My name is Petri Ihantola and I have just started as an Assistant Professor (tenure track) at the Department of Pervasive Computing.
Tampere is the city from where my academic career – or at least dive into student life – started in 1997. I came here to study physics, ended up listened Armo Pohjavirta’s unforgettable lectures, living in Mikontalo, and acting as a secretary of Hiukkanen. Though I enjoyed student life in Tampere a lot, I followed my to become wife to Helsinki in 1999. Now, after 15 years, I can only say it’s good to be back. Well, technically I’m not quite back yet as I’m currently also a visiting scholar at the Stanford University (supported by the Kaute foundation) and returning to Finland around Wappu.
A few words about my research… Today, a lot of learning takes place on the web. Learners do exercises online and receive immediate automated feedback on what they do. Digitally mediated instruction has also give rise to Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) which aim at unlimited participation and open access. To a computer scientist, such as myself, these courses have the potential to provide valuable data on educational innovations and their impact.
My research has meandered within and around the theme of automated assessment for over ten years. The journey began in the early 2000s when I was an undergraduate student at Helsinki University of Technology. I was hired as a teaching assistant and administrator of our assessment service for programming exercises. From there, I moved on to lecture some large-class programming courses and research educational algorithm visualizations. My early research endeavours were interrupted in the mid-2000s as I finished my Master’s and moved to work for Google — first to Ireland and later to Switzerland. After two years of software projects and test automation, I moved back to Finland to pursue a PhD. I returned to the same research group that I had left and continued my work on automated assessment of programming.
I strongly recommend for every academic to stay away from the academia at some point of your careers. At least I felt that it opened my eyes and all the time off my research was actually speeding it up rather slowing it down.
I finished my dissertation in 2011. I continued for a post-doc position also at Aalto where focused more on gamification, programming with mobile touch devices, and learning analytics. Teaching wise, I enjoyed lecturing the web software development course. Finally, after all that, I got where I am at the moment – Tampere and Stanford.
Although I’ll be away till the Wappu, I’m already looking for collaboration – interesting projects to join, master’s theses to supervise, etc. In addition to software engineering in general, I’m enthusiast to computing education research, online learning, automated feedback, gamified learning, mobile learning, educational data mining, software test automation, novel programming environment, and web software.
Outside work, I enjoy many kinds of outdoor activities, playing pool (do we have a pool table at the campus?), and simply spending rare spare time with my lovely wife and kids.