The paper deals with Life Long Learning (Vocational Education and Training (VET) system) by providing adaptive learning resources for work-based learning in the water industry. The emphasis is on the presentation of concepts, methodology and media examples. The necessity to develop such a concept is directly connected to the huge qualification problem within the international water industry. The expertise required for engineers and technicians for the operation & maintenance and management of urban water supply networks and wastewater disposal networks is not usually taught at universities and educational institutions. Thus the qualification takes place within the enterprises/authorities and with the help of water associations. The quality of the professional further education and thus the career opportunities are limited by the knowledge of the enterprises/authorities or the vocational training offer of the water associations.
Due to the global importance of drinking water, a new education initiative of German Water Industry with partners from the areas of education and research, funded by the German Government, tried to harmonize vocational training by providing a web-based knowledge network for life-long-learning and career development. The challenge of the project was, on the one hand, the heterogeneity of the educational level of the target groups, which includes technicians, engineers and decision-makers, and, on the other hand, the provision of a wide range of specialist knowledge covering the entire life cycle of urban water infrastructures. To this purpose, an innovative didactic concept adapted to the needs of the target groups was used. Based on the existing experiences, the work processes of the employees should be used for learning to a greater extent and merged in the learning processes.
By using digital media, the non-formally and informally acquired competences of the learners are recorded, documented and related to the requirements of the profession and compiled on the basis of individual qualification demands. In the focus of attention - also with regard to the requirements of the target groups - is ubiquitous learning in everyday professional activity by means of short learning sequences (microlearning) and narrowly delimited contents (microcontent), which complement more extensive learning formats (lessons and modules) and supports them with personal learning process support. Thus, the project combines work-process-oriented digital support and information systems and knowledge tools, such as virtual construction sites, construction site documentation, process manuals, and multimedia textbooks with self-directed online learning (learning steps, lessons, modules) with tutorial support by learning process assistants as well as classical classroom learning. In the end, a work-process-oriented life-long-learning approach for improving demand-oriented knowledge transfer and career development was achieved.
This concept is already integrated in the German Water Industry by organizations like German Association for Water, Wastewater and Waste (DWA), RAL-Gütegemeinschaft Kanalbau and in the United States by the Trenchless Technology Center.