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The working life connection challenges and enriches

The writing and rhetoric courses for engineers challenge Linda Söderlindh at the Department of Learning in Engineering Sciences at the ITM School. But they also enrich KTH students at Linda’s regular courses.

Linda Söderlind
Linda Söderlind.

What motivates you to create courses for professionals?

”I like the challenge of finding new perspectives on my teaching. Replacing the target group is such a change of perspective. It is both exciting and challenging to create courses for professionals. It is a group that may not have studied for a long time, which may be one of the challenges, because they may therefore have different expectations on education and training.”

”Professionals also have a lot of practical experience that will be used in the discussions during the course. They ask other questions and can also relate both theory and practice to real life situations in the workplace. Since the participants also have different experiences, the discussions will be extra fun and challenging for me as a teacher. This also enriches my “ordinary” teaching. I use many examples from my further training courses for programme students at KTH. They always appreciate these links with working life.”

Why have you initated these courses?

”In general, it is important to spread knowledge from KTH to the surrounding society. A degree does not mean that you stop learning things, quite the opposite. Most of us, and perhaps professional engineers in particular, need skills development and further training in relevant areas.”

”Communication in speech and writing are important skills for all engineers. Many may not have been able to develop these skills during their studies, or may face different demands in their working lives than those that were made during their education. That is why it is important for us to provide courses that are also relevant for engineers.”

Who is signing up?

”At least half of the participants in the rhetoric course for digital presentations are students at KTH, which was not really the idea because the courses were created for professional engineers. From “the right target group” we had everything from technical salespeople and managers to people who are not engineers themselves but who work with engineers, such as economists or human resources officers.”

”More than half of the participants in the advanced education rhetoric course are KTH students. However, we suspect that this has led to a decrease in the number of applicants for our ”regular” rhetoric course at KTH. We have tried to remedy this by requiring 180 credits in the course syllabus in order to be eligible for the course.”

”In the writing course for engineers there is almost exclusively KTH students, which was not the intention either. But many register and then never show up. Depending on when during the semester the courses take place, there may be quite a few months between the application period and the start of the course.”

What is the biggest challenge in putting together and run a course?

”These require a little different preparation than you might be used to. For example, participants may never have seen a learning platform like Canvas before, which requires more information for participants from your side. It can also be difficult at first to adapt the course to the target group because you do not know in advance who will apply. But that is also what is fun.”

”Practical things also require a little more, or different, planning. For example, the number of places in the courses must be decided in advance. Think through how many participants you want, as it is difficult to add more later, even if there is a big demand. It is also challenging to get a schedule that suits all participants. You have to try it out. Also, make sure that the course administration knows what kind of course it is, that can make it easier for both you and the participants.”

Text: Anna Gullers

Linda's best tips for further education courses

  1. Start small and specific. It doesn't have to be a big 7,5 point course. Focus on something that is relevant, and perhaps new and exciting for people in their professional lives. Our courses are 3 or 1,5 credits, at different study rates.
  2. Make sure that the further education course does not compete too much with your existing courses.
  3. Also keep in mind that professionals often have full-time jobs that may make your “regular” lecture time (e.g. Tuesdays 10-12) less suitable for this type of course. Evening classes or many digital elements that do not require attendance at all times, can be easier.
  4. Adapt the course content to the target audience. For example, tasks can be partly derived from the participants’ own experiences and professional life in a way that is often not possible in programme courses.
  5. Be clear with for whom the course is intended and ensure that it is communicated via the course syllabus and the information that potential participants find at
  6. Use the marketing offered by ITM to spread your course.

Courses given by Linda Söderlindh

LS141V Professional writing for engineers, 3hp

At KTH we teach students writing, which is often a, as we understand it, slightly lower priority skill within the programs, which may explain why we get so many students applying. Many engineers also write a lot in their work and therefore it felt important to be able to offer further training for them.

LS142V Professionl rethoric for engineers, 3hp

Being able to communicate is important for all professions, but perhaps especially for engineers who rarely get to practice it during their education. I wanted to give engineers who give many presentations the opportunity to deepen their knowledge of rhetoric and above all to get feedback on their presentations, which is rarely received in the workplace.

LS143V Practical rethoric for digital presentations, 1,5hp

The pandemic and the resulting zoom education highlighted both a lack of skills in delivering verbal presentations in digital environments and a strong need to improve these skills. The course therefore felt both important and current, which the large the number of applicants also has shown.

The courses have been available since autumn 2021. LS142V is given for the first time Autum 22 as there have been too few registered previously.