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Solstice, Sunshine, Setting questions and Substantial new article

1 Jun

It’s hard to be productive in this lovely sunshine, but I’m doing my best! This week should have been the Solstice Conference at Edge Hill University, but of course this is happening virtually rather than live this year. You might like to catch up via their website on Wednesday with a narrated PowerPoint which Kay Sambell and I have created entitled ‘Building bridges to the future: assessment which promotes learning post coronavirus‘. The hashtag for the conference is #solstice2020, and the link from which our narrated PowerPoint can be downloaded is:

I have also decided to start a new occasional feature called Question of the week. This has come about because people are regularly writing to me with questions of a pedagogic nature, the answers to which may prove valuable to others. Let me know if you have a question or would like to add to my answers. My response to the first question, which is on online replacements for traditional lectures, can be downloaded here: Question-of-the-week-w.docx (304 downloads)

Additionally, Kay and I have produced a new paper called ‘The  changing landscape of assessment: some possible replacements for unseen time constrained face-to-face invigilated exams’ in which we argue that some of the alternatives that universities have put in place for the coronavirus  contingency should be made permanent, and that we should use this as an opportunity to make some radical and substantial reconfigurations to assessment in the future to make it more authentic. A particular feature is the comparison table where we explore the pros and cons of diverse assessments that can be done virtually. You will find our new post here: The-changing-landscape-I-June-w.docx (1975 downloads)

I hope all these will be useful to colleagues. They are all open educational resources so please feel free to share them, but if you do please acknowledge where they came from. We like to hear where our work is being useful!

Travel-free impact, Translation and Tea

11 May

These are strange days indeed when most of what we are doing that might be useful to anyone else is being done at home. Kay Sambell and I have been delighted that people have been using our recent work on alternatives to unseen, time-constrained invigorated exams, and tips for assessing effectively and authentically under coronavirus conditions. Of course we very much hope this thinking will have usability in the future as well as we think about different ways of assessing in optimum ways. You might be interested to note that we have had feedback that this work has been found useful across the UK, in the Netherlands, Ireland, South Africa, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and most recently Japan. For those of you who read Japanese, here is a link to our work on the Osaka University website.
And the picture below shows me and Phil at our recent street party, suitably socially distanced.

Complex Coronavirus Challenges and Cheerfulness

24 Apr

Normally I post regularly on this site about the work I am doing, posting all my materials and presentations in case they are useful to others.
Well, like everyone else, I’m not going anywhere for the moment, and probably not for a good while as a stay-at-home 70 year old!
But I am keeping busy with, mentoring, remote support for Galway University (getting better at Zoom!), writing references (as always) and writing still, notably with Kay Sambell (see last two posts on alternatives to unseen time-constrained invigilated exams, and watch this space for our next grand oeuvre), plus chapters here and there on topics as diverse as leaving leadership and PhDs by non traditional routes.
And I do still Tweet, but I’m mainly trying to keep things light (baking, garden, etc) because people don’t need more grief at this time!
But isn’t it interesting how the  current situation is causing us to rethink what we plan to do next?
Phil is currently musing (at on developments in online and distance learning over the decades and I am thinking through my own future.
Do I want to go on trains and planes most weeks? (pretty certainly not). And anyway, will cash-strapped HEIs buy in externals in the future? (debatable). Do I want to review for journals? (leave that for the younger academics for whom there is some career benefit. Writing more books? (ditto). Offering webinars and online seminars? (tempting, but our broadband relies on copper wire at the end of the street with most of our neighbours working online in the day time, so synchronous is out, but it may be better since the tree surgeon has cut off the branches that were rubbing on our cables!).
So quo vadis? Who knows, but at least I’ve got plenty of  time to think it all through. And I’m doing so with a happy heart and good companionship.

Kay Sambell & Sally Brown: Coronavirus Contingency Suggestions for replacing on-site exams

2 Apr

Following on from my posting on 13th March, Kay Sambell and I have subsequently both been asked by colleagues for advice on how to move from having invigilated on-site exams to having students sit written assessments online from home, so we’ve put together a second informal guide as an open educational resource posted here: Kay-Sambell-Sally-Brown-Coronavirus-Contingency-Suggestions-for-replacing-on-site-exams-w.docx (1968 downloads)

Please feel free to circulate and use it. You are very welcome to customize it for your local contexts, but please acknowledge its origins if you do so (and it would be very interesting for us if you let us know how you have used it!)

Meanwhile, Phil and I are staying safe at home and working hard exercising, mentoring, gardening, spring cleaning and using or time constructively: the two photos show one result of my current obsession with sourdough in the form of a pizza and my newly alphabetized fiction shelves!

I hope you can, like us, enjoy any moments you can in these horrid times. Stay safe, keep well and don’t work too hard.

Assessment alternatives at a time of university closures

13 Mar

In the last week, Kay Sambell and I have been exploring what kinds of alternative assessments can be used by universities when face-to-face attendance for exams and other assessments isn’t possible.
I was very grateful to the #LTHEchat in adding to our work with very helpful comments via Thursday night’s additional tweetchat. Our preliminary guidance note is attached here: Contingency-planning-exploring-rapid-alternatives-to-face-to-face-assessment-w.docx (2341 downloads)
We are sharing it in the hope that it is useful to colleagues. Please regard it as an Open Resource that you are free to modify and share: it would probably be of most value to you if you cut and paste the bits that are useful, chuck out the bits that are not useful, customize your examples where you use different platforms from the ones we mention, add links to their specific guidance, and add in links to your own university’s regulations plus any specific contingency plans you have made.

If you have any suggestions about how to improve it further, please do let me know, and if you use it, it would be kind if you acknowledge us
Yours in the spirit of collegiality in a time of crisis.

Professing the Power of Pedagogy

27 Feb

This week Phil and I are celebrating our roles as Visiting Professors at Edge Hill University by supporting the amazing NTF, John Bostock, at the Evaltrends 2020conference  in Spain. The photos show Sally and John in action, and participants working.
It’s lovely to see friends and colleagues from Spain and Australia here, including Victor Lopez Pastor, Jan McArthur and David Boud, and to make lots of new connections too! Phil and I are now in Seville for a short holiday, and the sun is still shining!

Loci of Learning, Ladders of achievement and Lemon Drizzle Cake

13 Feb

With the weather being so terrible, I’ve been grateful I’ve had a quiet week this week, with no long distance travelling. So i’ve been working with Phil on our chapter on assessment and feedback to improve learning for the forthcoming new edition of Denise Chalmers and Lynne Hunt’s book on University Teaching in Focus for Routledge. We will be including three brand-new case studies from Ruth Cochrane and Richard Firth of Edinburgh Napier University, Fiona Meddings of Bradford University and Mark Glynn of Dublin city University, which are terrific.
I’ve also been thinking a lot about how people can make the best case for promotion on the grounds of teaching and research: certainly plenty of opportunities for reflection.
And alongside that I’ve done a bit of baking: Phil says the lemon drizzle cake is delicious!

Enhancement activities towards accreditation

4 Feb

I’m back up again in EdinburghNapier this week helping colleagues in the School of Nursing and Social Care to think in detail about curriculum design and delivery aspects of their program in advance of their reaccreditation. It’s a privilege to work with Professor Kay Sambell on this  and with health colleagues there who are doing so much to enhance the student experience. The slides I will be using are here: Napier-6th-Feb-SBKSw.pptx (260 downloads)

New era, new website, same old me!

1 Feb

Today on the first of February (the first day of a new era and my 70th birthday) I am re-launching my website with a number of updated features including a revised CV and mini bio, some new photos, a section on my key interests, some useful downloads and a slightly shouty section on my workshop and consultancy details which has been redrafted following some grim experiences of HEIs taking ages to pay!
I will continue to post updates approximately weekly (including presentations from any workshops/keynotes I run, which are all open access resources) and my twitter feed linked to my site gives you a flavour of what’s on my mind, what I am baking  and who I am enjoying spending my time with.
I hope visitors to my site will find things that are of interest to you, and, I hope, useful. Thanks to all colleagues, friends and mates who have worked with me over the years: I’ve enjoyed it a lot so far, and I look forward to future endeavours, notwithstanding the grim current events.
The rest of my birthday went splendidly, with some photos below illustrating bits of it, and a link to Sue Beckingham’s specially made video too.

Support, studies and sea views

29 Jan

Today I’m heading up to Edinburgh Napier University to help to support the re-accreditation of nursing programs. I am also looking forward to catching up with Kay Sambell and continuing with our research and publishing work.
The journey up to Edinburgh is one of the most scenic rail routes in Britain alongside the sea, with views of Alnmouth (see photo) and Holy Island.