Research studies under unusual circumstances

It’s now been over two months since we all started working mostly from home. Everything is very different now, and I myself would have organized a conference last week. To still “meet” some of those who would have been here from all over the world, we had a Swedish fika via Zoom Friday afternoon. Everyone had promised to make really strong Swedish coffee to drink in front of the computer.

While some like the new working situation, others feel lonely. It is perhaps most difficult for those who are far from their home country, especially many doctoral students. Therefore it is important for us supervisors to keep in close contact with our doctoral students, not only for the research to continue as well as possible, but perhaps primarily for the human contact.

The research studies that can go on more or less as usual are the ones that are mostly performed in front of a computer. It’s more difficult when experiments are required and worst of all if the planned experiments were intended to take place outside Sweden. Hopefully we can return to more normal research studies this fall.

PhD defences and licentiate seminars have since March 25th, when we had the first digital defence with the respondent on link from South Africa, been held on Zoom. We have so far managed about ten PhD defences and one licentiate seminar and have another 15 to look forward to before the summer break begins. It has overall worked out very well and I see ahead that we, post-corona, will make sure to broadcast our events – we can then certainly expect a larger and more international audience. But clearly it will be nice when we can celebrate the new doctors IRL as well.

I will take the opportunity to give an update of the responsible persons for our doctoral programmes, DAs:

  • Luca Urciuoli new DA for Industrial Economics and Management
  • Stefan Hrastinski new DA for Education and Communication Studies
  • Lyuba Belova new DA for Education and Communication Studies

Find all DAs at ITM here

/ Malin Selleby, Director of Third Cycle Education at ITM

How will KTH look like in August?

Dear colleagues,

We are entering the last weeks before the vacation period. By now, I believe most of you have already planned your vacation together with your closest manager and if not please make sure to do so.

Currently, we are in the exam period of this semester. Despite that alternative examinations have been introduced in some courses, the majority of the exams will be given as written exams, which are overseen by examinators, other faculty and PhD students. The President Sigbritt Karlsson has decided that also the re-exam period in the fall will be given using digital exams as well as alternative examination solutions. Here, I wish to point out that the PhD students as well as the faculty will act as examination supervisors, to make sure that no cheating takes place during the exams.

Talking about the future and especially the fall. How will KTH look like in August?

The president and her team have been planning for different scenarios that might take place in the fall. Our first priority is that period 1 should start as normal. However, as all of you know the outcome of the present situation is hard to predict. Thus, at ITM and KTH we are preparing for alternative scenarios in many ways. For example, under the lead of Anna Jerbrant, teachers at ITM have prepared risk analyses to understand what courses that are most critical to find alternative solutions for. Here, it is clear that it is especially important to identify courses that include practical experiments and to develop strategies on how to run these courses so that the required learning outcomes can be met. Here, one course at the Department of Industrial Production has successfully been held in an alternative manner during period 4, which may serve as a good example for other courses at ITM.

I also wish to mention that the administrators under the lead of Christina Carlsson also are planning for alternative ways of receiving the almost 1600 (!) new students that are expected to begin their studies at ITM in the fall. Overall, I believe that it is very important that we communicate updates regarding how the new semester will start up both to employees at ITM and to all students. Here, we are lucky to have a strong communication team at ITM that will help us with this very important task!

From the We+ app: people doing excercise.Finally, I hope that many of you have joined the KTH ACTIVE TOGETHER event. As we said earlier, the purpose is both to stimulate to exercise and to communicate with each other. The team that I belong to is led by the PhD student Reinol Josef Companero Del Carmen (called RJ). We share different photos taken during our exercises including pictures of ourselves performing different exercises such as running, walking, hiking, weight lifting, etc., but also pictures on landscapes or animals we have seen during our exercises. For example, myself I have already seen moose, deer, hares and squirrels as well as beautiful sunsets during my exercises. The participation in this event has certainly made me being more active than before and I hope you have had the same experience!

/Pär Jönsson, Head of the ITM School

Ongoing digital working life and current educational events

What happened during the Storträff? What can be said about future learning spaces? And how do we increase quality in education? Anna Jerbrant, Deputy Head of School, focus on future oriented activities and shares some of those with us.

For eight weeks now, we have all executed our work-tasks from home and mainly interacted with each other through Zoom. Even though this in many ways has worked out great, at least I look forward to meet all of my colleagues IRL ☺ But in the meantime I can focus on future oriented activities and share some of those with you.

For instance, last week I attended the yearly dialogue meeting focusing on educational quality. The dean and vice dean of faculty (Anders Forsgren and Sofia Ritzén) managed the meeting and as usual I got the possibility to describe and discuss the strengths and opportunities, as well as weaknesses and threats (quality wise), for all of the ITM school’s educations on 1st and 2nd cycle level. The goal is that these dialogues will lead to increased quality and long-term improvements for all our educations.

Another very interesting and future oriented activity was this week’s Storträff, which I hope a majority of you could participate in. Storträffen is something that occurs once every semester, were the vice-president for education invites teachers, educational leaders, other staff and student representatives to a meeting that raises current and prioritized issues for KTH’s education. Yesterday we both got to listen to the thoughts and reflections from the president as well as the vice-presidents. We also had three discussion sessions in breakout-rooms focused on different important subjects, for instance examination on a distance (both supervised and unsupervised), how to help students avoid plagiarism, connections to professional practice and engagement with external actors in education, sustainable development and education, a follow-up of the implementation of goal-oriented grading criteria’s and so on.

Major parts of the meeting were recorded and will probably be published here: www.kth.se/social/group/prioriterade-fragor-/

The next Storträff will be held on December 3rd 2020.

Finally, I would like to promote that KTH is arranging the fourth SoTL conference for its faculty on 10 March 2021. The KTH Scholarship of Learning conference is aimed at all teaching staff, all pedagogical leaders, all levels of management and educational administration staff at KTH. The main theme of the 2021 conference is Learning Spaces: the physical, virtual and social rooms or arenas for learning that you and/or others have created and acted in. The conference will take place at Campus KTH, at Valhallavägen in Stockholm and you can find more information here: https://intra.kth.se/utbildning/utveckling-och-hogskolepedagogik/kth-sotl/conference-kth

So, let us all plan for participating and submit papers where we describe all the knowledge that we have gained during this spring semester!

/ Anna Jerbrant, Deputy Head of School

No monkey business or fake news!

Dear colleagues,

We have entered the month of May, which is supposed to be an official spring month. However, the weather forecast is still prediction cold weather this coming weekend so it is hard to say. At the same time, most of you work from home under these new circumstances where you are responsible for sharing your office and private life. As I mentioned before, I am very happy about how well things work despite the new situation. It seems like all of us have been forced to take a crash course in digitalization for dummies. This does not mean that we master all tasks, but that we made huge leaps compared to the beginning of the year.

It is now clear that an idea that was initiated at ITM has convinced the whole KTH that all of us need some stimulation in our daily life while working at home. Thus, KTH will now launch the KTH ACTIVE TOGETHER event as explained in this short statement:

May 18 – June 15 KTH organizes the ”KTH ACTIVE TOGETHER”! It is a fun challenge where we cheer and support each other to work out. Everyone can join on equal terms, regardless of fitness level.

KTH Active Together

Finally, I wish to share a movie I made together with the ITM communication personnel. My purpose is to inspire all of you working from home to become more active and to join the KTH ACTIVE TOGETHER event. Note, the film is not any “monkey business” or “fake news”!

/Pär Jönsson, Head of the ITM School

Longing for a better future

Times is passing very quickly and we are soon leaving the month of April. This is a month were we know the weather is changing from summer weather to winter weather. Typically, we wear shorts and T-shirts one day and the next day we rapidly need to change clothes and remove ice from the car window. Soon entering May we long for warmer weather, but mostly we long for an improvement in the corona-virus situation. Some of the people at ITM has caught the virus, but not too many to my knowledge. A few of them has already come back to work.

In order not to spread the virus most of the ITM personnel work from home. We have heard mixed signals saying that “it is great to work from home” to that “I am bored to work from home”. Have patience, those of you longing for a new exciting activity will be happy. The administration at ITM led by Anna Blendow has pitched a competition and challenged the other schools at KTH. They thought it was a great idea, so keep your eyes open for We+, you will soon have more information about this.

Finally, I have one suggestion to those of you longing to celebrate the end of winter and to sing for the coming of spring: sing while watching the bonfire on Walpurgis on television!

/ Pär Jönsson, Head of the ITM School