No Eggs Please, I’m British


Odd week, as it’s only 4 days long and I’m going to have little if any time to work on my research directly.  Instead it’ll comprise four key themes: writing my OER14 talk, writing my UKSG article, preparing/delivering my teaching duties and marking the student’s coursework.  Set myself the task today to pretty much write, revise and get into an almost ready state the conference talk, which as of 5.45pm today I’ve achieved.  The only pity is I have a 10 minute slot to talk in, but around 13 minutes of material at the moment.  Even talking at full speed (I talk fast) I’m going to have to cut a slide or two…just not quite sure which ones it’s going to be.  Niggling at the back of my skull tells me I’m bound to cut the one slide that someone would be interested in. Gah!

Also been dealing with issues in and around the coursework as well, so I’ll be ready to start marking that on Thursday with any luck (since the deadline is Monday to mark it by!).  Tomorrow, UKSG, polish talk and write this week’s seminar.  It’s not too much to hope for, is it?


A surprisingly productive day, with a lecture on media imperialism squeezed into the middle of the day.  Very noticeable now that the undergrad students are getting very lazy, only around 20 of them turned up for this; which doesn’t bode well for the seminars.  Came home and wrote up my UKSG conference report, a requirement if I want to claim my expenses.  Seems a fair exchange as having written a more narrative review of the event I was able to focus on something a little more reflective.  Of course how much of my piece sees print is very much up the UKSG people, as they will only be using excerpts from it.  Tried to make sure that tonically it was positive, as that was the overwhelming impression I was left with afterwards.  Having sent that off I sorted out my seminar for Thursday.  Looking at how news media in the west has been dominating the cultural world…or at least until things like Al Jazeera got going.  Not sure quite how well this one will go.  It’s an interesting enough topic, even if a bit outside my experience range.  Was too shattered to revise my conference talk by the end of the afternoon, so went off down the garden to fire off a few arrows.


Revised my talk down to 10 minutes and only had to lose a couple of slides.  Probably a bit too info rich, but concluded that I can’t really cut it back much more without taking it apart totally.  Did ask Mrs Llama for advice about what she’d want to hear in this kind of talk (having been a PhD supervisor herself) and she basically said “Everything”.  So a fat lot of help she was.  On the other-hand I did give her the 1 minute version, so it is possible I guess to still communicate that kind of info in snapshot.

Then started sorting out the marking.  Thanks to uni regs students are supposed to have added a cover sheet to all their submissions (although that wasn’t that obvious in the instructions to them),  Said cover-sheet is an A4-landscape table.  Some of them have included it, but a lot haven’t.  Can’t say I blame them, but it did mean most of my morning was spent adding it into their various documents.  Some of which are in landscape, and some portrait. Arg.  Took longer than I would have thought, but essentially it go sorted which gives me all of Friday to mark them.  Couple of niggly questions I’ve still got to sort out with the course leader before I can mark ’em all mind you.

Other than that it was the two seminars (only two more weeks to go after this).  Some interesting views came out, and one of the groups got into a very heated debate over conflict reporting in news media.  Great debate; thought I did nearly have to deploy rubber nuclear weapons to calm things down.  If only all the weeks had been this engaged!  Student numbers in the seminars are way down, and speaking to some of my fellow academics it seems this is norm.  Honestly, the kids play thousands and then can’t be bothered to actually participate in what they’ve signed up for.  Thank you neoliberally driven HE policy!  And the government thought making them pay more would make them more engaged.  Hah!


Marking day.

  • 9.15am: Boot email, write blog catch up for last few days (and you thought I did it live!).
  • 9.35am: Read email, print off marking criteria and reviewing set question.
  • 10.00am: Try and work out marking scheme and grade points.  Make 2nd cup of tea of the day.  Dance for the chickens while it brews.
  • 10.15am: 2nd paper marked, commented on and saved.  Only 14 to go.
  • 10.55am: 4 papers down, and first 1st I’ve awarded to any piece of work this year given.
  • 11.25am: 5 down.  Hmn, 30 minutes a paper – I need to speed up.
  • 12:45pm: In the middle of marking paper 9, and I’ve just quoted Ambassador Kosh on the subject of truth in feedback.
  • 1.00pm: Just almost as many words of feedback as students wrote in their report.  Clue, not a high scoring one.  Still, it does mean I can now stop for lunch over halfway through.
  • 2.15pm: Trying to get brain back into gear post lunch.  Fighting desire to climb under duvet.
  • 2.18pm: Postman knocks. Get excited. Discover it’s just parcels for the neighbours. Climb back up the stairs to my office.
  • 2.30pm: Sob slightly at a piece that seems to place implicit trust in governmental motives.  I have failed to make these students cynical enough of the bastions of power it seems.
  • 3.37pm: 12 papers marked. Might be done by 6pm at this rate with any luck. Finding myself writing more comments rather than less in the feedback as time goes on.  Really want to use this opportunity to nudge the students’ work to a high level; even though their abuse of grammar at times makes even me weep.
  • 3.48pm: Okay, now onto one that has no references at all.  Wondering what the university rules on plagiarism say about marks for these kinds of pieces?
  • 4.12pm: Decide I need a break for tea and cake.  Then remember I’ve not done the registers from yesterday’s seminars yet.  Well, it’s a break from marking for a moment or two.  Also discovered it’s been raining outside for a while.  Despite being next to a window…I didn’t notice.
  • 4:33pm: Register turned into having to reply to an urgent staff email. Not a fun email to write, but had to be done.  Sorted now.  Employed my time honoured managerial skills of “Just do the bloody thing and don’t put it off”.  Still, only 2 papers to go now so hopes are high…
  • 5.05pm: Wife arrives home for the weekend.  Me?  I’m just opening the last of the reports to mark.  Thankfully looks like a good one to end on, which are easier to mark.
  • 5.15pm: Swear this is the 100th time today I’ve advised students to look at the NTU Library’s guide to referencing.
  • 5.43pm: Marked. Delayed slightly by Mrs Llama flaunting a personally signed letter from her VC.  Now I just have to tot up the scores and submit them to the module leader.
  • 6.02pm: And sent off to the module leader.  And now just one urgent email to deal with and then I can stop for the weekend.  Aside from uploading my conference talk to OER14’s conference site, and travelling to Newcastle on Sunday afternoon.  Yep, there goes another weekend.
  • 6.25pm: And lovely, a real nasty bit of administration to be conducted to round out my week. Special.  Think I can actually stop now…or at least stop and go and make Mrs Llama’s dinner.

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