Work life balance

How do you balance important deadlines with family life including kids who need support and are sick? This is something I have struggled with the past months. The plan with this blog post is as much about reminding myself of how to find the balance as it is to contribute to the discussion around this. We need to help each other cope without burning out.

This weekend I had to spend the whole days working. I had one deadline on Tuesday and one on Thursday. It it very seldom I end up in this situation. That is good. And I had made a New Years’ resolution NOT to end up in this situation at all. Four weeks later I am completely swamped with work and all kinds of things have happened at home with the kids. And of course that means I need to prioritise my fours kids. But it stresses me out completely.

So what can you (I) do in this situation:

  • Prioritise the things in your calendar into the grid of important and urgent. I found this blog post that really describes the method well:
    https://jamalahmed.wordpress.com/2013/05/12/understanding-prioritization/
  • Set asked time to prioritize and reflect on what you do on a regular basis to keep track of how you prioritize.
  • Ask people for help when possible. Both with family things and at work.
  • Set asked time to exercise to get rid of stress.
  • Use the pomodoro technique when you focus on the important things. This means set an alarm Clock and do nothing but the things you planned to do.
  • See to it that you get enough sleep.

Finding Projects Ideas and Writing Applications for Funding

A couple of my research projects are ending, and it’s time to write applications for funding again. This is not something I find especially easy or quickly done. On the contrary it takes me hours, hours and hours. It also takes lots of sighing and thinking “this is just too difficult”.

The main thing with my kind of applied research is to find a project that fits all of the following criteria:

  1. A project area that the organisations that I collaborate with are interested in working on. This means a lot of meeting to understand what things are on their agenda. 
  2. Something that I want to do, and that the people I write the application together with want to work with. There are many crazy ideas out there related to digitalization 😮 
  3. An research area where I have the competence to do the research in. For me that means for example digital work environments, computer science education or eHealth implementations.  
  4. An area where there is research missing – and where we can fill that hole as in the picture for this blog post. This means quite an extensive literature review to be able to describe the current state of the art and how the research project fits. This also means that you need plenty of time. 
  5. Something that is possible to do within the framing of the call that you send the proposal to. Often the project is three years, and not all things can be done within this time frame
  6. An idea that fits with the current calls for research projects available. And an understanding of what kind of research they are funding. This is knowledge that I have gained gradually, but I am far from knowledgeable yet. 

 

 

Appointed Member of the Technical Educational Board at the Faculty of Science and Technology

Since this fall I am a member of the technical educational board at our faculty. This job will be super interesting and I probably will learn lots of new and good things. The first meetings will be related to new master programmes, and I am looking forward to an interesting discussion 🙂

TASKS

  • formulate overall visions and strategies as well as implement the decision of the council board / faculty board for the long-term development of education programs and independent courses
  • structuring and renewing the courses with regard to ongoing internationalization, research and the needs of society and working life
  • take strategic initiatives on issues related to national and international education cooperation
  • take strategic initiatives on renewal of teaching and examination, throughput and study results, as well as recruitment and marketing
  • follow up on various aspects of quality in education and individual programs, decide on quality improvement measures and routines, as well as report to the area board / faculty board
  • formulate and revise the objectives of the respective programs and follow up the objectives
  • follow and support the work of the program manager and program council and, if necessary, decide on assignments for these
  • annually establish training plans and new syllabi for all programs and independent courses within the respective education board
  • appoint examiners based on proposals from the department responsible for the course
  • collaborate with other education committees

 

Integrating UX Principles and Practices into Software Development Organisations

Just before Christmas Pariya Kashfi successfully defended her PhD thesis on Integrating UX Principles and Practices into Software Development Organisations. This thesis is worth reading for anyone struggling with the integration of UX principles and practices in organisations!

I was on the examination committee for the defence together with professor Natalia Juristo and professor Kaisa Väänäenen. Associate professor Marta Larusdottir was the opponent. Note that this was an all-women committee with a woman opponent!! 

The overall research question for the work was:

 

How can software companies integrate UX principles and practices into their development processes and organizations?

Pariya Kashfi started the defence by an excellent presentation of her work. The presentation was followed by an in-depth discussion among professionals with Marta Larusdottir. Pariya Kashfi was super good at answering all questions, and managed to do a very good defence. I really enjoyed the discussion, especially since this thesis is in the area of my own PhD, but seven years later and with a focus on UX and not Usability.

The PhD is by publications and included six papers. All papers are available on Pariya Kasfi’s page on Research Gate.

  1. P. Kash􏰄, A. Nilsson, R. Feldt, 􏰀Integrating User eXperience Practices Into Software Development Processes: Implications of The UX Charac teristics”
    PeerJ Computer Science (an Open Access Journal), 3, e130, 2017.
  2. P. Kash􏰄, A. Nilsson, R. Feldt, R. Berntsson Svensson, 􏰀A Conceptual UX-aware Model of Requirements”
    6th International Working Conference on Human-Centred Software En- gineering, 234-245, 2016.
  3. P. Kash􏰄, R. Feldt, A. Nilsson, 􏰀Integrating UX Principles and Practices into Software Development Organizations: A Case Study of In􏰅uencing Events􏰁
    In submission to The Journal of Systems and Software.
  4. P. Kash􏰄, R. Feldt, A. Nilsson, 􏰀Integrating UX Principles and Practices into Software Development Organizations: A Case Study of Challenges and Success Factors”
    In submission to The Journal of Systems and Software.
  5. P. Kash􏰄, R. Feldt, A. Nilsson, R. Berntsson Svensson, 􏰀Evidence-based Timelines for User eXperience Software Process Improvement Retrospec- tives: A Case Study of User eXperience Integration”
    42nd Euromicro Conference on Software Engineering and Advanced Ap- plications, 59-62, 2016.
  6. P. Kash􏰄, K. Kuusinen, R. Feldt, 􏰀Stakeholder Involvement: A Success Factor for Achieving Better UX Integration”
    1st Workshop on Stakeholder Involvement in Agile Development, NordiCHI, 2016.

Taking a New Course: To Lead and Develop in Academia

It’s been a few years since I last took a leadership course. I’ve taken a few in my life, and often they are a great source for inspiration. For me courses are an opportunity to reflect, and to develop as an individual and also to learn from other people. I am quite convinced that mental stability and mental health for me is dependant on constant reflection, And on taking the time to make choices that are good for me. I do not consider myself being in desperate need of new skills in leadership, but see this as an opportunity to deepen my understandings and practice the existing skills. Life is also in constant movement and things that were discussed in a course that I took five years ago might not have rung a bell at that time – but might do it this time.

So this spring I signed up for a leadership course again. This course is called “To Lead and Develop in Academia” and is an internal Uppsala University course. In the course description it says:

“The training aims to strengthen you in your current or future role as a leader. The goal is sustainable leadership and good research and education environments.”

The course consists of six full-day lectures and participation in the a mentoring group on four occasions . The purpose of the mentoring is to reflect with colleagues on our everyday lives and thereby develop in our roles.

  • I’m really looking forward to this! 

Kevin Doherty Viva and PhD

In the beginning of December I had the opportunity do discuss Kevin Doherty’s PhD at his Viva voce. Kevin Doherty defended his Ph.D. thesis in Computer Science at the School of Computer Science and Statistics at University of Dublin, Trinity College. The PhD thesis has with the title “Designing the Self Report of Wellbeing in Pregnancy”. The PhD was an impressive piece of work indeed, and Kevin Doherty defended his work in the best possible way!

In the thesis Kevin Doherty presents a contribution to knowledge in the area of design of a mobile application named BrightSelf for self-reporting of psychological wellbeing during pregnancy. The research themes addressed are related to how technology shapes the self-report of wellbeing, how users are engaged in the disclosure of health concerns and how healthcare professionals might act upon reports of psychological well-being.

Many parts of the thesis are worth reading, and I especially liked the work on engagement as a theoretical concept, and also the definitions of the concept wellbeing. My guess is that Kevin Doherty would have a brilliant career in academia if he wants that 🙂

 

Many Factors Behind IT Stress

The magazine Publikt did a survey study with public authorities. The results showed that there are enormous work environment problems related to the IT systems. Many of the union elected representatives who responded to Publik’s survey indicate that employees are stressed and frustrated due to the shortcomings of IT tools.  In their presenteation of the survey, I was asked to comments on the results:

“Most people I interview now have 15 to 20 different systems, including smaller systems like phones and other. If you go back ten years in time, nobody could know or suspect that this development could happen. The situation has just arisen, and this has contributed to this enormous problem.”

Some of the problems experienced by users can be linked to the difficulty of meeting the needs of the business with standardized systems.

“Standard system fits no one,” says Åsa Cajander. There are too long distances between those who use the systems and those who develop them. Even if you have user groups or the like, it’s very hard to make it work.

Developing and managing your own system is of course much more expensive than buying a standard system, she states.

“But you start counting the costs in a big organization, then maybe it would pay off. This could be a research study.”

The full article in Swedish is found here:

https://www.publikt.se/artikel/manga-faktorer-bakom-it-stress-21966

 

Making Films as a Part of Your Learning: Adoption and Evaluation of the Self Flipped Classroom Concept

We got some funding for pedagogical development work from the Faculty of Science and Technology at our university. This will give us the possibility to explore the self-flipped classroom concept in two different courses, and to evaluate the effects of the approach. The idea that we have used so far is that students make films that other students learn from. The films are discussed in workshops to get a thorough understanding of them.

I will collaborate with Mats Daniels and Anne Peters in this project, and hopefully we will also get some help from Anna Vasilchenko from NewCastle University.

Here is the abstract of the application: 

Learning by making, as pointed out by for instance Seymour Papert, is a well known strategy for efficient learning. However, the ideas are rarely used in practice. The self-flipped classroom (SFC) concept is a promising idea for using the learning by making approach with a reasonable time cost for students. It is also a student contributing pedagogy, which is one of the focus areas in our faculty. We will adopt, implement and evaluate the SFC concept for two different courses, where we will have a focus on making videos. The overarching aim for this project is to develop pedagogically anchored strategies for using the SFC concept that will help teachers who want to use this concept in a scholarly manner. This work will include tailoring the SFC concept to two different course contexts, studying how the pedagogical interventions are received by the students, including effects on their learning, and working on dissemination of findings and observations.

New Publication: Patients reading their medical records: differences in experiences and attitudes between regular and inexperienced readers

The national patient survey related to medical records online has resulted in a new publication. This one is focusing on older patients and their use of the system. The paper is a collaboration with the HIBA project in Finland led by professor Isto Huvila. The team behind the paper also included Jonas Moll, Heidi Enwald, Noora Hirvonen and Rose-Mharie Åhlfeldt.

The results are not super surprising, but still relevant. Older patients are more likely to use the phone when seeking clarification, whereas younger people use the internet. There are clear clear age differences shown in the data.

The abstract is coped below. And the full paper is available online: http://www.informationr.net/ir/21-1/paper706.html#.W_ff4XpKhZE

Abstract

Introduction. Patient accessible electronic health records can be used to inform and empower patients. However, their use may require complementary information seeking since they can be difficult to interpret. So far, relatively little is known of the information seeking that takes place in connection to health record use, and especially the way it varies in different age groups. A better understanding of patients’ preferences of where and how to find explanatory information provides valuable input for the development of health information provision and counselling services.

Method. The analysis is based on the results of a national survey of Swedish individuals (N=1,411) who had used a national patient accessible electronic health record system (Journalen).

Analysis. The data were analysed in SPSS 24.0 using Kruskal-Wallis tests for detecting group-wise differences and Jonckheere-Terpstra tests for discovering age-related trends in the data.

Results. Older patients were more likely to use a telephone and younger patients to use social contacts to ask for clarification. Generally, older adults born between 1946–1960 appear as passive information seekers.

Conclusion. Age groups differ in their preferences on how to seek clarification, which underlines the importance of a better understanding of individual differences in delivering not only technically but also intellectually accessible health information. Calling by telephone could be a habit of present older generations whereas, to a degree, searching information online could be a comparable habit of current younger generations.