On Career Paths and Equal Opportunities

The academic senate had a retreat at Krusenberg the past week. The academic senate is briefly presented in this blog post and I also wrote a short blog post from a meeting this fall.

We started the retreat with discussing career paths in academia. The rules and regulations clearly has an effect on how we recruit, and there are new regulations coming up for recrutitment of junior researchers. Related to this it was a discussion about gender and recrutiment. During a break I was recommended to read this paper. The describes the bias we have in the peer review.

The paper says

“In this paper, we described the main characteristics of applicants for a junior faculty funded position at KI in 2014, and highlighted the desired variables for a successful candidate. We showed that men’s scores were positively associated with bibliometric measures and funding, which was not true for women. In addition, applicants with a Swedish or European background were more likely to receive higher scores.”

How do we make sure that we fight our biases? How can we work to prevent this from happening?

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.

Presenting at Vitalis Together with Region Uppsala: “Alone we are strong, together we are unbeatable: Experiences from collaboration related to research and digitalization of health care”.

Birgitta Wallgren from Region Uppsala, Gunilla Myreteg from Uppsala University and I will be presenting our collaboration at Vitalis 2018. 🙂

Our abstract in English is: 

Region Uppsala is committed to becoming a leader in eHealth in Sweden, and today the region is at the forefront of digitalization. As part of this effort, the Region cooperates with researchers from Uppsala University in a program with several parts. In this presentation will present our collaboration under the theme: “Alone we are strong – together we are unbeatable”. We will also advise other county councils and universities about this type of cooperation.

The collaboration between Uppsala University includes a research project funded by Forte, focusing on the effects of digitization on the nurse’s work environment, which will result in a framework and concept for introducing IT systems focusing on occupational safety issues. So far, the project has focused on studying the effects of digitization, and studies have begun in oncology, children’s hospital and in surgery. The region participates in the project’s reference group with staff from different parts of the hospital, and will also participate actively in the process of developing the framework that will be tested in the region before the project ends.

Uppsala Region and the researchers also have extensive cooperation on the introduction of a Patient Accessible Electronic Health Records where Uppsala University coordinated researchers from all over the country in a consortium.

The collaboration also includes seminars, workshops and education.
Researchers from the university offer lectures for the region’s staff a few times per semester, and the subjects vary from time to time. We have, for example, held seminars on the digital work environment, Scrum and usability and Implementation.

Within the framework of the cooperation, there is also the project course “IT in society” where the region acts as the client of various investigations. The subject of the cooperation varies from year to year. Last year, an investigation was conducted into the technical future, and this year, students are studying how positioning systems can be used in future care to improve efficiency.

Finally, the program includes collaboration on the design and implementation of IT. The researchers have participated and worked on the design of a new operational planning system, and participated in the evaluations of the impact of the implementation. The researchers have also worked to visualize decision support with health care.

We will finish the presentation by advising other county councils who want to build a similar collaboration between research and development. Nice finish is missing.

How Do I Manage Stress and Why Don’t I Burn Out (So Far at Least)?

Perhaps you didn’t know, but I have a full-time job as a senior lecturer with a research group, and I also have a family with four kids who live at home and a husband. As you can imagine this work-life balance puzzle doesn’t always work well. Sometimes it is really not fun at all. And sometimes I feel simply like such an imposture both at home and at work.  There simply isn’t energy enough to be a good mom, and a good researcher and taking time for everyone and everyting.

How do I then manage stress and not burning out? Well, I think that these are my personal experiences that have helped me:

  1. I am perfectly convinced that I could burn out. It is not something that just happens to everyone else and not me. I pay close attention to stress signals, and as a researcher on digitalization and the work environment I have read up on what those symptoms could be. When, and not IF, it gets too much I try to be kind to myself and reschedule.
  2. I force myself to log off completely now and then. No “pica boo” use of the mail in my phone during (some) evenings, and in some weekends. This doesn’t always work though…
  3. I have friends and colleagues who keep an eye on me and help me. Thanks Christiane, Rose-Mharie, Virginia et al.!. We discuss academia a lot, and also choices we make in life, and they are always there to support me.
  4. I make appointments with an excellent career coach, Rabbe Hedengren, when I end up too far outside my comfort zone, as for example when I attracted three research grants in one week, or when the DOME consortium was starting up.
  5. I am married to an excellent listener, who helps me sort things out when I end up having too much in my calendar. He has such great patience with me. ‘
  6. I go for long walks. Or jogging in periods of my life.
  7. Try to see the kids as mindfulness exercises. Reading for them, doing homework etc focusing on them only.
  8. I see to it that I sleep well at night. And I sleep intil I wake up feeling OK. I never sleep less than 7,5 hours per night.
  9. No work after eight o’clock at night since this affects my sleep.

What do you do that helps you handle stress in academia?

“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.

Some Reflections on Stress and Work Life Balance

Working with the same thing, being in my comfort zone all the days of the week would really make me bored. I think that the feeling of “empty work” would haunt me after quite a short time. I want the excitement of learning new things, but of course not all days of the week. However, some periods in life really are too full and the calendar gets packed. It feels like I run from one thing to the other all day (but I don’t run – I sit at my computer), and there is no room for reflection or a pause. The picture for this blog post would illustrate those weeks, or months.

This fall I talked to a full professor of work environment who said that there needs to be a balance in life over time. And that this balance might be personal (there is no one-size-fit all), but we need to be aware that variation is key when it comes to stress. I think that this person has a good poting.

Perhaps my ideal life would look like this:varied

There is no point for me to aim for a life where there would be long periods with too little to do, or to think that this would be good for me. I like when life varies, and when there are some days that are really filled with new and exciting, and stressful, things. I am really looking forward to an exciting spring with some new things, and also many things that are completely in my comfort zone.

A 2nd Writing Retreat

The HCI people at the department had a two day writing retreat at my house again. This time it was a real girl-power retreat, and it was only women who came. We spent two full days writing and also doing some social activities.

Writing retreats work very well for me, and I get more things written than a normal day when I am sitting at my desk. The feeling of being focused and only being allowed to write is really great.

During the retreat I wrote on the following texts:

  • A paper on sharing of patient accessible health records with relatives. The work on the paper is lead by Leysan Nurgalieva, and the study is based on interview data as well as a survey that was sent to patients.
  • An application for funding to do research on psychiatry medical records online and how that affects the work environment in health care.
  • An application to the co-funded call Gender-Net Plus


Reframing to Equal Opportunities and not only Gender Equality – Do you have any tips?

I have been working with gender equality at the department of Information Technology for a few years, and I have really enjoyed this work. We have a great team at the department, and the support from management has been extremely good. Now it has been decided that the group will refocus and reframe into an equal opportunities group. The coming year we will be working on learning about equal opportunities, and I will spend time studying online courses, and attending seminars on equal opportunities. I am a bit worried about this reframing as we have had a great team working with gender equality with some very competent people. I guess that they are very competent in learning new things too, and we are indeed all very interested in the topic.

I might attend the Frontiers in Education Conference in 2018, as I know that they usually have presentations and workshops on gender equality and equal opportunities. Btw: It is very likely that this conference will be run in Uppsala in a few years 🙂

Do you have any tips on what we should read, or what conferences to visit to learn about the area of equal opportunities?