A wee bit of an update on the 'glow product owner' gig. The title is a bit of a mouthful and still difficult to explain. I should now be able to give an elevator pitch, but I am not quite there yet.
What I can do is give an idea of what I've been doing so far. We have started the business of creating teams that develop various aspects of the glow environment as projects.
The one I've had most to do with so far is the blog migration project. The main folk involved in this are: a project manager, a business analyst, a technical architect and myself as product owner. This is not a full time job for anyone, we are all involved in other projects, activities and meetings. We can also involve other people, say another technical architect with specialist knowledge or procurement experts.
We start by gathering requirements for the project, looking at what the blogs and e-portfolios do at the moment and what we would like them to do at the finish. A lot of this is understanding and unpicking how the blogs are connected to the glow service and authentication as it stands. This turns out to be quite complicated
There are procedures for this sort of operation, with a standard way of writing the requirements. Luckily for glow I don't directly do any of the writing, I just discuss, review and sometime make a decision.
By now we are near having a first draft of the requirements for the blog migration. Then this will then go for further examination from the technical and procurement experts. Then on through, options, 'invitations to tender', procurement and more.
I've probably missed a few steps and got some in the wrong order. The project also has dependencies on other projects, for example the authentication one, Ian owns that one.
A lot of this is not really what I am interested in, but more a way to get to what that is. That is things like, mobile blogging, better media handling, a quicker setup for e-portfolios plus some rainbows and unicorns. Things that will help learning. The whole project process is just a means to get from where we are to where we want to be through the procurement jungle and down the options river on a technical raft.
The other job I have is to decide when to drop a feature. This might be a blue sky idea that I love or something more realistic. The problem(for me) will come when that feature will have an impact of delivering on schedule, then I'll have to move from giving ideas and advice to making the call.
The process is a fair distance from what my ideas of the job were. I had some sort of romantic vision of myself and a team of crack developers cranking out amazing services that just work. I now understand that there is a lot more to it. Before the crack developers start to work lots of other folk have their parts to play. Turns out that these folk are smart and a pleasure to work with. Maybe we will get rainbows and unicorns after all, it might just be it takes a bit more work than I though to get there.
We have a rather special item on Radio EDUtalk this week on Thursday at 7:45pm UK time.
WE will be joined by Bonnie Stewart and course participants in Communications in Education at the University of Prince Edward Island, Canada. They will be discussing 'Considering Networked Communications for Educators'. The class are using #ed473 on twitter.
Update We are hoping for a lot of interaction through twitter #edutalk and/or #ed473 and on a TitanPad (url wil be tweeted).
This can be though of as a whole-class presentation exploring the experience of building networks as educators. The whole class will be participating in one of four roles: presenting, responding to audio questions, responding/leading chat discussion, and live tweeting.
This is obviously quite different from our usual show, and even more than usual we would welcome as much audience participation as possible, so if you are free at 7:45 on Thursday have a listen to Radio EDUtalk
Sonic Pi is an open source programming environment designed to explore and teach programming concepts through the process of creating new sounds. Sonic Pi comes with an associated scheme of work which emphasises the importance of creativity in the learning process and gives users the control to turn their sonic ideas into reality.
Having little understanding of music I think this would be as opaque as minecraft to me, but looks like an interesting way into computer science, the scheme of work is for KS3. I've got a PI of my own, but never been in a position to work/play with pupils using one (or a few).
I agree wholeheartedly with Terry Anderson who recently wrote, "learning occurs through construction, annotation and maintenance of learning artefacts." "Learning artefacts" are things you create like videos, essays, diagrams, concept maps, photo collages, etc. Because these artefacts are the core of your learning experience, it is critically important that you own these artefacts and have ongoing access to them. Consequently, all of the learning artefacts that you create for this course will be stored somewhere outside the learning management system. Specifically, these artefacts will be stored and maintained in a space controlled solely by you.
This year Nesta has been funded by the Scottish Government to increase the number of young people using digital creativity in schools. We feel the main way to do this is to support teachers to gain the skills and confidence they need to run digital creativity projects in their class.
I like the idea of digital creativity more than just focusing on teaching all pupils to code.
THis looks like a great teachmeet, I'll not make it but would have liked to:
As part of Edinburgh University's Innovative Learning Week 2014, we hope this TeachMeet will inspire practitioners and reinforce the important partnerships in teacher education and development. There is always something new to learn, whether you are well into your career or just starting out. Come and share a great idea!
In the 2012 Sight and Sound poll, the critics voted Vertov's Man with a Movie Camera (1929) the 8th best film ever made.
but I had never heard of it. It has lead down a rabbit hole of links, starting with the wikipedia one, and endinf, so far, at UbuWeb Sound - Dziga Vertov:
Enthusiasm! The Dombass Symphony (1930) is possibly Dziga Vertov's most revolutionary achievement: a symphony of abstract industrial noise for which a specially designed giant mobile recording system was constructed (it weighed over a ton) in order to capture the din of mines, furnaces and factories. For Vertov, the introduction of sound film didn't mean talkies, but the opportunity to collage, montage and splice together constructions of pure environmental noise.
I love his idea of a mobile recording system (my emphasis), mine weighs about 4 ounces
JellyCam — Stop-motion maker is free, only exports to flv videos at the moment. Might be a nice way to start stop-motion in the class, runs on windows and mac, but needs the adobe air system. Nice and simple, but you can do some basic editing and add mp3 audio.
I've now been working for the Scottish Government as a 'Glow Product Owner' for a month. This has been an interesting experience on lots of fronts.
On a practical level it means 4 hours or so commuting each day. This is not as bad as it sounds for someone who likes spending a fair bit of time looking at screens most days. There is wifi on the main Glasgow to Edinburgh trains and they are reasonable spaces to work on. So I get to spend about half the commute getting some, work, email, blogging, podcast editing and reading done. I've replaced the train wifi with a 4g wireless router. Interestingly I get up to 4 times my home broadband speed at some points, others it drops to 3G and there are a few dead zones.
What is a product owner anyway?
The work itself is a very different role than anything I've done before. My expectations were pretty wide of the mark. The role of a product owner is becoming a lot clearer. Last week we (Ian Stuart and myself) shadowed Education Scotland's Jennifer McDougall in this role working with a set of developers who are working on a prototype. This was really valuable. We could see the product owner in action, finding out how the role really works. In these sorts of meeting the role is to represent the users (learners and teachers) and make decisions on the work in progress.
The product owner is one in an agile team and it is this team development process that give me confidence and hope in Glow.
As developments will be taken forward there will be constant dialog between the developers and product owners. Hopefully this means than when decisions are made about, say, dropping a feature to insure that a project meets deadlines, that that decision will be made in consultation with the product owner.
This then puts some pressure on the product owners to do their best to represent and balance both the vision of the ICT excellence group and all the stakeholders (picking up some jargon on the job).
Project Management, and other things I'd not imagined
Another feature of the process that will give some confidence is the way the whole project is organised. I've not worked in such a structured environment. There are folks in the team doing jobs I'd not imagined, a lot of these are to organise the project, keep it on track, ensure testing of systems will be carried out in a systematic manner. The people in these roles do not, in the main, have education experience, but we have been constantly encouraged by the way they ask questions that expose what learning needs from glow.
A fair bit of time has been spent by Ian and myself explaining as best we can: teaching and learning, the curriculum, the ICT excellence vision and, the hard bit, how the current mix of services that make up glow are joined together. This has been useful both ways, seeing the services from another perspective has shown me both how much of the basic functionality of glow groups is powerful and how complex and baffling the organisation of the elements of glow can look. The baffled look on the face of someone when they are taken through the setting up of an e-portfolio blog for the first time is a picture.
Harder than I expected
We are also getting a bit of inside into the complexity of developing services that will meet the needs of learning, security and a multitude of stakeholders. My brain feels as if it expanding to the point of pain at some times.
Much to the horror of my previous self this is not going to be a quick fix, most of the things that Ian and I are involved in are long term projects. Even the short term ones, for example the blog migration (close to my heart), are not going to happen overnight. Factors I has not considered swing into play. Luckily we are surrounded by folk who do understand them are at hand.
As an example: think about moving large amounts of data from one server to another, I would have though, pull out a hard drive, take it to the new data centre and plug it in. It seems that this is not the way it works, other customers of the new data centre may not be very happy with a stranger on the premises and worse plugging a drive into the network their precious data is on. This means data has to travel across networks and this takes time. That of course needs to be planned for. And so on...
One last Note
Although I am not directly involved in the new MS 365 bit of glow we are using those tools for working and communication. This has increased my awareness of the new goodness that is already in glow. Just thinking about skydrive and the office web apps by themselves we have got quite a nice bundle. 25GB of storage in skydrive (not to mention 50, I believe for email) and word, PowerPoint and excel in any modern browser. These apps are fairly fully featured and easy to use. You also have the ability to have more than one person editing documents at the same time in the same sort of way as google docs.
Ian would not forgive me if I did not mention OneNote, this has been a revelation. Ian and Islay High school make heave use of this in their long running one-to-one project. The desktop version is like a wiki without a browser with very powerful multi-media facilities. Given the security in the government building we cannot use the sharing built into 365 with desktop applications, but we can use the web version. This feels to me like a very simple light weight wiki without any of the complexities. Not the multi media powerhouse, Ian is used to, but a way to simple build a linked set of 'pages' and 'sections' in a multi user document. The page and sections are made automatically so you do not need to understand links and title. The sections in the web app are limited to styled text, images and links, but that would be plenty of features to get collaborative knowledge building off the ground.
We have found that OneNote I'd pretty good for sharing information is a fairly messy but quick way. Coincidently Charlie Love posted a nice youtube intro to Skydrive in glow.
If I was faced with thinking of how to get some quick benefits from glow with learners, this is where I would start, the office tools and as an introduction to online collaboration and collective knowledge building OneNote is a good place to start.
After a month I think I am beginning to find some ground under my feet but just starting to appreciate the size of the task. Ian and I have had a lot of good wishes via twitter and other networks, we appreciate this, so thanks, we will need them.
part of the ‘11 Questions’ meme. 11 people are each asked 11 questions and having provided their answers are exhorted to do the same for 11 further people.
. It is taking a while for me to, 1. the easy part, answer the questions, 2. the harder bit, think up some more.
What teacher had the most influence on you and why?
My memory of school is not that good, I always struggle to identify that great teacher who affected me as a child when asked to do so as a CPD exercise or starter. I have however taught alongside and met some wonderful teachers. Two who have given me an ideal for what a teacher should look like are Moira McArthur and Linda Burke. HT and DHT at Sandaig Primary where I taught for most of my classroom life. Moira dragged me, if not screaming and kicking at least moaning quietly to using ICT in the classroom. She them gave me full support and trust as I played with technology. More important She and Linda exemplified how to care for pupils. I didn't often live up to their example, but I felt pretty good when I did.
During your career, which student (without naming them!) most sticks in your mind and for what reason?
One child that sticks in my memory was one that did not have success in education. Coming from a broken home with possible fetal alcohol syndrome, this child was a constant disruption in my class for two years. Full of anger and needs they moved through the school ticking and exploding. I was supported by the smt in all sorts of ways including a lengthy period when the child worked individually with another member of staff. Even then there not much progress was made. The child reminds me that at times we need more resources, schooling is part of society and social justice is needed for long term success. I have other memories of more successful pupils, some of who really stick in my mind too, but the question is 'student' and it has taken me over a week to get this far!
What was your most abiding memory of school dinners?
A rather scary school sec standing behind diners making sure they ate the last drop of mashed turnip. In my time there was no pupil choice, but seating was social, serving a shared job and if you were lucky someone at your table would love boiled cabbage.
Two Harry Potter inspired questions now. If you had Harry’s cloak of invisibility, what educational event would you like to unobtrusively observe and why?
I'd like to watch, repeatedly some of my own worst interactions with pupils, repeat it until it didn't make me flinch and hopefully learn something.
What aspect of education or the classroom would you most like to wave your wand over and why? Educatio revisiorum!
For any historical figure of your choice, what might they have tweeted at a significant moment for them?
I think this is lovely on all sorts of levels. As a target for screen-casting as communication.
In Horizon report style, which technology-enabled educational activity is likely to be becoming more mainstream in 3-ish years?
I do not know about likely but I would love to see learning distributed over space and the experiences in those spaces described and recorded with geo tags to allow a map view.
Which fictional character would you most like as a work colleague and why?
I've been blessed by being able to work with a lot of great folk and met online and off even more. At the moment I am delighted to be working with Ian Stuart and am starting to appreciate the skills of folk whose jobs I did't know existed before 2014.
What educational movement or initiative, currently in its infancy, will endure and why?
Which educator (dead or alive, real or fictional, famous or not) would you most like to interview or enjoy the drink of your choice with and what would you be chatting about?
In this respect I an one of the luckiest folk in education, through Radio Edutalk I've talked to many fascinating educators. I've worked with great folk, I am working with Ian Stuart. Of the people I've never talked to, Tom Woodward would be a great choice, as he writes one of my favourite blogs.
What hour or less than an hour classroom activity would you describe and demo to show the value of technology in the classroom?
If you read non educational blogs, give us one that people would be surprised to know you read?
Where would you like to lead a lesson, cash, practical considerations aside, why?
What is the biggest friction in using technology in the classroom?
What is the biggest friction in your own use of technology?
What question would you like to be asked? (You do not have to answer it)
Should educators use open source software even if the commercial alternatives are 'better'?
Why don't you listen to podcasts? (or if you are in the minority why do you?)
Which learning activity do you think is underused and under valued?
and a couple of questions recycled from Ian:
What educational movement or initiative, currently in its infancy, will endure and why?
During your career, which student (without naming them!) most sticks in your mind and for what reason? (I've borrowed Ian's question here.)
Here is a list of people I'd like to tig, some do not blog much nowadays, some I've only bumpped into occasionally online, this will either kick start them or make them want to kick me. Feel free to ignore this if you are in the list, or join in if you are not in this list:
If you open a link to the new MS 365 bit of glow you are taken, if not already logged on, to the general sharepoint logon page. There you need to fill in your 365 user name, which is your glow email. When leaving the username field you are then taken to the normal glow logon page when you enter your username (not you email) and password.
This is not a problem if you are already logged into glow when you click the link. It is a problem if you click in a link in your email, don't use glow for email and may not even know what your glow email is.
That page gives a field to paste in a url, it converts this to the encode url and finally shortens this using the tinyurl.com service. The example above is turned into http://tinyurl.com/om8hohs. This takes you first to the glow logon and then to the correct page.
Apart from someone who knows what they are doing editing the script, I though one way to make it more useful would be to make a bookmarklet. This lead to a fair bit of lost time as I could not get it to work due to glow using https and my files sitting on a non secure server (here).
A wee change of tack gave me this: GlowShortLink. Drag that to your bookmarks bar. Then when you are on a page which you want to link to. click the link. It will pop open a new window with a short link.
I've only tested this on a mac, using Safari, Firefox and Chrome. It seem to work fine. I'll try it out on Windows and IE next week.
Over the next ten weeks, we would like you all to share (once a week) with us a “walk” in your “world.” There really are no rules to this challenge. The only real “rule” to this challenge is that we ask that you share this publicly on Twitter, and include the hashtag (#walkmyworld) in your post.
This is my personal blog, opinions are my own and not those of my employer (the blog is produced in my own time). My opinions are not set in stone, I frequently change my mind, make mistakes and contradict myself.