Category Archives: Vision Seminars

UCD Blog 2: What can we do to make better IT systems?

There is quite a lot of evidence both made by researcher and companies such as the Standish group and Google that one of the key success factors when developing computer systems is user involvement.

If you want to work with user involvement in your projects there are many user centered processes to choose from such as UCSD, rapid contextual design, and participatory design. These processes vary some in their values and ways of working, but I have chosen to see them as complimentary and when used in practice they are all good in different ways.

There is even an ISO standard that defines user centered design for those who are curious.

User centered design processes are iterative, and you iterate either between all the stages of the process, or the last three stages depending on the complexity of the organization, the requirements and the system built.

The first step in these user centered processes is to understand the context of use where you specify the user and organizational requirements. This is usually done through using one or several of the following methods:

  • Interviews
  • Meetings with users
  • Workshops
  • Field studies
  • Vision seminars

After you have done work on understanding the context of use you move on to specifying the user requirements. This is usually done through using one or several of the following:

  • Personas descriptions
  • Scenarios
  • User Stories
  • Usability goals
  • Vision seminar documentation

When this is done, you work with producing design solutions of different kinds. This is usually done through using one or several of the following methods:

  • Paper prototypes
  • Wireframes
  • Sketches
  • Prototypes

The last step in this iterative design process is the evaluation of the prototype. This is usually done through using one or several of the following methods:

  • Expert evaluation
  • Prototype interview
  • Formal evaluation (in a lab)
  • Informal evaluation

Knowing how to use user centered methods, in what context and in what format is really a professional skill in itself, and I will not elaborate further on the topic in this blog post but recommend the books Rapid Contextual Design and Användracentrerad systemutveckling (in Swedish) for the curious reader.

The next blog post in this series will elaborate on the problems encountered when trying to establish or institutionalize user centered design and UX in organizations.

Visiting Robert Gordon University and Roger McDermott

Roger McDermott is really an excellent and inspirint researcher. We have done some very interesting papers together, and this week I am visiting Robert Gordon together with Mats Daniels for writing papers in the area of comptuer science education.

A recent paper of ours explores a framework for writing learning agreements. This paper is a recommended read for those who are interested in the development of interdisciplinary teamwork skills. The paper is found here.

We have also written papers about students and how they envision the future of student adminstration, found in this blog post 

Other papers we have written are related to grit and personality, see this  blog post exploring the mind set of yet.

I am very much looking forward to some very productive days in Aberdeen. 🙂


Collaborative Project with the Department of Finances

My research group, the  HTO group have just worked out a contract for a participatory research project with the finance department at Uppsala University.

In this project we will collaborate with the department of finances and do action reserach related to the following areas:

  • Usability mentoring about working in different roles with the aspect of digital work environments in mind.
  • Vision seminars about the future work with economy with a special focus on communication, development of competencies and deploymen of IT.
  • Education and the introduction of new IT systems.

We will be recruiting people to this project – so look out for the ad.We are looking for reserachers who have a PhD in areas related to digital work environments, and who are looking for a post doc position in a dynamic and growing reserach group.


Collaboration with the Department of EMR in Region Uppsala

We have had a very good collaboration with the department of EMR in the Region Uppsala since a few years. We call this collaboration the Dive (Digital work enVIronment and Ehealth) project, and we are a group of 3-4 reserachers who participate.  This collaboration has been in the form of an action research project where researchers from our department worked togehter with people from the EMR department in designing a new IT system for surgical planning. We have also collaborated in doing some evaluations of usability aspects that has been used in the deployment of the system. We will also do follow up evaluations of usability. Now we have moved on to looking into decision support systems, and my collegues do vision seminars and will work on a design.

The department of EMR also collaborate with us around the IT in Society class  that has resulted in a report, a presentation and also visibiliy at Vitalis 2017.

The Disa project is also supported by the department of EMR, and we collaborate around this project too. This project includes around 10 reserachers who will look into the effects of digitaliczation in health care and the project will result in concepts and a eWorkenvironment framework possible to use when implementing IT in health care. The department of EMR has an excellent and very active representative on the advisory board of the project who has helped us a lot in understanding the organisation.

In these kinds of collaborations it is crucial to find a win-win situation, where both the reserachers and the organisations feels that they get energy and effect from the collaboration. In our case the collaboration in the  Dive project has given us much insight in eHealth development and in the complexities of working with IT in health care, which is crucial to be able to work in that area. And I know that the department of EMR are very pleased with the input regarding design that we have given hem. The Disa project has just started, and hopwfully that will result in a win-win too.

We are extremely happy about this colllaboration, and strongly recommend other reserach groups to try the same approach to collaboration!

PhD on Physician’s Development of Competence in Antibiotics Prescription

Lats week I was on the examination committee of a PhD defence at Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm. It was Arash Hadadgar who defended his PhD called “Electronic Continuing Medical Education, approaches to better understand the general practitioners’ intention to use eCME and assess their competence

This time the PhD was in the area of physician’s development of professional competence in prescribing antibiotics. The topic is of urgent interest for society, as antibiotics prescription will result in bacteria that are resistant to treatment with antibiotics. This area was the topic for Uppsala Health Summit in 2015.

Professor David Topps was the opponent at the dissertation, and he first did a presentation of the background to the PhD, and also discussed very thoroughly with Arash Hadadgar.

In the introductory presentation David Topps mentioned some very interesting things from the background to the PhD thesis that I want to share with you:

  • We all have a tendency to learn more in areas that we are already interested in, and when choosing freely we often do not choose to learn more about things we know very little about.
  • We are generally not very good at self assessment. Experts underestimate their own knowledge, and the novices overestimate their skills.
  • In some areas we are really not very good at all at self assessment. For example: We all think that we are better than the average driver 😛
  •  There is very little research that tries to connect the real behavioural changes that are a result from educational activities. (Arash Hadadgar does this, however)
  • There are more cheaters in any kind of education than what we might think.

The discussion was very thorough, and also extremely interesting from a scientific point of view. As always it was a great learning experience for me 🙂

Students Envisioning the Future of University Studies – Paper presented at the Frontiers in Education Conference 2016

This paper that was presented last week at Frontiers in Education reports on a study addressing how students can be included as critical stakeholders in the systems and services provided by a university. We view this as an element of institutional democracy, and investigate how insights from the computing disciplines can inform this discussion.

The paper can be found here. 

I still remember how I had planned quite a wild didactic  idea about making the students act their future scenarios in a role play for each other. I was in charge of the student group, and worked together with my PhD student Thomas Lind on this. I was not sure about how the students would like this approach to presenting their visions, and I had had little time to prepare it. On my way to the vision seminar sessions the very morning of the role play my car broke down completely. I needed to call Thomas Lind,t  and say that unfortunately I would not show up. So I left him with the quite role play idea , and he was completely unprepared. Good thing he is excellent at improvising, and he made the best out of the situation. 🙂

When the paper was presented by Thomas Lind it was especially appreciated that the students were involved in the work, and that they were collaborative partners when the visions of the future were developed. There were other groups of users too, such as study administrators and study administrators.

The paper is written collaboratively by a whole group of people:

  • Thomas Lind, Åsa Cajander, Bengt Sandblad & Mats Daniels from Uppsala University
  • Marta Lárusdóttir from Reykjavik University
  • Roger McDermott from The Robert Gordon University
  • Tony Clear from Auckland University of Technology

In order to address the whole student experience we engaged students and employees at a large Swedish university in a vision seminar process to elicit how these groups envisioned an ideal future version of the university, and the necessary changes to technology and organisational structures required to achieve this ideal version.

The vision seminar process entailed six four-hour workshops with four groups consisting of six participants each. A survey instrument was used to follow up on the participants’ experiences of participating in the vision seminar process and their thoughts on the future of the university.

The results from the survey show that the participating students had a more positive view of the future in comparison to the university employees. The students envisioned systems to be harmonized at an interdepartmental level, as well as a seamless integration of a variety of services into one technical solution provided by the university.

For university employees the future work was viewed as being very flexible, made possible by information systems capable of providing excellent support whilst not hindering pedagogical and organisational development.

Finally we discuss the broader implications of these differing visions on the future of university education, and how such a visioning process may be successfully adopted in other institutions.

The New Ladok System will Reshape the IT Landscape at Swedish Universities

The magazine Ergo had an article on our work with the establishment of a new study administrative system at Uppsala University. The Health Technology and Organisations research group collaborate with the university administration and we have further developed our vision seminar method in this project which has resulted in a submitted application by Thomas Lind and will soon be the core of his PhD thesis work. We have also launched a usability coaching program, since our experiences are very positive when it comes to the effects of such a program.

My research group has a long tradition of doing action research, and we collaborate closely with different organisations. Action research has one goal to improve society in one way or the other, and one goal to spread knowledge about the change. Previously we have had projects together with the county council of Uppsala and a large number of government organisations such as CSN, Skatteverket, Försäkringskassan and Migrationsverket.

The New Ladok is the ICT system which is the heart of university study administration. And replacing it is like a difficult piece of heart surgery that requires skilled professionals and careful planning. The system will be introduced at 39 universities in Sweden. At Uppsala University the system will be introduced in 2018, and it will affect about 45 000 people in the roles of course administrator, teachers, director of studies, program managers, counselors, all our students and graduate students.

During the fall we will do a study where we investigate the existing digital work environment of study administrators. The study is run by Gerolf Nauwerck, and as a part of it we will look at and compare the existing methods for organisations to incorporate work with digital work environment in their routines.

We will also do a pilot at the Department of Information Technology regarding development of processes and procedures for study administration. These will work together with the common goal which has been developed in the vision seminars. The idea is that the department of information technology’s pilot work will serve as a support for other departments in the transition to the New Ladok system.
You find the Ergo article here