communication · Pedagogical development · Social media in higher education

Time to start a new pedagogical project!

In earlier blog posts I have mentioned a pedagogical project I was involved in, related to the use of Twitter as a communication channel in higher education courses. I have been a little vague about it, since we are still waiting for an article to be published. Pernilla Josefsson, a Ph.D. student in Media Technology at KTH who lead the Twitter study, and I started to discuss the possibility of conducting a follow-up study based on Facebook more than a year ago but we could not find the time for a new study. 

Thanks to a pedagogical project course given at Uppsala University, which started September 1, we will now finally be able to start a one year pedagogical project on the use of Facebook as a communication medium in higher education! The idea behind the project course is to give teachers pedagogical course credits (= development time) to dig deep into a pedagogical development area of one’s own choice. Those who follow the course are expected to spend three weeks on the project during the period September 2017 – May 2018. 

When I came to the first meeting it turned out that I was the only course participant this year! I was also quite surprised by the fact that the course responsible, Amelie Hössjer, had research and teaching interests very similar to my own. During the first meeting we discussed the idea that Pernilla and I had prepared in advance as well as e.g. course goals. Questions discussed concerned what could be measured, benefits and risks of using teacher administrated Facebook groups as well as our role as researchers – should we be one of the teachers, or even the course leader, in the studied group or should we only act as passive observers? 

I have actually used Facebook groups (in which I have been the administrator) as a complement to other communication channels for several years in courses I have lead at KTH. I usually invite all involved teachers and all students directly after the first lecture. I have very positive experiences from using Facebook in this way, but I have never used the resulting communication in any research. 

The next steps are for Pernilla and me to discuss the input from the first course meeting and to choose a target course. I’m really looking forward to the new pedagogical project and to once again get the opportunity to collaborate with Pernilla! 

Academic writing · communication · Council · DOME · eHealth · Pedagogical development · Pedagogy

Recently applied for an associate professorship in implementation research

Last Sunday, I finally submitted an application for a position as associate professor in implementation research (didn’t have much of a choice since that was the last day to submit)! One positive outcome, apart from the obvious, is that I really had to think through what different roles I have and how I can make use of them. Since I have not written about all of them on this blog, I will list the different roles I came up with here (some of them will have follow-ups in more focused posts):

  • Researcher in multimodal communication and interactionI have already written about my thesis and quite a few other blog posts about haptics as an interaction modality. My main focus in this role has been to study how different modality combinations affect collaboration and communication in collaborative virtual environments
  • E-health researcherI have already written quite a lot about the studies I have been leading, regarding patient accessible electronic health records, since I stared my postdoc. What I have not yet written about is my earlier contact with healthcare – a quite intense collaboration with physicians at the Gastro department at Karolinska institutet during about two years of my doctoral studies. I will definitely write about that project later on.
  • Pedagogical development researcherA role I have not written that many posts about yet. During an extended period of time I e.g. took part in a study about Twitter use in a higher education course. I will come back to this when a paper has gone through the review process.
  • TeacherAnother role I haven’t written that much about. My teaching has focused on written and verbal communication in engineering sciences, haptics and human-computer interaction. I will definitely come back with blog posts on this topic, especially when it comes to master’s thesis supervision – my favorite teacher role.
  • Software developerI have not written that much about this role either, since it was quite a while ago that I actually developed an application. My focus in this case has been on haptic interfaces and haptic collaborative functions.
  • Member of eHealth councilThis is the newest role, which I wrote a blog post about a while ago – I represent “Education” and “patients” in the eHealth council at the The National Board of Health and Welfare.
  • Research network memberI have written about the DOME consortium several times, but I have not yet written about my participation in the “Nordic Network for ICT and Disabilities”, which specializes in assistive technology for people with deafblindness. I will introduce that network more thoroughly in its own blog post.
  • PatientI am a regular patient since more than a decade ago, and I have already used that in my own research on eHealth at e.g. conferences. This is why I add it as a “role” in this list. There will be plenty of blog posts from the patient’s perspective on this blog – that’s for sure!
  • BloggerNo comment…  🙂

I might have missed a few roles, but I think these are the big ones at least for the moment. As I said earlier, not all these are relevant for the position in implementation research but I started thinking about all of them as I was writing the quite extensive application. Writing this type of application forces you to really think about what you have done and what types of roles you have taken, and I really found it rewarding to reflect on this.

Earlier when I had written these kinds of applications I let them rest in peace and just waited for the decision, but this time I’m not going to leave what I wrote behind me and just hope for the best. This time, I will try to transform my sketched research ideas into funding applications as soon as possible. There will surely be more posts about that process!

conference · Pedagogical development · Pedagogy

Paper on unexpected student behaviour and learning opportunities accepted to FIE 2017!

FIE_accept

Late last week it was confirmed that a conference paper I was co-authoring has been accepted for publication and presentation at the 2017 FIE (Frontiers in Education) conference! Åsa Cajander (lead author), Diane Golay, Mats Daniels, Aletta Nylén, Arnold Pears, Anne-Kathrin Peters from the IT department at Uppsala University and Roger McDermott from the School of Computer Science and Digital Media at Robert Gordon University are the other authors on the paper. The title of the paper is “Unexpected Student Behaviour and Learning Opportunities: Using the Theory of Planned Behaviour to Analyse a Critical Incident”.

In the paper we are using the Theory of Planned Behaviour to analyze a critical incident that occurred at the end of a course at Uppsala University. The incident relates to students refusing to present at and participate in a voluntary “design final” at the end of the course, where an external jury should choose the best project. During the course, project groups presented their work a couple of times in seminar groups and after each presentation the groups were awarded points by both the peers and the teachers. After the last presentation, the project groups with the highest number of points in the respective seminar group (three in total) were given the opportunity to present during the final.

The main idea with introducing the point system and design final was to add an engaging gamification component, providing an extra incentive for performing well during the entire course. The reactions from students, however, were unexpected in that some groups refused to take part in the design final and quite a few students did not see the point of the gamification related components.

Here is the paper abstract, outlining our main approach in analyzing the critical incident (I will come back to this topic and write more about the results and outcomes when the paper has been published in the conference proceedings):

One of the challenges in being a teacher is to set up an educational setting where the students receive relevant learning opportunities for the specific course, the students’ education in general, and for their future. However, efforts to create such educational settings do not always work in the way that faculty has intended. In this paper we investigate one such effort seen from a critical incident perspective. Central to the analysis in this paper is how the Theory of Planned Behaviour (TPB) can provide explanations for the incident. The critical incident can be summarised as students refusing to take part in a non-compulsory, but from the faculty perspective highly educational, activity. We describe the incident in depth, give thebackground for the educational intervention, and analyse the incident from the perspective of TPB. This paper makes two major contributions to engineering education research. The first is the development of a method for analysing critical teaching and learning incidents using the TPB. The critical incident analysisillustrates how the method is used to analyse and reason about the students’ behaviour. Another contribution is the development of a range of insights which deal with challenges raised by Learning interventions, especially those involved with acquiring hidden or ”invisible skills” not usually seen or acknowledged by students to belong to core subject area of a degree program.

The tension between the teachers’ expectations and the students’ reactions is very interesting from a pedagogical point of view. In this particular paper we analyze a critical incident using a specific method (Theory of Planned Behaviour), but we are planning broader articles on this subject as well. One interesting aspect to delve deeper into is the difference between universities – one of the main reasons why gamification was tested at Uppsala University was that it had been extremely well received by students at another university taking a very similar course with similar gamification components!

 

 

 

communication · Pedagogical development · Pedagogy

About activating students at the university

Blåsenhus

About two weeks ago I wrote a blog post about a pedagogical course I took, which focused on supervising oral presentations. The fact is that I finished another pedagogical course the week after. That course, (held in the Blåsenhus building seen in the image above) focused on different methods used for activating students in the classroom as well as methods for making sure that the students really engage with all course material. The name of this 1.5hp course (given only in Swedish) is Aktiverande undervisningsformer and it included three whole course days filled with a mix of activities and lectures, and about two days of own work.

During our own work we should come up with a new way to activate students in one of our own courses. I will just provide a short version of my individual assignment solution here. In this case I chose the communications course, given to first year computer science students at KTH, since I have worked with it for almost 10 years and developed most of the content in it during the years 2008-2015. The students have always liked the practical exercises on oral presentations and Writing (the core parts of the course), but they have never really appreciated the more theoretical lectures. The course literature has never really been appreciated either and most students don’t by the course book. During my individual assignment in the pedagogical course I therefore focused on alternative ideas to present the theoretical material and I think the course inspired me to find a good solution (or at least a better one compared to lectures). My new idea is that some of the lectures should be transformed into literature seminars to which groups of students are given a chapter in the course book, and a scientific article related to the chapter, to present to the others. A few open-ended questions could be given to each group to help them prepare and to make sure that the most important aspects are covered in the respective presentations. Since students are already divided into exercise groups of about 25 students each, the same groupings could be used for the seminars. I also proposed a short quiz handed out at the end, with a few questions from each part covered during the respective seminars. This setup would force the students to read the course book and they would most probably engage more with the material. They would probably also learn more when being forced to explain the material to the others. The quiz at the end, which could add bonus points to the final grade, will hopefully make sure that everyone will listen actively to all presentations.

I’m not sure that the idea presented above is feasible and appropriate, but during a presentation at the end of the course, where all participants presented the main points of their individual work, both other course participants and the teachers thought that the idea was  good and should be tested in practice.  I’m not working with the communication course any more, but I will definitely forward my idea to those who are!

I thought I had tried the most when I entered the course, but even when it came to this course I left it with a lot of new insights. I especially enjoyed the parts about problem based learning (PBL) and flipped classroom, since I had never used those methods in practice. The course was very well structured and we were given a lot of time to practice quite a few methods while working in groups we were assigned to at the start of the course. The course really inspired me to rethink my own teaching practice and the transformation of lectures into literature seminars (where the students present theory and practice oral presentations at the same time) is an example of that. Now I just need to find a course where I can implement the flipped classroom approach, because I’m very curious about that method!  🙂