Joint project NetÖV: Digital training platform for the mobility industry

The TU Ilmenau is a scientific partner in the joint project "Networking of digital knowledge and learning platforms for personalized further education and cooperative knowledge exchange in the mobility industry", in short: NetÖV. The kick-off event took place on December 10 within the framework of an online meeting.

NetÖV | VDV-Akademie

The research project is one of the winning projects selected for funding by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) as part of the innovation competition "INIVITE - Digital Platform for Continuing Vocational Education and Training". The program, which has a total budget of 88 million euros and will run for three years, is intended to make a significant contribution to overcoming the enormous challenges facing modern continuing education against the backdrop of a digitized working world characterized by far-reaching transformation processes.

Optimizing the digital training space for the mobility industry

In this context, the NetÖV project is specifically aimed at optimizing the digital continuing education space for the approximately 400,000 employees in the public transport sector in the Federal Republic of Germany and is being funded with a total of 1.5 million euros.

The goal of the project is to network the diverse digital education, knowledge, and information spaces in the mobility industry and make them accessible via a central web-based continuing education platform. In addition, a recommendation system is to be established that will suggest suitable offers to those interested in continuing education as well as to providers. At the same time, a network is being created for the informal exchange of experts across companies.

The TU Ilmenau is involved in the project with the Media Production Group and the User-centric Analysis of Multimedia Data Group and is being funded with around 800,000 euros. Together with seven companies, academies and associations, the research team led by junior professor Matthias Hirth is implementing the project's six work packages. For the testing and evaluation of the system, seven transportation companies from Munich to Dresden to Hamburg are also on board as associated partners. Media technology students are also involved in the research work as part of seminar projects and final theses.

Solving future issues in cooperation between science and practice

The VDV Academy, which is responsible for quality assurance in training and further education in public passenger transport and rail freight transport under the umbrella of the Association of German Transport Companies (VDV), is responsible for coordinating the network. Project manager Stefanie Menke: "New technologies, sustainable mobility concepts and digitization mean that there is an enormous need for further training in all areas of the industry, from driving personnel and technical staff to those responsible for personnel development and marketing. Accordingly, a plethora of offerings has emerged on the continuing education market, making it increasingly difficult for those interested in continuing education and those responsible for continuing education in transportation companies to keep track of everything."

The NetÖV project is intended to make it much easier to access the various offerings in line with demand. As a practical partner, we are very pleased to have won the TU Ilmenau with its scientific expertise for the solution of this complex task.

Networking eleven educational and knowledge spaces

The focus of the NetÖV project is on meeting the needs of various user groups in as targeted a manner as possible. To this end, the researchers at TU Ilmenau first conduct a requirements analysis and, in the next step, derive functional and design recommendations for the user-centric, web-based NetÖV platform. No fewer than eleven digital education, knowledge and information spaces in the mobility industry are to be networked here to form a freely accessible platform. Subsequently, a recommendation system for precisely fitting offers will be designed and implemented. "Whether so-called formal offers that lead to a qualification, such as a preparatory course for a Chamber of Industry and Commerce examination to become a specialist in passenger transport, or non-formal courses without a formal qualification, such as further training for trainers in the streetcar sector - our aim is to make the further training offers that are relevant to them quickly and easily accessible to all interested parties," explains junior professor Hirth. Other user groups are companies for training and further education and freelance lecturers who want to place and sell their offers on the market. Supervisors, those responsible for personnel development and works councils of transport companies have their sights set on advice and information on training and continuing education. Technical experts want to collaboratively exchange their knowledge about the field of work. "For all these different needs, NetÖV is intended to provide a custom-fit offering," adds the Ilmenau project manager.

In perspective, simple, user-oriented access leads to higher participation in job-related continuing education. In this way, we also want to make a contribution to lifelong learning with the project.

Personalized recommendation system for all user groups

For the realization of personalized continuing education recommendations, the scientists use methods from recommendation systems, which - similar to the well-known online shopping systems - are based on the metadata available in the platform and the behavior of the users. The research team at TU Ilmenau uses clustering algorithms to group those interested in continuing education. As part of the development process, prototypes are created early on and tested with users. These so-called iterative evaluations make it possible to involve all user groups from the very beginning and to sensitize the industry to the upcoming offering. In the process, the research team approaches the exact solution step by step with repeated computations.

Initiating an informal network of experts

In addition to continuing education in the form of courses and seminars, informal education plays a major role in everyday work. Informal learning refers to learning in life contexts, which was primarily seen as learning outside the formal (continuing) education system. Quickly exchanging information and finding examples of good practice works particularly well when there is a network of experts to fall back on. The project thus also serves to initiate a network of experts for informal continuing education. Overall, the project will make an important contribution to successfully mastering the challenges associated with the mobility of the future and maintaining Germany's competitiveness as a mobility location.


Juniorprofessor Matthias Hirth

Head User-centric Analysis of Multimedia Data Group