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Proposal for the iCom doctorate course offering

Version 1.0, 20/03/2011

Abstract. The purpose of this document is to describe the context, premises, motivation and structure of the “iCom doctorate course offering”, a series of 4 courses at the doctoral level. Unique features of the iCom doctorate course offering are its:

  • joint development and implementation by partnering universities,

  • being cooperatively developed with stakeholders from academia, education, and regional industries

  • professionally-oriented and scientifically-focused nature, resulting in the development of knowledge and professional competencies within the domain of applied computer science.

Furthermore, iCom doctoral courses are interleaved with a series of practice/research workshops to ensure constructive, bilateral communication and knowledge/practice transfer between academia, enterprises and educational institutions.

The iCom doctorate course offering is being developed within the iCom project (2011 – 2013) supported by the European Territorial Cooperation Austria-Czech Republic in the priority-axis of human resource development in the border region of Austria and the Czech Republic. The courses are going to be offered jointly at the Faculty of Computer Science at the University of Vienna and the Faculty of Informatics at the Masaryk University in Brno.


Context, premises, motivation, and objectives

The curriculum for the 4 courses constituting the iCom doctorate doctorate course offering is developed as a part of the iCom project and hence as a cooperative effort of the partnering Universities, in particular the Faculty of Computer Science at the University of Vienna and the Faculty of Informatics at the Masaryk University in Brno. In addition, stakeholders from industry and education take part in the curriculum development.

It is understood that the iCom doctorate course offering is going to be fitted into the existing, accredited doctoral studies of the Universities in a way to enrich the existing doctoral course offering. Typically, students will attend the iCom doctoral courses in addition to the other courses of their doctoral study and develop knowledge and competences particularly needed for their practice-related, problem-oriented PhD themes in the field of applied computer science, business informatics, and computer science didactics. Space permitting, the courses of the iCom doctorate course offering will be open to other doctoral students. For reasons of focus, the maximum number of participants shall not exceed 12 in the first round.

The iCom doctorate course offering is designed to be consistent with the requirements of the European Quality Framework (EQF) Level 8 concerning doctoral courses. The EQF proposes the following general features to be provided at the doctoral level:

Knowledge: at the most advanced frontier of a field of work or study and at the interface between fields

Skills: the most advanced and specialized skills and techniques, including synthesis and evaluation, required to solve critical problems in research and/or innovation and to extend and redefine existing knowledge or professional practice

Competencies: demonstrate substantial authority, innovation, autonomy, scholarly and professional integrity and sustained commitment to the development of new ideas or processes at the forefront of work or study contexts including research

Taking the premises described above into account, the primary objective of the iCom doctorate course offering structure is to support doctoral students in practice and problem related fields of computer science to:

  • Develop advanced communication (listening, dialoging, articulating, etc.) and cooperation competences in bilateral/(inter)national contexts

  • Build a significant learning and knowledge creation community in the context of ICT projects, constructive international communication

  • Acquire knowledge about appropriate research methods and get initial support in their application

  • Gain insight into systems thinking, the disciplines of learning organizations and agile management at the age of the Internet.

Summarizing, participants (students and facilitators) interact to deepen professional skills and attitudes within the domain of Computer Science applications and research. The transfer between academia, industry and schools is supported by an accompanying series of practice/research workshops conducted in the Vienna-Brno region and providing opportunities for life-long learning for an interested broader audience.

"Science has its inception in a participating person who is pursuing aims, values, purposes which have personal and subjective meaning for him. ... He senses the field in which he is interested, he lives it. Out of this complete subjective immersion comes a creative forming, a sense of direction, a vague formulation of relationships hitherto unrecognized. ... It is indeed the matrix of immediate personal, subjective experience that all science, and each individual scientific research has its origin."
(Rogers, 1961, p. 217)

There is nothing so practical as a good theory”

(Lewin, 1951, p. 169)

Goals and objectives of the iCom doctorate course offering

Generally speaking, the objective is a socio-technical advancement of knowledge, skills, attitudes, and competences. Its essence lies in introducing, experiencing, reflecting, supporting and researching humanistic, person-centered principles in the context of ICT projects.

At the knowledge level. “knowledge at the most advanced frontier of” the following fields is aimed to be constructed and put into practice:

Systems theory and learning organizations

Person-Centered Approach

Project management and selected aspects of knowledge construction and management

Web 2.0 services and technologies,

Technology enhanced learning

Research methods with a focus on action - and design based research

Skills “to extend and redefine existing knowledge or professional practice” include:

Dialogue, active listening, transparent articulation in international contexts

Moderation, group work/facilitation,

modeling and abstraction skills

Web 2.0 and successive web technology skills

Strengthening of sensing skills, i.e. sharpening of skills for accurate perception

Systems thinking, personal mastery, team learning, developing shared visions

Attitudes to provide a value-based, relationship-driven commitment to socio-technical innovation

Having personal and shared visions

Aiming for a deep, comprehensive understanding of the field of study

Extending personal congruence

Openness to experience

Respect and acceptance, e.g. of the other and their culture, of diversity

Comprehensive, empathic, and systems understanding

Appropriate level of trusting the process

Competencies to “demonstrate the development of new ideas or processes at the forefront of work or study contexts including research” include:

Co-actualization, meaning the interdependent moving forward together with others and building well-functioning relationships as well as models, tools, theories

Enabling innovation

Pro-active behavior

Holding constructs/patterns flexibly

Living in “constant learning mode”, in tune with the five disciplines of the learning organization

Applying research methods in a way to bring new knowledge to the surface and thereby improve (aspects of) current practice

iCom doctorate course offering

to be held in Vienna and Brno with attendance of students of both universities

Overview of proposed courses (open to change, except for course 1 that builds the foundations)

1 International person centered communication & groupwork

Facilitator: J. Cornelius-White in cooperation with Renate Motschnig

2 The Learning Organization in the age of the internet

Facilitator: W. Stillwell or D. Ryback or … J. Cornelius-White

3 Agile Approaches – Networked Management Learning

Facilitator: J. Highsmith or K. Haasis or …

4 Research Methods for the Advancement of Socio-Technical Systems

Facilitators: P. Wilkins or G. Fischer or J. Kriz or Mayering or …

1 International person centered communication & groupwork

This course aims to facilitate community building among the participants of the iCom doctorate course offering while sensitizing them to person-centered principles and communication. Based on the course experience, participants elaborate person-centered principles and research approaches, reflect and share their experience and challenges in IT project work, and develop ideas and plans on how to transfer their learning into practice, the accompanying practice/research workshops, research designs, and publications.

Intended learning outcomes are:

  • Participants become better listeners and can express themselves more transparently.

  • Participants become more open to their experience, more expressive, and more acceptant and understanding of others.

  • Participants perceive their (social, international) environment more extensionally (i.e. without prejudice), more accurately and more realistically, improving both their problem solving capacities in complex, work-related contexts and their abilities of working in/with groups.

  • Participants reflect their experiences and look at them in the light of person-centered values as well as perceived business- and educational values.

  • Participants explore and reflect the features and values of both presence and computer-mediated interaction in their work-related contexts and in international settings.

  • Participants experience and reflect the process and facilitation-style in a loosely structured, person-centered, international community and get first-hand experience on the potentials and possible limitations of such settings.

  • Participants and facilitators gain clarity in research hypotheses, goals and designs elaborated as “shared visions” through dialogue in the significant learning community developed and developing in the course.