National elections in Norway are this September, and clearly there’s going to be more playful use of social media this time around. The latest I’ve seen is a Twitter account spitting out “facts” about Monica Mæland, a conservative politician who is the Chief Commissioner (byrådsleder) in Bergen.
Probably these are not exactly new jokes either:
- “Once Monica Mæland made a Happy Meal cry”
- “Every time Monica Mæland doesn’t get her way, a unicorn is born.”
- “If you Google “Chuck Norris” it says “did you mean Monica Mæland?”
While slightly amusing, I doubt this is going to win any elections. A bunch of (lets admit it) mean jokes with no actual political content – other than to claim that Monica Mæland is scary and gets whatever she wants – aren’t going to convince anyone to change their vote. At most, they might make people who are already committed to a political view laugh or be annoyed and perhaps share them with friends. I suppose conceivably it might get more people to actually vote and be involved in the elections. Perhaps you would laugh at is and en decide to go and find out what Monica Mæland actually stands for and has done. I’m looking forwards to seeing more political content in these ads, though. The Hey Girl Audun Lysbakken have more of that, although they’ve sort of declined after the first couple of days.
Scott and I are visiting the three US universities that we’re doing a joint course with in August, and are having a fabulous time meeting all the students we’ll be working with in a few months! Scott cooked this whole thing up: we’re doing a week long joint course on Collaborative Creativity in New Media where students work together in US-Norwegian teams to create creative digital projects in Bergen. We’re collaborating with Rod Coover here at Temple University in Philadelphia, Sandy Baldwin at West Virginia University and then next week, we’re going to the University of Minnesota at Duluth to meet Rob Wittig and Joellyn Rock and their students.
Here are the students from WVU and Temple – all very excited to be coming to Bergen and full of interesting skills, ideas and backgrounds. And you can spot Rod and Scott in the second photo as well.
We’re also meeting with deans and coordinators and international relations people about setting up longer term exchanges, and there’s a lot of interest here. One point I find interesting is that in Norway (and Europe) we’re largely set up for semester long exchanges, whereas here there are a lot of shorter exchanges, 2-4 weeks seems fairly common. It might be interesting to set up a course at UiB that has an intensive two week session at start of semester that’s open to short term international students, and that continues at a less intensive pace for the rest of the semester for our local students. Many possibilities.
As you may remember, this semester I ran for election as vice-rector in Kuvvet Atakan’s team. Today the results were announced. We won 41% of the votes, which wasn’t enough to win, but certainly shows that a great many people at the University of Bergen supported us. Being part of a university election campaign was an amazing educational experience and I have learnt so much about the university and about university politics. And it was fun, too! Continue Reading →
I complained to Liz, who was here last weekend (wonderful, inspiring talk! slides here, video there) that I was getting bored with the election debates, of which there have been many, and she said, “So have fun! Make some memes!” Continue Reading →
For quite a while, I’ve been meaning to put my application for full professor online. Here it is.
I had never seen an example of an application for promotion to full professor when I submitted my own application, in September 2009. The process was veiled in secrecy, it seemed. The criteria were clear, sort of: in Norway you have to have a PhD (of course) and then the equivalent again to merit a full professorship, and any associate professor with a permanent job at a Norwegian university can apply, you don’t have to wait for a chair to be available as in some countries.
So I had no idea what a professor application should look like. There were no mentorship programs, no annual talks on what was expected and how to prepare an application, no other professors happily sharing their applications. There were brief guidelines, similar to these 2012 ones, but nothing that seemed very specific. Instead I found blog posts from US academics on how they were preparing their tenure binders, and so I decided to copy that model, and actually use a binder. I filled it with sections on research, teaching and outreach, each with a selection of material. I spent an hour in the university bookshop deciding which colour binder to use, and opted for a dark, rich pinkish-purple: feminine yet very serious. I photocopied five copies of ten publications, put it all in a big cardboard box along with five copies of the book I wrote and the book I co-edited and lugged it all over to the Faculty of Humanities administration.
Uncharacteristically, I didn’t blog it. I was too nervous my application would be rejected. And nobody ever talks about their professor applications. It seemed as though it was taboo, and so I didn’t.
But four years later I’m annoyed to see how closed the process still is. So I’m putting my whole application online so anyone else who wonders what a Norwegian application for full professor looks like can see. I still haven’t seen more than a couple of other applications, so I’ve no idea whether this is a typical or even a particularly good application, but I did receive my full professorship from an international jury of my peers (or rather, of people who had already been full professors for several years), so it must have been good enough! And I’ll include the evaluation report too so you can judge for yourself. I’m not including all the publications or all the articles and course descriptions and so on that were in the teaching and outreach sections, but the table of contents should give you a pretty good idea of what I put in there. Here are links to PDFs of the documents I wrote specifically for the application:
- Professor application form
And here is the evaluation report so you can see how the committee received it and what they emphasized. It’s in Norwegian, but most people applying for a professorship in Norway can probably stumble their way through it, and I expect Google translate will get you some of the content. Now, my field is digital culture, which doesn’t exist as such at other Norwegian universities. They sent my application to the media department at the University of Oslo. So this may all vary in other fields, I really don’t know!
Best of luck if you’re applying!
“I saw two aeroplanes dropping bombs over our preschool,” Jessie told me. “No planes have dropped bombs over Bergen since grandma was a baby,” I said. “That only happens in wartime, and luckily there haven’t been wars here for a very long time.”
“But E’s little sister is in hospital because a bomb took away her legs,” Jessie continued seriously. E’s mother told me yesterday about E’s imaginary little sister. It took me a while to realize that the imaginary little sister with the amputated legs and the bombs over the preschool represent these five-year-olds’ way of dealing with a very real, though in some ways distant threat: this is how news of the Boston bombings filters into children’s awareness. Doesn’t help that she didn’t hear it at home. I don’t think she heard it at home. Maybe she heard us talking when we weren’t thinking of her listening.
I can keep telling her that wars are all very far away. But bombs and danger aren’t necessarily.
Mostly, I agree with this cartoon that’s been making the rounds on Reddit and Facebook. But sometimes, turning off the television is not enough.
Tonight marks the first meeting of the Lær kidsa koding! (teach kids to code!) initiative, which I’m so thrilled to be a part of. One of the most important recommendations in the report to the government I co-wrote about hindrances to digital innovtation in Norway was introducing programming in schools. In Norway, as in most other countries, children and teenagers have to have support from home and be very self-motivated to teach themselves to program. There is absolutely no support for this at most schools until the second last year of high school, and even then I have met many children who want to learn to program (often so they can make games or animations) who have no support or help and end up giving up. Even teenagers studying media and communication are told they can’t take the programming class because it’s reserved for other students. No wonder we struggle to recruit IT professionals – but at a deeper level, I think this is serious for the whole country: we need everyone to have basic knowledge of how computers and networks work. We don’t all need to be programmers, but this is such a fundamental part of today’s society that we are going to make the wrong decisions as a society, as individuals, as innovators (as police offers, doctors, teachers, parents, lawyers etc etc etc) if we don’t all have more understanding than we do today.
I wrote an op-ed in Aftenposten last week about this that got lots of Facebook likes and Tweets and comments: Hvorfor lærer vi ikke barna våre å kode? Read it if you haven’t already! (The English version Google Translate suggests isn’t too bad, actually).
Torbjørn Skauli, the person who has developed the Norwegian version of the kids’ programming language Scratch, is one of the people working on Lær kidsa koding! and he recently posted a really promising outline of what a curriculum in programming could look like, in four levels. It’s definitely worth spreading, so I took the liberty of copy and pasting it, and translating it to English (below the fold). What do you think? Would you want your kids to have the opportunity to try this curriculum?
Nivå 1: Avmystifisering av IT (for alle)
Hva: Lære at et program er en oppskrift laget av mennesker, som datamaskinen følger, og at veldig mange av tingene vi bruker inneholder en datamaskin. Lære at programmering er en nyttig ferdighet i arbeidslivet, og at man også kan gjøre det på fritiden med sin egen datamaskin. Ha det gøy med å lage enkle programmer.
Hvem: For alle, inklusiv foreldre! Målgruppen er særlig barn i barneskolealder, men “Nivå 1″ er aktuelt for alle som ikke har prøvd programmering før.
Hvor: Overalt hvor vi kan komme til! På SFO, klubber, barnebursdag, utstillinger og arrangementer. I fremtiden burde dette være del av læreplanen for barnehage og barneskole.
Hvordan: Scratch, Legorobot og andre enkle, lett tilgjengelige verktøy.
Nivå 2: IT-allmenndannelse (i obligatoriske læreplaner for ungdomsskole og VGS)
Hva: Lære om konseptet algoritme og om hvordan informasjon kan representeres som digitale data. Lære noen forskjellige algoritmer for behandling av informasjon. Overordnet forståelse av lagring og overføring av data. Digitale medier: lyd, bilde, web. Enkel robotikk.
Hvem: Elever i ungdomsskole og videregående skole.
Hvor: På kort sikt burde det være mulig å få dette inn som valgfag i ungdomsskolen, men dette bør inn i skolens læreplaner, enten som eget fag eller som utvidelse av matematikk, naturfag og kunst&håndverk.
Hvordan: Jeg er usikker på hva som vil være de beste verktøyene her, men neste versjon av Scratch er en god kandidat. Legorobot og enkel tekstbasert programmering er også aktuelle, men dette nivået bør unngå å ha fokus på det programmeringstekniske.
Nivå 3: IT-håndverk (valgfrie fag i ungdomsskole og VGS)
Hva: Lære å bruke et fullverdig programmeringsspråk. Lære mer om representasjon av informasjon, datamaskinarkitektur og nettverk. Skrive programmer som oppleves som fullverdige og relevante, f.eks. for web eller nettbrett. Dette nivået kan inneholde andre ferdigheter, f.eks. simulering, animasjon, digital fabrikasjon (3D-printing etc.) og robotikk
Hvem: Elever i ungdomsskole og videregående skole.
Hvor: Valgfag i ungdomsskolen, linjefag i videregående skole.
Hvordan: Python, Java, C++ eller andre fullverdige språk. Fullverdige verktøy for andre ferdigheter som læres på dette nivået, f.eks. 3DS animasjon og 3D-printing.
Nivå 4: FritidsaktivITeter (på ungdommenes fritid)
Hva: Lære å utvikle programmer og systemer på et mer avansert nivå. Skrive større programmer. Lage roboter, apparater og installasjoner. Avansert animasjon. Hjelpe til med instruksjon av yngre barn, og samtidig være rollemodell for dem.
Hvem: Elever i videregående skole, og kanskje på ungdomsskolen. Bare en liten andel av elevene vil være aktuelle, men det er ønskelig at alle blir gjort kjent med mulighetene slik at de som har en latent interesse eller talent får muligheten til å prøve seg.
Hvor: På fritiden, helst i nettverk av folk med sammenfallende interesser, lokalt eller på nett.
Hvordan: Få hjelp av voksne mentorer som kan ha LKK som sitt nettverk. LKK og/eller skolen hjelper med å koble interesserte elever sammen med lokale likesinnede og mentorer.