eHealth · Medical Records Online · Summer school

Preparing for the second week of the eHealth summer school


During the last week of June I wrote a series of blog posts about an eHealth summer school I participated in, together with some colleagues from Uppsala University and KTH as well as several other Ph.D. students and postdocs from around the world. That week of activities, which we spent at Trinity College Dublin, was very well organized and I’m very glad I got the opportunity to be there and experience every part of it. You can read about the content and my experiences of it in these blog posts:

Now, we are approaching the second week of the summer school, which will be held in Stockholm (KTH) and Uppsala (Uppsala University). I’m really excited about getting to meet everyone again and experience a new week filled with interesting lectures and exercises! During the last day of the week in Dublin the organizers of the second week – Jan Gulliksen and Åsa Cajander – presented the plan for the week in Stockholm (you can read a summary of that presentation if you follow the link to Day 5 above). We got two small tasks to work with during the summer:

  1. Come up with a citation of our own work, as a means of illustrating how we want other researchers to cite us.
  2. Prepare a Pecha Kucha (using a template), presenting ourselves as researchers, our research, the citation from 1) and a kind of personal fun fact.

Today, I have been working with those two tasks. Coming up with the citation was certainly not easy, since I have been working in quite a lot of fields. But since everything I do relate to mediated communication and a rather special analysis technique (focusing on how technology affects the means by which we talk to each other) I settled for a citation related to how the methodology I have been using can be applied by others. I will not show the citation here – everything will be revealed during the first day in Stockholm! 🙂

Preparing the Pecha Kucha was also quite hard due to my many research areas. My first idea was to focus entirely on eHealth (since this is an eHealth school), but that would give far from a complete picture of what I’m doing as a researcher. I will instead try to browse through all three of my main areas multimodal communication, eHealth and social media in higher education. I’m really looking forward to see the other participants’ presentations. We will all present just before lunch during the first day in Stockholm.

Preparing the two small tasks mentioned above is not the only thing I need to do before the second week of the summer school starts. During the Tuesday, which we will spend in Uppsala, I will be one of the speakers! I will present and discuss the results from the national patient survey (a short version of that presentation was held at the Vitalis presentation last spring, see this blog post). It will definitely be an interesting experience to be a speaker as well as a participant. Christiane Grünloh, my colleague from KTH, has the same situation – she will, together with Åsa Cajander, present and discuss the professionals’ perspective right before my presentation. During that same day in Uppsala there will also be presentations by medical professionals and other stake holders.

Another thing that was announced the last day in Dublin, during the presentation of the Stockholm week, was that the participants should help deciding what we should do the last two days in Stockholm. Those two days are still blank in the schedule so I guess the content will be revealed during the first day in Stockholm. I’m really looking forward to see what will happen there! Unfortunately, I did not think about it when the ideas for content were collected, but one very interesting activity could be a variant of the critical incident workshop that I wrote about here and here. I really enjoyed that workshop and many interesting ideas came out of it. Anyhow, the presentations and activities during the first three days seem really interesting, so I’m positive we will have two great final Days!

Cognition · conference · Haptics · Multimodality

Preparing submissions for the SweCog 2017 conference, held at Uppsala University!


This week, I’m preparing submissions for this year’s version of the SweCog (Swedish Cognitive Science Society) conference. This conference covers a broad range of topics related to cognitive science. When I participated last year, when the conference was held at Chalmers, Gothenburg, I did not present anything (actually, none of the participants from Uppsala University did), but the situation this year is quite different since Uppsala University is hosting the event!

I really enjoyed last year’s conference much due to the large variety of topics covered and the very interesting keynote lectures. It was also (and still is, I assume) a single track conference, meaning that you will not have to choose which paper session to attend. As I remember there were ten paper presentations in total, three keynote lectures and one poster session during the two days conference. You can read more about my experiences from SweCog 2016 in this blog post, summing up that event. I also wrote summaries from day 1 and day 2.

Since the only thing that’s required is an extended abstract of 1-3 pages (and max 500 words), I’m working on several submissions. A topic that was not covered during last year’s conference was collaboration in multimodal environments and specifically how different combinations of modalities can affect communication between two users solving a task together. Since that is one of my main research interests, I now see my chance to contribute! The deadline for extended abstract submissions to SweCog 2017 is September 4, so there is still a lot of time to write. The conference will be held October 26-27 at Uppsala University. Since registration to the conference is free for SweCog members (membership is also free), I expect to see many of my old KTH colleagues at Uppsala University during the conference days! 😉  You can find more information about the conference here.

Before I started planning for contributions to SweCog 2017, I invited some of my “multimodal colleagues” from KTH to join the writing process. As a result, Emma Frid and I will collaborate on an extended abstract about a follow-up study to the study I present here. Thus, our contribution will focus on how multimodal feedback can affect visual focus when two users are solving a task together in a collaborative virtual environment. Since I have not yet heard from any other colleague, I plan to write another extended abstract on my own, about how multimodal feedback (or rather combinations of visual, haptic and auditory feedback) can affect the means by which users talk to each other while working in collaborative virtual environments. Maybe, I will also throw in a third one about the potential of using haptic guiding functions (see this blog post for an explanation of this concept) in situations where sighted and visually impaired users collaborate.


Climate · Planet Earth

A very inspiring talk by Ulf Danielsson about the fragile system we are part of


A few weeks ago I wrote a blog post about a “summer talk” in Lövstabruk where professor Ingemar Ernberg from Karolinska Institutet talked about what is needed to support a creative academic environment. Yesterday, I visited Lövstabruk again for yet another inspiring talk. This time, Ulf Danielsson, professor of theoretical physics from Uppsala University was the invited guest. His talk focused on the fatal yet in the short term unlikely threats that are at play out there in the dark, in our atmosphere as well as on and inside the surface of our planet. I will bring up some of the main points here, since I believe that the content of the talk is important to everyone.

It quickly became very clear that our planet is very exposed and that we should consider ourselves very lucky to be around at all. Some of the large forces out there, which we can’t really do anything about are:

  • Supernovae – if a star sufficiently close to us (a few 10ths of light years) explodes, our ozone layer could be destroyed and – if it occurs closely enough – our oceans boiled away.
  • Hypernovae (this was a new concept to me) – these are even more powerful than supernovae and apparently send out focused rays. If we are hit by such a ray (not too far from the explosion) all will definitely be over for us.
  • Asteroids, comets… – there are quite a lot of these moving around and they are often crossing the Earth’s orbit (luckily, we are seldom at the intersection point/time).
  • Our sun itself – Ulf referred to the sun as “a giant nuclear plant completely without supervision” :). This pretty much means that there is a constant melt down over there. To top it all off outbursts on the surface of the sun can cause considerable problems for us, especially now when we are so dependent on electronics sensitive to electromagnetic pulses. Also, the radiation from the sun fluctuates and this causes changes between periods with high and low temperatures respectively. We also know that the sun will eventually die, and destroy the life on Earth when it expands in the process, thereby engulfing Mercury, Venus and possibly the Earth.

After a more cosmological beginning, Ulf focused more on the Earth itself. There are obviously large forces in play down here as well. The position of the different continents were brought up as one example. We know that once there was a single continent (Pangea) to begin with. Something obviously broke that land mass apart into differently sized pieces. An especially interesting example was India, which apparently was positioned at the opposite side of the now called Indian Ocean to begin with. That part of land travelled over the ocean, and later got in touch with the other side, so fast that scientists have been able to spot traces on the seafloor from the movement! No similar things are happening now, but we still experience problems with movement between tectonic plates. These activities can, among other things, cause volcanoes to erupt – something that was also brought up as dangerous forces during the talk. Though he did not use the term, he possibly meant supervolcanoes, since ordinary volcanoes erupt now and then without causing large-scale devastation. The lava itself is not the worst part, but rather the ashes that covers the sky preventing sun light, necessary for all photosynthesizing plants, to reach the ground, or acid rain which have been caused by volcanoes in the past. We cannot really do much about any of things as mentioned above, but must remain hoping for the best.

Besides talking about different kinds of threatening scenarios, Ulf also discussed some land marks for the evolution of life on our planet. One part I found especially interesting was the discussion about the birth of the photosynthesis. From the beginning we had methane in our atmosphere, causing the sky to be pink. We didn’t have advanced life on the planet at that point. But when blue-green algae started to show up the photosynthesis and oxygen (which at this point could be considered a dangerous gas) came as a consequence. Most of the oxygen reacted with iron dissolved in the oceans, which in turn caused iron oxide to sink to the seafloor and the heavy mass even continued to move through the bottom towards the core, thus slightly reducing Earth´s inertial momentum and so causing an increase in the Earth’s rotational speed! When there was not more iron to react with, the oxygen molecules began rising to the atmosphere and the sky turned from pink to blue. The rest is, well, history.

In the next part, Ulf talked more about changing temperatures on Earth some of which are due to human activity. One of the most interesting parts here was that India’s “race” over the ocean actually freed up carbon dioxide, causing the climate to be warmer for a period. But that situation changed when the piece of land collided on the other side and started forming the Himalayas – the movement that freed up the carbon dioxide stopped and instead we entered the cool period being sustained until now (although we are currently giving bound carbon dioxide back to the atmosphere at a very worrying rate). Another thing that was brought up regarding reasons for warm and cold periods was that other planets actually affect the Earth’s orbit.

A comparison with temperatures on Mars and Venus also made clear that we are positioned at a very special place in our solar system. The atmosphere on Venus, our closest inner neighbor, is vastly dominated by carbon dioxide causing a huge greenhouse effect – it is extremely hot and impossible for life to survive. The opposite is true on Mars, our closest outer neighbor, where weak gravity makes the atmosphere so thin that the greenhouse effect necessary for life cannot work. We are on a little planet in the middle, having the exact right conditions at least for now. Ulf also showed a picture taken from a space satellite, with stable position on the Sun-Earth connection line, with the Sun right behind, where the “full Moon” was seen covering a part of the “full Earth”. It became clear that we are very close to something grey and largely inhabitable. These comparisons really highlight that we live in a fragile system and Ulf really made the point that we need to think hard about where we are, what we can do with our knowledge about this system and what kind of future we want.

During the discussions after the traditional soup break the human’s role in the changing planet was brought up again. It is obvious that human activity is causing temperatures to rise and the rate is increasing as never before. Ulf thought the worst part of this was the uncertainty – it is very hard to predict the consequences of this. Even if the warming doesn´t cause e.g. drastic changes like mass extinction even minor changes in temperature can obviously cause coastal areas (those now prevailing) to be inhabitable, in turn causing huge floods of climate refugees, paving the way for conflicts and war. The very societies, on which our developed countries are so dependent, are also at risk here and where will those effects leave us? The discussion about the effects of extinction of other species was also brought up. Human activity plays a large role here and even though the extinction of a single species may not cause a catastrophe it is still a means of rendering our very fragile system even more fragile…

As I understand Ulf’s talk was based on his book “Vårt klot så ömkligt litet” (for the moment only in Swedish) which was published last year. I have not read the book, but Birgitta Östlund who organizes the summer talks had. She said that everyone should read the book and she even suggested that it should be mandatory in school. Birgitta has worked with popular adult education for several decades, so when she says something like that one had better take notice. The talk really got me thinking about where I am and what I am a part of and I am very curious about that book now!

The picture for this blog post was taken by me in the mountain range of northernmost Sweden (Abisko) a few years ago and I feel it somehow summarizes what we have been blessed with on this planet. Even though quite a lot seems to be left to chance, we should do what we can to protect the system that can offer us experiences and views like this, right?



Yet another great pedagogical course at Uppsala University


During spring 2017 I wrote blog posts about pedagogical courses I took on supervision of oral presentations and methods for activating students as well as a leadership course – all given by Uppsala University. This blog post is about the third pedagogical course I took during the spring term – assessment, grading and feedback. This was a 1.5hp course which included four scheduled days, which mostly focused on group work, and one day devoted to own work with developing a course of one’s own choice.

In the individual work I once again chose to focus on developing the communication course for first year computer science students at KTH – the course I worked with for almost a decade before I started my postdoc in Uppsala. The individual task was to go through everything related to assessment, grading and feedback, starting with refining the intended learning outcomes. I thought everything was already in place regarding the learning outcomes, but when considering the big picture I suddenly realized that one of the most important aspects covered in the grading criteria – the ability to adjust the content of the reports to a particular target audience – was not brought up in the intended learning outcomes. There was also an intended learning outcome about being able to use different text production tools, but the only tool used in the course is Latex. After adding a new learning outcome about target audiences and narrowing down the learning outcome about text production to focus only on Latex there was a much better constructive alignment – clearer connection between assessment tasks, learning activities and intended learning outcomes. Constructive alignment was one of the key principles in the course and I can really see why it’s important.

After considering the intended learning outcomes, the next step in the individual task was to look over the assessment tasks – in my case different versions of the report and a critical review of another student’s report draft. When it came to this part I came to the conclusion that everything should be kept. Almost an entire day of the course was devoted to discussing means of providing feedback and peer feedback and assessment was brought up several times as highly beneficial especially when handing in different versions of e.g. a text while working towards a final deliverable. This was exactly the way we did it in my communication course – the students handed in different versions of reports which were discussed in small groups.

The last part of the individual task was devoted to refining the grading criteria and making sure that they were relevant with regard to the intended learning outcomes. This was probably the part where I learned the most from this course. I started out with qualitative grading criteria, regarding several aspects (e.g. content, structure, language,…), for each grade A-E. In most cases, the only thing that differed between different steps was a single word (e.g. ok, good, very good, excellent,…) and hence I used continuous grading criteria. I learned from the course that continuous grading criteria are often hard to relate to actual achievements and they are also hard to measure. Due to this I tried to change to discrete criteria in as a large extent as possible. Thus, instead of just varying single adjectives I tried to describe what they should actually do for a certain grade (e.g. instead of just writing “very good” I made it more explicit what should be accomplished).

One part of the course which I especially enjoyed was that we, several times during each of the scheduled days, left our groups to have a discussion with our “critical friends”. Before the course I had never heard about this concept. A critical friend was in this case another course participant who worked at the same department (in my case IT). The reason why we should discuss with our critical friends was that we should get the chance to discuss different problems with someone who is teaching within the same subject area. Quite often after a new topic had been introduced by the teachers, we discussed with our critical friend how the topic related to our area and our respective courses. Most of the time these discussions focused on the course we had chosen to focus on (in my case the communication course discussed above) and I definitely got quite a few ideas which I continued to work with in my individual assignment. The concept with critical friends was great and I’m quite sure that it can be used in quite a few courses on different levels. I will definitely try to incorporate the idea in my own courses when relevant!

I really enjoyed this course and once again I learned a lot. I definitely think the communication course is better now, especially when it comes to the grading criteria. I also think that I’m now well equipped for defining course plans and designing courses from scratch. I can definitely recommend this course both to inexperienced and experienced teachers!


DOME · eHealth · Medical Records Online

Seminar about the history of patient accessible electronic health records in Sweden

A few months ago I participated in a very interesting session in the seminar series “Current challenges in biomedical information technology” at Uppsala University. The invited speaker was Benny Eklund, IT Strategist, Uppsala county council. Benny’s work and initiatives – starting about 20 years ago – is probably the main reason why we have patient accessible electronic health records in most county councils in Sweden today (the few ones remaining will allow access before we leave 2017). See link to the filmed presentation below!

Åsa Cajander, who has collaborated with Benny for years introduced him before he began his presentation. As she reveals in the introduction students in one of her courses, “IT in society” played a very important role when they, during one of the course rounds, investigated future possibilities for medical records online in Sweden (a topic provided by Benny). The students’ work resulted in a white paper, which was presented in Brussels! Their work certainly helped in attracting necessary funding.

During the session Benny talked mostly about the early history of patient accessible electronic health records in Sweden, like e.g. important decisions made, the many barriers encountered as well as identified enablers and functions included. After listening to the talk it became more clear to me than before that there were many bumps in the road towards the system in use today. I really recommend you to watch the video – I’m convinced that the barriers and enablers brought up to discussion are relevant in many other countries as well where similar systems have been or are about to be introduced.

Link to presentation



Academic leadership · Leadership

Interesting seminar about knowledge and academic leadership


Yesterday, I attended a very interesting and inspiring seminar where professor Ingemar Ernberg, department of Microbiology, Tumor and Cell Biology at Karolinska Institutet, was the invited guest. The seminar series is called “summer talks” and covers not only science but other fields as well. So far, it has been held in Lövstabruk, a really tiny place in the northernmost, forested part of Uppsala county, Sweden, once a week during the period June-August each year. It’s a local initiative mostly for members of the Cultural Association in Lövstabruk. The theme for all the talks this year is “Academic leadership at the boarder of knowledge” and Ingemar focused especially on what is needed to establish a creative academic environment. As usual, Ingemar got about one hour to present, whereafter we all had a small soup dinner. During the second hour the audience discussed the presented content with Ingemar.

Ingemar began by discussing the three main tasks of the University; conducting research, teaching and sharing knowledge with society. He highlighted several times that research should be the foundation in that the other tasks should be based on it. Research should be the university’s engine so to speak.

He then went on to discuss what is needed, in terms of academic leadership, to make an environment facilitating the creation of new knowledge (which could then be used in e.g. front line education and expanding scientific fields). Of course, creative people are needed but a research environment that enables the researchers to fully make use of this creativity is also very important. A good academic leader builds a research environment where the researchers can blossom, which in turn gives the academic environment creative injections. It is of utmost importance that such an environment is inspirational, enables focusing and that it supports engagement and motivation.

Two words that were especially highlighted by Ingemar were creativity and flow. Creativity is of course a prerequisite when conducting research, especially at the boarder of what is current knowledge (the “adjacent possible”). Flow is a kind of mental state in which you are fully emerged in a task not caring about anything else, or even space and time. E.g. if you are writing an article, and happen to enter flow state, writing can go on for hours, provided you have the inspiration and an environment which is e.g. free from interruptions. Creativity and flow are definitely connected and it is easy to understand why it is of importance to enable both creativity and flow in a research environment.

This is where Ingemar mentioned a problem that many universities struggle with today – they are run more and more like government agencies. There are as a consequence many rules and procedures and an overall increasing administrative burden on the employees. Such circumstances do certainly not support creativity! Related to this Ingemar showed a rather simple scale with “Order” and “Chaos” at opposite ends. He believed that the academic leadership should be in pursuit of an environment somewhere in the middle of the scale. Of course we cannot have an environment where everyone does what they want and no one checks what is going on (total chaos), but we should not have an environment where everything is controlled in detail either. Today’s problem is that many research environments are getting closer and closer to the order extreme on the scale. To enable creativity (e.g. bring in somewhat more “chaos”) we need to move away, at least to some extent, from the control structures and procedures of today.

Ingemar also brought up some specific success factors for academic environments. Some of these were:

  • Openness
  • Encourage critical questions
  • Tolerance for errors
  • Curiosity
  • Diversity
  • Courage to break paradigms

Ingemar did not only talk about academic leadership but also about knowledge in general. He showed a very pedagogic image, about different types of knowledge, which I don’t want to reproduce here due to copyright reasons. Anyway, I will try to explain the key points. Imagine a sphere including everything we currently know – thus, the results of all research conducted so far. This sphere is, of course, constantly increasing in volume at a forever higher pace due to e.g. that we know still more and get still better equipment. Learning from historical discoveries we also know that a small part of this sphere also contains incorrect knowledge. Enclosing the knowledge sphere is another, larger, sphere containing what we may call “the adjacent possible” – this is the new knowledge within reach by building on e.g. our current technologies and what we know today. At present, most researchers seem to work with research mostly within the knowledge sphere – hence not reaching very far into the yet unknown. According to Ingemar we need to build research environments which accept that more creative people conduct research outside this “comfortable” (and rather failsafe) sphere. Working in the unknown (but still reachable) is risky in many respects – most of the work performed here will fail and it is not uncommon that it can take up to a decade before any publishable results are achieved. Nevertheless, taking risks here can lead to very important and possible life-altering discoveries which can greatly advance the research!

The last part of the talk was devoted to leadership styles. I already mentioned the government agency style above. Another common leadership style is the enterprise style. Both of these styles do not really promote a genuinely creative atmosphere. Ingemar would instead like to see a third option which is based more on shaping creativity. How such a leadership style should be formed was discussed with the audience after the soup break but we did not really end up with a definite answer – I guess this calls for some digging into the adjacent possible…

I really enjoyed Ingemar’s presentation – I definitely see why he has now been invited to the seminar series for the fifth time! I really hope he shows up again next year. The basic idea with the seminar series is to let the public meet and discuss with influential people of different fields – thus it is an initiative that enables university researchers to fulfill the task of spreading knowledge. I think it is great that the participants (mostly from outside academia) get the possibility to interact with renowned researchers in this way, discussing important topics!


conference · Haptics · Multimodality · sonification

Got a new paper published, on the effects of auditory and haptic feedback on gaze behaviour!


About a month ago I wrote a blog post about a conference paper with the title “AN EXPLORATORY STUDY ON THE EFFECT OF AUDITORY FEEDBACK ON GAZE BEHAVIOR IN A VIRTUAL THROWING TASK WITH AND WITHOUT HAPTIC FEEDBACK” that had just been accepted for the Sound and Music Computing 2017 conference. Now, that paper has been formally published! You can find our paper here and the full conference proceedings here. The study leader, Emma Frid presented the paper last Thursday (6/7 2017) afternoon in Espoo, Finland. The other authors are Roberto Bresin, Eva-Lotta Sallnäs Pysander and I.

As I wrote in the earlier blog post, this particular paper is based on a small part of an extensive experiment. The experiment, which 20 participants took part in, was based on a simple task – picking up a ball and throwing it into a goal area at the opposite side of a virtual room. After 15 hits the task had been solved. The same task was solved in several different conditions of which some included haptic rendering and some included movement sonification (two different sound models were compared) of the throwing gesture. During all interaction with the interface, different parameters, including gaze data collected through an eye-tracker, were continuously logged. In the part of the experiment on which the published paper is based we wanted to find out if the participants’ visual focus in the interface changed depending on experiment condition (e.g. if participants looked more at the goal when haptic and/or auditory feedback was presented). Due to bad quality of the sampled gaze data for some of the participants (< 80% of the gaze points had been registered), only gaze data from 13 participants could be used in the analysis.

Much due to large inter-subject variability, we did not get any significant results this time around, but some interesting patterns arose. Results e.g. indicated that participants fixated fewer times on the screen when solving the task in visual/audio conditions compared to a visual-only condition and fewer times on the screen when solving the task in the visual/haptic/audio conditions than when doing it in the visual/haptic condition. The differences between haptic conditions were, however, small especially regarding one of the sound models presenting a swishing sonification of the throwing gesture. When considering total fixation duration (for how long the participants focused on the screen) the tendency was that participants focused less on the screen when this sound model was used (indications were stronger when haptic feedback was not provided). Even though these results were not significant they indicate that movement sonification has an effect on gaze behaviour. When looking at gaze behaviour for each participant individually we could also see that the participants could be divided into a few clusters in which the participants showed similar behaviour. Although the large inter-subject variability did not make it possible to find any general patterns, we could find indications of effects of auditory feedback within the clusters. See the article linked above, for a more detailed analysis, illustrations and discussion.

Even though we did not get any significant results, the indications we got that movement sonifications can affect visual focus are still interesting. If it is true that you look more on the screen when you do not have access to movement sonification, this can mean that you can focus on different parts of an interface, maybe solving different tasks in parallel, when having access to movement sonification in this kind of environment. It is definitely worth conducting similar studies with a lot more participants in order to see if the indications we got would become significant. Experiments with more users could also show if participants focus more on the goal when having access to movement sonification and/or haptic feedback – if so, this would indicate that the information provided by haptic and audio feedback, respectively, is enough to understand that you are performing an accurate throwing gesture (you don’t need to look at the ball to confirm it). Results from interviews held at the end of the test sessions already indicate this!

This is the very first paper Eva-Lotta and I have gotten accepted to the Sound and Music Computing conference. Emma and Roberto, however, have gotten papers accepted to that conference numerous times. Check out their Researchgate accounts for their earlier contributions to this conference and so much more related to e.g. sound design.