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The Erfahrraum model

These scenarios were designed with the aim of using technologies to improve the transfer of students' knowledge between the school and the workplace and between the workplace and the school. This is the Erfahrraum model.

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The “ Erfahrraum ” model is the model on which the scenarios are based. Erfahrraum comes from ' Erfahrrung ', which can translate to reflected experience in german, and ' Raum ', room, which can be interpreted as a physical or digital or cognitive space. The Erfahrraum model aims at facilitating the creation of 'Erfahrungen' through the processes of experiential learning and reflection.

The basis of this model is that you can capture your experiences at the workplace and exploit them via reflective activities at school to improve the level of professionalism and competence development.

All the steps of such a process are supported by technologies, in different ways. Teachers take part in the Erfahrraum through specific learning activities.


Quadrant I

The top right quadrant represents apprentices' rich experiences in the physical workplace context.

The majority of their VET experiences is expected to be made in the workplace context but they can occur in any context, for example, simulated experiences in vocational schools or training centers. The focus of actions in the workplace is on executing given procedures .

One or multiple supervisors (external circle) oversee the apprentices' actions in the workplace. The product-focused nature of the workplace does often leave limited time for reflection in action. Artefacts of apprentice's experiences can facilitate reflective processes at a later time and place. To foster reflections on workplace experiences, apprentices capture self-selected or assigned situations in the form of digital artefacts in the Erfahrraum spaces.

Quadrant II
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The second quadrant is the digital space of the workplace. It allows to select the experience artefacts after capturing them in the workplace.

Post-selection : After adding digital artefacts to the personal space in the Erfahrraum, apprentices select which artefacts should be further processed and maybe shared with others. Elaboration activities in the Erfahrraum by the apprentice and/or the community can refine learners' understanding of which digital artefacts are relevant and valuable for reflection which in turn can motivate them to process and share more such experiences. Post-capture selection leads to a selection of VET-relevant experiences captured as digital artefacts ('relevant artefacts'). In partnership with teachers and supervisors, specific scenarios can be developed to facilitate making specific experiences to reflect upon and learn about the relevance of experiences. Both pre- and post-capture selection processes can scaffold reflection processes.

Quadrant III
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Turning experiences into VET-relevant knowledge requires not merely capturing and selecting experiences but also subsequent steps of organizing and processing. Experiences can only become 'Erfahrungen' if they are considered relevant by the learner (selecting) and after (personal or social) processing.  Processing concrete experiences aims (a) to elicit experiences, (b) to de-contextualize experiences and (c) to integrate different forms of VET-relevant knowledge. Processing can take place in the workplace, but as time for reflection is often limited in the workplace , scaffolded reflection activities are expected to take place mostly in school contexts where teachers can make use of selected artefacts collected by apprentices to orchestrate processing activities to make sense of workplace experiences. Experience can go through one or several distinct processing processes (ie augmenting, clustering), conducted by either the individual who captured the experience and created the digital artefact (the 'owner' of the artefact) or by any other member of the community. The quadrant III is the digital space of the school which allows to augment and cluster the artefacts.

Quadrant IV

To prepare for re-contextualization of knowledge back to the workplace, teachers can organize opportunities to apply knowledge through practice exercises or simulations. Practice exercises or simulations (in school or in intercompany courses) can make theoretical knowledge more relevant and facilitate making sense of practical situations in the workplace. The whole cycle can be considered effective if apprentices improve the quality, speed and/or satisfaction of their workplace activities.

The Erfahrraum cycle models systematic reflective practice by orchestrating the conversion of workplace experiences into VET-relevant Erfahrungen through reflective (individual and social) activities that augment and link different forms of knowledge. Apprentices may learn to deliberately seek experiences that generate a new understanding of a phenomenon and lead to changes of the situation (deliberate practice). It creates a 'spiral of knowledge'.

Over time, the process of systematically reflecting on workplace experiences can become internalised and contribute to the development of adaptive expertise.

Full article describing the model:

Schwendimann, BA, Cattaneo, A., Dehler Zufferey, J., Gurtner, J.-L., Bétrancourt, M. & Dillenbourg, P. (2015). The 'Erfahrraum': A model for exploiting educational technologies in dual vocational systems. Journal of Vocational Education and Training, 67 (3), 367-396.

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