August: plagiarism is today’s theme

A chilling anonymous article in the Times Higher Education of 1 August 2013 describes the work of a ‘freelance ghost-writer’ who writes essays and dissertations to order, with little risk of discovery. All writers are carefully vetted by the agency (they must be Oxbridge or elite UK Russell group graduates and submit sample assignments before being accepted for work) and rely mainly on Wikipedia and Google books to write assignments for a pre-specified grade, as outstanding work submitted by a mediocre student would raise suspicion.  The ghost writer is well-versed in avoiding plagiarism detection services, which in any case, since these assignments are personalised for each client, are unlikely to show up through Turnitin or other software.  Some clients are lazy, others are desperate and yet others know their written English isn’t up to scratch to get good marks. From time spelling errors or short poorly written sections are added in, just as a cabinet maker faking antiques will rough up the edges of a piece of furniture to age it.  [Plaigiarised straight from Sally Brown this afternoon, who is presently writing her new book alongside me!]

Plymouth University: 17th-18th July

Here are the main slides I used in our workshop on 17th July on small group teaching Small Group Teaching (177 downloads) . I have not included the slides about your own ‘Curriculum Enrichment Project’, as I’m sure you will know all these details in any case. One of the questions which came up in the creative problem solving exercise was ‘What can I do when 150 Chinese students all want to ask for individual clarification, outside class, in private?’ The question sparked off some great discussion. I’d be most interested if users of this site would email me with creative solutions to this problem, at Thanks for all the useful replies I’ve already had to the Tweet I sent on the same subject.

Here are the main slides I used in my two workshops on 18th July: Towards assessment as learning (181 downloads) , Linking learning outcomes (167 downloads) . I look forward to visiting Plymouth University again in the autumn – this ‘curriculum enrichment’ project is most timely and exciting.

Plymouth University: 5th July

Here collected together are most of the slides I used in our discussions about shorter/sharper assessment, smarter feedback, and creative problem solving in the context of curriculum design some of the slides I used (182 downloads) . As we were small groups, the discussion focused on particular things, but many more aspects of assessment and feedback are explored in many of my full-day workshops, which you can access in other posts on the side, and in the slides I used at yesterday’s conference keynote (and the ‘extras’ I did not use), and in the handout material on yesterday’s post.

FACE Conference 2013: Plymouth University: 4th July

What a great conference. I really enjoyed my day with you (and I haven’t had dinner yet). I learned a great deal talking to folk and from those of your sessions I was able to attend. Well done to all who organised this event. Here are the main slides that I actually used at my keynote FACE part 1 (192 downloads) .
Here are some of the slides I’d have liked to have used if I’d had an extra hour FACE part 2 (160 downloads) .
And here’s some handout material from my book handout (238 downloads) .

Birmingham City University: Law School: 27th June

Here are the main slides I used with you in our workshop this morning Smarter Lectures (171 downloads) . Thanks for all your questions and arguments. Due, however, to the number of these, there were things I would have liked to have shared with you, but for which there was no time left. I have therefore added a few slides towards the end of the file, which should be self-sufficient. Also, there are some references in the last three slides which might be useful for those who want to catch up with some of the background to the ideas we shared.
Sadly, Birmingham New Street Station on way back as bad as ever. Web said Platform 12a. Train came in late at platform 9a. Ah well.

4th Assessment in H.E Conference: 26th June

Sally and I have had a great day at the Cumbria Conference in Birmingham. Great keynote from Margaret Price, and very interesting session from Kerry Shephard from New Zealand – thanks.
With Liz McDowell, we gave a short session on M-level Assessment. Here are the slides we used collectively Cumbria presentation (156 downloads) . These slides, and also the assessment tool which was described at the session are available on Sally’s website.
I’ve often said ‘essays are an unsafe assessment device’. Thanks, Calum Delaney, at whose session I found out a lot more WHY essays are not safe.

Cork Institute of Technology: 6th and 7th June

It is a great pleasure to be back in Cork IT again, and in such lovely weather. Here are the slides grouped together for the three workshops I ran on 6th June on assessment and feedback Cork Workshops 6th June (184 downloads) . You can find the other slides (the exam) on the ‘archived downloads’ page. You were a great group to work with – thanks for all your encouragement (and for pointing out the typos in two of my slides).
From CIT National Maritime College of Ireland: here are the main slides I used in our masterclass on 7th June Masterclass (172 downloads) . I tried to do ‘other’ things, so I didn’t repeat myself much over the two days. As you said yourselves, you had to be there to experience the tales, anecdotes and explanations around the slides. The slides themselves only have real meaning for those who were there.
Task: some of you were there on one or both days. Your task is to talk those who weren’t at whichever day through the slides they didn’t see, remembering the points I made. You know it will do you (and them) good. Again, you were a great group to work with, and I hope to be asked back next year with enough time to really explore your wonderful facilities at the College.
Many thanks to Marese Bermingham who made all this happen.
I’m off on holiday for a week and a bit with Sally in France on Monday. I hope the weather is as good as it was in Cork.

In at the Deep End: Arabic translation

Some time ago while working part-time at Leeds Met, I wrote a booklet for new lecturers in higher education called ‘In at the Deep End’. At the time, Leeds Met licensed this booklet for others to adapt for their own institutions. The booklet was also translated into Arabic. I am now able to put this translation here on my website, for anyone to download, adapt and use. I hope this will be really useful in Arabic-speaking countries. Please give me feedback about whether this is useful or not.  Arabic-translation-of-in-at-the-deep-end.pdf (2 downloads)

Here also, for anyone who would like it, is the Leeds Met version in English, under creative commons licence   In-at-the-Deep-End.pdf (1 download)