Academic writing · communication · Distance work · Pedagogical development · Pedagogy · Teaching

Looking back at the first two years of research at Örebro University, part 3: teaching in higher education

This is the last one of my research posts in my blog series about the first half of my assistant professorship at Örebro University. This post focuses on pedagogical research and the earlier ones were about my research on eHealth services for patients and accessible digital collaborative learning environments, respectively. My next blog post will focus on publications from the last two years.

I have always been interested in conducting research based on my own teaching experiences – it forces me to reflect thoroughly on how I conduct my teaching, and it also enables me to make theoretically grounded improvements to my teaching. I have mainly conducted pedagogical research within three different areas during my time at Örebro University:

  • Scientific writing in higher education
  • Virtual teams in interaction design
  • The effects of the Covid-19 on teaching

Scientific writing in higher education

Before I started to work at Örebro University, I led a communication course for first year computer science students at the Royal Institute of Technology for several years. One of the main aims of the course was to improve the students’ writing skills especially when it comes to scientific writing. The dedicated communication course was meant to prepare the students for upcoming writing tasks and especially the bachelor and master thesis reports. The main reason for developing the course in the first place was that the quality of the students’ writing was generally low and the students were never really taught how to write scientifically sound reports and essays. Giving a communication course in the beginning of the study program is not the only solution to this kind of problem, it is also possible to incorporate writing instruction and increasingly complex tasks in already existing courses. This solution, also commonly called Writing Across the Curriculum, was implemented at my current department at Örebro University just before I started working here. After realizing that we had two different solutions to a very similar problem – we need to find means of helping our students to be better writers – I started up a new research collaboration with my colleagues Kai Wistrand, Annika Andersson and Mathias Hatakka who were very much involved in the WAC initiative at Örebro University. We used constructive alignment and curriculum theory to compare our two different cases (dedicated course and WAC) and developed a set of guidelines that other universities can get inspiration from. I will link to the resulting conference paper in my next blog post, which collects all publications that I have worked on during these last two years.

During spring 2021, I continued working with Kai in this area. We are now conducting a literature review where we, among other things, look deeper into theoretical concepts related to scientific writing (like e.g. critical thinking and lifelong learning) and models for pedagogical development in the area. It is super interesting to delve into this area and I have already learned a lot. Empirical material from e.g. interviews and texts will also be collected further on. One of the main aims of this research is to increase our understanding of what factors that contribute to high proficiency in scientific writing in higher education. The work will of course lead to scientific publications in the area, but hopefully also to concrete pedagogical development initiatives. I will of course write more about this interesting research when we have reached further in the process.

Virtual teams in interaction design

Yet another pedagogical research initiative was initiated during spring 2021. This time the research is mainly based on experiences from a course in interaction design that I have held online the last two spring terms. The course’s examiner Ann-Sofie Hellberg and I are investigating, among other things, how virtual teams can be used to successfully implement online versions of project based courses in which communication and collaboration in student groups are key components. We are currently analyzing a large sample of scientific articles that were gathered during an initial literature review. The material will be used as a theoretical ground for future publications in the area. I will get back to this when we have some clear results.

The idea to start studying virtual teams in depth actually came from a popular science book chapter that Ann-Sofie and I wrote last year. The book chapter was partly based on results from a survey that we handed out to students that took the 2020 version of the interaction design course, and we used the concept of virtual teams as a theoretical base when discussing own experiences from the course and the results from the survey. I will write more about the survey and the book chapter later on.

The effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on teaching

During spring 2020 I took the lead on a department-wide initiative to study the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on our teaching at all levels. We collected several proposals for possible research angles regarding for example examinations and online seminars. Some articles, and even book chapters, have already been written and published and soon work will commence on journal articles looking back at the whole period of distance education from different angles. I’m really looking forward to our continued work in this area!

communication · conference · DOME · eHealth · Medical Records Online

Recording of invited talk at a recent nursing informatics conference

In my last blog post I wrote about an invited talk at the yearly conference on nursing informatics organized by the Section for nursing informatics (a section belonging to the Swedish Nurse’s Association). I tried to summarize the main points of the talk in my last post, but since it was pre-recorded and I now know that it’s ok to share the recording on this blog, I will link to the 15 minutes presentation in this post. The recording function in PowerPoint was used, so you need to start the slide show before anything can be heard.

communication · conference · DOME · eHealth · Medical Records Online

Invited talk at a one-day conference on nursing informatics

More than a year ago I was invited to hold a short presentation at a yearly conference on nursing informatics organized by Sektionen för omvårdnadsinformatik [Section for nursing informatics]. This national conference was postponed due to Covid-19, but earlier this week on Wednesday April 14 it was finally held in digital form. Unfortunately, I missed several parts of it due to other engagements, and I had to record my presentation prior to the conference. The (translated) title of my talk was “improved patient dialogue through the patient accessible electronic health record (PAEHR)?” and focused on results gained from several studies with both patients and healthcare professionals within the national DOME consortium.

Several results from recent studies with patients show that they are seldom informed about the possibilities of the PAEHR by healthcare professional. On the same theme, healthcare professionals rarely encourage their patients to use the PAEHR. Even though a recently published study showed that cancer patients are informed about and encouraged to use the PAEHR to a higher extant than other patients groups, the results are still not that positive. Studies with healthcare professionals also show that the view of the PAEHR as only a system for patients is very common. I tried to problematize these and similar results in my talk and I especially discussed their implications for the use of the PAEHR in the communication between patients and healthcare professionals. It is quite clear that the PAEHR is used in the communication between patients and healthcare professionals to a very low extent today. This is problematic, since one of the main reasons for implementing the Swedish PAEHR, Journalen, was to increase patients’ involvement in their own care through e.g. shared decision making. To me, it seems like we have quite a large unused potential here.

I ended my talk by discussing how the PAEHR could be used in the communication with patients in the future. One of my examples was that contact nurses in cancer care could ask their patients to review what has been written in the PAEHR since their last healthcare visit as a kind of preparation for the next upcoming visit. This could potentially help the patient to come up with questions and it could probably also make it easier to spot e.g. misunderstandings. If healthcare professionals actively encourage patients to use the PAEHR more patients would probably discover the eHealth service and the possibilities that it can offer. Another example, related to test results, that I brought up was that there could be a potential for self-care, especially for patients that regularly visit the lab. Provided that healthcare professionals do regular follow-ups, some patients may be able to adjust their medication in response to test results found in the PAEHR. This example was actually brought up by a physician in one of our latest (yet unpublished) interview studies with healthcare professionals!

I’m not sure yet if it’s ok to share the recorded presentation on this blog. If it’s ok for the conference organizers I will of course share it in a later post!

communication · DOME · eHealth · Medical Records Online · National patient survey

New article published about cancer patients’ attitudes towards and experiences with patient accessible electronic health records!

A few days ago an article based on the national patient survey study on patient accessible electronic health records in Sweden was published in Health Informatics Journal. The article, “Online electronic healthcare records: Comparing the views of cancer patients and others” focuses on differences between cancer patients and other patient groups when it comes to attitudes towards and experiences with patient accessible electronic health records (PAEHRs). The areas covered in the article are, among others, involvement in the care process, communication with healthcare professionals and reasons for using PAEHRs. In total, 2587 patients answered the survey and 347 of the respondents had a cancer diagnosis. My colleague Hanife Rexhepi, from University of Skövde, led the work with this sub-study together with me. Our colleague Isto Huvila, from Uppsala University, also took part in the work.

In the article we present several findings from one of the very first large follow-up studies in Sweden about the effects of PAEHRs for cancer patients. Some of the key results are:

  • Cancer patients are generally very positive towards the possibilities that PAEHRs offer
  • Cancer patients use the PAEHR for getting an overview of their health status and for preparing for doctor’s visits to a significantly higher degree than other patients
  • Cancer patients experienced, to a significantly higher degree than other patients, that the PAEHR has helped them in their communication with medical staff
  • Cancer patients discuss the PAEHR and its content with medical staff to a significantly higher degree than other patients
  • Cancer patients experienced, to a significantly higher degree than other patients, that the PAEHR has a positive effect on their involvement in the care process.

The article is published open access here, where you can find more results and details about the study. As usual, a press release will also be published about the study – this time by Örebro University. If you want to read about some overall results from the national patient survey (not focusing on e.g. specific patient groups) I recommend you to read this open access publication. You can also read about results regarding effects of PAEHRs on the work environment of oncology healthcare professionals here.

Here is the recently published article’s abstract:

This study investigates differences in attitudes towards, and experiences with, online electronic health records between cancer patients and patients with other conditions, highlighting what is characteristic to cancer patients. A national patient survey on online access to electronic health records was conducted, where cancer patients were compared with all other respondents. Overall, 2587 patients completed the survey (response rate 0.61%). A total of 347 respondents (13.4%) indicated that they suffered from cancer. Results showed that cancer patients are less likely than other patients to use online electronic health records due to general interest (p < 0.001), but more likely for getting an overview of their health history (p = 0.001) and to prepare for visits (p < 0.001). Moreover, cancer patients rate benefits of accessing their electronic health records online higher than other patients and see larger positive effects regarding improved communication with and involvement in healthcare.

communication · Course · Human-Computer Interaction · Pedagogy · Popular science

Time to start writing another popular science book chapter!

In the middle of August my colleague Ann-Sofie Hellberg and I submitted a proposal for a popular science book chapter, hoping that it would be considered for inclusion in a book focusing on digitalization of education. A few days ago we got a notification that our proposal had been accepted, so now it’s time to start writing the real chapter!

The book will include several short chapters written by teachers all around the world and the focus will be on experiences with and evaluations of digital learning. As I wrote in this blog post quite a while back, I have contributed to a chapter in the popular science book Digitalisering av högre utbildning [Digitalization of higher education]. That time around I wrote about experiences from using Twitter as a complementary communication channel in a course in communication that I held at KTH. This new book seems to be very similar, since teachers are writing for teachers.

We have not decided on the details yet, but the book chapter will focus on experiences with teaching a course in interaction design online and a special emphasis will be placed on support for communication between course participants. I will of course get back to this as work progresses. Hopefully, the complete version of the chapter will be included in the upcoming book.

Further on, we will also produce at least one scientific publication about the experiences of teaching project courses online, but interviews with some students will be needed as additional input before that work can start. The work with the scientific publication will be a part of the overall research effort around effects of Covid-19 on education at the department of Informatics at Örebro University.

communication · eHealth · Grant application

New project grant application submitted to AFA!

A project grant application, where I am one of the co-applicants, was submitted to AFA Insurance yesterday! A lot of work has been done on the application and it has been submitted (and, unfortunately, rejected) one time before. The following partners are involved (I will be more specific when the application has gone through the process):

  • University of Skövde (the partner in charge)
  • Örebro University (I’m the representative from here)
  • Uppsala University

The main research area of the application is eHealth, but the focus is not on patient accessible electronic health records this time. We have tailored the application more towards the Covid-19 pandemic and how digital technology could be, and should be, used when communicating with dying relatives without being able to meet in person.

I’m not sure when we will get an accept/reject decision from AFA, but it will at least happen before we leave 2020, since most of the funded projects will most probably start in the beginning of January.

communication · conference · eHealth · Medical Records Online · Pedagogical development · Pedagogy · Social media in higher education · Time management

Looking back at my first year as assistant professor, part 2: publications

In my last blog post I provided a short summary of research activities I have been involved in during my first year as assistant professor in informatics at Örebro University. I will now follow up on that post with a summary of the publications I have been working on during the same period. When I started my work around a year ago I decided to try out a new way of planning my time. I present the approach I tried out in this blog post (I’m still following the approach). When it comes to research, the approach I have been following (with a few exceptions) is to conduct research in the afternoons (grant application writing, data collection/analysis, etc.) and to work on manuscripts (can be both scientific and popular science) before lunch during at least three days a week. The number of days I devote to research/manuscripts of course depend on my current teaching duties. This approach has resulted in many research contributions being submitted and accepted/published during this past year. Thus, the scheduling approach followed has worked very well.

Journal publications

During this past year two new journal articles, where I am one of the authors, have been published and another one will be published within a few weeks. These are the published publications (both are open access and can be found by clicking on the title link):

Initial versions of both these articles were submitted before I started working at Örebro University, so the work on these articles mainly consisted of handling revisions and the work required after acceptance of the manuscripts. The first article above is more thoroughly presented in this blog post and I will write a separate post about the second paper later on this autumn. Moll and Cajander (2020) was published online already in 2019.

The following paper has been accepted for publication in Health Informatics Journal:

  • Rexhepi, H., Moll, J., and Huvila, I. (forthcoming). Online electronic healthcare records: comparing the views of cancer patients and others. Health Informatics Journal.

This is a paper that I have worked on quite a lot during this past year and the first version was submitted a few months after I had started working at Örebro University. You can expect a blog post and a press release when it has been published online!  🙂

Aside from working on the above mentioned papers I have also worked on other journal manuscripts focusing on eHealth, multimodal interaction and social media in higher education. One paper related to eHealth is already submitted and another one is soon ready to be submitted. In total, work has been done on nine journal manuscripts (including the ones already published/accepted that are listed above).

Conference papers

Quite a few conference papers have also been published/accepted during the last year. These three have already been published (follow the links to reach the open access publications):

I have covered the first paper in this blog post. The other two were published during the summer, so I haven’t found the time to write posts about them yet – posts about these will be published soon. I had really looked forward to actually going to the conferences with my co-authors to present the work performed but Covid-19 destroyed those plans. 😦

Aside from the above mentioned conference papers I also worked on some contributions that have been accepted but not yet published. Those are the following:

  • Rexhepi, H., Moll, J., Huvila, I., and Åhlfeldt, R-M. (forthcoming). Do you want to receive bad news through your patient accessible electronic health record? A national survey on receiving bad news in an era of digital health. The International Symposium for Health Information Management Research (ISHIMR) 2020.
  • Wistrand, K., Moll, J., Hatakka, M., and Andersson, A. (forthcoming). Improving Writing Skills Among Information Systems Students: Guidelines for Incorporating Communication Components in Higher Education. Frontiers In Education (FIE) 2020.

As before, I will present the contributions more thoroughly in separate posts when they have been published.

One popular science conference contribution has also been accepted:

  • Moll, J., Josefsson, P. (2020). Sociala media som komplementär kommunikationskanal i högre utbildning – vilka möjligheter och utmaningar finns det? [Social media as complementary communication channels in higher education – which opportunities and challenges are there?] Discussion session accepted to Nätverk och Utveckling (NU) 2020.

I will write about this one in more depth when we are approaching the (online) conference in October.

(The blog picture is once again one of my own.)

communication · conference · Pedagogy · Social media in higher education

Got a new conference paper published, on the usage of Facebook groups as complementary communication channels in higher education courses!

INTED published

Due to some bad luck with my health lately, in combination with a heavy writing period, I haven’t published any posts in a while. Now, everything seems to be on track again, and I will try to post more regularly again.

As I wrote in an earlier blog post I got an abstract accepted to the INTED (International Technology, Education and Development) conference. In the beginning of January I worked, together with my co-author Pernilla Josefsson, with transforming the abstract into a full paper. The resulting paper got the title: “COMMUNICATION PATTERNS AMONG STUDENTS AND TEACHERS WHEN USING FACEBOOK IN A UNIVERSITY COURSE”, which was actually the title of the abstract. I have used teacher-administrated Facebook groups in my courses a few times, but this is actually the first time when I actually used the Facebook groups, after students had given their consent, in my pedagogical research! Since the conference started (in Valencia/Spain) today, the paper is formally published in the form of a file on a flash drive handed out to all conferences participants (will also be available online later on).

The idea was, until last Friday, that I should present the study myself, since it was my course and I was the main author, but the plans had to be changed. This is the first time that I have cancelled my participation at a conference due the risk of getting sick (one time, around a decade ago, I cancelled my participation due to being sick, which is of course a more common reason). I guess everyone knows about the Corona virus situation by now, and my main problem with that is that my immune system is held down by immune suppressive medication. Visiting four airports and airplanes as well as being at an international event is certainly not a good idea in this case. Hopefully, the situation will be a lot better when it’s time to attend and present at Medical Informatics Europe in Geneva at the end of April.

Fortunately, Pernilla went to the conference and will present our paper as well as another one I’m not a part of. I’m sure she will do a great job with that! By the way, we are certainly not finished when it comes to studying Facebook groups in learning contexts – it is time for a new data collection adventure later on during the spring term!
Last, here is the abstract of the newly published paper:

During the autumn 2017 in a human-computer interaction course at Uppsala University, Sweden, the teachers implemented Facebook as an additional communication channel. The initiative was based on the teachers’ previous experience of the use of social media in teaching contexts as well as earlier research. The communication that arose was analysed using a mixed methods approach and the result shows several trends regarding interaction patterns. For example, students were more active in commenting and responding to posts than teachers. There was also a difference in the type of messages that students and teachers posted, and patterns in the types of posts that received comments and reactions can be distinguished.

The relatively low number of posts makes it difficult to draw conclusions about how the medium affects roles that teachers and students take in the interaction, however, we found a tendency that students sometimes answer questions primarily formulated as posed to teachers. This has here been interpreted as the students taking on the traditional teacher role.

communication · Grant application · Group work · Haptics · Multimodality

Got funding from Vinnova!


A few months ago I wrote in this blog post that a funding application, where I represented Örebro University as one of the co-applicants, had been submitted to Vinnova (Sweden’s government agency for innovation). And guess what, the project got funded! The name of the project is “Virtual environments supporting group work between sighted and visually impaired pupils”, and as the name suggests we will work closely with visually impaired and sighted pupils (as well as teachers) to develop new virtual learning environments that support collaboration a lot better than today’s special equipment used by visually impaired pupils in schools. My former supervisor at the Royal Institute of Technology, Eva-Lotta Sallnäs Pysander is the project leader and Örebro University, Axess Lab (a company division focusing on digital accessibility from numerous perspectives), The Swedish Association of the Visually Impaired and The National Agency for Special Needs Education and Schools (SPSM) are the other project partners. I will introduce the other project members and write more about the project as soon as press releases have been published by the Royal Institute of Technology and Örebro University.

This project is very special to me for several reasons. First and foremost, this is the very first time I have been contributing extensively to a project application that has resulted in external funding. Writing these kinds of applications requires a lot of work and collaboration between researchers and other stakeholders and it feels great when the efforts finally pay off! I’m also very happy about that I’m now able to focus more on the research field “IT and learning” again. It was quite a while ago that I worked on multimodal learning environments. The research area is really important and I’m glad that Vinnova has acknowledged that. Another reason why this project is special to me is that I started to work on the application shortly after I had started working as an assistant professor at Örebro University – one of the very first things I did within the scope of my new position actually resulted in external research funding! I think this is a very good start for me and I’m really excited about this new project.

If you want to read a short summary of the project, you can visit this page where Vinnova has published some short descriptions about the purpose, approach and expected results. I will write more in a later blog post as soon as I have some university press releases to link to. So stay tuned!  🙂


communication · conference · Pedagogy · Social media in higher education

Time to engage more in pedagogical research!

These last couple of weeks I have been working on different pedagogical papers together with my colleague Pernilla Josefsson from Södertörn University. The first concrete research outcome from the work is a conference paper which was submitted to a pedagogical conference last Thursday.

The paper focuses on the results of a study performed within the scope of the pedagogical project course, introduced here, that I took during my time as a postdoc researcher at Uppsala University. The study focused on how a teacher-administrated Facebook group could be used as a complementary communication channel in one of my own courses. I will write more about this in case the paper is accepted.

We have also worked on a journal paper about the study on the use of Twitter in one of my courses in communication at KTH, which I have mentioned in several earlier blog posts. We will most probably be able to submit the manuscript to a pedagogical journal within the next couple of weeks. When published, this will most definitely be my largest contribution to pedagogical research to date!

We also plan to submit a pedagogical conference paper about research on the use of social media in higher education courses (theoretical paper, including some concrete examples). An additional conference paper based on data from the above mentioned Twitter study will also be submitted to a conference later in spring 2020.

The research contributions mentioned above focus mostly on data which has already been gathered. I don’t think we can do much more with this earlier data, so it’s about time that we start looking for opportunities for gathering of new data. One possible option would be to conduct a new study on the use of Twitter or Facebook groups within the scope of a course in interaction design which I will lead at Örebro University during May and June 2020. I will write more about this possibility, as well as other possibilities for pedagogical research on course development and design, when I introduce the course in a later blog post.