Early Reflections about the ITiS Project


I have just looked at the second reflection made by the students in my groups regarding the start of the project in the IT in Society course. It has been an interesting read that give some insights into the challenges for the students, but also for us as faculty running such a course. Here area few of my observations:

A student points out that they are not supposed to create a product and that this is something they are not used to. The student also muses that this might make it hard to work on the project, for instance since they will only cover the start of the project. I did find this intriguing as it reminded me of the discussion regarding product vs process as the assessing unit in a course unit. I think there are merits and weaknesses with either extreme, but argue that a combination is generally advisable. Another aspect is the interpretation of product, since I think this concept is much broader that an artefact (or running program). For instance, the students in the IT in Society course will write a report for the client and to not view this as a product is interesting to me. Perhaps we should be better at conveying different views on what a product can be.

Another interesting observation is that an added complexity of the task is that it is not enough that the members of a group understand the plan for the work, which they are what they are used to. This is, I think, similar to another student pointing out that the project will be more tougher than first assumed (due to no programming). One student makes a clear reference to open-ended problems, which is something that we have written quite extensively about (here are a few examples: The Contribution of Open Ended Group Project to International Student Collaborations, Open Ended Group Projects a ‘Tool” for More Effective Teaching, Open-Ended Projects Opened Up – Aspects of Openness (to be presented at ASEE/IEEE FIE in three weeks), and Developing and Assessing Professional Competencies: a Pipe Dream?)

Most identifies cultural differences as a risk in the project and point out the excellent seminar hold by Helena Bernáld on this issue. An interesting manifestation of this is that three out of four group leaders are Americans, despite the fact that they have less time in their study plan for the collaboration and that they are only a third of the students in the project. This fact is definitely something for the student group to be aware of as it could influence the pace of the project. It was also interesting to note that the student assumed this was ok since we’ve run the collaboration for many years and thus would know that this would not be a problem. This comment indicate to me that there is a view that there are a recipe for how to conduct a project of this kind, rather than there being some generally good advise that would be helpful given that they are adapted to a particular setting.


Going to Frontiers in Education (FIE)

gears-1443730_1280.jpgIt’s soon time to go to FIE, this time in Erie, Pennsylvania, USA. I’m really looking forward to this trip, since FIE to me in a great inspiration, where I can meet interesting people from a wide variety of backgrounds. This year will be more hectic than normal, since I’m part of a panel and four paper (1, 2, 3, and 4) presentations on top of being a member of the Helen Plants award committee. The committee selects the best special session

Special sessions are intended to be creative, non-traditional, interactive ways to engage engineering and/or computing education professionals in the frontiers of education. These are ~80 minutes in length; the number of special sessions offered is limited. These sessions intended to be of value to FIE Conference attendees, enhance the experience and knowledge of the session participants, and help advance the frontiers of engineering and computing education.

and is a great help for me in deciding on what to listen to among the wide selection of options at the conference (smile). Most of the sessions I’ve attended over the years have been rewarding experiences.

Two of our new PhD students (Virginia Grande and Tina Vrieler) in Uppsala Computing Education Research Group (UpCERG) will also attend, as will three seniors (Aletta Nylén, Arnold Pears and me) together with a soon to graduate associate to the group (Thomas Lind). The Uppsala University presence should thus be quite visible and hopefully appreciated as we will strive to use the conference as a great opportunity to get our new PhD students introduced to the area and become part of interesting networks.

Four FIE confirmations :-)

swirl-1170475_1280.jpgGot three pappers and a panel approved for Frontiers in Education in October…  although one meant some extra work…  the system had, as far as I understand it, flagged our revised submission as being the same as the one previously submitted…  luckily we could show that we had adressed the reviewers comments and got it accepted…  phew!!

One of the papers (A Critical Analysis of Trends in Student-centric Engineering Education and their Implications for Learning) is about looking broadly at the effects of student-centric (student active) education…  which I think is called for in the rush to build on the positive reports regarding learning using such methods… the intention is not to discourage from adopting student-centric pedagogy, but rather to consider what fits each course context (teacher, content, students) and especially the overall setting (e.g. parallel courses) best… the latter since the increases in learning very likely depends on students spending more time, which if all parallel courses had that effect could be quite overwhelming to the students….  and also to ponder one of the best pedagogic advices I’ve heard: variation works

Final version of FIE paper uploaded

church-1102046_1920.jpgI just uploaded the final version of the Aligning Quality Assurance at the Course Unit and Educational Program Levels for the ASEE/IEEE Frontiers in Education (FIE) conference. This paper is mainly about how a Database course was redesigned at Reykjavik University based on the results of a Quality Assurance process, which we have described in e.g. Quality Assurance using International Curricula and Employer Feedback presented at the ACM Australasian Computing Education conference (ACE) in Sydney, Australia 2015. The interesting things in my opinion is that the Quality Assurance process was actually seen as relevant and positive by the staff at Reykjavik University and the relatively detailed description of how the ACM/IEEE Curricula guidelines could be used in updating and implementing a course. The first since Quality Assurance processes in my experience mostly have been seen as something requiring a lot of work with not much value as seen from the teaching staff perspective. The second since it could lower the bar for teachers to use the ACM/IEEE Curricula guidelines, or similar ones, in their course planning.



Weekend Grook greeting, week 25


..  time for another weekend.. in Sweden a pretty special one: Midsommar…  guess that could be seen as a community thing…  and belonging in a community is important…  I’d see our success in getting papers in to the ASEE/IEEE Frontiers in Education conference as a sign of us (UpCERG) being central to the computing/engineering education research community…. although one would perhaps not want to belong based on the criteria in this grook…  😮

There’s matter for reflection
in one’s fellow-men’s inanity:
it strengthens one’s conviction
of belonging to humanity.

…   but perhaps anything that makes you belong is of value..  hmm.. nah…   there are reasons that are *wrong*…

.. anyway..  hope you’ll find yourself in positive and enjoyable communities this weekend… here is where I’ll spend my midsummer weekend..   


FIE again

meeting-1019875_1920.jpgJust got word about the fourth paper and it also got accepted with minor revisions. This paper, A framework for writing personal learning agreements, is an outcome of project we got from Uppsala University. We have had two students helping us develop a system for supporting learning agreements in the IT in Society course. Part of the support we will provide is definitions of professional competencies and ideas for what to do in order to develop the chosen competencies. The perhaps more interesting support is the use of personas and scenarios to help identify with developing professional competencies. Read the paper

Papers for Frontiers in Education, 2016

FIE 2016 CFP postcardI have four paper abstracts and one panel proposal accepted for the ASEE/IEEE Frontiers in Education (FIE)  conference to be held in Erie, Pennsylvania, USA in October 12-15. So far I have got notice that the panel Developments in global software education has been accepted with minor revisions, that the paper Students envisioning their future has been accepted, and that the papers A critical analysis of trends in student-centric engineering education and their implications for learning and Aligning quality assurance at the course unit and educational program levels both have been accepted with minor revisions. I am waiting to hear about the A framework for writing personal learning agreements  paper. Feels good so far   🙂