Mark Brown wins BI’s Best Teacher Award

6 May 2024

The students have spoken. Mark Brown from the Department of Communication and Culture is this year’s best lecturer.

Mark Brown with his diploma.

“I suppose I made a life-changing decision when I chose to jump ship and become a teacher, and I have no regrets. Almost every interaction I have with students makes me grateful that I get to be their teacher,” says Brown, who left management roles in London’s IT sector to pursue teaching in Oslo, after meeting his Norwegian wife in the 1990s.

The recipient of the school’s Best Teacher Award is nominated and selected by the students themselves, and was praised by student organisation BISO, not only for his passion for teaching but also his unique ability to make students feel included and welcome in class.  

“Mark’s dedication goes beyond the classroom, greeting each student at the door with a cheerful “god morgen”, and setting a welcoming tone for the day. His diverse teaching methods keep students energized and engaged,” said BISO’s Iben Alexander Nesset, when handing out the award at BI’s Teaching Day event in April.

Engaging and approachable

According to BISO, Brown’s teaching style is engaging with activities and discussions, but always with a clear expectation for course work and exams. 

“Mark’s passion for teaching shines through in his interactions with students, offering guidance and support both in and out of class. He is often seen at Coffee Hour at Kroa, handing out coffee and buns to students at Campus Oslo, which makes him even more approachable for the students,” added Nesset from BISO. 

Mark Brown.

While grateful for the recognition, the winner himself admits to feeling a bit ambivalent about the award itself. “I get that people like to personalize things, but I am surrounded by great colleagues who I know do great work, and so I feel uncomfortable with the “best” label,” he explains. 

The winning recipe

Speaking about his own teaching philosophy, Brown emphasises his belief in teaching being built on a foundation of disciplinary strength. 

“Although almost all of my teaching is at the bachelor level and is not what you would call “leading edge” communications theory, I think it’s vitally important that the teaching at this entry level is delivered by faculty who circulate daily within a strong disciplinary environment and whose teaching, therefore, is continually being informed by more advanced research.”

Another key element for him is enthusiasm, which applies for both his subject, students, teaching and the learning environment.  

“You can’t expect the students to be enthusiastic about the learning if you look like death warmed up in the classroom, so let’s show them that we mean business, guys!”

Mark Brown.

Finally, Brown highlights how important teamwork is becoming, at least in BI’s larger bachelor classes and programmes, especially considering the paradigm shift from (teacher) teaching to (student) learning. 

“We have these huge cohorts of students and considerable heterogeneity, and we need to develop different learning spaces to cater for different learning needs and preferences. It’s axiomatic that I can’t be in all of the spaces all of the time, so I have to design, build and secure the operation of spaces where students learn without me. Luckily, wherever I go in the organisation I find good people, thinking seriously about their work and who are ready to join the team,” says Brown, with a smile. 

Doing his best 

Bendik Meling Samuelsen, BI’s Provost for Academic Programmes, congratulates Brown on a well-deserved award and adds that he thinks BISO made an excellent choice. 

“Having great lecturers is vitally important for BI, both when it comes to recruiting new students and to ensuring the best possible learning outcome for our current students. I would like to acknowledge Mark’s unwavering commitment to innovation and exploration in his teaching. He never settles for old routines, always pushes boundaries, and embraces experimentation. His dedication to continuous improvement extends beyond the classroom, making him a truly dynamic and captivating lecturer,” says Samuelsen.

Brown believes his students appreciate his lectures because they recognise the effort he puts in on a daily basis. 

“Students are very forgiving of lecturers who are doing their best. They don’t mind you messing it up now and again, as long as they can see that you are making an effort for them.”

Mark Brown.

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