Family friendly work-life balance may mean working odd hours

I often wonder about what a family-friendly work-life balance is. I perceive it through certain practices and policies as well as through tacit and explicit assertions and exhortations. Does it mean never sending a work-related e-mail outside the Monday-Friday, nine to five envelope? I have colleagues who adhere strictly to this practice. Others who don't. 

Now, I work in an educational institution. I have a family and kids. Nursery and soon school will be setting the social clock and calendar. And, I make other choices: commuting to work by bicycle (environmental transport policy) and doing something approaching my fair share of nursery runs, cooking and other domestic duties (equality and diversity policy). This means the time available to me Monday to Friday is more like 10:00 to 4:00 with a 40 minute cycle ride either side. I do need a lunch break to refuel. So at most, Monday to Friday, nine to five I can put in about five hours of work a day. This could leave me something like 10 hours a week short of my contracted hours.

I enjoy a working environment, line management and colleagues who are not clock watchers. I do not work all my waking hours. But, I do work in the early mornings, evenings and weekends as well as on the weekdays. However I do also sometimes feel that there is pressure to conform more closely to social norms: that it is somehow wrong or inappropriate to do work that is time-stamped outside the nine to five. Should I go online now and look at the developing conversation on the VLE? What kind of signal do I send if I post a message at 11:00 p.m. on a Saturday night? Will people think I have just rolled in from the pub? Actually, my partner went out. I was with the two boys. One of them woke up at about 10:00, crying. It took 20 minutes to settle him. So should I log on now?

OECD asserts the purpose of higher education is to serve labour market demands

Higher education institutions are expected to provide education and training relevant to labour market demands, conduct research activities that will build a knowledge-based economy, as well as contribute to social cohesion, regional development and global well-being. They must also strive constantly to fulfil their multiple missions, improve the quality of the education provided, increase their efficiency and demonstrate their contribution to society.

This in a nutshell defines UK HE policy. Ars gratia artis? I don’t think so. But, wasn’t that always a bourgeois luxury? Can we understand “social cohesion, regional development and global well being” through a myriad of local perspectives? Is this only a neoliberal, free-trade, carpetbagging vision? To whom in society must universities “demonstrate their contribution”?

Social networks starting to bubble on my horizon again

Just to apologise if I do not do too much connecting through Mandeley ( I am wedded to Zotero ( for citation management and Bibsonomy ( for folksonomic tagging and bookmarking. ( is starting to bubble a bit with social networking activity. And, of course Twitter. I wonder if Tweetdeck can read the Mendeley newsfeed?

Seeking the source for a three-part typology of authenticity in teaching and learning. Help if you can. Thanks

I am seeking the source of a particular three-part typology of "authenticity".

  1. with respect to learners current and prior knowledge, skill and understanding: authentic to the person now
  2. with respect to the epistemology of the discipline/field: authentic to the accepted canons and methodological protocols of the discipline, laws, theorems, etc
  3. with respect to the practice of professionals in the discipline/field: authentic to the messy reality of practice, which at times confounds authenticity

These ideas are informed by a number of strands. Fullick (2004) refers to three aspects of authenticity: creativity, activity, language. Tatsuki (2006), following Taylor (1994) speaks of language, task and situation. Both these three-part typologies are quite similar to mine and I wonder if I have unconsciously paraphrased or adapted Fullick?

In these cases:

  • "language" aligns with my concept of authenticity 1): to where the learners are now: don't buffalo them with jargon too early, etc
  • "task" (Tatsuki) and "activity" (Fullick) correspond (I think) with my authenticity 2): to the canons of the discipline
  • Fullick's "creativity" corresponds, I think, with my authenticity 3) and may correspond with Tatsuki's "situation"

Kreber et al (2007) did a thorough lit review of authenticity, but do not reproduce this three-part structure. They cite another 3-part approach to authenticity in teaching where:

The three pedagogical principles … are (a) learners are validated as "knowers," (b) learning is situated within their experience, and (c) learning itself is conceptualized as mutually constructing knowledge. (Taylor 1991)

This, for me, all addresses authenticity 1.

Taylor (1991, cited in Kreber et al 2007) has another three-part conceptualisation:

(i) creation and construction as well as discovery, (ii) originality, and frequently (iii) opposition to the rules of society and even potentially to what we recognize as morality.

This all seems to align with my authenticity 3.

Can anyone shed light on this for me?

Thank you


Fullick, Patrick Leslie. 2004. Knowledge Building among School
Students Working in a Networked Computer Supported Learning
Environment. University of Southampton, Faculty of Law, Arts and
Social Sciences, School of Education.

Kreber, Carolin, Monika Klampfleitner, Velda McCune, Sian Bayne, and
Miesbeth Knottenbelt. 2007. “What do you mean by ‘authentic’? A
comparative review of the literature on conceptions of authenticity in
teaching.” Adult Education Quarterly 58 (1) (November): 22-43.

Tatsuki, Donna. 2006. What is authenticity? In Authentic
communication: Proceedings, 1-15. Shizuoka, Japan: Tokai University
College of Marine Science.

Taylor, C. 1991. The ethics of authenticity Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Taylor, D. 1994. Inauthentic authenticity or authentic inauthenticity? TESL-EJ, 1 (2) A-1

Evaluation: a reflection in the moment #pcthe

It is the season of evaluations in universities and other institutions of the post-compulsory and lifelong learning sector.Our evaluation strategy has necessarily been informed in the literature of evaluation (Hounsell 2009) and Brookfield’s (1995) “spectacles”:

  • (auto) biography
  • learners
  • colleagues
  • the literature, theory

Dyke (2006) observes we need to do more of this. Evaluation informed by interdisciplinary social science in the critical theoretical tradition. Evaluation has to address:

  • Directions
  • Schedules
  • Impacts


  • Opportunistic

By all means have a plan, but every moment is an opportunity for reflection. Reflect in practice on the things that can be managed or which are placed in our way to be dealt with: teaching space, time, curriculum. It is best to do so mindfully.

Every programme event or intervention is an opportunity for evaluation.

  • Purposive

Evaluation is, itself, directed towards aims, These may or may not be aligned with the aims of whatever the subject of the evaluation is. Evaluators have perspectives. They should reflect on these and be committed to openness and transparency about them. Openness, itself needs to be bounded, but the boundaries want to be quite permeable (1000 mile question). Boundaries may be necessary for creative turbulence layers. Bringing together diverse peoples to learn from one-another. How does the enterprise address equality and diversity issues? Progress, development and hierarchy may be necessary to create movement. Communities may embrace, among others: discipline, profession, locale, domestic, global. Professional practitioners in graduate occupations and/or disciplines must be current with tools and practices, methods and methodologies, grounded in knowledge, history, language, epistemology.

  • Objective oriented

Structure is provided by course intended learning outcomes or objectives. The lectures, workshops, activities and assessment strive for alignment as well as dynamic instability and points of harmony.


  • semi-systematic and structured

Alongside an opportunistic outlook, having tools to hand helps. Start with course aims and outcomes. Use a questionnaire several times over; even if not perfect, comparisons are where the discoveries are made.

  • continuous

Ongoing, no end: hasta la lucha continua. But, there may be many review points, annual planning cycles: major and minor, etc

  • epicyclic

Course cycles, professional cycles, conference cycles, university bureaucratic cycles all run to different periods. Activity is mixed and multi-modal. Evaluation needs to be multi-purposed and reusable.


  • emergent

Because of all the above, impacts are going to be emergent as well as planned. An evaluator would expect to see new structures emerge and to see mechanisms in place to encourage this: enquiry-based learning, action learning, learner-led curricula, user-centred design.

  • progressive

Shares in the myth of modernism and the enlightenment, that there is progress and that this is modelled and trained through a ranked education system with levels of attainment, informed by human development psychology. Facilitates learner progression as defined in the plan.

  • developmental

Do differently and better, not necessarily more (Daly 2008). Fail. Fail again, better (Beckett cited in Žižek 2009).

Brookfield, Stephen D. 1995. Becoming a Critically Reflective Teacher. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publlishers.
Dyke, Martin. 2006. “The role of the ‘Other’ in reflection, knowledge formation and action in a late modernity.” International Journal of Lifelong Education 25 (2): 105-123.
Hounsell, Dai. 2009. Evaluating courses and teaching. In A Handbook for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education: Enhancing Academic Practice, ed. Heather Fry, Steve Kettridge, and Stephanie Marshall, 198-211. 3rd ed. Routledge.
Daly, Herman. 2008. Towards a steady-state economy. In The oil drum, April 24.
Žižek, Slavoj. 2009. In defense of lost causes. 2nd ed. London and New York: Verso.