Grant application · Pedagogy

My first week at Örebro University!

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Starting on Monday, August 12, I spent my first week at Örebro University! I started my new job as assistant professor there already August 1, but I worked from a distance the first two weeks since the university was still pretty empty due to vacation periods. Obviously, a lot of interesting things happened during this first week at the University.

Unsurprisingly, the first day was mostly filled with different administrative things (like getting access card, keys and all the necessary computer equipment) and walkthroughs of the department and its surroundings. Before lunch, the head of department, Kai Wistrand, showed me around at the Informatics department, other departments at the School of Business and the campus area. The campus area is very nice, with buildings spread over a large area. It takes quite a while to go from the westernmost part of the campus, where I work in the Nova building, to the other side. There are quite a few restaurants in the area (most of them seem to be focusing on pasta 🙂 ) and it seems to be fairly easy to navigate around campus. It seems like I have ended up at a campus where the labelling of different houses actually makes some sense! The Nova building, hosting the school of business (including the Informatics department where I work) is fairly new. There are a lot of open areas and the overall atmosphere is very nice. I’m very glad that I have an office in that building (see blog image).

Aside from the usual introduction parts I also worked on a manuscript (after minor revision request from a journal) which I submitted the day after, and read up on all my university emails that I couldn’t access before. Among those emails I found two that were especially interesting and that have influenced my work during these latest weeks – a news letter from the grants office and information about grants for pedagogical development within the university. I found one Vinnova call about assistive digital technology particularly interesting and I also started thinking about how I could use pedagogical development funds to introduce haptic interaction design in some of the department’s courses!

During the rest of the week I worked on a couple of conference proceedings (for Medical Informatics Europe 2020) and journal manuscripts in progress, while I was transferring files from my old Uppsala University computer to my new computer from Örebro University. Transferring files is an extremely boring activity, and I’m very glad I could work with manuscripts at the same time. During this week I also implemented a new time management approach which you can read about here.

In summary, the first week at Örebro University was very nice. I felt very welcome and I think that I made a lot of good progress. I’m glad I found the information about the grants I mentioned above. I started writing on drafts and contacted some people directly and I currently have a complete draft for a pedagogical development project and I’m half way through a Vinnova project plan draft! I will of course write more about these applications later on.

communication · Pedagogical development · Pedagogy · Social media in higher education

Overview of my pedagogical research

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In my last two blog posts I presented overviews about my research within the eHealth and multimodal interaction domains, respectively. Now, the time has come for an overview of my pedagogical research. This blog post will focus on research that has been presented at pedagogical conferences and in books – my research on multimodal learning environments, which has not been published at such venues, is covered in my previous blog post.

What have I done related to pedagogical research?

When it comes to research related to pedagogy, my focus has mainly been on the use of social media in higher education courses. I have conducted studies on both Twitter and teacher administrated Facebook groups in courses I have been responsible for at KTH and Uppsala University. In those studies, I have mainly looked at how social media can be used as complementary communication channels and how these kinds of media affect the interaction among students and between students and teachers. The blog image above illustrates one of the contributions from my research in this area – a book chapter about the use of Twitter in a large course in communication, which I wrote with my colleague Pernilla Josefsson. You can read more about the chapter here. The chapter describes the only study on social media that I performed at KTH. You can read about another study, based on a teacher-administrated Facebook-group, in this blog post.
In total, my pedagogical research has, up until today, resulted in the following three conference proceedings at pedagogical conferences:

and the following popular science contribution (in Swedish):

My ongoing pedagogical research

I’m currently not involved in any data collection activities related to this research area, but I’m still analyzing the data I have already collected from the study on Twitter in a higher education course that I mentioned above. A journal article about the study will soon be submitted to a journal focusing on educational research. I will of course write more about this later on.

Upcoming pedagogical research

There is still a lot that remains to be decided regarding my involvement in pedagogical research at Örebro University. I will of course continue trying to incorporate social media in different ways in courses that I teach and I will also continue to analyze the data from the Twitter study from different perspectives – there is a lot of interesting data there!

A few days ago I also found out about small grants that teachers and researchers at the university can apply for. These university specific grants should be used for pedagogical development projects. Similar funding opportunities were offered by Uppsala University, but I never applied during my years as a postdoc there. This year, however, I will take the chance to apply for some funding for a project related to pedagogical development. The deadline is in the second half of September and I will start writing on the project plan any day now. I will focus my application on haptic feedback in education and I will of course get back to this as work progresses. If the project is funded I will work on it during 2020.

Academic writing · conference · DOME · eHealth · Grant application · Human-Computer Interaction · Medical Records Online · National patient survey · Pedagogy · Social media in higher education

Looking back at my two years as a postdoc at Uppsala University, part 1: research

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Since my two years as a postdoc at Uppsala University ended September 28, I will try to summarize my results and experiences in a few blog posts before this year ends. I will start today by writing about my research activities. I took the blog picture during my last birdwatching trip to Öland.

Even though most of my research activities during the postdoc period were focused on eHealth, I also did some work related to multimodal communication and pedagogy. Thus, I was active within all of my main research fields. In total, I got one journal article published, two journal articles accepted, one book chapter published and 11 conference papers published. I also attended nine conferences and submitted two research grant applications as main applicant.

Research within eHealth

Within this field I led two major studies related to patient accessible electronic health records (PAEHRs). The interview/observation/survey study at Uppsala University Hospital, which I introduce here, focuses on the effect of PAEHRs on physicians’ and nurses’ work environment. The survey part is completed and a journal manuscript, written by me and Åsa Cajander, was submitted to Health Informatics Journal slightly after my postdoc period had ended. The results are really interesting and I will of course get back to them when the article has been published. Due to some health issues and logistical difficulties, we have only conducted about half of the planned interviews with physicians and nurses, but we will hopefully get the majority of the remaining ones during the first months of the spring term. The analysis of the already performed physician interviews are still ongoing, and it’s very clear that the material that we already have will give many new insights into long-term effect of PAEHR on the work environment of healthcare professionals. This has really been an interesting study and it was also the first study for which I got the opportunity to write an ethical application. It has also been quite a challenge to coordinate the work with nine colleagues from five different universities.

The other major study I was leading was the national patient survey, which I introduce here. I have written about it many times on this blog since it has resulted in several scientific publications as well as presentations. Even in this case, one of the toughest challenges has been to coordinate the work in the distributed project team. This study has already resulted in one journal article and three conference papers and we are currently working with several journal article manuscripts which I will get back to later on. I really enjoy this study and I will keep working with it until everything is published. The study is very important since it’s the first major follow-up study on patients’ attitudes towards and experiences with PAEHRs.

During my time as a postdoc I also took part in the work with two research grant applications, as a co-applicant, within this research area. One of them was an EU grant application led by Meena Daivadanam at Karolinska University Hospital, with the title “The ENGAGE Trial: Improving and health societal outcomes for comorbid mental disorders associated with type 2 diabetes through an integrated support and engagement platform in Uganda and Sweden”. It was an interesting process with many Skype meetings (extremely early in the morning since one participant was in Australia) and a lot of interesting discussions. Unfortunately, we did not get the grant. As I understand it we were one point from getting it. The other research grant application concerned psychiatry records online. My DOME consortium colleague Gunilla Myreteg was the main applicant of this AFA insurances application focusing on implementation and short term effects of psychiatry records online in Region Uppsala. We did not get that grant either, but we are definitely not giving up!

I also attended several conferences related to eHealth during my postdoc period. I really enjoyed participating in and presenting at Vitalis 2017 and Vitalis/MIE (Medical Informatics Europe) 2018. There were so many interesting presentations and taking part in the 1.5 hours DOME arrangements was great! You can see my summary of the Vitalis 2017 version of the DOME session here. At Vitalis/MIE 2018 I was actually active with own presentations and a workshop during each of the three conference days, which was a little tiresome. You can read about that here. My very first conference experience during my postdoc was actually one of the most interesting ones, since I participated as a patient for the very first time! You can read about my contribution here. A few months later I actually got the opportunity to act as a patient once again – this time in a role play at the conference “EHealth in Norway Future Health”! That was a really interesting experience for me both from a patient’s and a researcher’s perspective. You can read about my experiences from this episode here. I really hope that I will get the chance to contribute to research from the patient’s perspective again!

 

Research within multimodal communication

My very few research activities within this subject area were mostly related to research grant applications. During spring 2017 I submitted a VR grant application, with five co-applicants from four universities in Sweden. The application focused on collaboration between deafblind and sighted pupils in a school setting, and more specifically on how multimodal learning environments can support this collaboration. Writing this grant application was a great learning experience! In the end, we did not get this grant but we still got good ratings (“Very good” on all aspects that related to the scientific content). You can read more about my experiences in this blog post. The other grant application was actually a draft which I submitted to Forte during spring 2018. It focused on multimodal learning environments for collaboration between sighted and visually impaired pupils. Unfortunately, the draft was not accepted. After the postdoc ended I wrote another application on this topic as main applicant, but I will cover that in another blog post.

I also got one journal article published in this research field, “Haptic feedback combined with movement sonification using a friction sound improves task performance in a virtual throwing task.” The article presents results from an experiment conducted at KTH right before my postdoc period began. The experiment was extensive and included eye-tracking and different combinations of haptic and audio feedback. I will write more about this study in a later blog post. A few conference papers on results from the eye-tracking analysis have also been published.

 

Research within pedagogy

I also conducted research related to pedagogy and more specifically on the effects of using social media as complementary communication channels in higher education courses. The most important thing I worked on was a short book chapter which was published in the book “Digitalisering av högre utbildning” [Digitalization of higher education] about a month before my postdoc ended. I really enjoyed working on this chapter, together with co-author Pernilla Josefsson, where I contribute with my experiences of using Twitter as one of the communication channels in a university course in engineering communication. This is my very first contribution to teacher education! You can read about the chapter, and find a link to the book, here.

We also contributed with a poster describing a later study on using a teacher-administrated Facebook-group as a complementary communication channel in a course in human-computer interaction. I will write more about this in my next blog post about my postdoc period, since the poster was based on work performed in a pedagogical course I took. Last, I collaborated with several authors when writing a conference paper about a critical incident from the 2017 version of a master course in human-computer interaction. You can read about the paper here.

Pedagogical development · Pedagogy · Social media in higher education · Teaching

Recently got my first ever book chapter published!

As I have mentioned in several earlier blog posts, I have been working on a book chapter, together with Pernilla Josefsson, about the use of Twitter as a complementary communication channel in higher education courses. The chapter is one of many chapters included in the book “Digitalisering av högre utbildning” [Digitalization of higher education], edited by professor Stefan Hrastinski (see picture above), which was published in August. This is the first time I have been working with a text that is meant to be used in teacher education!

The book covers a wide range of topics connected to the use of digital technology in higher education. Most of the chapters are written by University teachers from all over Sweden and include popular science descriptions of personal experiences with the use of digital technologies in their own courses. All chapters are written in Swedish. The chapter that I wrote with Pernilla presents my experiences with using Twitter in one of the courses in communication that I was responsible for at KTH. We present the implementation and results as well as lessons learned. We also introduce our scientific study, based on the Twitter communication, which was carried out during the same course round.

I really enjoyed working with the chapter and I hope other teachers who want to implement Twitter in their courses will find it useful! The scientific study about the use of Twitter in higher education courses is, for the moment, only published in Pernilla’s doctoral thesis. I link to her thesis in this blog post, where I also write about the defense.

You can find more information about the book here: https://www.studentlitteratur.se/#9789144119724/Digitalisering+av+högre+utbildning

I will write more about this book later on, when I have had the chance to implement some of the ideas from other chapters in my own teaching!

conference · Pedagogical development · Pedagogy · Social media in higher education

Presented a poster on the use of a teacher administrated Facebook group in a university course

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A few weeks ago, Pernilla Josefsson and I got an abstract for a poster accepted to an annual pedagogical conference at Uppsala University (TUK 2018) and today I presented that poster at the conference. The poster is based on work performed within the 3hp pedagogical course which I’m currently taking at the university. I introduced the course last autumn in this blog post.

The basic idea with the project is to study how a Facebook group affects student and teacher roles as well as the communication both between students and between students and teachers. As in several earlier courses I have been responsible for, I invited all teachers and students to join a Facebook group in the beginning of the course. The only difference this time is that I conduct research on the communication. The poster, shown in the picture above, presents some basic facts about the setup, which methods were used and also some preliminary results. A lot more can be done in terms of analysis, so this is certainly not the last research contribution that will come out of this study!

Here is the abstract we submitted in order to get the poster accepted:

A Facebook group was used as a complementary communication channel during a course in human-computer interaction, autumn 2017. All 63 students and three involved teachers were invited to the group right before the course started. This was done within the scope of a pedagogical study aiming at investigating how a teacher administrated Facebook group affects student and teacher roles and communication between students as well as between students and teachers. The study included a pre-survey on social media literacy, collection of posts and user reactions, and a post-survey eliciting student attitudes towards Facebook as well as opinions about the use of Facebook during the course. Posts and comments were analyzed using a content analysis approach. 48/63 students chose to join the group and of these 40 were active participants. Most student posts and comments concerned the ongoing project work and logistics.

I really enjoyed attending the very well arranged conference, and in the next blog post (or maybe two posts), I will discuss some of the points brought up in the keynotes, paper sessions and plenary talks. Both some of my colleagues in the HTO group at Uppsala University and I will also write about the conference – and especially our own contributions – on our HTO blog in the near future. So, if you want to know more about what we are involved in regarding pedagogical development (or other research) you should also check out that blog.

Pedagogy

Yet another great pedagogical course at Uppsala University

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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!

 

Leadership · Pedagogy

Recently cleared a course in group leadership!

As I have written in earlier blog posts, I took three pedagogical courses this spring to get closer to the associate professor goal (15hp). I wrote about the course on oral presentations here and the course on methods for activating students here. I will soon write about the third course on assessment, grading and feedback. Apart from pedagogical courses I also took a group leadership course, which ended Wednesday last week with a full-day session about how to detect and handle conflicts. 

During the scope of the course a small group of researchers/leaders, with varying backgrounds and positions at the University, met about once a month for full-day sessions on different themes related to group leadership. Lunch was included every time. Even though theory was provided through short lectures, the focus was on discussions, role play and other leadership exercises. Since quite a few of the discussions and exercises were based on the course participants’ own experiences, I will not give any concrete examples here. We decided at the first session that we should not talk about the issues discussed during the course with people outside the group. 

The course covered a wide range of topics and the common theme was active listening. The course covered establishment of norms, listening strategies, reflective teams, positive and negative feedback to colleagues and private talks, just to mention a few of the themes. 

One of the most challenging themes was the one about providing negative feedback. It is really hard to give someone negative feedback on their actions, while at the same time framing the feedback so that 1) it will lead to a change in behaviour and 2) it will not have a negative impact on the work relation between me as a leader and the co-worker. Another one of the more challenging topics was private talks initiated either by me as a leader or by a co-worker, with the focus of discussing some problem encountered at the workplace (often focused on someone’s behaviour). The most challenging part in this case is that the problem that gave rise to the meeting is often not the big issue. In these talks it is up to me as a leader to ask open questions and search for “free information” in order to get the whole picture and find possible underlying problems that are much more important to deal with. If you are not good at active listening techniques during these meetings you may end up focusing on a minor problem instead of a major one. 

I really enjoyed each and every session of the course and I can really recommend this or a similar leadership course to persons in any kind of leadership position! I really think that I will be able to approach my colleagues in the groups I’m leading in a better way now and I hope I will also be better at spotting potential problems early on and taking measures to handle them.