My research team usually meet a few times every semester on a writing retreat. Last semester we did Zoom writing retreats, and that worked somewhat but was not optimal. We had the same schedule but people did not get the same level of inspiration for writing, and it was not as good.
This semester we will meet at in a conference room with lots of space in the Covid-19 spirit. The plan is to write on whatever we want, and to spend nine to five writing.
Here are three tips for organising a great writing retreat:
1) Bring a specific projects, or several small projects. Start off the writing retreat with everyone telling about their plans.
2) When at a writing retreat do a digital detox and put sms, SnapChat or Mails aside in order to do the writing.
3) Bring nice and supportive colleagues. The team support is super important for the atmisphere and for concentration.
4) See to it that you have nice and long coffee breaks! Swedes are famous for their ”fika” and of course we focus on that at our writing retreats too. A fika is a break where you sit down and have Tea, coffee or similar and talk for 15-30 min.
I have been invited to talk about my experience as a leader in academia. I will talk to people working in different leadership positions at Uppsala University.
I was invited to do the same kind of talk a year ago, and that time it felt like I talked way too fast. This time I will do better!
There are five key things that I focus on in my leadership.
1) Celebrate success! I always celebrate success to really notice all small positive things. Academia is a tough place, and it is easy to remember and think of failure. And I fail a lot! I also try to encourage my team to celebrate success and to share success.
2) Collaborate with your team in decision. Your team consists of lots of knowledgeable people and discussing with them around decisions is for sure the best strategy in any situation. Of course you cannot discuss all decisions, but generally talking to other people and getting their perspective is a good idea.
3) Share failure stories. Sharing failure stories is as important as sharing success stories. When you fail in getting published, When you did not get that grant or when you did crap at that presentation – share it with your team and you will get support and create an atmosphere where it is OK to fail. ”Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.” (Robert F. Kennedy).
4) Take time off work. There are far too many in academia who don’t understand that taking time off is the key to living in a sustainable way, to be creative and to be the person you want to be. We need time off work to be our best.
5) Never stop learning and being curious of people. People are an endless source of inspiration and there is always something you can learn from other people. Make sure that you keep your mind open to new ideas and new ways of thinking.
In the beginning of May I was interviewed about my experiences from online teaching. And I thought that I might as well write a blog post about my experiences from moving online with my teaching.
As you might have noticed this semester the Covid19 situation made all university education move online, and so did my course called Complex IT systems in Large Organisations. This time it had around 45 students, and I teach it together with Diane Golay. My experiences from this was not entirely positive. We had a couple of days to plan the lectures, workshops and the process of the course. Here are my thoughts about the topic:
- I miss my students! You have very little contact with the students. And I miss them! I did not even see them! Teaching was like talking to a camera in a vacuum.
- How do you scaffold learning of open ended questions and complex problems without being able to really discuss with students. I did my best, but it was not at all easy. And I am quite sure that their learning was strongly affected.
- All interactions with students needed to be prepared in advance. Me and Diane prepared and used different collaborative tools for each lecture, and I think that they worked Ok, but I miss the spontaneity of face to face interaction.
- Most things are different in online teaching but some things are the same. Students still ask “Will this be on the exam” and I still get so frustrated. I want them to learn because they see the need to know more, not because it is on the exam. But i might be very naive.
Image by Mudassar Iqbal from Pixabay
Academics work quite hard, and many don’t have much time. So why spend it on writing blog posts? Well, I have had this blog for a few years now, and I also blog for NordWit and in my research group HTO. Why do I do this? Here are my top four reasons why I blog:
- I spread the word about my research to people outside of academia, and now and then I have been contacted by journalists and other people who have read blog posts that seem relevant for them.
- I enjoy writing, and blogging is easy and quite fun!! They don’t need to be serious, and they don’t really take that much time to write.
- My blog has resulted in new opportunities for me and my team. One example is visitors coming to Uppsala who have read about our research, others are funding opportunities that are based on blogs that people have read, and it is also a way to be invited to collaborations.
- I reflect and learn while writing. Often I only have a topic for a blog post when I start writing, and as the text appears on the screen I understand and reflect on what I have done and why. Writing about my work helps me reflect and learn from it!
Recently I have spent a considerable amount of time working for NordiCHI 2020 in the role of case studies chair for the industry track. There were 11 papers submitted in the industry track, and each paper needed two reviewers.
Here are my thoughts from this experience:
- It has so far taken me around two days of work to find people willing to do the reviews. I had never imagined that! If you are one of the people who has accepted I want to give you a warm THANK YOU!
- The conference system crashed after the first day, and all the invitations that I had sent were gone. Usability is still an issue in 2020, and those of us who engage in UX and usability will not be out of work due to systems being perfect.
- The people I asked from the data base of reviewers in the conference system mostly declined my invitation.
- I mailed three people that I had never met but from searches in databases I could see that the paper was relevant for them and sent off a personal invitation later. None of these accepted.
- Many of my colleagues are overwhelmed with reviews for this conference, and many declined due to having accepted to do many reviews already.
It will be interesting to see what the reviews look like when they come back. Some people that I asked have already done theirs, and that is truly impressive since it has only been a few days.
Image by Tumisu from Pixabay
Erebouni Arakelian is organising a very interesting session on psychosocial work environment and nurses and my research group has been invited to join. The conference is organised by Svensk förening för Anestesi och Intensivvård and will hopefully happen in Uppsala in September 2020. Diane Golay and I will be presenting our studies on digitalisation, work engagement and nursing, and we are presenting together with several other interesting talks!
The track called Psychosocial work environment will be on Friday the 19th of September and we hope that Corona is gone by then. You find the full schedule here: https://mkon.nu/sfai-veckan20
Psychosocial work environment
Moderator: Erebouni Arakelian, Uppsala
- Introduction to psychosocial work environment, negative health effects, organizational justice and prosperous workplaces Magnus Svartengren, Uppsala
- Why do anesthesia and surgical nurses choose to stay or leave their workplace? Erebouni Arakelian, Uppsala
- Effort-reward imbalance, job-demand control and wellbeing among hospital workers in perioperative context. Robert Wålinder, Uppsala
- Nurses digital work environment: The situation today and what can be done to make it better. Diane Golay and Åsa Cajander, Uppsala
- Working hours and recovery – effects on health and patient safety
Anna Dahlbert, Stockholm
- Daytime rhythms, light behavior, and sleep. We are affected by light at work
Arne Lowden, Stockholm
I’ve been working from home from the first week of March. By now that sums up to around six weeks. The first couple of weeks work was calmer, in my experience, with less meetings and things cancelled. Everything was a bit chaotic there the first weeks. Two conferences where I was going to talk as key note were cancelled which gave me several empty days on a short notice. Also other things disappeared from the calendar and many things were cancelled. But the last weeks it has been more or less the same amount of “too much to do” as usual. But with a different flavour and content.
For me distance meetings takes much more energy than ordinary meetings where everyone is in the same room. Often I have had 5-7 hours of meetings in a day and it doesn’ really work well. Also, very often I am the meeting leader and meetings have a different character than usual. Perhaps that takes some energy from me too? One example is that people are muted and the meetings become a bit more organised. They also need to be more carefully planned. For the future I need to cut down on the number of meetings per day to be able to have energy enough for the other parts of my work: planning things, writing funding applications and papers and reading. The following weeks I will try to cut down to four meetings a day, and not book more than that.
The workload when it comes to teaching has also increased due to Corona. Instead of being prepared to discuss the content/material of my lectures, I also need to prepare the interactions with students to the very detail. In my classes very few students speak up in the zoom meeting classroom, so instead I use polls, and other interactive tools to keep them activated. These needs to be put in place before the lecture starts. Also, the lectures in themselves have been stressful with all kinds of technical issues, even though I am lucky enough to have had good help from Diane Golay who teaches the course with me.
Also the work load when it comes to the family has been different and heavier during these Corona times. The oldest son’s school is closed so he is always studying from home, and me and my husband work from home too. And at least one of the other three kids have stayed at home too every working day. So far there has been only two days with three people at home, and the rest we have had 4-6 people at home every day. This truly affects the grocery shopping, cleaning and cooking. When I sit in my meetings the kids play with different things, and the house is a mess. Unfortunately cleaning and cooking are not my favourite hobbies. I have never been so happy about our robot vacuum cleaner as these days. It does hard work cleaning the house every day! Another example of increased work load is lunch: Instead of walking to the the local restaurant at work we plan and prepare lunch for on average five people every work day. And lunch needs to be one hour due to meetings being booked which often is too short and there is no time to fill the dishwasher etc.
10 years have soon passed since I defended my PhD. Facebook has given me some memories such as “Date set, opponent accepted! Now the only thing that is missing is the text”. I remember that I had tree months to write the introduction to the text and organise everything around the PhD. The PhD was based on eight papers related to how to work with software engineering (user centred design- UCD) in large organisations, and a large action research project with eight different public authorities. You find the thesis here: http://uu.diva-portal.org/smash/record.jsf?pid=diva2%3A310201&dswid=-5735
The thesis has three research questions:
- What happens when UCSD is introduced in a public authority?
I was also interested in the values and perspectives of people involved in the organisation as well as how UCSD can be introduced through new methods that affect the values and perspectives of the stakeholders including the system developers in the organisation. Therefore, this thesis also aims at understanding the following questions:
- How do perspectives of stakeholders in systems development projects affect the work with UCSD, usability and users’ health in the organisations studied?
The final question addresses the issues of how we can address the introduction of UCSD and change perspectives:
- What new methods can be used to introduce UCSD and to influence perspectives?
I finished my PhD during a tough period in life, and I had much support from my family, my supervisor Jan Gulliksen and my friends. One of my very best friends Helena Bernáld did the photos for the thesis, and my parents helped me with grocery shopping, cleaning and laundry. In parallel to writing my PhD I was a single mom of three kids aged 2, 6 and 7, see photo. In addition to this I had just bought a house that I renovated and I somehow I pulled off painting my new house. I don’t remember why I though it was so important. Why did I do that!!?? It sounds very crazy in hindsight.
I remember nailing the PhD thesis to a wall in the university building (see photo) and feeling so happy that I pulled things off! A big thanks to everyone that helped me during this period!!
Professor Bodil Jönsson was the opponent at my defence. I remember that the discussion was very nice and that she thought that I had used too many theories and added to much material to the thesis. And she had a point. Somehow the situation in life made the PhD defence seem like something that was possible to control. And I was really not very nervous about it, and writing the thesis was therapy related to life in general. That part is also difficult to understand! I guess people are strange, and I am equally strange myself.
Keep safe in Corona times!
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 love attending leadership and management courses! They are often so inspirational and gives me a chance to reflect on who I am, and who I want to be. I see them as a chance to deepen my understanding of management and professional competence as a research leader and deputy head of department of Vi2. I also very much enjoy meeting and learning from other participants in the courses.
This year I was accepted to my 11th leadership course that includes seven occasions of two day meetings (14 days in total) in addition to individual coaching sessions. According to the information provided the executive program at Uppsala University aims to give you increased knowledge about the responsibilities and powers that the managerial assignment entails and about the laws and regulations that are applicable at the university. The training will also provide the conditions for developing your own leadership and leadership as well as offer support in the role based on your individual needs.
The first two days of the course will take place in Noors castle, see the picture of the blog post.