“Technology-supported workplace learning” course held in Tallinn University Institute of Informatics, spring 2014

Problem-based course (PBL) “Technology-supported workplace learning” course was piloted in 2014 spring term in the Tallinn University Institute of Informatics, curricula of information technology management. The general idea behind the PBL course is that IT managers are responsible in the organizations to develop and implement new technologies. Often these technologies are different information systems and implemented not with the aim to purposefully support organizations’ members learning and knowledge sharing. Additionally the implementation process of different systems in the organizations tends to be top-down process, which does not include the members of the organizations as the end-users of the new technologies.


Description of the course


PBL course “Technology-supported workplace learning” is currently in the curricula of IT managers and will be added also to the curricula of educational technology. In general course has about 25 students. Course aims to develop students’ skills and knowledge on:

  • how to conduct analysis about current technology-supported learning and knowledge sharing practices – what technologies are used for what practices, what kind of possibilities and obstacles current practices face;
  • b) what kind of technology-supported learning and knowledge scenarios could be relevant for their organizations;
  • c) how to involve members of the organizations to the evaluation process of the technology-supported learning scenarios and
  • d) what kind of implementation aspects of the designed and evaluated learning scenarios emerge in the evaluation phase.


Course is worth 3 ECTS and has four face-to-face seminars. Each of the seminars has the theoretical overview module and seminar module where students introduce their practical activities in their organization (analysis of the situation, scenarios, evaluation of the scenarios and implementation aspects).


IT-managers who participated in the first pilot course work in different Estonian state level institutions e.g. ministries (Ministry of Education and Science, Ministry of Finance), Estonian rescue authority, Estonian Telecommunication Company, Republic of Estonia Information System Authority, Tallinn University.


Students are introduced with several technology-supported learning and knowledge sharing approaches like competency-based learning (Ley, Kump & Albert, 2010), self-regulated learning (Littlejohn, Margaryan & Milligan, 2009), reflective learning (Krogstie, Prilla, Wessel, Knipfer et al, 2012) and how to orchestrate technology-supported individual and organizational learning (Ley, Tammets & Lindstaedt, 2013). Lastly several approaches with the empirical examples how to involve the end-users to the design phase are introduced like participatory design (Holocher, Kieslinger and Fabian, 2009), research-based design (Laanpere, Pata, Normak & Põldoja, 2014), design-based research (Abdallah, 2013) and scenario-based design (Nigay, Salembier, Marchand et al, 2002).


During the PBL course activities the master students become familiar with the different technologies. Some of them were applications from EU-funded Learning Layers project like Bits and Pieces, Ach So!, Reflex, HelpSeeking Tool, but also Trello and iCoworker. Different technologies aim to promote different type of technology-supported learning. E.g. Bits and Pieces supports portfolio-based learning, Trello promotes project-based learning and so on. Students can choose other technologies as well if the technology is more relevant for the organization, but still supports the technology-supported learning and knowledge sharing approach introduced during the course.


Students are provided with the instructions how to conduct survey at the organization with the aim to investigate the current technology-supported learning and knowledge sharing habits. Additionally students are provided with the examples of scenarios that illustrate the technology-supported learning and knowledge sharing with the specific tool. Lastly students are provided with the instructions how to conduct co-design sessions or participatory sessions with their colleagues in order to evaluate the tools in the context of specific learning scenarios.


The results of the each phase (survey results, scenarios and) are discussed in small groups and then presented to the wider audience. As a result, IT managers who work in state-level institutions, have an idea how to integrate new technologies or use existing technologies for individual and organizational learning instead of use different systems for storing the information and data.


Students’ cases of problem-based learning


  1. Programmer Priit works in the ministry and has just arrived to workplace. Soon he finds out that one of the important web-services is broken and should be fixed as soon as possible. As the technical solution of the web-service is not documented, then Priit can’t find the reason quickly enough and he needs to understand the whole code. Fixing the problem takes two days and causes huge damages for the enterprise. In order to avoid the situations like this in the future, Priit decides to create page to the Confluence environment with the content that describes the services, their technical parameters and different connections between the systems. Additionally he describes the main issues that may cause faults in the work of the services. He saves the document and shares it with all the colleagues that are related with the issue. Colleagues will get the notification to their e-mail. Priit would like colleagues to comment and edit his document. Probably such documentation will help to detect the faults sooner and the fixing time will be shorter.


  1. Linda is studying in kindergarten teacher curricula. Linda needs that her studies and pedagogical practice at the university will give her theoretical knowledge and practical skills to plan, implement and analyze the teaching process at the kindergarten. Certainly her studies should focus on the usage and implementation of innovative technologies with the kids. As a future teacher, Linda expects that teacher education acts as an example and integrates the technology to the teacher education curricula. During her pedagogical practice at the kindergarten, Linda collects different materials that she has prepared – example materials, new ideas etc. Linda needs the environment, where she could systemize her practice materials and later to share them. Linda creates the account to Evernote and adds there all the materials. For systemizing, she will use tags “learning activity”, “analysis”, “feedback”, “example material”, “ICT”, “practice diary”, “environment”, “goal”, “game”. Linda shares the materials as the portfolio with her mentor-didactic lecturer.


  1. Katrin works at the rescue and answers the calls of rescue phone 112. Katrin likes his job as she has real chance to help people. Her personal work related achievements have been evaluated as very good. Katrin has solved some very difficult situations and would like to share them with others. Katrin thinks it is important to learn from others’ mistakes and good performances. Every time new rescue call comes in, Katrin opens the program that collects data about the SMSs and calls that are received during a day. Katrin also video records her own performance during the phone and uploads it to the quality evaluation system. Video will be shared with the analysis and supervision department and to Katrin’s boss. Feedback to Katrin’s performance will be shared with her inside of the quality evaluation system. Katrin learns from it and decides if she would like to share the video with the colleagues. Katrin browses others’ performances and faults and analysis them with the aim to learn from them.


  1. Ave works as a specialist in national ministry. She just participated in traditional in-service training course. Usually she invites colleagues to have a cup of coffee and shares what she learnt from course. This time she decides to document the learning experience so that all the colleagues could have access it later and re-use it. She uploads the document to intranet in the folder “training courses”. She names the document based on type of performance and adds tags. Tag could be also code used in internal communication.



Abdallah, M. (2013). Employing a three-phase design-based research methodology for expanding student teachers’ language-related literacy practices in an Egyptian pre-service English education programme. In T. Plomp, & N. Nieveen (Eds.), Educational design research – Part B: Illustrative cases (pp. 927-946). Enschede, the Netherlands, SLO.

Holocher, T., Kieslinger, B., Fabian, C.M. (2010): Participatory methods and their implications in collaborative workplace learning. In Proceedings of World Conference on Educational Multimedia, Hypermedia and Telecommunications (ED-MEDIA) 2010, June 2010, Toronto, Canada

Krogstie, B.R., Prilla, M., Wessel, D., Knipfer, K., & Pammer, V. (2012). Computer Support for Reflective Learning in the Workplace: A Model. In the proceedings of the ICALT 2012 IEEE 12th International Conference on Advanced Learning Technologies (pp.151-153).

Laanpere, M., Pata, K., Normak, P., Põldoja, H. (2014). Pedagogy-driven Design of Digital Learning Ecosystems. Computer Science and Information Systems, 11(1), 419 – 442.

Ley, T., Tammets, K., & Lindstaedt, S. (2013). Orchestrating collaboration and community technologies for individual and organisational learning. In A. LittleJohn and A. Margaryan (Eds.) Technology-Enhanced Professional Learning: Processes, Practices, and Tools (pp. 117 – 131). Routledge.

Ley, T., Kump, B., & Albert, D. (2010). A methodology for eliciting, modelling, and evaluating expert knowledge for an adaptive work-integrated learning system. International Journal of Human-Computer Studies, 68(4), 185 – 208.

Littlejohn, A., Margaryan, A. and Milligan, C (2009) Charting Collective Knowledge: Supporting Self-regulated Learning in the Workplace, Proceedings of  the 9th IEEE International Conference on Advanced Learning Technologies (ICALT 2009) July 15-17, 2009, Riga, Latvia

Nigay, L., Salembier, P., Marchand, T., Renevier, P., & Pasqualetti, L. (2002). Mobile and Collaborative Augmented reality: A Scenario Based Design Approach”, Proc. Mobile HCI 2002, Springer-Verlag, LNCS 2411, Pisa, 2002, pp. 241-255.


  • 1 July, 2014 @ 13:08 [Current Revision] by Patricia Santos
  • 1 July, 2014 @ 13:08 by Patricia Santos


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