Sør-Trøndelag University College (HiST) (NORWAY)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN12 Proceedings
Publication year: 2012
Pages: 2142-2149
ISBN: 978-84-695-3491-5
ISSN: 2340-1117
Conference name: 4th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 2-4 July, 2012
Location: Barcelona, Spain
Activity Based Training (ABT) environments, which were developed in the Leonardo da Vinci pilot project Mecca (2005-07), are currently used in vocational education and training within mechanical industry in several European countries. The pedagogical practices are based up on the following general principles:
• Specification of a product or a process, which is delivered to the students in the form of an order from an external customer or organization. The order must be completed within a predefined deadline.
• The product or process is divided into subcomponents and produced in an “industrial-like” production flow, in which theoretical training is immediately followed by practical work where the theoretical training is applied.
• Use of multimedia material, modern learning tools and/or interactive mobile learning services that highlight, demonstrate and initiate student discussions by addressing “Do’s” and “Don’ts”.
• Introduction of quality assurance in the training path is obtained by checking if the quality of the subcomponents or sub processes follows the specifications in the order.
• Customer verifies that the quality of the product or process is according to specifications in the order, before product is taken over.

ABT starts by receiving a technical and economical specification of the product (a pyramid in this example). The product constitutes of many small pieces (here: boxes) that is developed one by one, and put together into one product (here: the pyramid). In order to figure out how to construct the product, it is necessary to learn more theory, carry out practical investigations, and provide quality assurance of the components during the production.

During 2011 the methodology has been adapted for use in various types of training environments, such as language training, physics and in welding. This paper is going to outline the pedagogical reasons for the design of the new ABT innovative teaching and learning environment that improve students learning in various types of courses. This has for instance been done by using problem-based learning where students in Norway produced information and promotion material (a leaflet, web-site and a video) based up on an order from a university in Romania. The goal was to use the promo material to enhance exchange of Erasmus students from Romania to Norway.

The article will outline the results obtained so far (qualitative and quantitative). The results obtained are based on observations, surveys and interviews of students attending the exemplified projects. Our results and methods are generic, whereby they are applicable to European wide training practices. They include:
• At the end of a course the students have produced a real physical product or designed a process based up on specifications provided through an external order.
• Students participate in a practical problem-solving process where they must decide in which sequence they are going to produce the components and afterwards assemble them, in order to handle the specifications in the order.
• During this process they develop an understanding for the importance of obtaining both practical and theoretical knowledge!
• Engaged students that use an attractive learning framework.

Our results show that ABT may be used in high schools, vocational education and training, as well as in higher education
Activity Based Training, language training, Norwegian and English training.