On Wednesday I made my last EDUtalk broadcast of the year. It turned out to be a remarkable show.

Radio #EDUtalk Ania Rolinska, Bill Guariento and Nazmi Al-Masri – EAST Project – engineering students collaborating across borders Gaza to Glasgow | EDUtalk

The guests were talking about the EAST Project | engineering students collaborating across borders. This involved students from Glasgow University and the Islamnic University of Gazza.

I don’t think I did a very good job of interviewing the participants, I did not really manage to bring out the scope and depth and particularly the organisation of the project but I don’t think that mattered. What was important were their statements about the impacts on the students in all sorts of areas.

This quote from the project about page:

The contacts via synchronous and asynchronous learning environments will of course be valuable in terms of language practice for both groups of students, but team-working, project participation, communication, problem-solving, digital literacies are all transferable skills that will also be enhanced.

Sums up some of the benefits of the project, but you need to hear it from those involved to get a feel for the level of engagement from the learners in the project. Have a listen on #EDUtalk.

We are now starting to organise shows for the new year, if you are interested in being a guest on Radio #EDUtalk please get in touch.

From my Pinboard

Featured image, public domain: Minimalist Chain | Flickr – Photo Sharing!

https://www.jukedeck.com lets you

Create unique music for your videos in seconds

could be used for podcasts and the like too. A free account allows you download 5 tracks a month under

A royalty-free licence for commercial or non-commercial use by an individual or a business with fewer than 10 employees

This could be a useful alternative to making your own tunes or using Kevin Macleod for creative projects, video and audio in the classroom.

The site generates music based on a few choices, genre, feeling and length. The site says:

Every track is unique, so there’s no danger of your music popping up somewhere else.

Here is one I got by choosing Folk -> Uplifting -> 1:30 minute long.

And used the Make it Christmassy button.

Featured image public domain: Jukebox Wurlitzer on Flickr

A while back I bookmarked How to Revive The Levelator in El Capitan on TidBITS and followed the instructions to get this essential piece of podcasting software to work again after updating my mac to El Capitan.

This week TidBITS had the news: The Levelator 2.1.2 Works in El Capitan announcing a new version.

The Levelator is

a free app that ensures audio files use a consistent loudness, something that’s often hard to achieve with group podcasts and between episodes.

I find it very useful for Radio Edutalk episodes where we record over Skype.

#Autumn #autumnleaves

I’ve not really checked out the new features of WordPress 4.4 in any depth but this new feature looks interesting. Just pasting a url to another WordPress blog post into the editor creates an embedded ‘card’ with some details.

I could imagine this would make a nice way of linking to pupil or class blog posts in a school blog. Hopefully we will not wait too long before Glow Blogs get to WordPress version 4.4.

I’d have like it even more if the embed above had picked up the featured image for the post. Update, I think there is something unexpected going on with this post, either from the styles here or on the embedded post. looking at the source, there does seem to be an image in there! More investigation tomorrow. Update 2: the thumbnail shows up for me now!

My secondment to the Scottish Government to work on Glow has ended, I’ll be returning to my substantive post on Monday.
Thanks to all who tweeted nice messages last week. I hope to post some more on the whole experience but for now some blog thoughts.

Back in July I posted Glow Blogs 558 days in doing a bit of self assessment on progress on Glow Blogs. I’d didn’t score myself too highly and hoped to do better on the following fronts:

  1. The improved e-portfolio system out of the door
  2. A few new themes and the odd plugin added
  3. Upgrade WordPress if appropriate
  4. Make cast iron the expectations for continual improvement

You can see the progress we have reported on the Releases page on Glow Blog Help.

1 e-Portfolios, here we nailed it I think. Before summer we had hope to release the plugin early in October but by September we announced a bit of a delay. As it turned out we released the 1.0 version of the plugin on the 10 of November. so I think full marks on number 1 as far as the first phase of the e-portfolios goes, two more phases in the works.

In my opinion the plugin is great, we have taken a 108 step setup down to 2 clicks, 2 fields and a popup button. We have gone from 60 themes in need of maintenance to one plugin. The creation of a profile from posts is to my mind elegant. In an earlier post I’ve given a brief account of how the development process worked. This shows what a great team I have been lucky enough to work with.

2 In August we had a release that added five themes, a couple of plugins some fixes and a couple of additions. Along with the e-portfolio release we added the ability to embed sway content to a Glow Blog by pasting in the URL. This later was developed by our developer Stephen Harris in short order. Stephen’s work in general has saved a deal of time in testing rounds. The tester team have sent back few bugs for fixing.

Themes and plugins have been a feature quite a few folk have asked about. I am not much of a theme user myself so am interested in getting suggestions of themes for evaluation.

The retiral of the Suffusion theme disappointed asome users, a lot of sites still are using it. I’de be very keen for these folk to identify a theme that would be a suitable replacement.

3 We are now at WordPress 4.1.8 so have made small updates. We have fallen a bit behind our aim of staying within a point of the main release but I expect that an upgrade will happen in the new year. WordPress 4.2 did not bring much of interest to glow users, the 4.3 and upcoming 4.4 versions will be solid improvements.

4 This is the trickiest one! There are conflicts in developing at a national scale between budget. The added requirements of working in the Government (procurement, security, data protection) all add to time and cost. I think we have managed to show steady progress since the switch over in October 2014. I believe this demonstrates that it can be done. Anecdotally the Glow Blogs service has been well received.

I had hoped that before the end of my secondment that we would have some process for getting things on a to-do list would be in place and visible. I think the need for this is well understood but not formally up and running. We have a backlog of ideas for future development.
The backlog consists of work left over from previous phases and feature requests from users.

On these points I think I’ve moved from what I though of a generous C to perhaps scraping a B. I also said:

More important I hope I see an increase in the use of blogs by pupils that actively impacts their learning.

This one is a bit harder to judge, there are certainly new blogs created all the time. Through the bootcamp, twitter and just poking around I’ve seen some nice posts. I feel quite positive that Glow Blogs lower the entry for classes to start blogging. There no need to get permission, set up accounts ect, so the benefits should follow.

There is has been a lot of good feedback and commentary on twitter. For example:

&

I’ve also been providing some help and support. A lot via email and twitter. I’ve been building the Glow Blog Help blog.

Any answers I give get added to the help. I can answer the same question with a URL. Although it lacks a bit of polish on the grammar front, and there a few typos, I do believe the help has been a worthwhile activity.

Personally I am a lot happier with the position of Glow Blogs than I was in July.

The featured image on this post is mine, obscurely chosen, I found it searching flickr for evaluate. sub_0037 on Flickr

There is a lot of it about, a lot of find out about. short term I don’t think this will have any effect on Glow Blogs, long term who know. Here are some things I’ve been reading.

Einburgh-WapuuOn Saturday I was talking about Glow Blogs at WordCamp Edinburgh 2015.

Here are my slides as pdf and shared on iCloud (I’ve never used iCloud in this way). The slides are pretty minimal. There should be video of my talk posted at some point.

It was an interesting day altogether, the worst thing about it was there were two sessions at a time so I missed half of it!

A mixture of WordPress developers and designers for the most part, a different audience for me. Of course I came away knowing how I could have made the presentation a bit better…

I also came away with a bunch of links, and ideas to think about.  As usual meeting folk from a different zone there were a lot of good things that could be taken into education, as usual it takes me a few days to start making these connections in my head.

The Edinburgh WordPress group have monthly meetups . Iif they had not been on Wednesdays, when I’ve had Edutalk commitments, I would have loved to get along to while I’ve been working in Edinburgh.

This post is just a quick note to log a problem and its solution. It only took a wee bit of googling but might help me or someone else at a later date. It only applies to self hosted WordPress blogs.

This evening I tried to log on to my blog only to be met with a blank screen. I tried my DS106 blog and that was fine so it didn’t look like the first google suggestion about php being out of memory. Next suggestion was .htaccess corruptions, so I opened fetch and had a look at the file, looked pretty much the same as I recall (note, keep better backups).

The third google suggestion pointed to plugins and suggested solutions 1. This is what I did:

Using using my ftp application (cyberduck) I edited the wp-config.php file. Changing:

define('WP_DEBUG', false); to true

Trying to load the page showed an error mentioning the medium plugin that had been updated earlier in the day. So I changed the name of the plugin folder (still in cyberduck) to medium-broken. This allowed me to log in. Checking the plugin page showed that there was another update for the plugin, crossing my fingers I updated and all was well, the renamed folder was removed and a new folder was in place.

  1. How to Fix the WordPress White Screen of Death
Also on: