The dedicated staff of the Jinan–Birmingham Joint Institute (JBJI) within the School of Mathematics came together on the 18th and 19th of January 2024 for a dynamic two-day programme aimed at fostering collaboration and generating innovative ideas for the Institute's future.
The annual JBJI retreat, which took place in Cheltenham this year, received a warm welcome from Jamie Alcock, Deputy Dean of JBJI. He introduced the various JBJI committees and speakers, setting the tone for the event. Key highlights included discussions on exam preparations and upcoming academic year changes led by Daniel Jones, the JBJI Head of Education and Chair of the JBJI Teaching and Learning Committee, and updates from the JBJI Information Technology and Digital Delivery Committee.
One of the exciting moments of the programme was the brainstorming session led by Rachel Du Croz, EPS Transnational Educational Officer, where the team collectively envisioned a new visual learning platform. Interactive group activities further facilitated discussions on student engagement and experience, student academic development, and staff career development, with immediately actionable ideas emerging.
The day continued with a comprehensive presentation on development of assessments for the 21st century and beyond delivered by Michael Grove, Deputy Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Education Policy and Academic Standards). This session provided valuable professional development for academic staff by re-evaluating the essence of assessment and its future implications. Chris Good, Head of the School of Mathematics, also presented a detailed overview of the new work allocation model.
Acknowledging the excellent of our staff, prizes were awarded for teaching to Sabrina Kombrink and Michel van Garrel, and for research to Hong Duong and Jia Shao. The day concluded with a pleasant dinner and an exploration of Cheltenham's attractions, including the Neptune fountain and the Hare and Minotaur statue.
The second day commenced with a presentation by Michel van Garrel, Head of Student Experience, on AI assistance in teaching and the automation of reference letter generation. Panayiota Touloupou, Head of Student Engagement, added to this by sharing ideas for JBJI alumni events. Michael Grove’s presentation on assessments continued, encouraging staff to outline the principles of good assessment and the attributes of a JBJI graduate in mathematics. Brainstorming ideas for future assessments using Padlet yielded creative solutions such as live quizzes during lectures, peer-marked written assessments, and small-group assessments to encourage collaborative learning.
The event culminated with closing remarks from Jamie Alcock and Chris Good, expressing gratitude to the speakers and Weifang Li, JBJI Operations Officer, for their efforts in organising the event.
In summary, the two-day programme successfully united the JBJI School of Mathematics staff, fostering a collaborative atmosphere and generating innovative ideas and initiatives for the institute's future.