Karlsruhe (GER)/Würzburg (GER), December 2019 - Michael Bräuer is the Chief Fire Officer and deputy head of the Würzburg branch of the federal state of Bavaria’s Fire Brigade School. The "Fire Brigade Learning Bar", which the school developed, was launched in 2018 and bundles all the State Fire Brigade Schools’ digital media. The central component is a lexicon that provides technical terms and related information in a structured, visualised form and is state certified. Michael Bräuer will present this learning project at the LEARNTEC Congress on 28 January at 17.15.
Which findings constitute the basis of the Fire Brigade Learning Bar’s structure, which features a lexicon, downloads, a media centre, and eLearning offerings?
Michael Bräuer: Our idea of learning has changed considerably in recent years. In addition to teaching and learning research, concrete evidence about it has now emerged from brain research as well. By the way, psychology and educational science pointed out a long time ago that knowledge is something developed by learners themselves and must be clearly distinguished from pure information.
In this context, the "Learning Bar" is intended to provide a framework for empowerment in the sense of empowerment didactics.
Based on the conviction that information can only become knowledge when learners themselves search for "knowledge building blocks" in concrete problem situations, the Learning Bar offers diverse means of access to building blocks that already exist. It strives to offer knowledge about the fire brigade in a structured, visualised, and certified way, which means offering the members of the fire brigade the guarantee that the building blocks are up to date and correspond to the official curriculum of Bavaria’s state fire brigade schools.
Which area is most frequently used and why?
Michael Bräuer: Currently, the download area is still the most frequently used. It contains all the classic documents (leaflets and brochures) that Würzburg’s State Fire Brigade School has offered since the early 1990s in terms of teaching and learning aids. The learning materials have a long tradition in Bavaria and already back in the 1960s were distributed free of charge to the Bavarian fire brigades by the former State Office for Fire and Disaster Protection.
How much effort has gone into the "Fire Brigade Learning Bar"?
Michael Bräuer: The teaching and learning materials department currently consists of five employees: The department head is a trained teacher and a manager in the volunteer fire brigade, and there is a fire brigade technical officer, two media designers, and an administrative employee. The staff composition actually was - and so far remains - designed for the classic media and print documents; unfortunately, it has not been expanded. Thus, the maintenance of the Learning Bar is basically done "on the side". In the current budget, however, two further positions are planned: another fire brigade technical officer and an expert in media didactics.
How much of Bavaria’s fire brigade training does the "Fire Brigade Learning Bar" actually cover?
Michael Bräuer: An eLearning concept is currently provided only via digital radio, and all Bavarian fire brigade members are required to complete the existing Electronic Learning Application (ELA). However, all teaching and learning materials are to be made freely accessible for on-site training via the Learning Bar, which means that Bavaria’s entire basic fire brigade technical training up to the troop leader level will be available. This includes radiotelephony and training for respiratory equipment carriers, machine operators, and in the subject area of fall protection.
How successful has the endeavour proven so far?
Michael Bräuer: The Learning Bar has attracted a great deal of attention beyond Bavaria’s borders, and the feedback about the Learning Bar from the course participants is consistently positive. In particular, the easy accessibility - no registration is required - reduces what in our view is one of the greatest barriers for users.
We have also noticed that course participants in our face-to-face events, e.g. in the group-work phases, are increasingly using the Learning Bar on a regular basis to acquire information. Many of our teachers now actively include the Learning Bar in their teaching.
Here, too, the basic philosophy behind it becomes clear: Everything is possible - nothing is required!