IEEE Frontiers in Education in Uppsala 2020

IEEE Frontiers in Edcuation (FIE) is a major international conference focusing on educational innovations and research in engineering and computing education. FIE will be running in Uppsala, Sweden Wednesday, October 21, 2020 to Saturday, October 24, 2020. Of course I will be attending this conference when it runs in Uppsala! The conference  really covers many interesting aspects of education, and I have published many papers with the UpCERG group at this conference. FIE is the place to be to be inspired by research on for example gender, professional competencies or employability in engineering and computing education.




Chair for Case study articles @ NordiCHI 2020


I will be chairing and organising the case study articles for NordiCHI 2020 in Tallin. NordiCHI is one of the conferences I attend every time it runs, and I really like it as it is a mix of researchers and practitioners. And I also have many good colleagues who also join that conference.

The case studies track is new for NordiCHI, and it is a track dedicated to case-study articles and this year NordiCHI targets:

* Future scenarios
* Global development
* Digital society –
* Industry applications

The conference runs October 25 – 29, 2020 in Tallinn, Estonia. The deadlines for case studies will be up on the web page soon.

A Decade in Review

Ten years ago I defended my PhD, so this decade was the start of my career as a senior researcher. I have seen many blog posts about academic achievements as a part of the 2020 celebration,  and I thought that I might write one too. However, I will not focus on the success stories but on the things that went more or less wrong and that I learnt from during these years. I try to see these as learning experiences, as in “Make mistakes. Learn from them. Move on”.

Here are some difficult situations  and learning experiences I have had made during this decade. Surely there are more situations to come!

  1. Finishing a Phd as a Single Mom with Three Kids. Ten years ago I was a single mom with three kids writing up my research into a PhD. Honestly my PhD is not amazing, but I am proud that I pulled it off and passed. The learning experience from this is that good enough works fine, and that family is what matters most in every situation.
  2. Non-finished papers. Most of the time I find the energy to rewrite papers that are rejected, but sometimes there is simply no such energy despite the paper being 90% done. Fortunately I do this very seldom, but is it still such a waste of time NOT to finish and resubmit. The learning experience from this is set of time, and to give yourself a deadline when the paper needs to be done.
  3. Accused of Doing Unethical Research. Our research consortium DOME was accused of doing unethical research when doing studies on the implementation of patient accessible electronic health medical records. We were of course freed from all accusations, but this was horribly stressful. The leaders of the consortium including me were on hearing by the ethical board, and I felt like a criminal. Other experiences during these times included people calling asking for help when all they wanted to do was to find problems with our research. Learning experience from this: You can really build a strong community when there is a crisis, and DOME flourished from being forced to really collaborate and support each other. DOME is still one of the nicest research teams that I am a part of!
  4. Not Getting Funded for Years. In 2016 I was close to giving up my career as a researcher due to not getting any funding. Getting funding and understanding the system was indeed too difficult, and I tried as good as I could without any luck. I felt like such a failure. After more than ten fails with applications I at last got three project funded, and I am still in academia but it was a close call. Learning experience from this: I think I did learn a LOT from writing so many applications with different people. Unfortunately I did not get to work with them, but today my knowledge about how to write applications has indeed improved from all this hard work.
  5. Media Coverage with Unexpected (WHAT?) Content. I have been interviewed in the radio where sentences I said were cut off, and media articles that I have been cited in have titles that I would strongly disapprove of. When doing research on patient accessible electronic health records this was really not good as it was lots of conflicts related to the implementation. The learning experience from this is to make sure that I read or look at everything that is published including the headline of the article.
  6. Declined Being Promoted. Around five years ago I applied to promotion to Excellent teacher, knowing from asking knowledgeable colleagues that I was indeed qualified. And also knowing from having done such assessments myself. However, I failed and the application was denied based on really odd details. The learning experience from this is that failing hurts, and unfairness hurts, but I didn’t die but applied again a few years later and passed.
  7. Lack of Support. For more than five years I was in a situation where I had very little, or no support, from one important person in a power position at work. This resulted in much stress, and avoidance of being at work, and me applying for a job at other university in Sweden. I did not get the job which really was too bad 🙁 . Learning experience from this: Academia can indeed be a tough place, and we need to take care of each other. However, I still think that I would have been better off switching jobs than staying even though the situation came to an end.
  8. Difficulties in a Collaboration. People are different, and value different things. One of the most difficult conflicts I experienced was in a collaboration that had worked excellently for several years when I was the Pi in a project, but that failed when my colleague became the Pi in a new project. We had a different views on what counted as work in the project when she was the manager, and we did not find an agreement. I finished the collaboration one year early. Thee learning experience from this is to openly discuss what counts as work in the project, and what is expected from each person.

On doing presentations and different audiences

I participated as a speaker on an event called “Competence – The opportunities and challenges of digitalisation” on Friday the 22nd of November. It was indeed super relevant and interesting! I wrote around 10 pages of notes from the event and it was really very interesting. I will definitely attend if similar events are organised again!

Somehow I got into a mode of being very funny, and people really laughed at my horrible numbers about failures related to IT in organisations and generally they thought I was quite funny. People also came up to me thanking me for a very interesting presentation, and the speaker after me started off by saying: “Well, it is not easy to give a seminar after such a funny speaker”. Being perceived as really funny was indeed a new experience for me! 

I sometimes give very similar lectures to this one for students at the university – an there no one laughs! They hardly look at me while talking, and few pay attention. Obviously different groups of people enjoy different things. 😮 

This was the information about the event: Do you run strategic issues related to skills supply, labor market and digitalization? Don’t miss our inspiring day with research and practical examples in the areas of skills provision, digitization and adult education. During the day, you will receive the latest research, examples from the construction and trade industries, and the opportunity to network with participants from municipalities, authorities and educational institutions.

The day was free of charge.

Amir Chizari, CIO / CDO, Riksbyggen
Åsa Cajander, professor of human computer interaction, Uppsala University
Anders Forslund, adjunct professor, Uppsala University
Sofia Hernnäs, PhD student at the Department of Economics, Uppsala University
Oskar Nordström Skans, professor of economics, Uppsala University and director of Uppsala University’s Center for Work Life Research (UCLS)

The talks were moderated by Laura Hartman, Uppsala University and Catrin Ditz, Storstockholm 

The event was organized by Uppsala University and Storsthlm in collaboration with the City of Stockholm and Digital @ Today

Being in the writing zone or having grit?!

I have noticed that sometimes I really struggle to write, and each word I write comes slowly and painfully. On these occasions I want to quit my job and spend my time doing easier things, and I have to use my grit not to give up. On other occasions I can really end up being in a “bubble” of flow, or in the zone where writing is an effortless achievement and the writing process is really giving me lots of energy. It is quite like being energised through the focus of writing, and the writing process absorbs be completely.

Indeed, the state of being in the writing zone (or not being there) is an interesting phenomena very central for academic work.

One could wonder if it is possible to increase the likelihood of writing as in the state of flow, and decrease the number of occasions when it is a pain?

This is my personal list of things that increases the likelihood of experiencing flow:

  1. Writing in a room together with other people often gives me inspiration.
  2. Having had a good nights sleep the night before
  3. A clear outcome is often helping. If I know what I want to say in the text it is easier.
  4. Deadlines might sometimes help – but sometimes they are just obstacles
  5. Take a short walk in the breaks
  6. Coffee


What are your tips for getting in the writing zone?

Half-time seminar by Marie-Therése Crafoord

On the 22nd of November 2019 I was a member of the examination committee for Marie-Therése Crafoord at her half-time seminar. Marie-Therése Crafoord does her PhD education at Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm at the Department of Neurobiology, Care Sciences and Society, Division of Nursing

Marie-Therése Crafoord presented very interesting work with the title:

Patient and health care values – A RCT study in patients with cancer evaluating an interactive ICT-platform for reporting symptom distress during treatment

The PhD thesis will be based on three different studies on a eHealth application for cancer patients. She uses the concept of engagement to look into the user experience and use of the app, and has one submitted paper in that area at the time of the half-way seminar. There are also two other studies planned that will go into her PhD thesis.

The process at a half-time seminar at Karolinska Institutet includes going through and discussing all parts of a PhD, and as a member of the committee I took part of transcripts of records and a description of the PhD education.

Marie-Therése Crafoord has done a very thorough work, and I very much look forward to following her studies in the future. In the discussions it became clear that she is very knowledgeable in her area, and her reflexive way of talking about her work was indeed impressive and will take her a long way!

Panel Member Discussing Leadership in Academia

I was an invited member of a panel recently to discuss leadership in Academia. The panel was a part of a leadership course at Uppsala University. I must say that this was quite a nervous thing to do. It feels like you need to have all the answers to tricky leadership questions, and also you need to be a good leader. I always try to be a fair and supportive coach, but for sure there are areas of improvement for me when it comes to leadership -despite many leadership courses in the area.  One area of improvement is indeed creating an environment where people do their best in this competitive area, and don’t loose confidence when things don’t go their way, and where people experience wellbeing and a good work environment.

I managed to present myself for ten minutes, and not the fifteen minutes that was the plan, and then there was a discussion around different topics connected to leadership.

One topic that we discussed was diversity and my time management. Why do I chose to put time working with diversity in an environment where the academic achievement is what is counted – not aiming at being a more inclusive environment. My answer to this was that diversity is a core value for me, and that it feels really important to work with.

Another area that came up was work-life balance. I guess I got this question since I am a full professor with four kids. However,  I do not work more than full time any week of the year. I simply don’t have the time. Many weeks I think I work less, when the kids are going through tough periods. I don’t think that I said this at the panel but I think I am quite good at being efficient, lower quality of deliveries when possible, and I also work with many good people where collaboration works amazingly good so that everyone works less even though the results are really good.


What is needed in the future when it comes to digital competence?

What is needed in the future when it comes to digital competence? This is the topic of a project coordinated by the Swedish Agency for Growth Policy Analysis. My role in this will be as one of the experts filling in a Delphi study and joining in a one day meeting in Stockholm next year. And as you can imagine, I have been asked as one of their gender equality experts related to digitalization.

The questions that are asked are:
• What do jobs look like in 5-10 years?
• What digital skills are needed to perform these tasks?

The knowledge of how the tasks performed at the job will change is contradictory and under construction. This makes it difficult today to understand what digital skills will be needed to do the jobs in the future. In order to gain a deeper understanding of what digital skills will be needed in the future, a study is conducted focusing on the following three areas:
• Industry
• The service sector
• Gender equality (women / men)

Swedish Agency for Growth Policy Analysishas written a number of reports on digitization. The new project Digital competence, how is the present and future in education systems and business begins by updating the knowledge of how digitally mature Swedish companies are today. The Authority’s new maturity calculations include, among other things, components that showcase the companies’ digital competence.

This will be an interesting learning experience, and I hope to be able to contribute with my  knowledge about competence, work and gender!

Examiner of Anders Klingerg’s PhD thesis on mobile teleconsultations in acute burn care

Anders Klingberg has defended his thesis on mobile teleconsultation in acute burn care, and I was one of the external examiners. The PhD is in public health sciences from Karolinska Institutet, but it includes several papers on acceptance and user experience and that is where my  competence is.

The process at Karolinska is that the papers are read and accepted by the committee some months before the defence, and a chair of the committee sees to it that a paper is signed about the quality of the papers. I was the chair this time, and coordinated the others’ comments.

The thesis is based on four papers, of which three were accepted before the defence. The topic of the thesis is super relevant, and the interdisciplinary approach of the research is indeed impressive. The ultimate aim of the thesis is to improve acute burn injury care in South Africa. Congratulations to a very interesting PhD thesis, and an excellent PhD defence!


Anders Klingberg is in the middle of the picture, together with me and Mårten Kildal who also was one of the examiners.

Below is a copy of the abstract from thee thesis – a recommended read! You find the full thesis here:




Background: Burn injuries are a global health problem with severe consequences for those affected and nearly 95% of all burns occur in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). While minor burns can be treated locally such as at the emergency department, severe burns need transfer to a specialist burns centre. However, non-specialists often lack the training and experience to accurately diagnose and manage burns. While smartphones have been shown to be feasible for remote consultations between frontline providers and burns specialists, barriers may impede successful uptake.

Aims: The aims of the thesis were to deepen the knowledge about referral patterns of patients with burns in resource poor settings, and to study perceptions and experiences among emergency staff’s use of smartphones as a diagnostic support to improve the assessment, initial care and referrals of patients with burns.

Methods: Study I was a retrospective case study of 871 paediatric patients with burns at a trauma unit in Cape Town. Demographic, injury characteristics, and disposition was used to determine whether patients were referred according to local criteria. Study II was a mixed- methods study of the usability of a smartphone app (the Vula app) for burn injury consultations. Twenty-four emergency doctors and four burns specialists were enrolled in the study. A think-aloud study was conducted with all participants and their interaction with the app was video-recorded and later analysed using content analysis. The twenty-four emergency doctors also completed a usability questionnaire. Study III was a qualitative study where semi-structured interviews were conducted with 15 doctors regarding their experiences using the Vula app for burn consultations and referrals. The interview-guide and thematic analysis were informed by the Normalisation Process Theory. In Study IV, fifty-nine frontline health workers completed a questionnaire to assess their intention to use the Vula app. The questionnaire and the analysis were informed by the technology acceptance model (TAM).

Results: Study I. Most referred patients fulfilled the referral criteria. However, of those treated and discharged from the trauma unit, 8 out of 10 children also fulfilled the criteria for referral. In Study II, the usability test and questionnaire showed that the doctors perceived the Vula app to be easy to use and useful. However, some problems were identified mainly related to navigation, and understanding of meaning of icon’s terminologies. Some users also said that predefined options in the app limited their ability to express their clinical findings. Study III revealed several barriers and promotors for successful integration of the Vula app. Promotors included the already prevalent practice of using smartphones, that it was easy to use and the learning opportunity that the app offered. Barriers to successful integration included; inconsistent use of the app across specialities and lack of information, policies and infrastructure to support the users. In Study IV, almost all health professionals used smartphones in their work and were positive towards using Vula. Access to wireless internet and access to smartphones was mentioned to be a barrier.

Conclusions: Identifying patients with burns who are in need of referral is challenging. Mobile teleconsultations is therefore a way of assisting with diagnosis and initial management. The Vula app was easy to use and perceived to be useful, but several barriers need to be addressed for the app to become an integrated part of the practice in emergency care. In settings with considerably fewer resources, these barriers will likely be even more important to address prior to implementation.

Hoping for an “innovative training school” about digital and health literacy among healthcare professionals and the public

I am a part of an international consortium that will submit an application to an “Innovative Training School” in the area of health literacy among health care professionals and the public. This is the official description of an Innovative Training School  copied from the website:

“The Innovative Training Networks (ITN) aim to train a new generation of creative, entrepreneurial and innovative early-stage researchers, able to face current and future challenges and to convert knowledge and ideas into products and services for economic and social benefit.

ITN will raise excellence and structure research and doctoral training in Europe, extending the traditional academic research training setting, incorporating elements of Open Science and equipping researchers with the right combination of research-related and transferable competences. It will provide enhanced career perspectives in both the academic and non-academic sectors through international, interdisciplinary and intersectoral mobility combined with an innovation-oriented mind-set.”

The consortium members will be meeting in Brussels to discuss the application, and to work on it  in a couple of weeks. Before the meeting we will prepare different parts of the application, and I have already had a meeting with our EU coordinators to get some help. As usual this kind of application will take a couple of weeks’ work, and you don’t know if you are funded  and the likelihood of getting accepted is probably around 10-20%. However, if the application is funded we will have a joint research school with PhD students coming from different universities. This would be super nice!!