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Gorgeous Autumn, Grandchildren, and Gmail withdrawal

23 Sep

It’s a great time of year for mellow fruitfulness and my garden (and those adjacent) are full of apples and pears, and the blackberry harvest came early and has been good. We are just waiting now for the eating apples to finish ripening.

We’ve had a lovely summer seeing all the grandchildren. Poppy is very nearly 13, Lucas is a strapping 9 now and full of beans, and twins Molly and Chloe are an energetic 6. They bring us all so much fun and love!

I need to warn people wanting to contact me that Gmail, having advised Phil his custom Gmail email would be cut off unless he paid a lot of money monthly for what had previously been a free account, have now cut my linked account unceremoniously and so if you want to communicate with me from now on, please do so via my Leeds Beckett email, or via Twitter DMs @profsallybrown.  My apologies for any inconvenience!

Sunshine, Solar panels, Sessions on assessment, Swimming and Stories

19 Aug

Mid August, and Phil and I are enjoying the good weather in our garden, particularly now have just had Solar panels and a great big battery installed, so we can make the very best of our Eastern sunshine!
We’ve had a little holiday in County Durham while the installation was happening, and I’ve loved our time in the Ramside Spa Hotel, having lots of time in the swimming pool as well as visiting Durham Cathedral and Castle (particularly the Anglo-Saxon stone crosses and treasures), the Bowes Museum in Barnard Castle, and Durham University’s Oriental Museum which I think is a NE treasure beyond compare.  We often are so busy travelling to exotic places, we forget to make the most of local heritage.
But now it’s back to work, creating resources for various universities with Kay Sambell, preparing for my assessment session at Stirling University on 24 August, and my keynote at the WISECON conference at Manchester on September 13th.
In the midst of all that we have our 6-year-old twin granddaughters coming for a holiday while their parents work, so it’s non stop food preparation currently for the freezer prior to their visit,  where we will be non-stop with crafting, swimming, stories and visits (probably including the Durham Oriental Museum where there are lots of kids’ activities around Egyptian mummies, world faiths and art work.
PLEASE NOTE AN IMPORTANT MESSAGE ABOUT CONTACTING ME: my current Gmail address may fail to work, so if you can’t get a message through to me, try twitter DMs  @ProfSallyBrown, or email me on my Leeds Beckett email address which is my initial dot surname
If you are having a chance to enjoy some sunshine, I hope you enjoy it as much as we are doing.

Speaking Specifically about Seminal Assessment Influences

18 Jul

In this podcast, you can hear me talking about assessment with Kevin Merry of De Montfort University. In this episode of a great series compiled by Kevin, you can hear me discussing the key people who influenced my writing in the early days, something about my current work with Kay Sambell on authentic assessment, my thoughts about where assessment will go in the future and much more. Thanks Kevin for asking me to do this.

Highlights of AHE, Horoscopes, Huddersfield and Happy Holiday

3 Jul

Today, as the penultimate working session for my academic year, I have been contributing to a session at Edge Hill University as part of the annual Solstice Conference and sessions of CPD and staff development, with guest inputs from Kay Sambell, Phil Race and Peter Hartley. Our topic was using a crystal ball to look into the future: “What’s going on with HE assessment and feedback right now?”.  The slides we used are here. Solstice-1-July-2022pm.pptx (220 downloads) I identified 12 issues I’ve been seeing, particularly in my work with Kay over the last two years in our global virtual sessions, which have included working in Chile, Ireland, Hong Kong, New Zealand, Australia and Italy as well as in 20+ HEIs in the UK. Our thinking was substantially expanded last week at the excellent Assessment in Higher Education Conference in Manchester  If you’ve never been to @aheconference, do have a look at the tweets #aheconference2022 and consider coming along to next year’s event in June.

We did our first face-to-face event on Wednesday at Huddersfield University contributing to their annual T&L conference and it was great to interact with people in a live context again. They have some fabulous new buildings since I last went there.

Next week on 5th July, Phil and I are hosting an afternoon tea for National Teaching Fellows attending the AdvanceHE conference and some other local HE practitioners: contact me if you are local and want to see if we have a spare place so you can join us.

Meanwhile, Kay and I are already getting busy with plans for our virtual workshops: it looks as if our hot topics are likely to be assessing students in groupsdesigning and managing feedback so as to contribute to self-efficacy and make the process integral to learning and actively designing assessment for learning from the outset.

I hope this summer will be productive and fun: but also with plenty of time to regroup, take a breath and appreciate what we have to enjoy.

Teaching, Thinking and year of the Tiger

1 Feb

Today is Chinese New Year and it’s also my 72nd birthday, which I am thoroughly enjoying.  It’s a time for reflection and looking forwards and backwards over a blessed life.

Eating a Chinese meal tonight to celebrate the year of the Tiger with the family.

Kay Sambell and I created a short resource for Birmingham University staff in their micro CPD series for their HEFI centre   They have been kind enough to allow us to share it more widely.

Gratefully Giving Forward Guest Blog

14 Jan

Happy New Year (although it’s another weird way beginning, what with Omicron and politics and Environmental anxieties and all! Although as I write some of the over-privileged and self-entitled of this world seem to be getting their come-uppance which seems like a good thing to me!)

I am delighted to start the new year on a positive note: Sarah Allsop from Health Sciences at Bristol university asked me to contribute to her website called the Grateful Academic, which is all about how sharing positivity and gratitude can support successful working in academia and higher education.  I thoroughly recommend​ having a look at it and gaining some joy from the approach adopted, which aligns strongly with mine.

When she asked me to do a guest blog for the site, I was only too happy to oblige! You should get this in the link above, or you can download it directly here. The-grateful-academic-w.docx (359 downloads)

I’m hoping that 2022 includes many more opportunities like this for us all to focus on the best bits of academia rather than the challenges and drudgery.

Pithy Positive examples from the Post-Pandemic Pivot

1 Dec

It’s been another tough year in the world of teaching and learning in higher education, so to cheer myself and others up, in the spirit of appreciative enquiry, I have compiled this collection of some of the positive benefits of teaching and assessment in higher education that have accrued as we’ve had to pivot fast into new ways of working.

I’m tremendously grateful to all the contributors and also to Kate Cuthbert of Nottingham Trent University who prompted me to do this as my contribution to their annual seasonal advent calendar. Pithy-positive-post-pandemic-pivot-w1.docx (443 downloads)

To those who celebrate it, a very Happy Christmas, and a peaceful, positive, enjoyable and compassionate New Year to everyone.

Cornucopia of compendium examples

17 Nov

It continues to be a lovely Autumn in North Tyneside, which cheers me up as it defers the worst of the winter weather! And it also cheers me up that we can here present a fourth compendium of great authentic assessment ideas in a special Hong Kong Edition from colleagues at the Education University of Hong Kong and Hong Kong Baptist University at HKSAR, with whom Kay Sambell and I have been working this year (see the picture of a screenshot from our latest webinar with them in August). The diverse disciplines represented here include Language Studies, English, Education, Multiculturalism,  Finance, Chinese Medicine, Multimedia Journalism, Music, Forensic analytical chemistry, Medical Ethics and Visual Arts practice. It’s exciting to see how our ideas are translated into practice and used globally: we are really grateful to Professor Siu Cheung Kong of the Education University of Hong Kong and Dr Theresa FN Kwong of the Hong Kong Baptist University for helping us create this original and very useful set of resources. HK-Compendium-4-FINAL.docx (1255 downloads)

Gorgeous golden gardens and Garnham Guestpost

11 Nov

As the Autumn leaves fall in the UK and the nights are drawing in, universities are continuing to think about how to make assessment more authentic to engage students and make the process all about learning, building on the innovative approaches developed during Covid closures.  In our most recent guest post, Kay and I are delighted to welcome a thoughtful piece from Wendy Garnham of Sussex University in which she writes about how she and a colleague Heather Taylor are moving away from simply setting an essay and leaving students to produce it, towards their more innovative approach to essay writing that actively fosters their students’ information retrieval and reflection skills as well as deconstructing the tasks into manageable objects. Thanks Wendy and Heather for enabling us to showcase this approach.

Wendy-Garnham-Blogpost-version-w.docx (676 downloads)

Here be Dragons!

6 Oct

Recently Kay Sambell I participated in a marvellous online conference run by Chris Headleand of Lincoln University on Practical Pedagogy

Practical Pedagogy – Chris Headleand

As part of Pedagogy and Pancakes we will be hosting a conference on “practical pedagogy”. A day-long session of advice, tips and tricks that can be applied directly into your practice. The Practical Pedagogy conference focuses on the practical implementation of teaching and learning strategies.

I went to a session run by Gaby Tobin and Laura West-Burnham of Cardiff Metropolitan University who were talking about how, in times of Covid, there has had to be flexibility in managing changing assessment needs while still assuring quality. Kay Sambell and I were so impressed by their thinking that we asked them to write a guest post for our Covid collection which you can read here entitled “Here be dragons: The challenges of balancing quality assurance and pedagogy”. Sincere thanks to Gaby and Laura for sharing their ideas here: Balancing-quality-assurance-and-pedagogy-w.docx (623 downloads)