On Nailing and Thomas Lind’s PhD Dissertation

Three weeks ago Thomas Lind nailed his PhD thesis onto the log of a birch tree at the department. Nailing the printed thesis is the first step towards getting it accepted and earning a Doctor of Philosophy degree at Uppsala University. The nailing is also done electronically, and in this Digital world that might be more official than the actual book.  The idea with nailing a thesis is to make it openly available for anyone interested to read and review. It is seen as a step to ensure quality, and a PhD thesis needs to be nailed three weeks before the actual defense.

Yesterday three weeks had passed and we had invited a committee consisting of three well-known researchers within HCI to evaluate Thomas Lind’s work. The committee consisted of

A PhD dissertation starts off by the opponent giving a summary of the thesis placing it in the context of the research area. Professor Netta Iivari from University of Oulu did a splendid job in presenting Thomas Lind’s work.

After this presentation, the opponent has a discussion with the PhD student around the work done. Usually the discussion includes explaining concepts, the Methods used and paths taken. This discussion is followed by questions from the committee and from the audience. When the committee and audience has asked all their questions it is time for the grading committee to have a meeting to discuss the quality of the work.

Thomas has addressed a very pressing issue when implementing new IT in organisations and explores the concept of inertia in sociotechnical systems. His thesis is a contribution to understanding Systems development and change. The presentation and discussion during the dissertation was really interesting, and I especially appreciated the discussion around research communities, and what research community we want to impress.

All people involved did a very good job, and Thomas Lind not only nailed the thesis three weeks ago – he also nailed the dissertation discussion!

 

 

Visiting period at the HTO: Leysan Nurgalieva

Hello! As Jonas kindly nominated me, this is my first scientific blog post and hopefully not the last one. But first of all, let me introduce myself.

My name is Leysan and I am a second year PhD student at University of Trento, north of Italy. My research group works in the field of social informatics, an intersection of human-computer interaction, sociology, cognitive science, and psychology. My background is mainly in computer science but I also have a five-year degree in automation and control systems engineering from Kazan National Research Technological University, Kazan, a beautiful city in Russia where I am originally from.

My main research areas are human-computer interaction and calming interactive design in sensitive contexts such as professional and family caregiving for older adults. I am especially interested in the role of information and the way it could be communicated in order to reduce anxiety related to caregiving and conflicts between caregiving stakeholders like nurses and family members of the nursing home residents.

I am also a member of EIT Digital Doctoral school, whose goal is to provide computer science PhD students with the background in Innovation and Entrepreneurship and create an experience combining research, innovation, entrepreneurship, industry involvement and pan-European mobility. One of the requirements of EIT Digital program is six months of geographical mobility in Europe with the aim to encourage international collaboration and networking within European academia and industry.

EIT Digital is an educational part of the whole EIT initiative, which has several other directions or communities and one of them is EIT Health.

Just a week ago I returned to Trento from the e-health summer school organized by EIT Health, which took place in Dublin and Stockholm. Participation in it was such a great experience, not only from the perspective of invaluable knowledge it provided me with (thanks to the organizers!) but also became an opportunity to discover e-health community and meet research groups that work on similar problems. One of the amazing outcomes of the summer school for me was meeting Åsa Cajander and her research group. After several discussions on our research interests and current projects we work on, we realized that we have a lot in common and I could join them for a visiting period in Uppsala…

And already in the middle of November 2017 I am coming to Sweden to spend my first 3 months at Uppsala University, in the Health Technology and Organisations (HTO) research group. As you see from the photo, we have already had a kick-off meeting with Jonas, Åsa, and Christiane and I am really looking forward to join the team soon!

HCI Seminars in Connection to Thomas Lind’s PhD Defence

Thomas Lind will defend his PhD thesis the 15th of September at 13.15 in 2446. You can read about the thesis in the previous HTO group’s blog post

In the morning before the PhD thesis defence the committee members and the opponent will give seminars. The seminars are open to anyone who is interested. 

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Seminars 

8.15-8.55. Netta Iivari will give a seminar on “Participatory Design and Technology Making with Children”

8.55-9.35. Olle Bälter will give a seminar on “Open Learning Initiative in Stanford’s  Digitalized University Courses”

9.35-9.50 Coffee break 

9.50-10.30. José Abdelnour Nocera will give a seminar related to HCI Education. 

10.30-11.10. Tone Bratteteig will give a seminar on “Research Methods when Design is Part of the Research” 

The seminars will be held in Fakultetsrummet at Ångströmslaboratoriet. 

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Please fill in the doodle so that we know how many to order coffee for. 

If you have any special dietary requests for the coffee break please add that as a comment in the doodle

– Please spread the word to anyone who might be interested in attending. 

Welcome! 

The HTO group 

Upcoming PhD thesis on IT-related Change Processes in Organisations

Yesterday, I handed my thesis manuscript over to the Uppsala University Library for the final prepress processing and subsequent printing of the thesis. After five and a half years of work, culminating in a quite intense spring and summer, this step marks the beginning of the very end of my PhD studies.

The thesis is titled ‘Inertia in Sociotechnical Systems: On IT-related Change Processes in Organisations’, and can be conveniently summarised using its abstract:

The introduction of new information technology (IT) in an organisation is one way of changing the conditions for how tasks and work processes can be designed and performed, as well as how people in the organisation interact with each other. Today, many Swedish workers rely completely on IT to be able to perform their jobs, while experiencing a combination of continuous and intermittent IT-related changes that affect this ability.

The introduction of new or updated IT systems in an organisation is an example of what is referred to as an IT-related change process in this thesis. Because IT has become such an integral part of modern organisations, many change processes in organisations are simultaneously enabled and constrained by the IT systems involved in a change process. In this thesis, I introduce the concept of inertia in sociotechnical systems to analyse IT-related change processes in organisations, and how achieving the goals of these processes is complicated by organisational, social, and physical aspects in addition to technology.

The context of this thesis is the Swedish public sector domains of health-care and higher education, and the result of research studies and experiences from four action research projects in these settings. The contribution of this thesis adds to the contributions of the included papers through the definition of inertia in sociotechnical systems and its subsequent application. The thesis shows that the concept of inertia in sociotechnical systems can be used to understand IT-related change processes as changes to the characteristics of a sociotechnical system, and, in the context of organisations, how these processes affect and are affected by an organisation’s characteristics. This is illustrated in the thesis through the application of the concept on examples of IT-related change processes from the included papers and research projects. In addition, the thesis shows that the use of vision seminar methods can benefit Swedish organisations, since new IT is often introduced without clearly defined, expressed, understood, and accepted goals.

The defense of the thesis (the Swedish custom of public final examination of a PhD student) will be held on Friday September 15th at 13.15, in room 2446 at the Polacksbacken campus of Uppsala University.

The comprehensive summary of this thesis-by-publication style thesis will be published online three weeks prior to the defense.

Seminar on the ethical handling of field research data

Last Monday, I held a seminar on “the ethical handling of field research data”. There are indeed many laws and regulations researchers need to follow when collecting, processing, publishing and preserving research data. In Sweden, the requirements related to good record keeping in public institutions are particularly high since the principle of public access to official documents applies. This is why I decided to prepare a seminar on this particular topic as my examination in the Research Ethics course I took last month at BMC.

Following Åsa’s recommendation, I decided to do an interaction-based seminar instead of holding a more “traditional” presentation. In my preparation, I determined the topics I was interested in and wanted to include in the seminar, and gathered information about each of them.  In the PowerPoint presentation I created for the seminar, I then added a few slides per topic. During the seminar itself, I started off by explaining to my audience which topics I had worked on, and asked them what aspects they were interested in talking about, or whether they had any question related to the topics I had prepared. They mentioned the three following questions of interest:

  • Can I take my data with me when I leave the University? Whom do the data belong to, and what does that imply for informed consent?
  • Video recordings: what do I need to pay attention to when handling such data?
  • What if I have messed up (lost my data, not submitted an application for ethical review, did not ask participants for consent)?

I addressed each topic one after the other, first giving some input with the support of the relevant slides from my PowerPoint presentation, then asking the audience for additions, examples and possibly other related questions. The discussions that each topic / question gave rise to were animated and thought-provoking, and always led to the generation of more questions than what we had started with! In spite of this, it seems that, based on the feedback I received later from some of the participants, the opportunity to discuss and reflect over those different ethical aspects of research was appreciated.

As for myself, I really enjoyed giving the seminar, and feel like I have learned quite a few things on the subject – even if one of them is that the legal framework we work with is difficult to put into practice. One of the main challenges I see is that it is hard to determine when a certain condition is fulfilled in practice. For example, is a so-called “working document” an official document? When does a document become official? Unfortunately, the fact that the interpretation of the different laws and guidelines that apply varies from institution to institution certainly does not make things easier…

MedTech Science & Innovation

Wednesday last week, and as a beginning of the Swedish MedTech week 2017, was the inauguration of MedTech Science & Innovation which is a new medical research and innovation centre in Uppsala. The centre is a long term collaboration between the Uppsala University Hospital and Uppsala University.

The day started with a welcome from Fredrik Nikolajeff and Marika Edoff from MedTech Science & Innovation. It was a busy schedule with many good presentations. Magnus Larsson, the head of the Digital Development Unit at the Uppsala University Hospital, talked about the digitalization within healthcare. Anna Attefall from Innovation Akademiska talked about how they support innovations, and she stressed the importance of user tests!

Further the program included many short presentations from researchers working with a broad range of MedTech applications. One example is Robin Strand from CBA and the division of Visual Information and Interaction at the IT department at Uppsala University (same division as the HTO group) who presented their work with advanced image analysis as a support for surgery. I was last out among the research presentations and talked about how important it is that the MedTech systems are usable, and how we work with including the user perspective.

The event ended with industry presentations, with for example Carl Bennet from the Getinge Group who stressed the importance to measure other values than costs to stimulate new innovations for better healthcare.

Listen to the presentations (in Swedish) here

On Teaching and Four Papers Accepted for Frontiers in Education 2017

A majority of the researchers in the HTO group are also very interested in computer science education.  As a HCI senior working at the department of Information Technology you do teaching in HCI around 30-60% of your time depending on what research projects you are involved in, and depending on what you are interested in. Most PhD students do 20% of teaching in HCI courses. So, as a student you would meet our faculty in a large variety of different HCI courses!

Many of us are also a part of Uppsala Computing Education Research Group (UpCERG) which is another research group at our department which is led by Arnold Pears. This research group does research on teaching and learning of computer science education.

This year the HTO group submitted four papers to the Frontiers in Education Conference, and all of them were accepted!

1) The first paper was a joint effort with many authors, of which Åsa Cajander, Jonas Moll and Diane Golay from HTO were a few. The paper is about student behavior and makes use of the theory of planned behavior for analyzing and understanding unexpected behavior in an HCI course. Jonas Moll has written some about this paper in his blogs. The paper is called Unexpected Student Behaviour and Learning Opportunities: Using the Theory of Planned Behaviour to Analyse a Critical Incident”. This paper is the first one in a row of papers on the same theme.

2) The second paper presents an interview study with computing instructors who were teachers in a summer camp for children. The summer camp is an example of a maker community effort targeting girls who are interested in computer science, and hence has a gender perspective. The main author of the paper is Tina Vrieler who is a PhD student in the UpCERG group. Åsa Cajander is one of the co-authors of the paper together with Aletta Nylén. The paper reports on the experiences made and what lessons there are to learn from the summer course and is called: “What Computing Instructors Did Last Summer – Experiences & Lessons Learned”. There will be more papers published from this summer course and they will make use of social capital theory.

3) The third paper is a paper where Aletta Nylén is the main author, and Åsa Cajander is one of the co-authors. The paper discusses students and their thinking related to higher education learning, and the paper is called: “Why are we here? Student perspectives on the goal of STEM higher education”.

4) The fourth paper presents a new method for scaffolding teamwork competencies through the use of a role play and the personas method. The main author of the paper is Arnold Pears, and Åsa Cajander from HTO is one of the co-authors and writes about her experiences using the personas method for discussing strategies to motivate peers in teamwork. The paper is called “The Archetype Learning Method – Scaffolding Teamwork Competences in the Engineering Classroom”.

The Frontiers in Education conference will be held in Indianapolis in the US, October 18-21, 2017. This is one of the core conferences in engineering education and includes research on a large variety of areas such as gender and IT, programming courses and professional competencies. Usually a large group of people from the UpCERG research group are present at the conference. We’ll see if some from the HTO group will come too this year J

Final Seminar Related to PhD Thesis about Inertia and Deployment of IT systems

Thomas Lind will defend his PhD thesis the 15th of September 2017. This week we had a seminar where the work was discussed with an external reviewer, José Abdelnur Nocera.

José Abdelnour Nocera and Thomas Lind

The thesis is about the deployment of IT systems. Thomas Lind’s PhD thesis has several contributions:

  1. The development of a theory for understanding deployment: Inertia.
  2. Deeper understanding of deployment of IT from a sociotechnical perspective.
  3. The evaluation of the method “Vision seminars” as a method to use when deploying IT systems.

During the seminar Thomas Lind first presented his work, and this was followed by a discussion with José Abdelnour Nocera. The discussion concerned both the six papers that are included in the thesis as well as the introductory text for the papers.

In the evening we had a nice dinner at Basilico.

The HTO group thanks José Abdelnour Nocera for a very valuable discussion. Now we are looking forward to the final defense of the PhD thesis. 🙂

Live-streaming of an open-heart surgery

In order to familiarize myself a bit more with the medical domain in preparation for the DISA project, I decided to attend the lectures of the “Medical Informatics” course given at the IT department at Uppsala University. The course comprises several study visits, the first one of which consisted in attending a live-streaming of an open-heart surgical intervention at the Uppsala University Hospital.

The live-streaming, which consisted of a high-quality video feed without sound, was orchestrated and commented by a clinician. Before and throughout the three hours that lasted the streaming session (which, unfortunately, ended before the end of the actual operation), the clinician provided us with some background on the ongoing procedure and explained to us how the main machinery and tools in use during the operation worked – showing us real-life examples of what these tools look like.

Throughout the streaming session, we had access to three different cameras located at different places in the operation theatre and capturing different angles of the intervention. As such, there were three different “views” available:

  • the operation theater as a whole, where we could see who was present in the room and how the medical staff was standing around the patient;
  • the “surgeon’s view”, where we could see the (opened) chest of the patient, as if standing above the patient’s body;
  • the vital signs monitor.

The main view used during the streaming session was the second one, the “surgeon’s view”. However, we switched several times to the general, operation theatre view, though for shorter amounts of time.

The live-streamed intervention revolved around placing an artificial valve inside the patient’s heart. In order to do this, the clinicians needed to:

  • Open the patient’s chest (including the chest bone);
  • “Connecting” the patient to the heart-lung machine (described in more detail below);
  • Stop the heart;
  • Open the heart;
  • Fix (with stitches) the artificial valve inside the heart;
  • Close the heart (with stitches);
  • Restart the heart (a defibrillation was needed);
  • Make an ultrasound of the heart (in order to check that the valve was working and well-adjusted);
  • Set up draining tubes (in order to allow for the bleeding within the heart cavity taking place during the next few hours after the operation to be drained out of the body without re-opening the chest);
  • Close the patient’s chest – a last step that we were unfortunately unable to witness.

To me, one of the most fascinating aspects of the surgery was the heart-lung machine. Its first function is to cool the patient’s blood (and, ultimately, the patient’s body) in order to minimize the risk of brain damage during the operation (which can be quite long). Its second, and probably main, function is to act as a substitute to the patient’s heart and lungs so as to enable the heart to be stopped while maintaining the patient alive. The heart-lung machine is handled by a specially trained nurse (called “perfusionist” in Swedish and “perfusion technologist” in English), who disposed of a screen (in addition to the machine’s two interface screens) with a specific MetaVision layout fitted to her particular needs.

Beyond the perfusion technologist, sitting at the heart-lung machine situated at some distance from the foot of the patient’s bed, the medical team actively taking part in the operations was composed of a main surgeon, an assistant surgeon, an operating nurse (notably in charge of handing instruments to the surgeons), an assistant nurse (notably in charge of handing equipment and instruments to the operating nurse) as well as an anesthetist and an anesthetic nurse. Interestingly, the anesthetist and the anesthetic nurse, standing at the head of the patient’s bed, were separated from the surgeons by a sort of curtain placed vertically between the chest and the head of the patient.

I noted two further interesting facts from the streaming. First, all team members except for the main surgeon are replaced at some point during the operation in order to prevent the risk for distraction- and tiredness-induced errors. As such, good “transfers of duty” seem to be an essential part of such complex and long interventions. Second, the surgeons and operating nurse did not seem to use any screen as support, and it is the anesthetist who is responsible to look at the result of the ultrasound in order to assess whether the result of the operation is satisfactory.

In summary, this was a truly fascinating and instructive “class”, though I was a bit disappointed by not having any sound – I had hoped to be able to hear how the medical team communicates and to understand when and how they use the different screens and computerized tools they are surrounded with. Hopefully I will get the opportunity to attend another operation within the next few years in order to answer those questions!