EXtension of a further education platform through attractive and user-oriented database design

Sep. 01, 2021 to Aug. 31, 2024

The starting point for the development focus, Regional Further Education Berlin-Brandenburg

In the EXPAND+ER WB³ project, the vision of educator Otto Herz is applied to the field of vocational education. For people, lifelong learning means constantly working on expanding knowledge and developing their skills and abilities. But how do you make it easier for people to find interdisciplinary training opportunities through an appealing design and state-of-the-art search capabilities? The technology partners of the BMBF-funded EXPAND+ER WB³ project develop a scalable platform that protects privacy and enables users to search for and receive recommendations for further education courses. Methods for the measurability of increased competencies, their certification, and didactically sound, pilot learning process modules that gain in adaptivity and attractiveness through the use of artificial intelligence. The project addresses all areas of the innovation competition INVITE (Digital Platform for Continuing Vocational Education and Training) and relates its core developments to the Berlin-Brandenburg Continuing Education Database (WDB). The improvement in user-friendliness is achieved by using elements from the areas of XR technologies - a collective term for technologies such as virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR) and mixed reality (MR), gaming, and edutainment. Digitally experiential learning worlds are also strengthened by a high degree of personalization combined with effective data protection.

As part of the sub-project by Fraunhofer FOKUS, the WDB search portal will be improved by using a semantic search method and integrated into a networking concept with existing continuing education platforms. The Fraunhofer Common Learning Middleware enables the integration for the orchestration of services in complex educational infrastructures based on open standards and specifications.

Fraunhofer FOKUS's Data Analytics Center (DANA) implements a novel, patent-pending method for semantic search of continuing education offerings. In contrast to conventional semantic search methods that use background knowledge about the respective application area, which usually entails maintenance effort, the new method relies on AI-based methods to determine the meaning of terms directly from the descriptive texts of the continuing education offerings. Contrary to existing methods based on "word embeddings", the search results are restricted to the most relevant ones.

This procedure is being implemented and tested as an example for the continuing education database Berlin-Brandenburg. Integrated into a federated system to search for cross-regional continuing education offers, the offers of continuing education databases and platforms are to become transparently searchable.

For this purpose, the business unit Future Applications and Media (FAME) of Fraunhofer FOKUS contributes the Fraunhofer Common Learning Middleware for the networking of continuing education databases and platforms to the project and extends it with relevant interfaces and data formats for the exchange of continuing education offers as well as competencies, skills, qualifications and professions.

The Common Learning Middleware has been developed as a multi-tenant component for networking different educational actors, institutions, and services is based on open standards and specifications and can translate between them. Through the associated management service, the Common Learning Middleware enables the management of user roles and enrollments and manages access to learning content and other offerings.

The project is funded by the BMBF within the scope of the innovation competition INVITE, which is technically and administratively accompanied by the Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training. In the EXPAND+ER WB³ project, the Brandenburg University of Technology Cottbus-Senftenberg (project coordinator), Fraunhofer FOKUS, IHK-Projektgesellschaft mbH, TÜV Rheinland Akademie, LE Commsulting GmbH, I-mmersive GmbH and Grone Bildungszentren Berlin GmbH are working together.