isitswitchedon

Development Officer Diary

Archive for the tag “Glow”

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?

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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:
http://www.businessinsider.com/googles-failed-attempts-to-win-social-2011-3?op=1
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

The perfect host…

One thing I have noticed with people taking their initial forays into Glow is thGlow Navigation Bareir struggle to navigate around the site and the concept of School, Local Authority and National level groups. This isn’t really helped by the navigation bar down the left side of Glow, which can only take you to the top level of each area:

Over the past year we’ve tried to counter this issue by putting in links, graphical interfaces and trying to find some form of uniformity of branding across our Falkirk Glow sites. This helped make things slightly easier to navigate, however one issue we still faced was how we could quickly update this branding across all Falkirk Glow groups.

Some components in Glow are less well known than others, one of which is Glow Web Hosting. The main reason it is overlooked (I think) is its lack of support for some of the latest web design tools. Basically, the component allows FTP transfer of files to a webspace (which can be made public or private) in order to create a website. I’ve been using it so far as a public facing RSS aggregator for digital signage, which I really must blog about some time…

So, how does this fit in with navigation in Glow? Well… one thought I had was to use the webhosting space to host the common branding buttons. These look like this:

The buttons are basically HTML code that hyperlink to the relevant page. As they are hosted on public webspace, all you have to do is create a Page Viewer webpart to the URL of the webspace then import it to all of your Glow Groups. This allows us to edit the buttons on the webspace and the changes carry through to all of the Glow Groups. We’ve already had to make a few changes from the original concept, but these changes can be made quickly and easily, as opposed to having to edit and update every single Glow Group!

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