Category Archives: Computer Science 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!

Working Group on Modeling Global Competencies for Computing Education

I will be attending a working group at ITiCS for the first time ever. A working group is a way to collaborate around an issue related to computing education,and I have heard many good things about working group. The theme for the working group is “Modeling Global Competencies for Computing Education”, se abstract below and more info at https://iticse.acm.org/WorkingGroups.html. The conference ITiCSE 2018 will be held on Cyprus this summer, and I am so looking forward to it! I try to participate in ITiCSE as many years as possible. It is a good, not so big international conference with lots of nice people to be inspired by. Want to join us? Please mail Steve Frezza FREZZA001@gannon.edu before the 28 of March 2018. Abstract: This working group aims to formulate a framework for modeling competencies in the current and future disciplines that contribute towards computing education. The Working Group will draw upon a pioneering curricular document for information technology (IT2017), curricular competency frameworks, other related documents such as the software engineering competency model (SWECOM), the Skills Framework for the Information Age (SFIA), current research in competency models, and elicitation workshop results from other computing conferences.This work will contribute to the Computing Curricula 2020 (CC2020) project, and includes reviewing and formulating sets of disciplinary-relevant competencies used in computing education. The goal is to develop a comprehensive competency framework, as well as guidelines for modeling competencies in computing education suitable for comparing programs across nationalities and disciplines by enabling comparisons of the competencies intended in each program. Through the working group activities, participants will engage in brainstorming activities to formulate competencies, develop competing frameworks and their scholarly basis, and integrate models and guidelines for enabling the comparison of computing programs.This work will directly inform the ongoing CC2020 project, an endeavor supported by the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and the IEEE Computer Society.

“Never Give up, Never Surrender!“ – Re-Submitted Application for the Title Excellent Teacher

I finally rewrote my application for the title Excellent Teacher at Uppsala University last week. I wrote one three years ago, but failed completely and was not even asked to do an interview. That felt like such a failure! And I guess it was quite a failure… But one shouldn’t give up: “Never Give up, Never Surrender!”

Now I feel brave enough to submit again. An application to the title excellent teacher is according to Uppsala University’s descriptions:

“The term Excellent Teacher is to be used for teachers who have attained a higher level of teaching expertise. Academic teaching competence, personal engagement, and skills shall have an express meritorious value for teachers at Uppsala University.  ”

Writing this applicaiton has taken quite a lot of time. It ended up being more than 50 pages of text describing all my teaching activites, and development work and also 30 attachments with more than 10 letters of recommendation, course evaluations, development project descriptions etc.

I really hope that I will be called for the interveiw this time. That would mean that I am one step closer at least….

A Framework for Competence Development in Project Courses: A Pedagogic Development Project

Except for cognitive and technical skills, a number of professional competencies are needed to be able who work in a global job market. Some examples of such professional competencies are communication skills, creative thinking, reflection skills and intercultural competence. More work is needed, though, on understanding and spread how such professional competencies can be developed in project courses. The overarching goal of our development project was therefore to develop a framework for scaffolding the development of professional competencies..

The framework is based on working with open problems in project courses where students are given the freedom to define and drive the work themselves, and highlight aspects like progression and measurability, as well as support, including support from other students, in skills development. This by giving examples of different forms of support for students in their learning, but also for teachers to design learning environments suitable for the development of competencies. The idea is that the framework will be able to function in a variety of ways and in different roles and aims at an increased understanding of how active student participation can contribute to better learning environments for students.

The project is based on previous work with a project course, IT in society. In this work, a guiding principle has been that it is essential for the motivation that the development of competencies exists in a context relevant to the students, in this particular case, an international collaboration on IT use in a complex reality-based project in health care. However, the skills as such are often of a general nature and lessons learned from this context are useful for the development of competencies also in other contexts. The focus of this project is the use of learning agreements with reflections and student feedback. In the work we have developed a number of personas for different types of students and a prototype of a Wikipedia-like platform to collect resources intended for student development of professional skills. These resources are developed for the course IT in society, but are useful as inspiration for university teachers and trainers regarding methods of working with skills development through active student participation in project courses.

In addition to inspiring, we also want to consciously raise the resistance we noted to take the development of these skills seriously. The latter is related to the work of Anne Peters as a PhD student in UpCERG (Uppsala Computing Education Research Group). exemplified in her dissertation (Peters, 2017). In this report we first give a brief presentation of the main work carried out in the project, followed by a presentation of the results the work generated. The report ends with an attachment with publications, and a discussion and summary including future work.

Teaching a New Course: Complex IT Systems in Large Organizations

Next semester Diane Golay and I are teaching a new course called “Complex IT systems in Large Organisations” as a part of the IT, DV and STS programmes at Uppsala University. The majority of the students are from the IT programmes, and around 35 students have signed up to join this new course.

The course description is as follows:

Complexity problems that arise in large organizations where different user groups have different requirements. Development and implementation of IT solutions with multiple interoperable systems and management of the effects of prolonged continuous updates and maintenance of such systems.

The learning outcomes of the course are related to describing challenges and problems that arise in connection with the development and introduction of IT systems in large organizations, and methods to deal with these. Students should also be able to discuss advantages, disadvantages and applicability of a method in a specified problem situation. Moreover, they should be able to propose appropriate IT solution for a given problem situation and motivate and discuss the solution.

Last week we started off the work with the course and had a workshop with a few of our colleagues to get ideas for the set up. We have also booked meetings every other week the coming weeks to plan the course, so that we are prepared when it starts in week 12.

The course is indeed very close to many of the HTO research groups projects, and we will make use of our own research material as course material. We will probably also do interviews with people from industry as a part of the course. It will indeed be great fun to develop this course and the course content!

Students who are reading about this course are welcome to apply to it!

If you work with “Complex IT in Large Organisations” and would be OK with being interviewed about your job (on Skype or IRL) please send me or Diane Golay a mail!

My View of Supervision

My philosophy regarding supervision is to coach depending on background, motivation, and current situation of the person, and to come up with a joint model about how to go forward. This way of thinking is inspired by Vygotsky´s zone of proximal development. I also actively seek to use a situated view of leadership and try to see my students as individuals, and adapt my leadership based on the personal characteristics of the student, knowledge, situation and context. When problems occur, I try to discuss them with the student as soon as possible to collaborately find a good solution.

I often use strategies borrowed from the area of coaching in my supervision (I have been a coach as a part of my research projects, see Cajander et al 2010). As a part of this I avoid coming up with advice such as “you should now do XY & Z”, but rather try to coach the student to come up with their own solutions. I am completely convinced that I cannot know what would be the best solution or approach for them since research is complex, and I never have the full picture like they do. However, there are situations related to the research quality, for example, where the supervisors might indeed know possible ways forward that are unknown to the PhD or master student. Such areas might for example include where to find relevant literature or where to publish. Finally, my supervision is based on the growth mindset which is shortly described as “I/you don’t know this YET”, and I often talk about this mindset in relation to grit with my PhD students.

Master and bachelor students doing their thesis work in connection to my research are invited to participate in research projects, and are included in the conferences arranged etc. if they want to. I think that it is an important learning experience to be a part of the team in the project. Some of the students have indeed done wonderful work that has resulted in publications such as for example:

Other students have also won awards for being the best students, such as Viktor Kjellman and Johan Andersson and their master thesis on “Patient Empowerment and User Experience in eHealth Services: A Design-Oriented Study of eHealth Services in Uppsala” as in the blog post picture!

 

IT in Society Students Presenting Work on Tracking Technologies at the Largest eHealth Meeting in the Nordic Countries?

Vitalis is an important venue for innovators, business and reseracher in eHealth, and brings together 4,500 participants. Next Vitalis takes place 24-26 April 2018 in Gothenburg, and last week the students from the IT in Society class submitted a proposal for a presentation at the conference.

The students will present their research on how health care can improve and become more efficient using tracking technology. I would suspect that it is not as easy as tracking in the snow, as in this blog post’s photo, however.

The students are doing extensive research on the topic this semester, with interviews field studies and literature reviews and studies to industries who have used tracking systems in their organizations to become more efficient.

The students will present their work around Christmas for Region Uppsala, and let’s hope that they are accepted to the conference so that knowledge and insights from their great work has a chance to spread!

 

 

 

 

Including Communication and PR in the IT in Society Class

Communication and PR are an important part of innovation and change. People use social media and Wikipedia to understand reality to a large extent. Through these channels we create the truths.  (Or alternative truths :-o). Hopefully in parallel with other more traditional media channels. Even though communication and PR are very important for success, there are very few courses in the IT related programs at the university level that deal with this.

The students in the IT in society class has always marketed their work with an invitation to their presentation the final week, but this year we have put a more explicit focus on communication and marketing of their work.

They have one group of students who will work with communication and PR. It will be interesting to see what they choose to do! It will also be interesting to see what effects this will have on how known the course is, and how well they manage to communicate the results to media, other students, county councils etc.

We know that the students will submit an abstract to Vitalis and if they are accepted a few of them will go there and present in April. Last year the students did a fabulous job presenting at Vitalis 🙂

Creating a Learning Environment for Development of Professional Competencies in the IT in Society Class

I would claim that the Learning outcomes of the IT society course are very different from most courses at the University.  The IT in society class has focus on development of professional competencies.

The learning outcomes specified of the course are:

  1. Collaborate in a large project with an external client, and present a professional solution, both orally and in written form to the client.
  2. Handle, validate and analyse a very complex and multi-facetted problem in a constructive manner in a project group.
  3. Evaluate, criticize and validate solutions to IT-related problems from perspectives such as ethics, sustainable development, work environment, economy and usefulness.
  4. Illustrate, show and describe experiences from working in a multi-cultural distributed project.
  5. Evaluate and analyse one’s abilities and competencies regarding working in a multi-cultural and distributed project, as well as develop strategies that lead to lifelong learning.

In this blog post I will be talking about the last learning outcomes in the list above, number 5. The learning outcome that people should have the ability to evaluate and analyse one’s abilities and competencies, and to develop strategies for lifelong learning in the area of Computer science.

We have been working on creating a learning environment where it is possible to develop and practice the lifelong learning competence. And we have improved the environment quite a lot over the years. This is how we do it this year:

  1. First, we have a traditional lecture about professional competencies. We present one way of looking at these competencies and what they consist of. We have chosen to work with the competences developed by Curtin University.
  2. Second, we have a workshop with the students where they write their own personal learning agreement. These learning agreements should include
    1. Why they have chosen three specified competencies to work with during the course.
    2. What they will do to develop their confidence in the three areas.
    3. How they will know that they have improved. And how faculty can know that they have improved.
  3. Third, we have meetings with groups of three students. In these meetings, the students present their learning agreement, and we discuss it together as well as the social strategies to improve that competence.
  4. Often this meeting is followed by a second meeting where we do the same thing in the first meeting since the students need more help in writing these learning agreements.
  5. By the end of the project we meet again in the same groups to discuss what happened during the semester, and how they were able to fulfil their learning agreement.

We have written a few papers on this topic and you find them here:

  1. Cajander, Å., Daniels, M., McDermott, R., & Von Konsky, B. R. (2011, January). Assessing professional skills in engineering education. Australian Computer Science Communications, vol 32, pp 73-78. (pp. 145-154). Australian Computer Society, Inc.
  2. Clear, T., McDermott, R., Parsjö, E., Cajander, Å., Daniels, M., & Lagerqvist, N. (2016, October). A framework for writing learning agreements. In Frontiers in Education Conference (FIE), 2016 IEEE (pp. 1-8). IEEE.
  3. Peters, A. K., Hussain, W., Cajander, A., Clear, T., & Daniels, M. (2015, July). Preparing the global software engineer. In Global Software Engineering (ICGSE), 2015 IEEE 10th International Conference on (pp. 61-70).