The TRAILER software is an innovative ICT-based service working in two (complementary) environments: learners and employers (in a professional context) or teachers (in an academic context). It allows learners to identify evidences of informal learning and link them with competences under development.
Learners are able to decide what they would like to share with their employer/teacher. Employers and teachers can use this information in order to support knowledge management, curricula management and finding the best person suited for a certain task. Another advantage is that it makes rediscovering competences within the company/team possible.
The first stage task for learner when working within the TRAILER service is to identify, collect the evidences of Informal Learning Activity (ILA). The next stage is taking the learner to another component of the toolset which is called Portfolio where learner need to describe, tag and associate the evidence with the required competences. The learner can choose the competences from the general list which has already defined by the institution or create own competency in order to match better to the kind of chosen informal learning activity ( if the competency is not already provided in the competency catalogue).
The second essential function of the TRAILER ICT based service is the “peer recommender” option which gives the tool the collaborative and social scope. Peer recommender option is promoting social learning by enables learners to find and select the people with similar competences to the ones defined by the learner. This feature is most useful to find people with whom the learner can somehow collaborate with. This can be used for creating teams dedicated to project-based work. Additionally, by using the TRAILER tool, the learner can benefit from organizing and registering informal learning in a way he sees as most convenient.
Showcase manager is the component which is useful for learners and can be helpful from an institutional point of view as well. This option enables the learner to organize the informal learning experiences/evidences/ competences in the showcase form by creating the online individual informal learning portfolio – ePortfolio.
Using the TRAILER toolset within the institution and company will facilitate with a range of decision making. Inbuilt in institutional environment the Decision Support System with search option make possible to look for the learners/employees with concrete required competences is supporting the decision making process within the company in the knowledge and HR management context. The system allows institution to have better, wider and up to date insight about the competences that learners/employees posses ( support the knowledge management processes), facilitate the internal and external recruitment processes as well as the promotion possibilities of the employees, support the decision making processes within the institutions about the training gaps and demands, give better insight about employees skills to be able to make sustained decisions on embracing a new challenge or project/ have a view of the company/institution/team know-how.
Read more about project: www.trailerproject.eu
Download the demo version of the TRAILER software: HERE
See the tutorial video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=I-QSpdjKjAk
TRAILER toolset creates a communication channels between informal learning activity and institutional environments, which the learner will use to make the informal learning visible to the organization (employer or university) in order to enter into a dialogue about the competences developed through these informal learning processes. TRAILER as the ePortfolio tool is supporting the processes of identifying and validating the informal learning experiences. This is done by facilitating the identification of its outcomes by the learner on the one hand and then its recognition by the institution on the other. All he process can be done due to the following components: ILC (Informal Learning Collector), Portfolio Component, Showcase Manager, Peer Recommender, DSS (Decision Support System)
Generally speaking the TRAILER toolset is a set of ICT tools dedicated to the learner as well as the institutional environment. TRAILER as the ePortfolio tool is characterized by the following features:
- ILC- Informal Learning Collector where learner can identify, collect, categorize and describe informal learning evidences
- Portfolio Component where learners can recognize, organize, categorize and keep track of informal learning evidences, activities and associate them with the competences, build own informal learning ePortfolio in the Showcase Manager section, publish to allow institutions to collect the data about this concrete competency, look for the learners with the same informal learning experience profile in peer recommender component.
- Institutional Environment with Decision Support System collecting the data about all learners/employees informal learning profile and construct the different kind of presentation of available data which can be supportive in the decision making process in the company especially in the frame of human recourses and knowledge management.
Read more about project: www.trailerproject.eu
Download the demo version of the TRAILER software: HERE
See the video about the TRAILER from institutional perspective: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=nr6UL2-b3PE
Maria C. Viegas, Maria A. Marques, Gustavo R. Alves, Valentina Zangrando, Nikolas Galanis, Francis Brouns, José Janssen, Elwira Waszkiewicz, Aleksandra Mykowska, Miguel A. Conde González, Alicia García Holgado and Francisco J. García Peñalvo
Nowadays in the era of evolution of new technologies, Internet, social media, online communities the way how people are learning is changing. Additionally the widely increasing application of IT determines peoples’ life’s by assisting them in all sphere of every day based activity. This changed the way how the learning processes are proceeding. People are learning all the time, in every situation, at every place and are acquiring knowledge in several ways: formal and informal. However from some years informal learning has become more transparent way of acquiring knowledge both in educational and workplace contexts.
This work presents functionality and benefits of TRAILER innovative service based on Information & Communication Technologies created within the European Commission funded project. TRAILER is aiming at aid the collection and visibility of informal learning in the educational and business context. From the functionality point of view the TRAILER project is providing an ICT based online toolset for the management of competences and skills acquired through informal learning experiences, both from the perspective of the user and the institutional perspective for both the educational and business environment.
Paper presented at ICERI 2013
Sevilla (Spain), 18 – 19 November 2013
Janssen, J., & Brouns, F. (2012, 25 juni). TRAILER e-Portfolio voor Informeel Leren. Presentation at the meeting ePortfolio in de Regio, Maastricht, Nederland.
Presentation available from OUNL repository http://hdl.handle.net/1820/4366
This paper focuses on the question how to design an e-portfolio so that it optimally enables learners to gain credit (either literally or figuratively speaking) for competences attained through informal learning starting from the premise that this process can be considered an identity negotiation process. It provides a review of research findings in the area of identity negotiation and online identities in light of the implications they hold for the design of an e-portfolio that is meant to facilitate identity negotiation.
A pre-print is also available from OUNL repository http://hdl.handle.net/1820/4597
Janssen, J., Berlanga, A. J., & Sloep, P. B. (2012). Implications of Identity Negotiation Research for the Design of the TRAILER e-Portfolio. In Proceedings of the ePortfolio and Identity Conference (ePIC) 2012 (pp. 78-82). July, 9-11, 2012, London, UK.
The current knowledge society requires its citizens to continuously maintain and update existing knowledge and competences and thus engage in lifelong learning. Acquiring key competences, such as digital, intercultural and communicative competences is crucial to keep up with the fast changing ways of society. As people need to combine their competence development with work and family life, they need flexibility in content and logistics. Consequently, informal learning and social learning in networks play an important role in this. However, it might be difficult to get their informally acquired competences recognized. In this paper we describe how an e-portfolio could assists learners in gathering, maintaining and organizing their informal learning and competences in order to show and share this with others and present how this is implemented in the TRAILER e-portfolio.
A pre-print is also available from OUNL repository http://hdl.handle.net/1820/5130
Brouns, F., Vogten, H., Janssen, J., & Finders, A. (2013). E-portfolios in lifelong learning. In F. J. García-Peñalvo (Ed.). Proceedings of the 2013 Conference on Technological Ecosystems for Enhancing Multiculturality, TEEM2013 (pp. 535-540). November, 14-15, 2013, Salamanca, Spain, http://dx.doi.org/10.1145/2536536.2536618.
This university located in a small city in the Netherlands counts with more or less 25000 students. The pilot was target for a group of 21 PhD students. From this sample of students (with ages between 26-40 years old) some engaged with the TRAILER tool and only 14 were considered active users, showing 81% of actions performed in the 2 platforms. This participation was developed in the Center for Learning Sciences and Technologies PhD programs in the field of Education and Computer Science.
As for the tool usage, they recorded a value of the average number of competences added per informal learning activity (ILA) below average (comparing with the other educational cases). However they presented the higher number of days of usage and actions per day. As far as publishing their activities the number is also low, following the pattern of the other cases.
They showed a fair prior recognition of IL: participants agreed they learned a lot from diverse natures and they debated about what could really be considered informal learning (IL). Their perception and awareness of IL increased for some but for others did not changed through the pilot activities. However this participation allowed them to reflect on their activities by documenting IL in a more structured way. Even though they considered that they had other means of sharing their competences with their supervisor, and so they do not see much use on having a tool like this.
They also shared deeper concerns about the use the teacher or employer could make of it: it might be useful for a supervisor, but only when clear definitions and agreements were made about competences to develop and use of the tool. Even so they also identified some advantages and possible benefits in working with a tool like this, such as being able to show other team members what learning activities one has done, observing the match between institutions and students or employees’ competences and interests that could be used that to make decisions.
In practice, participants considered that IL activities were considered FORMAL when they contributed to competences needed to their PhD and where specially concerned the validation of these IL learning activities (which was not an issue in TRAILER project). This undermined their perception of the TRAILER idea. Nevertheless these students (perhaps because they were PhD students), were very alert and critic about specific issues in the tool, which allowed to identify important drawbacks and aspects that needed revision. They also suggested a mobile client would have been much easier, as it would allow for learning activities to be recorded at the moment they occurred.
This university located in a big city in Poland counts with more or less 40000 students. The pilot was developed with a group of 13 third year students. From this universe, a sample of 15 students (with ages between 18-40 years old) engaged with the TRAILER tool and only 7 were considered active users, showing 61% of actions performed in the 2 platforms. In the educational context, this participation was the one that recorded a higher value of the average number of competences added per informal learning activity (ILA), even though inferior to the generality of professional contexts cases. They also presented a high number of users competences, even though none of them was validated in the second pilot. However in terms of published activities, the number is also low, following the pattern of the other cases.
They presented a fair prior recognition of informal learning (IL), which greatly improved with the work developed in this pilot. They scored the most important activity that potentially develops their IL as being “Conversations”. In general, comparing with other cases, they show the higher level of agreement relatively to the need for IL activities in “being better prepared to find a job” and “developing a deeper knowledge”.
They stressed that one of the advantages of this idea was being able to share their IL with others. As they see it: at the university this tool could be very valuable for students who are studying at different specializations so they could share their own resources with others on Portfolio; in big corporations where people are quite anonymous, for creating the project teams, sharing knowledge and IL resources and managing the competences within company; ultimately it could be used to search for people with similar competences and use their links for enriching our IL resources. Some also point out that this was a nice tool for creating showcases, which may be helpful when looking for the job since nowadays employers are paying more attention to the candidate’ IL competences.
There were several usability issues reported related to operational procedures and they stressed that the tool should be less time consuming and more intuitive. They would also suggest it could work on android and smartphones, in order to expand the usage of the tool more widely.
The person contacted to participate in the second pilot was the head of the Department of Entrepreneurship and Management. He agreed that the educational and business environment was becoming more aware of the importance of IL. Also that this tool represented a good way of keeping IL outcomes alive, available, visible and updated. He also shared that he believed that it could play the role of the bridge between the educational environment and business sector requirements and expectations.
This engineering higher school located in a big city of Spain counts with more than 40000 students. The pilot was developed in the Department of System Engineering and Informatics Systems at Informatics degree with a group of 20 third year students. All these students (with ages between 18-25 years old) engaged with the TRAILER tool and 18 were considered active users, showing 82% of the actions performed in the 2 platforms. Their participation was above average in the number of competences added per informal learning activity (ILA). However they did not publish many activities even though in terms of publishing user competences, they published all.
They presented a good prior recognition (even though some doubts about what could really be considered IL activities had aroused) of informal learning (IL), which did not change significantly with the work developed in this pilot. They scored the most important activity that potentially develops their IL, as being “Searching in the Internet”. In general, comparing with other cases, they show the higher level of agreement relatively to the need for IL activities in “understanding something” and “developing deeper knowledge”.
They regarded IL almost as important as formal, and in some cases even more important and they shared the thought that the University did not value IL nearly as much as it should. They liked the idea of such a platform and think it could be useful for having better employment options, helping them realize the quantity of ILAs they actually carried out.
In terms of the tool usability they pointed some issues that in their opinion should be improved, such as having a limited choices in activity type, the distinction between the Comments and Contents field not being clear, no need for defining a competence several times (for each activity). They did not understand the need of having 2 different tools (which had created some authentication issues).
The Professor involved in the second pilot (institutions’ perspective) also thought that in University IL was often considered with small consequence and this tool could improve the awareness of its importance and help promote IL in the eyes of the professors.
In general, they were favorable to the idea but not in using it regularly in its current state.
This university located in a big city of Spain counts with more than 250000 students. The pilot was developed in the Faculty of Education with a group of 74 third year students. From this universe, a sample of 15 students (with ages between 18-25 years old) engaged with the TRAILER tool and only 12 were considered active users, showing 49% of actions performed in the 2 platforms. However the participation was low in the average number of competences added per informal learning activity (ILA). In terms of published activities, even though the number is low, it was the case that presented the highest value, as was the number of users competences defined.
They presented a good prior recognition of informal learning (IL), which improved with the work developed in this pilot. They scored almost every option of important activities that potentially develop their IL, mentioning: “Trial and error”, “Conversations” and “Online tutorials” as the highest. In general, comparing with other cases, they show the higher level of agreement relatively to the need for IL activities in “being better prepared to find a job”.
They stressed that one of the advantages of this idea was being able to record knowledge’s, experiences and skills that would otherwise be forgotten and then describe and organize them. They said teachers could see students’ interest on particular activities and competencies areas and modify or improve curricula or didactical planning accordingly.
Even though they had identified some usability issues regarding the platforms (they saw no need for 2 platforms, long list of competences and the limited type of activity choices) they think that if well used by students and teachers, it could facilitate relationships between them and the institution. They also suggest to improve the mobile interface and to create easy interfaces in order to quickly write down all kind of IL evidences.
This was in agreement of what the Professor and Director of the University Institute of Educational Sciences thought, suggesting that it could contribute to a supplement diploma integrating skills beyond the official curricula.