Just before Christmas Pariya Kashfi successfully defended her PhD thesis on Integrating UX Principles and Practices into Software Development Organisations. This thesis is worth reading for anyone struggling with the integration of UX principles and practices in organisations!
I was on the examination committee for the defence together with professor Natalia Juristo and professor Kaisa Väänäenen. Associate professor Marta Larusdottir was the opponent. Note that this was an all-women committee with a woman opponent!!
The overall research question for the work was:
How can software companies integrate UX principles and practices into their development processes and organizations?
Pariya Kashfi started the defence by an excellent presentation of her work. The presentation was followed by an in-depth discussion among professionals with Marta Larusdottir. Pariya Kashfi was super good at answering all questions, and managed to do a very good defence. I really enjoyed the discussion, especially since this thesis is in the area of my own PhD, but seven years later and with a focus on UX and not Usability.
The PhD is by publications and included six papers. All papers are available on Pariya Kasfi’s page on Research Gate.
- P. Kash, A. Nilsson, R. Feldt, Integrating User eXperience Practices Into Software Development Processes: Implications of The UX Charac teristics”
PeerJ Computer Science (an Open Access Journal), 3, e130, 2017.
- P. Kash, A. Nilsson, R. Feldt, R. Berntsson Svensson, A Conceptual UX-aware Model of Requirements”
6th International Working Conference on Human-Centred Software En- gineering, 234-245, 2016.
- P. Kash, R. Feldt, A. Nilsson, Integrating UX Principles and Practices into Software Development Organizations: A Case Study of Inuencing Events
In submission to The Journal of Systems and Software.
- P. Kash, R. Feldt, A. Nilsson, Integrating UX Principles and Practices into Software Development Organizations: A Case Study of Challenges and Success Factors”
In submission to The Journal of Systems and Software.
- P. Kash, R. Feldt, A. Nilsson, R. Berntsson Svensson, Evidence-based Timelines for User eXperience Software Process Improvement Retrospec- tives: A Case Study of User eXperience Integration”
42nd Euromicro Conference on Software Engineering and Advanced Ap- plications, 59-62, 2016.
- P. Kash, K. Kuusinen, R. Feldt, Stakeholder Involvement: A Success Factor for Achieving Better UX Integration”
1st Workshop on Stakeholder Involvement in Agile Development, NordiCHI, 2016.
I did my professor installation lecture last week. And of course I was super nervous. And of course I as usual felt:
“Why on earth did I agree on doing this”.
This was of course also combined with a sense of imposture syndrome including thinking that everyone else that is a full professor has understood everything about their subject area. My area just evolves and becomes more difficult to explain by the day. Sigh.
The abstract of the lecture is found below:
Systemutvecklingsarbete är svårt, och många IT-system fungerar inte på ett tillfredsställande sätt trots intensiv teknikutveckling. Min forskning handlar både om att förbättra situationen och att förstå vad problemen beror på. Jag forskar på att ta fram förbättrade arbetssätt i de organisationer och i de projekt som utvecklar och inför IT. Fokus här är användarcentrerade metoder, genus, sociotekniskt perspektiv och agil utveckling. Jag har också forskat på de kompetenser som personerna i projekten behöver bemästra för att kunna arbeta med utveckling av komplexa system som stödjer människor på ett bra sätt.
The lecture is found here:
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.
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!
I was appointed as one of the external reviewer of Jean Hallewell Haslwanter´s PhD dissertation with the title “User-Centered Development of Sensor-based Systems for Older People”. I must say that this was indeed an interesting thesis to read and I strongly recommend it for anyone who is interested in healthcare technology and user-centered design.
Ambient Assisted Living (AAL) is a technology that has been proposed to help society with problems related to an ageing population, as it could support older people to live at home instead of moving into elderly homes. However, despite the fact that many IT projects and companies have been working with the development of this technology, and large amounts have been invested in AAL, few such technologies has reached the market. In her thesis, Jean Hallewell Haslwanter addresses the issue from a user-centered design perspective and her work aims at understanding why AAL technologies have proven so difficult to develop.
The thesis has a substantial empirical contribution as it studies the development of AAL systems. One interesting finding is that the complex and multifaceted descriptions of the users fade away as the project continues, and is replaced by stereotypes of older people. Other contributions include recommendations for practitioners working with development of AAL technology.
Jean Hallewell Haslwanter’s dissertation is a monograph, but she has 13 research papers that are previously published. Many of the papers are conference papers, of which many appear in highly ranked international conferences. There are also conference papers that have been turned into journal papers. If you are interested you can find these publications online at the link.
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!
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 🙂
Now we have kicked off this year’s IT in Society Class. There will be a series of blog post about this course this fall.
Some of the things that make this course very special are:
- Region Uppsala act as a real client to the student project
- We get a topic for the course from the client very year
- It is a global distributed project.
- The students come from Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology and from Uppsala University.
- It is based on a pedagigical concept called Open Ended Group Projects
The IT in Society unit was introduced into the IT engineering degree program as a response to industry feedback collected using questionnaires and meetings prior to commencement of the degree program in 1995. This input emphasized that scaffolding the development of teamwork and communication skills were high priority areas for our industry stakeholders.
Running this course unit has been a challenge every year since 1998, and it has been a quite inspiring challenge. The open-ended group project idea suited this course unit well. But the (for the students, who had experienced a highly technical preparation in most of their other degree course units) unusual content (e.g. societal aspects) added complexity to setting up a productive learning environment. Much effort over the years has been put into devising appropriate scaffolding to support the students, without compromising the underlying ideas behind the open-ended group project concept. There will be more info about this concept later on.
There is a whole series of research publications based on this course. The most prominent one is Mats Daniel’s PhD thesis found here
There are many problems encountered when trying to institutionalize user centered design (UCD) or user experience (UX) related work in organizations. My PhD was called “Usability, who cares? Establishing user centered design in organizations” (I defended in 2010) was related to this topic. It describes our work with the institutionalizing of UCD and UX work in eight different organizations. Some of the things I present in the thesis that makes it difficult to work with UX and UCD are:
User representatives as Adding Extra Value:
- Working with user representatives is considered optional, hence indicating a perspective on systems development where user participation is not seen as a central part, but as something that adds extra value
- One of the most prevalent perspectives affecting this choice is time and efficiency. A consequence of the efficiency perspective is seen in the choice of users for the role of user representatives. Here individuals who are used to work in systems development projects, and who know the methods and language used are preferred as representatives, in the interests of efficiency. Often the same people participate in different development projects, and in interviews, some individuals have described that they have not worked with case handling in years. Hence, civil servants become “IT workers” to the extent that this is considered a career path in the organisations. Preferably, the user representatives should also be skilled domain experts, as well as skilled users of the computer systems.
“You pick your dream team. You agree on a theoretical level that it is important to pick new people from the organisation, but when it comes to practice it is difficult.”
Work is Seen and Understood in Terms of Simple Steps and Procedures
- The studies revealed that there is a gap between the users’ work and the discourse in the systems development. In the systems development projects, the civil servants’ work is frequently discussed in terms of simple steps and operations, that may be predefined and automated in accordance with clearly defined rules and regulations.
- In complex cases where the computer fails to generate a decision and where human” judgement is required; it was seen as a problem that civil servants have to make decisions. These “human” decisions were seen as subjective and open to interpretations – which is the reason why the computer fails to make them in the first place – and the civil servants making the decisions were seen as incompetent
Usability is a Fuzzy concept
- Several informants from the IT departments described usability as a vague and unclear concept.
“Usability is really difficult to talk about since it means one thing to me and something completely different to someone else.”
- Usability experts are few and they felt that they seldom had enough time to do all the activities required. Several of the informants believed that this was due to lack of understanding of what usability is and what usability experts do, as this usability expert describes:
- In one of the organisations, the internal procurer and the project manager of their sub-project in Satsa Friskt maintain that usability and UCSD are possible to address without any usability experts. Specifically, they estimated that the project would achieve an approximate 80% success if conducted by people without any previous usability experience or specialist knowledge in the field. This indicates a perspective on usability as common sense, as something that is easily incorporated in systems development. Few people in the organisations understand how much work needs to be done in their organisation to incorporate the ideas of usability, or as the project managers of another subproject said:
“This project just gets bigger and bigger [deep sigh]! “
Usability and UX are Difficult to Measure
- Measurement of usability and user experience is a method much sought after in order to introduce and motivate user-centred design activities. Our research group developed a web based usability index method at CSN that resulted in measurements of usability and UX on three different occasions. During a trial period the questionnaire gradually improved in which questions were clarified and some even deleted.
I attended a workshop about education in the new economy system this week. It was a very well organised workshop with representatives from all stakeholder groups involved in the education of the system. The discussion was facilitated by a workshop leader, and we discussed who would get education and and what the education should contain.
The workshop started with a presentation by me and Annika Björklund from the local Ladok project. I presented some general ideas from a study I did on economical staff and IT a few years ago, and Annika presented the ideas they are working with in relation to the Ladok project.
Annika has asked users what they want from education, and they said what is found in this slide:
- Local support. How do we solve that?
- Screen sharing with the support people
- Courses that go deep into topics
- Workshops where it’s possible to discuss your day to day problems with an expert.
I am very much looking forward to following this project. One part of the project will be rolled out in October, and the rest later on next spring.