Author Archives: Åsa Cajander

About Åsa Cajander

Researcher in the area of Human Computer Interaction with research interest in eHealth, User Centred Design and HCI Education.

Participating in Panel Discussion about Software Engineering @ITiCSE 2018 on Cyprus

I have been invited to be a member of a panel on Software Engineering. The area to discuss is how the field has advanced and whether its education addresses the main problems and industry needs. I have several ideas of what to bring up at the workshop, and I haven’t really decided which one to choose yet. The ideas are:

  • Generellt software engineering at the university has too little focus on addressing wicked problems. There are far too many IT projects that fail.
  • Too little focus on professional competencies and the development of those.
  • Too little focus on user involvement and user needs.
  • We need to prepare students for working in an automateld software engineering profession. And we need to engage in the creation of this profession.
  • We need to see to it that computing becomes an inclusive profession and address the gender equality issue. Now!

I’ll write another blog post when I have decided which direction to go in… This will be fun!

Presented My Work With Student Activating Teaching Strategies at a Faculty Teaching Course

A few weeks ago I was invited to do a lecture at a mandatory faculty course organized for my colleagues, and for me. The course was organsied by TUR. 

At first I thought that I would talk about the IT in Society course which I have been teaching for 15 years. It is a great course, but I have presented our work with it several times, so instead I chose to describe the pedagogic underpinnings of the new course that I am teaching together with Diane Golay.

I started my presentation by describing that working wich complex IT systems in large organizations equals addressing a wicked problem. A wicked problem is defined like this in Wikipedia, and by Rittel and Webber (1973):

A wicked problem is a problem that is difficult or impossible to solve because of incomplete, contradictory, and changing requirements that are often difficult to recognize.

I then continued to present the many course elements that we have designed iteratively since October. The course has many different pedagogicak underpinnings related to student activating pedagogy:

  • Student contributing pedagogy, as defined by John Hamer
  • Roleplay when learning how to do interviews
  • Interview of a practitioner in the field
  • Flipped Classroom looking at instructional videos before lectures.
  • Peer review of another groups’ work
  • Self-flipped classroom producing learning materials for yourself and others.
  • Discussions based on the framework of constructive controversy
  • Informal learning support on Facebook
  • Home exam with a special section for those who aim for a higher grade.

NordWit Meeting and Attending a PhD course in Tampere

The NordWit team will meet in Tampere in April. We have a full calendar planned, and we are going to discuss the research done so far as well as plan forward. I am working on two eHealth interview studies that are connected to NordWit, and I have also started to look into career trajectories and role models as a part of the Centre work. The studies have a gender and sociotechnical perspective, which is interesting and new to me. I have lots of interesting people to collaborate with in my studies, and I am learning so much when discussing with them that it is amazing.

I will be staying in Tampere a few days after the NordWit meeting to attend a PhD course arranged by the NordWit team. The course is called Gender, Work and Transforming Organisations. Both Diane Golay and Gunilla Myreteg are taking the course with me, and we have started to look in to the quite extensive course material. I will attend the course as a student, or listener, and try to learn as much as I can in this new area. I really hope that I have time to read the papers before the course so that I can learn as much as possible from attending!

Submitted Application to Professor of Computer Science

Some time back I submitted an application for promotion to full professor of Computer Science at Uppsala University. It ended up being almost 60 pages of text, and I had worked with the applications for months. Submitting it was really energy consuming, much because there’s always a risk of failing when being evaluated. I have heard of many cases where people have very unexpectedly being assessed as not qualified. I also know that the process is gendered, and that women threat to be evaluated much harsher than men. Submitting this application was really a brave step for me. It felt like the jump made by the man in the blog post.

Being in academia really means being exposed to constant assessments, and evaluations of your work in different ways. I can get quite tired of this but I guess it is a part of the game. If you want to impact society and get funding for doing your research it is better to be a full professor than an associate professor.

The process is quite slow when you apply for promotion at Uppsala University. If I am lucky I will have the results from the evaluation before summer, but it is not unlikely that it is done in the fall. There are small steps on the way, though, and so far I have celebrated them all!

DOME meeting in Örebro

DOME is the name of the consortium that does research on Patient Accessible Electronic Health Records. We are a group of around ten active researcher coming from five different universities in Sweden. It is really a well functioning research consortium, and we meet every three weeks on Skype and once per semester in real life.

This semester we are meeting in Örebro two days. The first day will be dedicated to a forthcoming application for a reserach grant. It is Rose-Mharie Åhlfeldt who coordinates us in this work, and we have been given tasks in advance related to planning of the application. In the eventing we usually meet at a nice restaurant and have dinner together. Day two will mostly be dedicated to planning of the VITALIS and MIE events in April. We will have presentations together with INERA related to our latest studies, and we’ll spend some hours planning this event.

Key Note Speaker on International Workshop on Software Engineering in Healthcare Systems

I’m going to attend the 40th International Conference on Software Engineering. This is one of the ACM yearly conferences, described in this way on the web site:

ICSE, the International Conference on Software Engineering, is the premier software engineering conference, providing a forum for researchers, practitioners and educators to present and discuss the most recent innovations, research, experiences, trends and concerns in the field of Software engineering. In 2018 ICSE will celebrate its 40th anniversary, and 50 years of Software engineering – 50 years of tremendously successful promotion of research, education and practices in software engineering.

For me this will be the first time I visit this conference, and I will do a key note at one of the workshops of the conference. The workshop is called International Workshop on Software Engineering in Healthcare Systems. In my key note I will address the complexities of doing software engineering when stakeholders have conflicting needs and requirements, and give examples from the implementation of medical records online in Sweden.

The conference will be in Gothenburg in May 2018. I’ve been in Gothenburg a few times, and 90% of the cases it is raining and is really cold. I hope that the city is a bit nicer in May!

Collaborating with a Graphical Recorder for Uppsala Health Summit

Our workshop plans for Uppsala Health summit are getting more and more detailed. We are going to do a workshop with politicians, health care professionals, patients and researchers in the area of use of existing data for diagnosis and treatment of cancer. You can read about the workshop here. Christiane Grünloh, Jonas Moll and I are organising the workshop and it really feels like it’s going to be a great event!!

We are in contact with Maja Larsson related to graphical recording of the workshop participants visions of the future. This means that she will do sketches in real time during the workshop and also do some material for the participants that they can use to discuss. I must stay that Maja Larsson has given an extremely competent impression, and she has sent us lots of examples of inspirational material for the workshop. It is so much fun to work as a researcher sometimes! And there are indeed no limits to what you get to learn!

I hope to see you at the Health Summit! It will be a great event!

A Framework to Design and Evaluate Wearable Interactive Systems for Health – A PhD Thesis by Reem Albaghli

Reem Albaghli from the University of Colorado, Boulder USA, defended her PhD thesis with the title “A Framework to Design and Evaluate Wearable Interactive Systems for Health” last week. I had the honour to be one of the external examiners and attended the defense on video link. The presentation was fantastic, and Reem Albaghli proved herself to be a skilled professional presenter. The thesis is in the area of designing and evaluating the design of wearable devises. Reem Albaghli has done several iterations of her design, and the experiences are synthezised in a framework for designing this kind of systems (the WISE framework). I would recommend to read the thesis if you are interested in interaction design and health, and want to know about the research front in this area.

This is the abstract of the thesis:

Interactive wearable devices—or wearables—are increasingly being used to track the health-related data of their users. The design of such systems is a considerable challenge that stresses the analysis and design techniques of software engineering and human-centered computing and places considerable demands on user experience designers to produce systems that are reliable, accurate, and understandable while also remaining customizable by end users. In my work, I aim to address this situation by developing a design framework that can be used to organize the activities during the development life cycle of a health-related wearable system. The WISE framework proposes a set of heuristics, activities, and principles by which health-related wearable systems can be both designed and evaluated. To demonstrate the power of my framework, I conducted five studies to help design the user interface of a wearable system that helps users visualize their heart rate data and monitor that data for anomalies that may require the attention of a medical professional. Over the course of my five studies, the principles of the WISE framework helped me design visualizations that are easy to understand by users and provide them with value in terms of being able to communicate with their doctors about the health of their heart. To illustrate the generic nature of my iii framework, I have also demonstrated how my framework could be used to design health-related wearable systems that monitor other medical conditions such as depression and Parkinson’s disease

3 Pieces of Advise on Including Gender Equality in Funding Applications

I work with assessment of EU cluster applications in the area of ICT and Innovation. Usually these are very technology oriented, with a focus on technical developments. I read and assess applications with a special interest in gender equality a few times every semester. I must admit that it is quite a horrible experience, as the competence in this area is so low that it is upsetting.

Here are a three pieces of advise related to gender equality for all companies applying for funding in these EU cluster applications:

  1. ICT is not gender neutral. ICT is indeed not a transparent, value free tool. Instead ICT is appropriated in the context of our society. The norm is that men are interested in ICT, know ICT and when ICT doesn’t work men are expected to work with the solutions. Women are often passive receivers of ICT, are expected to be non-intereted and their needs are often neglected when designing ICT. How till you address this complexity in your project?
  2. Gender Equality is about the users of ICT. Gender Equality in you application can be about the use of the system. How will you market the system? Who are the users? How do you make sure that your system addresses the needs of all user groups? In what way do needs vary between user groups? (As the majoritet of ICT projects don’t really look at the users’ needs in a structured way, looking at gender differences might seem completely off your horizon but is necessary.)
  3. How do you create an inclusive project? Gender equality in your project is about creating an inclusive project where everyone is welcome. Guiding stars are transparency in all aspects of the word, equal salaries, equal opportunities, equal support. It is also about meeting cultures, and creating a team where everyone is listened to. You also need to look at your recruitment process for your project. Is the advertisement directed towards men? How do you assess the applications? Everyone in your team will benefit from working with these aspects of gender equality, and most probably the ICT product will also be better, more creative and sell more if you succeed in having an inclusive project.

Of course there are lots of more things to work with related to gender equality, but if you work with the above you are up to a good start. And also if these three aspects are included in your application it will be one of the best I’ve seen so far. And of course that also increases your chances of being funded!