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New professor to work with data visualisation at Universeum

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The University of Gothenburg and Universeum are strengthening their cooperation by embarking on a joint initiative in learning through data visualisation. Advanced technology will enable people to experience distant places and gain an understanding of complex correlations and phenomena. As part of this initiative, a new professorship is being established with both the university and Universeum as the holder’s workplace.

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Bild på Lena Pareto.
Lena Pareto.
Photo: Kristin Wiktorsson

“Data visualisation offers unbelievable opportunities. Only our imagination limits what can be done and how children and youth can interact with the technology,” says Lena Pareto, professor of education and the holder of the new professorship.

Pareto will officially assume the role on 15 April. Parallel to this, a new visualisation lab and a new visualisation dome are under construction at Universeum. The lab will open in December 2021 and the dome will open in the spring of 2022. The visualisation dome can make complex research accessible to everyone. Advanced technology will enable visitors to experience distant places and gain an understanding of phenomena that are too small, too big or too fast for humans to comprehend. The visualisation lab will enable visitors to explore and experiment with research data within a number of different fields.

“It’ll be very cool. The technology itself has no intrinsic value, mind you. What is of interest is how it can help us as humans and contribute to our learning,” says Pareto, and continues:

“Data visualisations enable you to create visual experiences of how things are connected or change over time. You aren’t limited to the things we can normally see and experience, instead you can gain an understanding of how mathematical calculations are performed or how the planet has evolved over millions of years. What’s more, the user can interact with the data sets and see what happens if they change something, enabling them to gain a completely different understanding of these phenomena.”

Experience-based learning

Pareto received her PhD. in computer science in 1995, has researched how technology and digitalisation can help people to learn and currently holds a professorship at University West. She has also developed digital teaching materials for school pupils.

“It’s like a dream come true getting this role at Universeum. It might sound like a cliché, but it really is true. I work with the development of experience-based learning and the environment at Universeum is ideal for this.”

Her workplace will be split between Universeum and the Department of Education, Communication and Learning at the University of Gothenburg’s Faculty of Education. This is so that she can promote child and youth education in mathematics, science and technology at Universeum while pursuing research in data visualisation and learning.

“It’s about creating a learning situation built around data visualisation. The key is to stimulate their curiosity and create Aha! moments. Then you need to keep their attention and take things a step further. In the case of Universeum, this could entail broadening the cooperation with schools and extending visits with preparations before and conclusions after,” says Pareto.

International leader in education and digitalisation research

The University of Gothenburg has long been an international leader in research in education and digitalisation, as well as in technology, science and mathematics.

“This new initiative is a fantastic opportunity wherein we’ll link education research with the learning environments and programmes at Universeum. There’s great development potential here. We’ll be researching the very latest technology within digitalisation and AI, and hopefully this will result in developments in teaching and learning within technology, science and mathematics,” says Åke Ingerman, dean at the Faculty of Education.

The professorship has been enabled by donations from several foundations: FRF Rehabilitation and Medical Research Foundation, Herman Krefting Foundation for Allergy and Asthma Research, IngaBritt and Arne Lundberg Research Foundation, Royal and Hvitfeldtska Foundation and Mary von Sydow Donation Fund Foundation. The professorship is closely linked to Universeum’s other initiatives within data visualisation and AI. Together, these initiatives benefits several other research areas, such as medicine, education and sustainable development.

“We’re very pleased that thanks to the donations from the foundations, we can now fill this extremely interesting professorship in cooperation with Universeum,” says Eva Wiberg, Vice-Chancellor at the University of Gothenburg.

Contact:
Lena Pareto, professor in education, telephone: +46 706 63 22 12, email: pareto.lena@gmail.com

Åke Ingerman, Dean at the Faculty of Education, telephone: +46 766 18 26 37, email: ake.ingerman@gu.se

Lena Pareto
  • Officially assumes the role of professor in education at the University of Gothenburg on 15 April, with special responsibilities linked to Universeum.

  • The position includes promoting learning within mathematics, science and technology with the aid of data visualisations and AI at Universeum, as well as research on digitalisation and learning.

  • Pareto received her PhD. in computer science in 1995, has human–technology interaction as a research interest and has been employed by University West since 2003.