Johanna Bragge makes her students to read the latest business technology trend reports

”Good teaching motivates and inspires the student's own interest in the subject”, says Senior University Lecturer.

The original publication of this interview was in 09/2016, the text has been updated in 09/2017.

Johanna Bragge received the diploma of the teacher of the year awarded by HSE Foundation in September.

Who are you and what do you do?

I am Johanna Bragge, Senior University Lecturer in Information Systems Science and Docent at the School of Business's Department of Information and Service Economy. Back in the day, I conducted my doctoral dissertation on energy taxation dispute in Finland in the subject area of management science. After I defended my thesis, I moved on to become a researcher and teacher in the field of information systems science. Initially, my research was focused on supporting group work and innovation with electronic meeting systems. The huge mass of text generated by these systems led me to take advantage of text-mining: in fact, I became fully absorbed in bibliometrics and, in particular, conducting extensive literature reviews using text-mining and visualization tools. My most recent publication was done in collaboration with Ossi Naukkarinen of Aalto ARTS on his research area, aesthetics.

Getting to teach about things that I have studied is what I enjoy most about lecturing. Fortunately, I get to do that in my Management Information Systems introductory course, for which I am responsible for the 9th time this autumn. However, what I like the most is providing more personal supervision for bachelor's theses, which is where I also have the longest teaching experience. I am also coordinating a hackathon for services in the public sector #PSHACK100, which is a university-wide course at Aalto. Students can sign up for the #PSHACK100 course until 24 October. I am also involved in teaching negotiation analytics, data science in business, and digital transformation at our department.

What does good teaching entail in your opinion?

In short, good teaching motivates and inspires the student's own interest in the subject. Educational psychology research indicates that this makes students use up to three times more time for self study than would otherwise be the case.

How have you developed the teaching at Aalto?

Since information systems science is a field that develops even a little too quickly at times, I try to keep up with the development, first of all by reading and making my students to read the latest business technology trend reports each year. Years ago, familiarising myself with trend reports already helped me gain awareness of issues such as big data and the opportunities offered by analytics in decision-making and supporting processes in companies. Indeed, in my courses, I invite guest lecturers related to these kinds of emerging technology themes, as I cannot be an expert on all of them.

I regularly learn to use new software related to data and we also utilise them in our assignments. Based on the course feedback I have received, students particularly appreciate these kinds of concrete skills:  'Some of the assignments I feel were career changing. Some of the software and platforms introduced in the course will forever change the way I collect/present my data.' With regard to big data, I was also one of the initiators and coordinators in the development of the university-wide Analytics and Data Science minor that has been available since autumn 2014.

According to our vision, we are building a sustainable society driven by innovation and entrepreneurship. How is this visible in your teaching work?

The specialization area of my docentship is the application of group support systems in information system development and innovation. In fact, I have been teaching how these electronic systems can be utilised in innovation for over ten years on a number of different courses, often anonymously, as this allows even the shyest students to boldly bring up their ideas. Generating ideas can either take place in a classroom or in a distributed manner online. Among other things, students have generated ideas on how prolonged studies in universities could be made shorter, how student welfare could be improved or how department personnel could utilise social media platforms in interacting with students. Every year, I have delivered reports of these ideations for the deans and heads of study affairs of our school.

I have a particular fondness for society driven by entrepreneurship, especially as a representative of information systems science.  For years, one of my courses has included a guest lecture advocating IT startup entrepreneurship by Jan Storgårds, who defended his doctoral dissertation in our subject. Storgårds currently works as the Sector Lead for Digital and Creative Industries at Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge, England, and regularly collaborates with Aalto's entrepreneurship networks. I also participated in the Slush event last autumn and, as a part of my bachelor's seminar, I have supervised a number of theses associated with the development of IT startups, for instance, on the topic of sharing economy.

Where do you get strength and inspiration for your work as a teacher/development of teaching?

Even though information systems science is in constant movement, the new technologies and opportunities they provide are what is best about the field! An example of this is provided by cognitive computing, which makes business analytics easily available for everyone as a self-service.

I am also hooked on a new self-service flea market cash system, which makes it possible to follow your own sales on mobile phone in real time the moment money is put in the cash register. This addictive application made me rent a table for twice as long as I planned originally! In my free time, I get most strength from my family, living in the countryside, taking photographs, and from the horses at a riding stable located next doors, where I go riding regularly.

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