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Maria Spante

Senior Lecturer


Staff member at Division of Informatics.

Conducts research in social sciences, informatics.


My thesis focused on social interaction in shared virtual environments over time. The project was mainly financed by VINNOVA and led to the thesis Connected Practice: The Dynamics of Social Interaction in Shared Virtual Environments. I defended my thesis at Chalmers in April 28 2009. Opponent was Professor David Roberts, University of Salford, Manchester, Great Britain.

URL including  updated list of publications


Guided by curiosity regarding human interaction and communication in various technical systems, I have participated in a range of projects. These projects have, in different ways, studied how humans have been more or less successful in their strive to accomplish things together when interacting with or via technical systems to solve specific tasks, create specific products as well as creating new possibilities for learning. Below, I present each project in more detail and my contribution in the different projects, followed by a list of publication. Projects are presented according to their timeline. Publications are presented in alphabetical order.

Consequences of the digitalization of schools

This research project is about what happens when new technology begins to be used in child and youth education. The project is based on an inclusive perspective embracing pupils, teachers and parents use of information systems for learning, teaching and communication processes, as well as school administrators and leaders. The aim is to understand how information technology contributes to changes in different processes for different users of information systems, and how these changes can be influenced in positive directions for learning, teachers professional situation and promote pupils well being. Participant researchers: Dr. Maria Spante, Professor Dr Lars Svensson, associate professor Dr Lena Pareto and PhD student Said Babaheidari. Funded by Lansforsakringar. Projectstart in 2012.

Developing mathematical understanding with Squared family and the role of teachers.

Dr Lena Pareto at University West has developed a computer game for learning mathematics called Squared Family.This project introduces the mathematical game on a broad front in primary school classes in Uddevalla. The aim of the project is to assist and investigate how the game can be integrated into teaching and the role of the teacher for pupils to learn mathematics. 60 teachers and more than 1,000 students in grades 1-5 are included in the project. Project leader: associate professor Dr Lena Pareto, and other research partners is Dr Maria Spante and Dr Lena Nilsson. The project started in 2011 and stopped 2013. Funded by: Skolverket.

Cross-border education in Scandinavian Schools

This is an EU-funded project aim to support collaboration between Danish, Swedish and Norwegian schools. Using the concept of user driven innovation as a design intention, models was co-designed by scholars from nine different schools providing virtual classrooms where Scandinavian pupils and teachers interacted. The collaboration was mainly be supported by information and communication technologies. A wide range of actors from the three countries were involved in this project. The project started in 2011 and stopped 2014.

Interactive competence among teachers

This research project will shed light on how interactive whiteboards (IWB)s can be used in Swedish schools and how interactive competence can be developed. There is an ongoing debate on the interactive whiteboard regarding pros and cons of teaching, for example whether the use of the IWB increase or decrease students participations. The pilot project focuses on how teachers who consider themselves as being comfortable and skillful in using technology for educational purposes, are planning and conducting their lectures. The aim is to capture how technology accustomed teachers are using the interactive technology, how they see their professional development and how they perceive how students learn. If the video-recalled interview methodology is successful in support teachers how to better use the interactive technology and at the same time interact with students during lectures when the IWB is used, the project will be expanded in a larger scale in a subsequent project. Project leader: Dr Maria Spante, and participant research partner Pia Svanberg. Funded by LINA. The project started in 2011 and finished 2012.

The use of social media in higher education

The increasing use of social media in society in general is also evident in higher education. Social media as a channel for communication between teachers and students and among students are becoming more common. This new phenomenon is growing, but due to its novelty, there is little systematic research that can provide guidance and support to the development. The development is usually driven by enthusiasts who are happy to embrace new technologies in education. The purpose of the project is to identify factors and conditions regarding how social media affects student learning and educators\' everyday teaching practice. Partners in the project: Maria Victoria Pineda, DeLaSalle University, Manilla, Lennarth Bernhardsson, Livia Nordstrom, University West.

Pedagogy, technology and learning: new possibilities with interactive whiteboards?

This project focuses on implementation and evaluation of the use of interactive whiteboards (IWB) in science education for young children. I have been active in planning and executing the project. Data is collected through repeated group meetings with teachers, demonstrations and discussions about functions of the IWBs in relation to learning goals, as well as interviews with the headmaster. In the next phase of the project we conducted classroom observations that were videotaped for later analysis. Partners in the project are project leader Dr. Bodil Sundberg, Orebro University, and lecturer Jorgen Stenlund, Orebro University Sweden. The project started in 2008 and finished in 2010.

The necessity of repeated measures in experimental research.

The focus ofthis project is to identify the role of time in relation to object focused problem solving over time in real and virtual situations. I have been, and still am active in the planning and execution of the project in collaboration with assistant professor Ilona Heldal, Chalmers, Sweden. The project is ongoing and started in 2006.

The heart project: A  comparative study of the use of virtual or real hearts in biology education

This project focused on how teachers and students experienced to use a virtual or a real heart in biology education at high-school level, and how this could be related to their learning about the structure and function of the heart. Classroom observations, focus group interviews in combination with individual interviews were used in order to collect information of the process. As a project leader I was active in planning and executing the project in collaboration with Professor Michael Axelsson, department of Zoology, Gothenburg University, Sweden. The project started and finished in 2009.

Virtual Labs: Implementation Project

This project concerned implementation and evaluation of digital visualizations and animations in four different Swedish high schools in biology education. The digital visualizations and animations were developed at Stanford.  I was active in the organization of the project as well as in the development of flexible design models based on  results from the implementation project.  Information was collected by classroom observations, focus group interviews with students and individual interviews with teachers. I collaborated with project leader PhD. Cammy Huang-DeVoss Stanford , Professor Michael Axelsson Goteborgs Universitet, project assistent Maria Sunnerstam Gotenborgs universitet and PhD candidate Thommy Eriksson, IT -University Gotenborg. The project started and finished in 2008.

Library and Information Science Collaboration: Creating and Exchanging Knowledge in Different Ways

This study was part of a pilot project titled Three Local Regional Collaboratories for Information Exchange and Co-creation in Sjuharadsbygden.  The purpose of the study was to investigate the feasibility of establishing a LIS (Library and Information Science) collaboratory, a technical and social forum in which information and other resources could be shared among LIS professionals, students, teachers and researchers. In the study we conducted interviews with library and information science managers in order to obtain an understanding of how professional norms and information technology could be used to increase collaboration within library and information science. I co-developed the interview questionnaire, carried out interviews with library managers and took an active part in the data analysis.  The project was carried out in collaboration with project leader Professor Diane Sonnenwald, University Boras, Sweden and  Ph.D. Ann-Sofie Axelsson, Chalmers, Sweden. The project was funded by the Stiftelsen ForeningsSparbanken Sjuharad and conducted during 2005 to 2006.

Virtual Film Crew

In this project I carried out on-line observations within a movie production project. People from different countries used a virtual project management system in order to produce a science fiction film without a single face-to-face meeting. I was active in the analysis of the total amount of the collected text files from the involved individuals. The project was in collaboration with PhD candidate Thommy Eriksson, It-university, Sweden. The project started in 2004 and finished in 2005.  

Computers in school

This project was finished before I started my thesis work. I was a research assistant at Mid Sweden University in a project that investigated childrens and adults attitudes to and their use of computers. I was active in the selection of representative schools in Jamtland and in the creation of questionnaires for children, teachers and parents. I also designed a questionnaire for the children that were not yet able to read. I was responsible for the distribution and collection of 900 questionnaires. I then coded and analyzed them. The project was carried out in collaboration with project leader professor Marion Kloep and BSc Susanna Olsson. The project started and finished in 1996. 

List of publication ( in alphabetic order)

Axelsson, A-S., Sonnenwald, D. and Spante, M. (2009) Needs and Challenges with Respect to Establishing a Collaboratory within Library and Information Science: Practitioners\' Perspectives. In M-L. Huotari and A. Lehto (eds.) Change Challenges Leadership - Library in the Academic Community, pp.62-80. ISBN/ISSN: 978-951-44-7607-5.

Axelsson, A-S., Sonnenwald, D and Spante, M. (2007) Att etablera ett kollaboratorium inom biblioteks- och informationsvetenskap: behov och utmaningar från ett praktikerperspektiv. Svensk Biblioteksforskning, 16 (1).

Axelsson, A-S., Sonnenwald, D. and Spante, M. (2006) Needs and Challenges with Respect to Establishing a Collaboratory . In Proceedings of the Information Use in Information Society Conference, University Library, Bratislava, Slovakia.

Christie, M., Ferdos, F., Spante, M. and Axelsson, A. (2005) The Task Takes Over: Assuming Too Much in Online Collaborative Learning. In E. de-Graaf, G. Saunders-Smith and M. Nieweg (eds.) Research and Practice of Active Learning in Engineering Education. Pallas Amsterdam University Press, ISBN/ISSN: 978-90-8555-091-4.

Christie, M., Ferdos, F., Spante, M. and Axelsson, A. (2005) Online Collaborative Learning; a Case Study. In Proceedings of the ALE conference, Amsterdam, Nederland.

Eriksson, T., Spante, M. and Andersson, S. (2004) Desktop VR and Filmmaking - A Case Study of how Web3D Models and Chat can be Used in the Product Design Process. In ACM International Conference Proceeding Series, Cancun, Mexico, 58.

Eriksson, T., Spante, M., Andersson, S. (2004) The Computer Mediated Movie Producer-Leadership in Online Collaborative Communities. In Proceeding of Winter Internationals Symposium on Information and Communication, Cancun, Mexico.

Heldal, I., Schroeder, R., Steed, A., Axelsson, A-S., Spante, M. and Wideström, J. (2005) Immersiveness and Symmetry in Copresent Scenarios. In Proceeding of IEEE VR2005, Bonn, Germany, pp.171-178.

Heldal, I., Spante, M. (2009) Assessing Collaboration in Virtual Environments. In Challenges in the Evaluation of Usability and User Experience in Reality Based Interaction, CHI 2009 Workshop, Boston, USA, pp. 32-36.

Heldal, I., Spante, M. and Connell, M. (2006) Are Two Heads Better than One? Object-focused Collaboration in Distributed Virtual Environments. In ACM Symposium of Virtual Reality System Technologies, Limassol, Cyprus.

Heldal, I., Stahre, B., Spante, M. and Billger, M. (2008) The Influence of the Applied Technologies on Estimating Graphical Representations. In Architectural Inquiries - Theories, Methods and Strategies in Contemporary Nordic Architectural Research, Göteborg, Sweden.

Heldal, I., Steed, A., Spante, M., Schroeder, R., Bengtsson, S. and Partanaan, M. (2005) Successes and Failures in Copresent SituationsPresence Teleoperators and Virtual Environments, 14 (5), pp.563-579.

Lundh-Snis, U., Nilsson, A., Nilsson, L., Pareto, L., Petersen, A-L., Sofkova Hashemi, S.,  Spante, M., Wicke, K. (2012) Nordic Innovation Networks in Education: Dealing with Educational Challenges with Cross Border Collaboration and User Driven Design, In Proceeding of Uddevalla Symposium, Faro, Portugal, 553-571.

Lundh-Snis, U., Spante, M., Svanberg P. (2011) From Industrial Mentality to Entrepreneurial Spirit: An Engaged Research Approach for Regional Transformation. In Proceeding of Uddevalla Symposiet, Bergamo, Italy, 501-514.

Spante, M. (2010) Interactivity, Visualization and Learning: Challenges and Possibilitie. KeyNote In Proceeding of TouchPiont 2010, March 4-5, 2010, Manila, Philippines, pp. 1-13. ISSN 2094-4918.

Spante, M. (2009) Connected Practice: The Dynamics of Social Interaction in Shared Virtual Environments. PhD Thesis, Chalmers University of Technology, Göteborg.

Spante, M. (2004) Elaborating Distraction-Conflict Theory: Towards and Analytical Model for Evaluating Collaboration in Shared Virtual Environment. In Proceeding of Virtual Reality Design and Evaluation Workshop, Nottingham, UK.

Spante, M. (2004) Learning to be Social: Establishing and Maintaining Relationships in Shared Virtual Environments. In Realitat Virtual a l\'arquitectura i la Construcció, Barcelona, Spain, pp.96-106. ISBN/ISSN: 84-608-0394-5.

Spante, M. (2004) Shared Virtual Environments: Technology, Social Interaction, and Adaptation over Time. Licentiate Thesis, Chalmers University of Technology, Göteborg.

Spante, M., Axelsson, A-S. and Schroeder, R. (2006) The Good Inequality: Supporting Group-Work in Shared Virtual Environments. In R.Schroeder and A-S. Axelsson (eds.) Avatars at Work and Play. Activities in Shared Virtual Environments, Springer, London, pp.151-166. ISBN/ISSN: 1402038836.

Spante, M., Eriksson, T., Sunnerstam M., Huang-DeVoss, C. and Axelsson, M. (2010) Unlock the Rigidity and Design for Flexibility. Journal of US-China Education Review Vol.7, No.11, 2010, ISSN1548-6613

Spante, M., Eriksson, T., Sunnerstam M., Huang-DeVoss, C. and Axelsson, M. (2009) The Need for Efficient and Flexible Educational Imagery – When Ambitious Visualization Products meet the Context of Actual Learning Environment. In Proceeding of International Conference on Information and Communication Technologies in Education (ICICTE) 2009, Corfu, Greece.

Spante, M., Heldal, I., Axelsson, A-S. and Schroeder, R. (2003) Is there a Trade-off between Presence and Copresence? In Proceeding of The 6th International Workshop on Presence, Aalborg, Denmark. 

Spante, M., Heldal, I., Steed, A., Axelsson, A-S. and Schroeder, R. (2003) Strangers and Friends in Networked Immersive Environments: Virtual Spaces for Future Living. In Proceeding of Home Oriented Information technologies (HOIT) 2003, Irvine, CA.

Spante, M., Schroeder, R. and Axelsson, A-S. (2004) How Putting Yourself into the Other Person´s Virtual Shoes Enhances Collaboration. In Proceeding of the 7th International Workshop on Presence, Valencia, Spain, pp.190-196. ISBN/ISSN: 84-9705-649-3.

Spante, M., Karlsen, A.V., Nortvig A-M, Christiansen, R.B. (2013). Cross-border collaboration in history among Nordic students: a case study about creating innovative ICT-didactic models. In proceeding of ECTC 2013, Brighton, July 11 - 14, 2013, 145-157.

Spante, M., Karlsen, A.V., Nortvig A-M, Christiansen, R.B. (2013). Cross-border collaboration in history among Nordic students: a case study about creating innovative ICT-didactic models. In IAFOR, International journal of education vol 2, issue 2 page 55-86, (rewritten based on the conferencepaper with the same titel)

Spante, M., Svanberg P. (2012) Developing teachers’ interactive competence with the support of video recalled interviews: a training method in the making – Some initial results and lessons learned, SITE2012, March5-9, Austin, Texas

Steed, A., Spante, M., Heldal, I., Axelsson, A-S. and Schroeder, R. (2003) Strangers and Friends in Caves: An Exploratory Study of Collaboration in Networked IPT Systems for Extended Periods of Time. In Proceedings of Interactive 3D Graphics, Monterey, CA, pp.51-54.

Sundberg, B., Spante, M. and Stenlund, J. (2011) Disparity in practice: diverse strategies among teachers implementing interactive whiteboards into teaching practice in two primary Swedish schools. Learning media and technology. Available online

Svedäng, M., Spante, M. (2014) Doing cross-border science experiments using ICT for co-planning, documentation and evaluation as a method for increased motivation to participate in and learn about science experiments. In Proceeding of SITE, Society for Information Technology and Teacher Education, International conference, p. 2332-2340,




Research projects