20 March 2024

He came to Linköping as a student in the early 1980s. Some 40 years later, Lasse Alfredsson is still at LiU. A teacher with a varied life journey – but his drive to constantly seek to improve remains. And his reward, students’ Aha! moments, is hard to beat.   

A teacher is teaching.
“Being a cog in the process when students learn and have Aha! moments has always been a driving force for me”, says Lasse Alfredsson. Thor Balkhed

It is early afternoon in B Building on Campus Valla. Some lectures have just ended. Others are about to start. It is crowded. Lasse Alfredsson is an associate professor in computer vision at the Department of Electrical Engineering (ISY), teaching prospective civil engineers on three different signal processing courses. He has devised a setup for students to stay alert for longer – and avoid massive queues at the coffee machines. His lectures are three times 30 minutes instead of the traditional two times 45 minutes.

“I always encourage my colleagues to do the same. It’s a good idea both from a pedagogical and a practical perspective. 45 minutes is a lot to digest. Now there are more opportunities to stretch your legs and I usually do head, shoulders, knees and toes with the students. Most of them like this setup,” he says, smiling. 

A person writes on glass.
The lightboard studio on campus Valla was completed during the pandemic. The interactive learning model where you can write or draw on a large, illuminated glass plate and simultaneously record a video is Lasse Alfredsson’s initiative.Thor Balkhed

Striving for students’ Aha! moments

Almost 30 years as a teacher has brought many experiences. And Lasse Alfredsson, who just turned 60, is constantly seeking to improve. Students evaluate examiners after each course. Lasse assesses his own performance after each lecture.

“I always write down what I’ve talked about and look at what went well and what I can change for next time. I’ve been doing this all these years. Taste is always different, there are students who write that ‘he’s the best teacher I’ve had’, while someone else thought it was ‘hard to follow and a lot on the board’. I guess it’s difficult to please all students.”

In 2023, Lasse Alfredsson received the Institute of Technology teacher award, and he has also been nominated for the Golden Carrot, the technology students’ award for best teacher. The stimulation and joy gained from teaching grew strong during his time as a doctoral student. And when he had the opportunity to remain at LiU after having defended his thesis in 1996 – well, that was a no-brainer.

“Being a cog in the process when students learn and have an Aha! moment has always been a driving force for me. Meeting new people and inspiring them to understand how much fun this topic is, that’s worth all the extra hours teaching often involves.”

How do you get students to experience these Aha! moments?

“I want students to understand why, not just what or how. In engineering programmes there’s a lot of formulas and mathematics. So I want them to get an understanding of what does this integral really mean? How should we interpret it? I focus a lot on that.”

Built a lightboard studio

One tool Lasse Alfredsson has developed, and which was financed by the Faculty of Science and Engineering, is the lightboard studio that has now been in the B Building for a few years. It is basically a large, illuminated glass plate that you can write or draw on and simultaneously record a video.

“I believe in this model a lot; you get a completely different interaction. Here, I look through the glass and into the camera. In a traditional lecture, I have the students behind me and stand a bit in the way when I write. Now I want to encourage more people in both the department and faculty as well as the whole university to also start using this teaching model!”

During the pandemic, he posted many of the recorded lectures on his YouTube channel. Many students have appreciated this initiative, and he aims to post more recorded lectures in the future. On YouTube, he also has another video that stands out – in a completely different way. There you see Lasse Alfredsson at the piano. He gets emotional watching it.

“Yes, it’s special, to say the least. It’s a tribute to my wife on our 1 billion seconds wedding anniversary (a little over 31 and a half years) with images from our wedding in 1986 and onwards.” 

A teacher and students having a conversation
Thor Balkhed

Being a role model

Teaching is an important part of Lasse Alfredsson’s working life. But it contains many other things as well. He is director of studies, leads the work of the Pedagogical Development Group (PUG), is a trade union activist and also chair of the Board for School Cooperation (NSS). The latter is currently in the process of building the site förebild.org (förebild is the Swedish word for role model). The idea is to create a database of people from academia and industry that school classes can invite to hear about their life journeys.

“It’s really important that people make an appearance in schools and paint a picture of what they were like when they were in fifth or seventh grade. Hopefully, students can identify with this person and feel that ‘if she or he can do it, I can’ or ‘now I understand why it’s important to learn this math.’”

Lasse Alfredsson is himself in the database. He grew up in a family where no one had studied before. His stepfather was an alcoholic and school played a very important part early on.

“You might say I made it in spite of a troubled upbringing. It shouldn’t matter what socio-economic background you have, and then perhaps I’m a good example. Young Lasse was a bit of a problem youth, not always keeping on the right side of the law, but I found the right path in life and education played a big part in that.”

Lasse Alfredsson

Age: 60
Lives: Linköping.
Family: Wife, four children and five grandchildren.
Profession: Associate professor in the subject area computer vision at the Department of Electrical Engineering (ISY) and director of studies for subjects within image and telecommunications. Chairman of the Board for School Cooperation (NSS) and director of the Pedagogical Development Group (PUG).
Lasse’s YouTube channel: youtube.com/c/LasseAlfredsson
LiU journey: Moved to Linköping in 1983 to study for a Master of Science in Applied Physics and Electrical Engineering. He has remained since then. Became a PhD in 1996.

Lasse about…

...his faith: “I became a Christian at the age of 19. This changed a lot in my life and my outlook on life. I actually met my wife in a congregation here in Linköping in1983.”
...his adventurous mind: “I love training and travelling. I love motorcycle riding, diving and parachuting, even if there hasn’t been much of that lately.”

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