Development Officer Diary

Archive for the category “Glow”

Looking ahead to 2013

As we reach the end of another calendar year, I’ve been taking a bit of time to reflect on the year past, but also looking ahead to next year.

2013 will see many changes for me. Just like the voting in Strictly, I announce these in no particular order:

Wireless technology rolled out in schools
BYOD support
Flipped learning
New version(s) of Glow
Impending fatherhood

Only one thing on that list fills me with terror, but I’m sure I will get used to Glow+ with “minimal training”.

Seriously though, 2013 sees the start of some fairly major changes in ICT provision, coupled with a shift in the scope and possibilities for learning and teaching. A more flexible provision of ICT should allow us greater agility, in order to respond to the changing requirements of pupils and staff.

I hope you all have a great Christmas and a Happy New Year!


Am I repeating myself? Am I repeating myself? Am I…

I moved house about a year ago (and it is my intention to at some point empty the four remaining boxes from the previous time I moved) and as part of that process I was required to notify the entire planet of my new address. As a new build house you are faced with the delights of postcodes not being recognised, confusion with spellings, people telling you that you don’t exist, the lot. So it may not surprise you to hear that I am only just at the stage where I can happily no longer pay the ridiculous amount I’m currently paying to Royal Mail to redirect my old mail to my new address.

 As a teacher I was required to inform:

  • my Education Department
  • my Local Authority HR Department
  • the GTC Scotland
  • my Union and, by the end of the process,
  • the Samaritans

So why am I telling you this? Well it struck me that throughout our existence we create parallel sets of almost identical data and that sometimes we lose track of where it all is due to it not impacting on our day to day lives. When systems are interrelated life is made a whole lot easier.

And I guess it is a bit like Glow. I know I am beginning to sound like a stuck record, but if Glow 2 becomes lots of disparate storage silos of content we will have little or no hope of a user being able to achieve an overview of what they actually have created or can access. Remember when all your lesson plans and resources were on a single floppy disk? Then what happened? You created more resources, so you needed more floppy disks, so you had to buy a storage box. Then they gave you a network drive, which you filled up with lots of large files, so eventually requested more storage for. Then you got a nice USB Pen (I still have my very first USB Disgo 64mb- £90 at the time!), buying several more as they started to fill up. Until you come to today, where you have several network drives, encrypted (or they should be!) USB sticks, external hard drives, content on Glow, content in Email, content on the web in various guises, and still that storage box of floppy disks propping up a shelf at the back of a cupboard.

So how did this all happen? Well the chances are that you moved to another medium when the original storage format was too inflexible for you. You bought the USB pen drive to move content between the home and work. You bought the external hard drive because you couldn’t fit all of your content on USB pen drives. And the floppy disks you just keep to show pupils how things were “in my day”…

It is imperative that whatever Glow 2 becomes and whatever is allowed to be connected to it, there must be complete integration in terms of resource sharing and storage. The storage should be accessible to all users both inside school and from home and should be scalable to meet the needs of the user. Whatever is created by the user, it must be able to be transfered between establishments and between Authorities and allowed to export at the end of their school life in order to be continued into their future life and career.

Anyone want to buy a floppy disk storage box?

Don’t MIS Out…

A strange thing happened to me during some Glow Training the other day. I was demonstrating how to configure a Glow Group and there was a question from one of the attendees about setting up who can access the group. The question was prefaced with, “I don’t have time to go and manually add all of these kids!”, which then led to a cacophony of similar grumbles about workload and admin tasks…

Before people started to bail on me I decided to point out that there is a fairly simple solution to this- the group data relationship between Glow and the Authority MIS provider. A click to the Group Membership and I showed all of their classes and the pupils within it. When the pupil moves class, the MIS is altered and the membership of the Glow Group automatically updates to reflect this. “Wow” was the response, “I didn’t know it did that!”.

There are a lot of things in Glow that “just happen” (and I mean in a good way!), that most staff are completely unaware of:

  • the generation of accounts
  • the account matching when a child moves school to make sure they retain their work
  • the relationship of parents to children to create parental accounts
  • the attendance data and contact data being displayed to parents for all of their children, even across multiple schools
  • the class membership across potentially hundreds of classes
  • the teacher for each individual class

 So why am I blogging about this? Well, whatever Glow2 becomes, this relationship with data I feel must continue. Why should a class teacher have to spend time setting up memberships when the data is already sitting there on a secure updated system? Is there an opportunity with 28 Local Authorities using the same MIS to make it a National MIS and the core of Glow2?

Let’s change Glow to Glue

I’ve been really struggling to put down in words my feelings for the future of the Glow portal and ICT in general. Those of you (and I know there are some of you poor souls) who follow me on Twitter (@isITswitchedon) will have heard my witterings over the past few weeks, which could probably be summarised as:

  • If we reduce filtering we need increased bandwidth
  • I support the notion of pupil devices, but this also increases demands on bandwidth
  • More bandwidth means higher revenue costs to Authorities
  • We still need Glow V2

So where do we go with Glow V2? There has been a lot of talk already about several big companies and their Cloud based services being seen as a possible complete replacement for Glow. It is clear from the criticisms of Glow V1 that its lack of ability to respond quickly enough to change in ICT was a key failing, so I can understand why we are looking at the “big hitters” in ICT- it’s a safe bet that they will be able to respond and drive change.

One fear I have is that we could be going too far by selling our soul over to someone else entirely. Google, for instance, could kill off a service like iGoogle tomorrow:
I have no issue with Glow V2 signing up to any service, such as Google, where we have a contract in place for a guaranteed term for certain services, but I keep coming back to thinking that we need a core portal that Scottish Government has some form of control over to integrate the other services to. It can be as free and open as you like and allow the APIs of other services to connect, which would allow change to happen.
What it should also allow is for Authorities and schools to subscribe to additional services as they see fit. Another benefit of this approach would be a gathering point for other associated agencies such as GTC, Education Scotland, SEEMiS, COSLA, etc. I’m not touting Moodle as a solution, but something along those lines, with a Scottish Government hosted environment that allows the integration of all these other Edu apps services through freely available plug-ins.

It really does come back to my title- let’s change Glow to Glue…

Glow Glue

Post Navigation