Bild: KomDiM-Akademie
Bild: Dr. Frances Deepwell
Dr. Frances Deepwell

Dr. Frances Deepwell:
Exploring a ‘Virtual Conference’ as a mode of authentic assessment

Postgraduate level courses in teaching have become well established in most Universities in the UK, and are often mandatory for new lecturers. These courses generally cover common ground with topics on planning, delivering and evaluating teaching, however, the methods of assessment vary widely and include, for example, teaching portfolios, reflective essays, learning journals, observations of practice and research projects. In this workshop, we will explore an assignment we have adopted at Oxford Brookes called a ‘virtual conference’.
Inspired by the ideas of ‘Student as Producer’ (Neary et al, 2014), we sought to redesign an essay-based assessment strategy with something more challenging and inclusive of those from disciplines outside the social sciences. The course requires lecturers to evaluate their own teaching critically, so we conceived of a ‘conference’ as a means to enable them to demonstrate their knowledge in a more authentic and participative assignment, as well as providing opportunity to experience scholarly teaching practices. The online implementation of the conference was necessary both to accommodate the large number of contributions to the conference, and also to enable tutor-moderated, group peer assessment to take place.

Whilst it has been a complex process, the virtual conference has shown significant improvement in:

  • Promoted scholarship of teaching
  • The quality and variety of submitted work
  • Motivation and engagement of students in the assignment
  • Raised digital literacy of students
  • Tutor marking pleasure

This workshop will provide an opportunity to find out more about the virtual conference and to debate it as a form of authentic and inclusive assessment. In groups, participants will consider the logistical and technical challenges of implementing something similar in their courses.

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