Social media in higher education · Thesis defense

My colleague, Pernilla Josefsson, successfully defended her thesis today!

Pernilla

Today I spent the entire afternoon at KTH, attending Pernilla Josefsson’s thesis defense and afterwards joining a dinner. Pernilla has focused on the use of social media in higher education, and more specifically students’ use. The thesis, “Higher education meets private use of social media technologies – an explorative study of student’s use” can be found here. As always, it is interesting to attend colleagues’ defenses, but this one was quite special for me since some of the work Pernilla and I have been collaborating on, related to the use of Twitter in higher education courses, was included in the thesis and discussed during the defense session. The main supervisor was professor Stefan Hrastinski from the School of Education and Communication in Engineering Science (KTH) and the co-supervisors were associate professors Olle Bälter and Daniel Pargman from the School of Computer Science and Communication (KTH). The opponent was professor Grainne Conole from University of Leicester.

After a rather short introduction by the opponent, the discussion between Grainne and Pernilla took place. This discussion was really interesting to follow and touched on many different aspects such as the connection between roles and activities on social networks (in this case Wikipedia, Facebook and Twitter), the reason for selecting this particular research topic and of course the choice of platforms. One thing that the opponent highlighted was that she could really “feel” Pernilla’s passion for the work when reading the thesis and this was also something that the grading committee brought up. This says a lot about the quality of the work performed and about Pernilla as a researcher. I also particularly liked the discussion about the reasons for choosing this particular research topic – the reasons were grounded in her practice as a teacher and discussions with students as well as teachers.

When it came to answering questions, Pernilla did a very good job during the entire session. She really gave clear and well thought through answers and was calm during the entire session. She was not afraid to take pauses and think things through before responding. At one point the opponent asked a rather tricky question about how the concept of affordances was used (difficult to answer without a clear context). Before answering Pernilla defined an example context, which is of course a very good way of handling the situation. The grading committee also complimented the very “thought through and structured answers”.

When it comes to the study Pernilla and I collaborated on I will write more on this blog when it is published. That will probably happen during this spring. The study on Twitter is not the only thing we have been collaborating on. This week we are e.g. submitting a chapter to a book about the use of social media in educational settings and we also have the ongoing study about the use of teacher administrated Facebook groups introduced here.

communication · design · DOME · eHealth · EIT · EIT Health · Grant application · Human-Computer Interaction · Medical Records Online · National patient survey · Social media in higher education

Looking back at 2017!

Färjeläget

A new year has just begun and before I start blogging about current activities, I will take this opportunity to look back at some of the important things that happened last year. If you have been following this blog regularly, you have probably already read about the last summer’s adventures at the ACM SIGCHI/EIT Health summer school in a number of different posts so I will not get into any detail about that school here. If you want to read about what went on during this eHealth/mHealth design summer school you should read this post and all the posts it links to. The same goes for the very successful DOME session about patient accessible electronic health records at Vitalis, which I describe here.  As in all other of my meta-posts, I have chosen one of the nature pictures I took myself during the year.

Selected research activities

There was quite a lot of research going on last year. The research activities related to all of my focus areas eHealth, multimodal communication and social media in higher education courses. Naturally, most of my activities were connected to eHealth. Primarily, I continued working with the national patient survey on patient accessible electronic health records in Sweden (introduced here) and the interview/observation/survey study with physicians and nurses (introduced here). Last year’s work with the national patient survey resulted in four submitted manuscripts (to one journal and two conferences) and there is a lot more we can do with that study! It became especially interesting when we started comparing responses from different disease groups during the end of 2017. I will tell you more about these results later on when we have some publications. In the other study we conducted several interviews with physicians, about the effects of patients accessible electronic health records on their work environment, during the autumn. Most of the surveys have also been handed in. I will not discuss the results before they get published but I can tell you that both the qualitative and quantitative data gathered this far show that this study was very much needed! During the autumn I also started to, with my DOME consortium colleague Gunilla Myreteg, follow the implementation of psychiatry records online in Region Uppsala. I will write more about that in later posts.

I also started on another track related to eHealth – how we can make use of data from different sources for better diagnoses and treatment of cancer. This topic is also connected to big data and happens to be one of the themes covered in the 2018 version of Uppsala Health Summit. I am one of the organizers behind a workshop there and I also submitted a workshop proposal to a conference on the same theme. It remains to be seen if this will become one of my main research focuses in the future. It’s definitely and interesting and very important topic.

My work on multimodal mediated communication during 2017 focused primarily on revising a journal manuscript (presenting a study I was a part of during my last year at KTH) and submitting two posters to the Swedish Cognitive Science Society conference which was held in Uppsala in October. The accepted submissions are more thoroughly presented here and here.

Teaching

During autumn I was, together with Mohammad Obaid, responsible for a master level introductory course in Human-Computer Interaction. I really enjoyed that and I think the changes made to the course before it started really made a positive difference. One of the new parts we introduced to the course was a very appreciated creative prototyping session which I describe here. The students presented their final results in the middle of December and those results were very good. I describe the final presentation sessions here and the four finalists (which will compete for the winning team award) in these four blog posts:

  1. HCI course finalist 1: enhancing and simplifying the biking experience through augmented reality!
  2. HCI course finalist 2: utilizing haptic feedback for alerts and navigation cues!
  3. HCI course finalist 3: a solution for finding bikes to rent at your destination!
  4. HCI course finalist 4: a device presenting real-time and easily read navigational cues!

My research on the use of social media in higher education courses was also combined with my teaching in this course. The focus of that research is a teacher administrated Facebook-group which has been used as a complementary communication channel during the course. I explain the basic idea here.

Some other activities

Other activities worth bringing up here are my participation in the EIT Health Alumni Connect and the INNOVEIT events in Budapest in October. It was a great experience being there and my blog posts about Connect and INNOVEIT as well as those about the summer school also resulted in me being asked if I wanted to work with the EIT Health Alumni communication manager! Of course I accepted, but it remains to be seen exactly how that work should be carried out and what the tasks will be.

In November, I also took part in the first meeting as a representative in the eHealth council at the National Board of Health and Welfare in Sweden. I wrote about some of my experiences from that meeting here. I think many interesting collaborations can be found here!

In April I also submitted my first ever VR (the Swedish Research Council) application, which focused on support for collaboration between sighted and deafblind pupils in school. I wrote about that here. Unfortunately, we did not get a grant this time, but we got a “Very good” ranking on all criteria related to the content and feasibility so we will definitely move on with our ideas!

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 · DOME · Medical Records Online · Social media in higher education

Researching and teaching like never before!

This week has really been filled with both research and teaching activities related to eHealth, communication in engineering sciences and social media in higher education, just to mention a few areas. I will summarize this week’s activities in this blog post, just to give a broad overview of what I’m currently working on. The activities will be discussed more thoroughly in later posts. It may look below as though I never have any spare time. This week is, however, not very representative when it comes to work load – especially the teaching part takes up more time than usual.

 

Research

As I wrote in an earlier blog post I’m one of the organizers behind a workshop with a focus on eHealth, and more specifically on differences between eHealth services between different regions. I will act as a patient, asking questions to the other organizers who in turn act as representatives from hospitals in different regions. This week I have been working on finding relevant questions to ask, which is not an easy task since these questions need to pinpoint differences in eHealth services not only between different Swedish county councils but also between Sweden and Norway! I will get back to this in another blog post when I know how the event turned out.

I have also been working on another eHealth related study, focusing on interviews with physicians about how their work environment and communication with patients have been affected by patient accessible medical health records. This will probably be the largest study I will lead during my time as a postdoc at Uppsala University. In this study I’m leading a group with both researchers from several Swedish universities and medical doctors. This week we were brainstorming interview questions – an activity we will work on continuously during the next couple of weeks. During this week I have also been working on the application we need to send to the ethical board later on. I will introduce this study a lot more thoroughly in an upcoming blog post and I will of course also post updates about the work we do.

 

Teaching

In parallel with the research activities at Uppsala University I have also worked as a teacher at KTH (have a 30% leave of absence for this). I’m responsible for two groups of about 30 students in the course “Writing in the Engineering Profession”, where first year computer science students are taught how to write scientific reports. This week I have (and will) used 30% of my work time and some of my spare time to comment report drafts that the students have handed in. In a few weeks I will grade the students based on their final reports. I will write more about this course later on, since I want to clearly point out why I think this kind of course is so important to have as a mandatory course early on in education programs.

 

Writing

No week in academia is complete without some writing, right?  🙂  In case you are worried that there could be some blank spaces left in my calendar I can assure you there are not! During most of the spare time I have left this week I have been working on a paper manuscript, together with my colleagues Pernilla Josefsson from KTH and Renate Andersen from University of Oslo. The study concerns the use of social media in a higher education course. (Very) preliminary findings from the study were presented at the conference “Conference KTH Scholarship of Teaching and Learning 2015”. The manuscript (abstract) can be found among the proceedings posted here or on Research gate. I will, of course, write a lot more about the study after the journal article has been published.