Course · design · Teaching

Looking back at my first year as assistant professor, part 3: teaching

As I have mentioned earlier, my position includes 70% research and 30% teaching. During this first year the teaching part was somewhat reduced due to the Vinnova-funding I got, but I could still be involved to quite a large extent in two courses.

My first teaching assignment was to supervise and then examine five theses on the bachelor level. I was very comfortable with that task since I have supervised around 50 informatics related theses at KTH and thus have a lot of experience in the area. There were quite a few similarities between the processes followed for degree courses at KTH and Örebro University, but also some interesting differences. One of those differences was the collaboration between all supervisors involved in the course. At KTH there was no formal collaboration between different supervisors, but at Örebro University (or at least at the Informatics department) all involved supervisors gathered in a joint meeting to discuss all project proposals before the first meeting with the students. I really liked this approach – it was very rewarding to be able to discuss e.g. challenges with the respective project proposals before the supervision started. I will write more about the supervising experience later on (this is more of a summary post).

The examination experience was new to me. Previously, I have suggested grades to the examiners for the projects I have supervised (and the examiners always followed my suggestion), but I was never really formally responsible for the grading. After the last supervision seminar with the students, all the involved supervisors switched roles and became examiners instead. This was a very interesting setup! For me this meant that I was assigned five student groups that I should examine (not my own groups, of course). This included leading presentation/opposition seminars and grading the final report. I will surely get back to this in a later blog post.

The other course I was involved in, this time as the course responsible, was a course in interaction design. I have been responsible for such courses both at KTH and Uppsala University and I really enjoy teaching these kinds of creative project based courses. The course started in May but I started planning already in January. Among other things, I wanted to incorporate some components that I had used at KTH and Uppsala University. Among other things, I wanted to add a creative prototyping session where students should use different materials to physically build low level (low-fi) prototypes of new systems (see this blog post for a description of such a session). I also wanted to end the entire course with a design final where finalist groups should have short presentation and an invited jury should choose a winner. Unfortunately, because of Covid-19, none of those things could actually be implemented in the course. Instead, I had to rethink most parts of the course and prepare it for online-only teaching! That is certainly not ideal for this type of design course. How I transformed the course will be a topic for later blog posts and in fact also a topic for pedagogical research – a proposal for a popular science book chapter, focusing on online interaction during e.g. seminars in two courses (one is interaction design) has already been submitted!

(I took the blog picture above in Abisko a few years ago)

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