The first conference out of the four planned for Collaborate in 2013 has been and gone and proved to be a very successful event. The Maple House Conference Centre in Birmingham provided a perfect space for formal and informal, thought provoking discussion within the context of new assessment research.
It was an impossible task, selecting which parallel sessions to attend out of a great number of exciting looking talks listed in the conference programme. One session, however, particularly stood out in terms of it’s relation to the work of Collaborate and that was Rick Glofcheski’s, ‘An Authentic Assessment Proposal: Current Events as Reported in the News Media’. This session reported on authentic, or real-world, assessment taking place at the University of Hong Kong within Law. Instead of lecturers inventing problems and stories to be used in case-study based assessments, students are being asked to draw from recent, unedited newspaper stories. Students have to draw out legal implications from these real-life problems without being told what the issues are. Rick Glofcheski is trying to wean his students away from what he calls ‘fake learning’, he wants his students to ‘see Law out in the community’, to work it out for themselves. This idea of data provided in ’messier’ formats that need to be interpreted runs parallel with several dimensions on Collaborate’s dimensions model. The obvious one being Problem/ Data – setting real-world problems, supported by real-world data. We can also link this sort of assessment with Light Structure and Varied Audiences. Much more could be written about this, but for now let’s just say that it was interesting and encouraging to hear about other work that has grown out of research into authentic assessment and how it has been applied to a specific context.
Overall, a lot was taken away from the event. We even came back with a prize for our academic, interactive poster that showcased the dimensions model. Our thanks goes out to Sue Bloxham and all of the other organisers for a very enjoyable and useful experience.