissensreifung – eine neue Perspektive auf den Umgang mit Wissen from Andreas Schmidt

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Advances in Technology Enhanced Learning: or MATURE – Four years in 5:30

Andreas Schmidt - Fri, 2017-06-02 20:11

The TELMap project has interviewed major TEL projects for a rich picture of the advances in Technology Enhanced Learning . As former coordinator, I had the pleasure and challenge to present a brief summary of what MATURE has achieved (I blogged before about the experience). Here is now the result:

TELMap has compiled an overview as an ebook (currently only iBooks, but other formats are promised): – worth checking out.

For all those outside the i-universe: here is the chapter on MATURE as PDF.

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Facilitation support: the new frontier for social media and learning support

Andreas Schmidt - Fri, 2017-06-02 20:07

Over the last two years, I have been building a course on Enterprise Social Media that put emphasis on conversations and reflection on social media from a business perspective. In this context, we have defined social media along five criteria (as many existing definitions were of ridiculous quality, such as defining social media ontop of the vague notion of Web 2.0):

  • Participation: many instead of few contributors
  • Openness: Opinions, ratings, comments are communicated openly (instead of restrictive editorial processes)
  • Conversation: Dialogue instead of one-way communication
  • Networking: Users are not isolated, but can relate to others
  • Community: Users can create groups with shared interests

Social media has become omnipresent, and many of its technical building blocks are diffusing into almost every area, including traditional enterprise systems. The technology – as it has shown – is not really exciting, but still really successful introduction of social media into companies is rare. It is the socio-technical challenge that is still largely unsolved from an engineering perspective, i.e., systematically developing a good solution. That is also due to the fact that social processes have rarely been included in engineering processes in the same way as the technical design; they were rather seen as contextual factors.

Recently, our new project EmployID has started in which we plan to develop and deploy solutions for public employment services in Europe. Of course, the envisioned solutions are based on social media principles, and of course, we hit the limits of restrictions. But the difference of EmployID has been that we are fully aware that social processes need to evolve. And we have found one key area that is key to change: the professional identity. Therefore we target with our (socio-technical!) solutions at learning processes that trigger and accompany identity development processes.

It has turned out that technology has so far neglected one important perspective: the role of supporting the learning of others. We call this facilitation and use it in a very broad sense. In our ICELW 2014 paper, we have categorized facilitation into human facilitation, facilitation through tools, and facilitations through shaping environments. Facilitators have so far hardly been seen as a primary target for tool functionality, but we believe them to be the key group.

From another angle, we have analyzed the role of knowledge in software systems in our contribution to this year’s I-KNOW conference. With the current trend of software applications no longer prescribing usage processes, but supporting activities that can be flexibly combined, there arises the need for support in appropriating tools and co-evolving as part of the appropriation process, which is – by the way – another good example for knowledge maturing processes. This again is about supporting facilitaiton where facilitation roles can be flexible assumed

From our perspective, the focus on facilitation is the next frontier for supporting learning, both at the workplace, but also in the context of MOOCs. Many technical developments can contribute here, especially those technologies that try to make sense from the activities in social media environments, such as recommender systems, (workplace) learning analytics, among others. But again, this require socio-techical engineering for which better methods are required. So challenging topics to research on!


Schmidt, Andreas, Kunzmann, Christine
Designing for knowledge maturing: from knowledge-driven software to supporting the facilitation of knowledge development
In: International Conference on Knowledge Management (I-KNOW 2014), ACM, 2014

Bimrose, Jenny, Brown, Alan, Holocher-Ertl, Teresa, Kieslinger, Barbara, Kunzmann, Christine, Prilla, Michael, Schmidt, Andreas, Wolf, Carmen
Introducing learning innovation in public employment services. What role can facilitation play?
In: Proceedings of International Conference on E-Learning at the Workplace (ICELW) 2014, New York City, USA, June 11-13, 2014

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Ten years of knowledge maturing

Andreas Schmidt - Fri, 2017-06-02 20:02
It is a strange kind of experience if you discover that the topic that you are most associated with has its 10 years anniversary. This happened to me when Ronald Maier and I together with Christine Kunzmann prepared the invited Special Track on Social Knowledge Management. I-KNOW 2015 celebrated its 15th anniversary with inviting influential paper authors to organize such a track. It was at I-KNOW 2005 when the first paper on the model was published. It was a reaction to the chasm between e-learning and knowledge management and has sensed the emerging transforming effect of a social collaboration view on knowledge management. Since then, numerous cross-disciplinary research activities have contributed to the extension and refinement of the model. At the heart is the insight that knowledge develops along distinct phases in which its characteristics and thus requirements for support change. It brings to­gether different perspectives and provides a frame­work for analysis and design of interventions.

Social Knowledge Management and the Knowledge Maturing Perspective from Andreas Schmidt Research is still continuing, and after analyzing its applicability to ontology engineering, to engineering software, we are now looking into socio-technical design patterns as an approach to capture and share experiential knowledge. We presented a tool-chain in which socio-technical patterns can be developed from peer coaching activities in which eliciting of motivational and affective aspects becomes possible, via a collaborative editing system Living Documents to social learning programmes to disseminate to and engage with a wider audience.

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Knowledge Maturing and Socio-technical (Design) Patterns

Andreas Schmidt - Fri, 2017-06-02 20:00

At EuroPLoP 2016, we have joined the conversation with the pattern community with respect to the approach of orienting large-scale collaborative research projects towards patterns. Our contribution which outlined a knowledge maturing process for patterns received intense feedback from the community as part of so-called “writer’s workshops”. There the paper was discussed by the workshop participants with the authors as “flies on the wall”. This feedback is now incorporated into a camera ready version of the paper for the post-proceedings to be published beginning of 2017. The key contribution is that extends the perspective on the knowledge process that leads to patterns towards early phases and applies that to the context of collaborative research projects.

Apart from that it was also unique experience at a conference that put a lot of emphasis on trust building and community formation through non-competetitive group games and a lot of opportunities for informal exchange.

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Knowledge Maturing Model – the latest version

Andreas Schmidt - Fri, 2017-06-02 15:37

Social media demands knowledge management to refocus on broad participation and the active role of individuals as both consumers and contributors at the same time. To make sense of these developments within organisations, knowledge management approaches need to connect the dynamic and fluid social media interactions of individuals and in informal communities with stability and institutionalization in a formal organisational environment.

Towards that end, knowledge maturing is a novel perspective on knowledge creation in and across organisations. The knowledge maturing model contributes to theories of organisational knowledge creation by structuring the collective development process into characteristic phases which are not passed in a strictly linear way.

The x-axis of the model describes how knowledge moves through the four scopes of interaction individual, community, organization and society. The y-axis describes the abundant ideas entering the knowledge maturing process and the organisation’s focus of attention which is wide in the beginning and narrowed down along the phases

  • I. Emergence. Individuals create personal knowledge by pursuing their interests in browsing abundant knowledge spaces inside and beyond the organisation, opening up for new knowledge and the changes it might bring about. Knowledge is subjective, deeply embedded in the originator’s context and the vocabulary used for communication might be vague and restricted to the originator. Based on the findings of our studies, we revised this phase to include two sub-phases, exploration and appropriation.
  • Ia. Exploration: New knowledge is developed by individuals either in highly informal discussions or by browsing the knowledge spaces available inside the organisation and beyond. Extensive search and retrieval activities often result in loads of material influencing creative processes of idea generation.

  • Ib. Appropriation: New knowledge or results found in the exploration subphase that have been enriched, refined or otherwise contextualised with respect to their use are now appropriated by the individual, i.e. personalised and contributions are marked so that an individual can benefit from its future (re-)use. While many initiatives for knowledge management have focused on sharing knowledge or even detaching knowledge from humans as “media”, individuals also require support for appropriation, at least in a more individualistic culture.

  • II. Distribution in communities: The first phase in the scope of communities describes interactions between individuals driven by social motives and the benefits that individuals typically attribute to sharing knowledge. These are, among others, belonging to a preferred social group, thus increasing the probability of getting back knowledge from the community when one needs it. Distribution is not meant in the sense of a one way street of individuals contributing new knowledge that they have committed to. The phase includes discussing the new knowledge, negotiating its meaning and impact, co-developing knowledge, convincing others and agreeing plus committing to the knowledge as collective. From the perspective of semantics, a common terminology is developed and shared among community members.
  • III. Transformation: Artefacts created in the preceding phases are often inherently unstructured and still highly subjective and embedded in the community context which means they are only comprehensible for people in this community due to shared knowledge needed to interpret them. Transformation means that knowledge is restructured and put into a form appropriate for moving it across the community’s boundaries. Structured documents are created in which knowledge is de-subjectified, sometimes formalised using established containers and context is made explicit to ease the transfer to collectives other than the originating community.
  • IV. Introduction: Knowledge is prepared with a specific focus on enhancing understandability, handed on and applied in an ad-hoc manner in trainings in which a selected group of users is instructed using didactically prepared material. We found two primary interpretations of this first phase in the scope of organisation, i.e. (1) an instructional setting called ad-hoc training and (2) an experimental setting called piloting.
    • IV1. Ad-hoc training: Documents produced in the preceding phases are typically not well suited as learning materials because no didactical considerations were taken into account. Now the topic is refined to improve comprehensibility in order to ease its consumption or re-use. Individual learning objects are arranged to cover a broader subject area. Tests allow to determine the knowledge level and to select learning objects or learning paths.
    • IV2. Piloting: Typically, not every implementation detail can be foreseen in the transformation phase. Knowledge is arranged in a way so that it can be applied in a dedicated, specific experiment involving not only the creators of knowledge, but other stakeholders. Experiences are collected with a test case before a larger roll-out of a product, a service to an external user community, e.g., customers or stakeholders, or new organisational rules, procedures or processes to an organisation-internal target community such as project teams, work groups, subsidiaries or other organisational units.
  • V. Standardisation: The knowledge is further solidified and formally established in the organisation to be used in repeatable formal trainings, work practices, processes, products or services. As in the introduction phase, we distinguish an instructional setting with standardised training activities, called formal training, and an experimental setting turning pilots into standard organisational infrastructure, processes and practices, called institutionalisation. The term standard, finally, can also refer to external standardisation initiatives which are similar for both settings, transcend the organisational boundaries and move knowledge maturing to the scope of societies.
    • V1a. Formal training: In an instructional setting, the subject area becomes teachable to novices. A curriculum integrates learning content into a sequence using sophisticated didactical concepts in order to guide learners in their learning journeys to capture a subject area thus increasing the probability of successful knowledge transfer. Learning objects are arranged into courses covering a broader subject area. Learning modules and courses can be further combined into programs preparing for taking on a new role or for career development.
    • V2a. Institutionalisation: In the organisation-internal case, formalised documents that have been learned by knowledge workers are solidified and implemented into the organisational infrastructure in the form of processes, business rules and/or standard operating procedures. In the organisation-external case, products or services are launched on the market. They are institutionalised into the portfolio of products and services offered by the organisation.
    • Vb. External standardisation: The ultimate maturity sub-phase is very similar for both paths, the instructional and the experimental path, and covers some form of standardisation or certification. On an individual level, qualifications and certificates confirm that participants of formal trainings achieved a certain degree of proficiency which is comparable across institutions. On an organisational level, certificates allow organisations to prove compliance with a set of rules that they have agreed to fulfil. Concerning products and services, certificates show compliance to laws, regulations or recommendations that can, should or must be fulfilled before a product or service can be offered in a certain market.


Maier, Ronald, Schmidt, Andreas
Explaining organizational knowledge creation with a knowledge maturing model
Knowledge Management Research & Practice, vol. 2014, no. 1, 2014, pp. 1–20

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Ontologies for spiritual care

Andreas Schmidt - Fri, 2017-06-02 15:36

Over the last years, we’ve been working a very interesting subject that combines palliative care, theology, and semantic technologies. In collaboration with Tanja Stiehl from LMU Munich, Traugott Roser from University of Münster, and Christine Kunzmann from Pontydysgu, we have developed a concept for a systematic approach to spiritual care in the context of (child) palliative care. Based on a empirical analysis of existing patient records, an ontology has been developed that links observations about patients, interpretations of those observations in terms of spiritual concepts, and spiritual care interventions.

This can be used to structure patient records and gain evidence about effectiveness of spiritual care interventions and to create awareness in a multi-professional setting.

Together with a student team at Karlsruhe University of Applied Sciences, we have developed a first prototype that demonstrates the added value of ontologies and semantically annotated patient records for developing a systematic approach to spiritual care.

This is going to be presented at the ARTEL 2013 workshop of ECTEL 2013 at Paphos, Cyprus. The respective paper is available as PDF from here.

More information can be found under

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MATEL 2016

Andreas Schmidt - Fri, 2017-06-02 15:26

This year’s MATEL edition in Lyon, France (organized by EmployID members Christine Kunzmann, Carmen Wolf, and me) with more than 20 participants focused on the further developing the ideas of patterns (see an introduction into the insights from previous workshops), particularly on the challenges in dealing with motivational and affective issues in a systematic way.

A larger part of the discussion covered the spectrum of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation and the interindividual differences, particularly in the context of formal education. Does it depend on the subject, such as the usual argument that for many students learning maths cannot be fully achieved through measures focussed on intrinsic motivation? Does it depend the formal context around, such as hierarchically and strictly organized companies, or the strict bachelor and master programmes that make students focus on credits and minimizing their efforts? Or does it depend on the individual identity and presumed compatibility of the topics to learn with the image of oneself so that motivation might come from helping students developing their (future professional) identity? This would mean that we need to widen the scope of interventions to address motivational aspects in both workplace learning and formal education.

Finally it was concluded that the idea of patterns in a domain like technology-enhanced learning needs a community that still requires to be built. But other domains have shown that it can be an excellent complement to theory-driven or theory-focused research, enhancing also relevance to practice.

For more information:

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