We are a group of seven people who will organise a special session at the IEEE Frontiers in Education Conference 2020. Most of the organisers are from Uppsala, and the “hero” behind the idea for the special session is Anne Peters from the UpCERG research group. Most probably Frontiers in Education will be an online conference in October 2020, and I am very much looking forward to participating and discussing how to integrate sustainability issues in education. The title for the special session is: “Care ethics to develop computing and engineering education for sustainability”
Here is the abstract for the special session:
The aim of this special session is to connect researchers interested in computing and engineering education for sustainability. We will explore the use of care and care ethics as a theoretical perspective to develop sustainability education. Theoretical discussions in environmental and sustainability education (ESE) research and feminist research will be introduced to develop an understanding of care for education. Those theories will be illustrated and motivated based on concrete examples in computing and computing education. The participants get to choose among four different topics of discussion in the session, 1) the role of education to prepare for care, 2) theoretical discussions of care as a concept to develop education and education research, 3) pedagogical methods to foster care, 4) care and responsibility in the curriculum. The outcome of this session is two-fold: The participants will gain new ways of conceiving education for human and planetary well-being and they will get to know researchers and educational developers with an interest in and experiences with sustainability education.
Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay
The University Chancellor’s Office (Universitetskanslersämbetet ), together with the Swedish Growth Agency (Tillväxtverket), has been commissioned to analyze and propose how the supply of digital excellence can be developed in the short and long term. The assignment includes the development of improved statistics and forecasts of the total need for competence in business and the public sector with the aim of improving the conditions for universities and universities to meet the need for excellence in the short and long term.
However, there is no accepted definition of what digital excellence is. Our project hence aims to develop a definition of the concept of digital excellence. The definition should form the basis for UKÄ and the Swedish Growth Agency’s project.
As a part of this work Jan Gulliksen, Arnold Pears, Mattias Wiggberg and I are doing an interview study with 10-20 key players to understand their perspective of Digital Excellence. This week I have started doing these semi structured interviews, and it has been great fun. Doing an interview is always a learning experience, and people are often very wise and knowledgeable.
I will be a part of a team that will work on a definition of Excellent Digital Competence (Digital spetskompetens) in the spring 2020. The project is funded by The Swedish Agency for Economic and Regional Growth (Tillväxtverket) and The Swedish Higher Education Authority (UKÄ). The work will be led by Professor Jan Gulliksen and the other members of the team are Arnold Pears and Mattias Wiggberg. The team is composed of people with complementary skills to create the best possible working group, and my area of speciality in comparison to the others is the gender perspective.
Excellent Digital Excellence is likely to include a basic broad knowledge of the basics of digitalisation as well as in-depth expertise in one or more sub-areas, such as programming technology, AI, data security or user experiences, just to name a few. Digital excellence also certainly includes some form of documented practical experience of actively participating in several successful development projects.
The OECD notes that the lack of digital specialists and digital excellence is a bottleneck for innovation and growth in Sweden. The need is expected to increase in the coming years as digitalisation develops and new technologies such as AI will have an impact.
In order to work with this on a political level there is a need for a definition of Excellent Digital Competence, and we will work with this using several different methods:
- Literature studies to map the state of knowledge, analyses of identified documents
- Short interviews to capture the different needs of the target groups, both from industry and academia
- Continuous reconciliation meetings with clients to clarify the work and give it direction and to iteratively refine and improve the quality of the result
- Workshop / Focus groups to discuss and anchor proposed definitions, as well as to anchor the work and to get input into problem picture
- Design thinking methodology for developing creative innovative solutions
I think it will be great fun to work in this project! I think that the topic is of high importance, and it will be great fun to reconnect with Arnold Pears, Jan Gulliksen and Mattias Wiggberg.
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:
• 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!
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!
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.
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 🙂
- 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
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.
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.
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.