For close to year now in my research group we have done research on using emerging forms of collaborative computing in workplace learning in construction work in Europe. In the research we have took a close look of wearable computing, invisible and ambient computing (calm), augmented reality, as well as novel interaction technologies. We are especially interested in to study how these technologies could be used in peer-to-peer learning where people learn from each other, learning is self-directed and serendipitous, situated and also includes in it some aspects of knowledge building.
We do design research. A starting point for it is a claim that the current products are hardly sufficient for the task and need reconsideration and redesign. To design prototypes we have done contextual inquiry among the construction workers and create some scenarios that will be used in the next steps of the design research. Yesterday I gave a talk at the IEEE International Symposium on Technology and Society (ISTAS13) about the results from the contextual inquiry and presented three scenarios. Here are the slides.
One of the main finding from the contextual inquiry is that there are fears among the workforce to take in use new collaborative computer tools. Although workers may see the point that the tools will help them to develop their professional skills, they are aware of increasing demands to report and see that new technology may cause more pressure and managerial control.
Therefore we see that using this kind of technology, that can be also used for surveillance, should be acknowledged as a negotiable working condition. When taking them in use there should be binding agreements on how the information acquired can be used and for what it cannot be used. The people who will be using the tools should also take part in the design of the tools. This way we may conclude with smart design that will not only increase productivity in the workplace, but will also be found acceptable and fair.
This work was conducted within the Learning Layers project, co-funded by the European Commission’s 7th Framework Programme.