Category Archives: Computer Science Education

The IT in Society Course with Collaboration with Region Uppsala Kicks Off This Week

I will be teaching the IT in Society course as usual this semester. The course starts this week, and runs until Christmas. The collaboration with Region Uppsala in IT in Society course began in 2002, and over the years the subject of the course has varied according to what Region Uppsala has proposed for projects. For a few years the theme was the medical records online for Journal Patients, other themes have been consultations on distance and positioning systems.

In the project, 15-30 students make a common type of “feasibility study” during a semester to understand an area, and how the area can be developed from a technical perspective. IT students from Uppsala University and an American university named the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology.

The collaboration with Region Uppsala roughly works as follows: 
1) The Region proposes a theme that suits them well. The topic may be small or large, but should include open questions that need to be investigated. Someone from the Region presents the theme of the course at the beginning gives suggestions on areas that could be explored. The American students are in Uppsala this week.
5) Week 39 to v 50: The students work on examining the topic of the semester. During this period, they need help with access to health care people who can help them understand the topic.
6) in December a first version of the final result will be presented at an open seminar where the region has invited relevant people who are interested. The American students are in Uppsala this week too. The region usually booked a room that is suitable, and the university stands for coffee.

The last few years the students have presented their results at the Vitalis conference, and they have done really good projects. Let’s hope that this years’ course is equally interesting and will be presented at Vitalis! The topic of this years’ project remains to be decided, and I am really curious about what it might be!

Four problems when teaching HCI in IT programmes for computer scientists

I think it is super difficult to teach human computer interaction in core computing programmes. I have tried different approaches and have tried to understand the problems for almost 20 years now. It feels like I fly over a landskapet of problems that i don’t really know how to address. I fly slowly with little possibility to really affect where I am going, like with the parachute in the blog post picture. Here are four of the problems that I have seen.

1) My experience is that students of IT programmes often come with a value system and interest closely connected to technology and the core programming area. With this I mean that they are more interested in the technology in itself, such as the specifics of databases, efficient coding and machine learning. They are less interested in how people use technology, how to introduce technology in organisations, or how technology affects the work environment. In short: Many of them are not particularly interested in the area that I work in and in my teaching. Still they need to take classes of human computer interaction in their programme, and these are really another kind of courses.

2) The problems that they have encountered so far in their education are often of the kind that there are many possible solutions, but there is a definite way of saying what is right and wrong with different solutions. This is also the kind of problems that you address in many Science research projects. In my courses, where I teach about how to deal with the management of numerous IT systems in an organisation, such as in the Complex IT systems in Organisations course, there is no correct answer. The problems I teach about are so called wicked problems and they are not used to these. This results in them not understanding me when I explore and reflect on different approaches to solve the problem. They think that I don’t really know what I talk about since I don’t give a definite answer.

3) The kind of Human Computer Interaction problems that I teach are very closely connected to student’s development of professional competencies. A professional competency can be seen as consisting of three different parts 1) theoretical knowledge about the problem 2) skills to deal with the problem in practice and 3) attitude or disposition to see the problem as important and interesting. The professional competency that I want the students to develop is however not easy to incorporate into traditional teaching.

4) One of the problems connected to all the other problems is that when students meet me in the classroom I am not perceived as a computer scientist. This is due to a combination of all the other problems with the area that I teach. But it is also due to me being one of the very few women they meet as teachers. Sometimes I am the first one they encounter in their university education, and I teach something that they don’t find interesting, don’t have the same kinds of problems and is based in a wider view of what they need to learn (professional competencies).

If you are interested reading more about this I have written a paper about students and unexpected behaviour in teaching. The paper is called Unexpected Student Behaviour and learning opportunites.

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

 

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.

Investigations in Primary Care – this Years’ IT in Society Project

I am one of the faculty scaffolding students in the course “IT in Society”. I work together with Cary Laxer, Anne Peters and Mats Daniels on the course. This is a course where students work on a joint project together with Region Uppsala. Region Uppsala is a politically managed organization responsible for health, public transport, culture, and regional development issues. According to their web they work with the county’s municipalities, colleges, business and other actors to create the best conditions for us as residents. The Region comes up with a burning hot topic for the students to investigate, and this year they have chosen primary care.

Primary care in Sweden has quite an awful situation, and there are lots of people who quit their jobs and move to other part of health care. This results in an even worse situation for those who stay in primary care who for example get more patients, and the costs for hiring temporary staff is alarming. The number of patients increase every year due to an ageing population that live longer with multiple kinds of deceases. Turnaround of staff in primary care makes patients meet different doctors more often than the same doctor when needing care. Also they experience that primary care cannot offer an appointment quick enough when you are ill. This also results in a new market for digital doctors where patients can get an appointment using for example their iPad and a video meeting. These appointments are easy to get, and often within 30-45 min you get to meet a doctor and at the same cost as going to a primary care unit. However, studies have shown that the digital doctors get to meet patients that want advise of a kind that you traditionally in Sweden do not see a doctor for getting. This Has lead to enormous costs for society, but at the same time to patients thinking that they get good service.

My team in the IT in Society course this year are looking into the situation for frequent patients and primary care. This means people who frequently have the role to be patients and who have for example a chronicle condition such as diabetes. Often these people are older, as in the picture in the blog post, and many are not very prone to use technology but prefer people. In this they are investigating connected health as a phenomenon, and clinical support systems from the perspective of shared decision making. I am really enjoying the project this year, and most of the students are really brilliant and work hard.

Interviewed for ”Research Profile of the Month”

Being interviewed is always a learning experience, as you get questions that you seldom ask yourself. The interview for the “Research Profile of the Month at the Faculty of Science of Technology” took several hours (3?), and the questions were related to all my areas of research. The person who interviewed was really a good listener, and had planned the interview carefully.

For me the interview created lots of reflection, and I will make use of it while thinking about where I want to go in my work life. Perhaps I will take a few minutes and relax in the grass, as illustrated in this blog post picture, during summer holidays.

Some of the questions were:

  • Why have I chosen the research questions that I am studying?
  • What are my plans forward?
  • How is it to do research on areas that have no clear and simple answers?
  • How is it to combins family and research?
  • What is my strongest personality trait?

In the link below my research is presented at Uppsala University’s web page.

http://www.teknat.uu.se/news/nyhetsdetaljsida/?id=10926&area=5,32&typ=artikel&lang=en

The Self-Flipped Classroom Concept: Underlying Ideas and Experiences – paper accepted for Frontiers in Education

Anna Vasilchenko, Mats Daniels and I had a paper accepted for Frontiers in Education very much based on Anna’s excellent work!!

The paper is a conceptual paper on self-flipped classrooms and we will continue working on research in the area in the fall. We will make use of experiences from the new course that I am teaching with Diane Golay.

Anna, Mats and I have also done one application for funding of this research and I really hope that we will get that!!

Here is the abstract:

In the modern fast changing world no formal education is able to provide learners with a complete set of knowledge, skills and competences that they would need to successfully compete on tomorrow’s job market. Therefore, the role of universities is increasingly shifting towards provision of an environment where students have a chance to acquire lifelong learning skills. This paper presents underlying ideas of, and practical experiences with, an innovative pedagogy that addresses the lifelong learning skills acquisition along with additional benefits for science and technology students. The proposed approach is called Self-Flipped Classroom (SFC) and it is built on a synergy of two pedagogies: learning through making (“self” part of the name) and Flipped Classroom (“flip” part of the name). To unveil the construct of the SFC concept, we discuss each of its components individually presenting appropriate theoretical grounding. We also report on our experiences from Self-Flipped Classroom implementations in two countries, CountryA and CountryB, and in three different educational settings. From our work with the SFC concept we have identified four different roles the students can assume in a SFC scenario: creators, collaborators, communicators, and learners. We present our observations regarding challenges and opportunities related to the identified roles that have been found in the studied settings. We also outline future research directions in this space.

Awarded the Title Excellent Teacher !!

At Uppsala university faculty with a teaching position can be apply to be awarded the title Excellent Teacher. The title is also connected to a salary raise just as associate professor and full professor.

I applied a few years back, but was rejected, which I wrote about in this blog post  “Never Give up – Never Surrender”. I was very nervous whey I submitted the second time. It is not fun to fail!

This time I was called for an interview, which is one step on the way. I must say that the questions were very difficult to answer. Many of them were hade many layers of answers, and I had no idea if I would fail or pass after having done the interview.

However, this time I was assessed as having competence enough to be awarded the title and I celebrated with champagne Friday night!

 

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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!