As mentioned in the previous post we are gathering requirements for a new wiki service in glow.
The current wiki solution, mindtouch is now no longer supported so we need a different flavour of wiki going forward. This is a great opportunity to think about how wikis can be used in learning.
We would like to hear from as many Scottish educators and learners with views on wikis. As part of this process we have put up a short survey and invite anyone interested to respond. If you are involved in Scottish education, a potential glow user, please take a few minutes to fill in the survey. This is a real chance to affect the future of Glow.
I would of course be happy to chat or otherwise communicate about wikis. If you would like to get in touch via a comment here, a tweet to @johnjohnston or with the #glowscot tag or any other method of communication. If you are not interested in wikis, but know someone who is, please pass this on.
It has been quite a while since I posted about glow. This is not what I expected, made a few posts before I started (here or here for example), where I wrote:
This should let me look back and think ‘how naïf’ or let other folk say, but you said...
I am still holding to the content and ideas in these posts, but I am feeling that I was naïf. I had no idea of the complexities of doing such a large project in a government environment.
I thought it was all about working in an agile environment. I hadn't really understood that the agile bit would come in when developing happens in-house. Before that happens a lot of other ducks need to line up. Much of this seems to be meeting requirements for procurement. Understanding the best options and ones which gives best value to the taxpayer. For some bits of glow agile may never happen.
Blogs, blogs, blogs...
I am still spending most of my time on the blog migration and we are beginning to see some progress. The whole thing is, again, much more complex than I imagined. The current blog system relies on Sharepoint 2003 and the old authentication system both of these are going away. By relies I mean knitted into and this first needed unpicking. Some of this unpicking went on at the same time as we produced (and revised and revisited) the requirements for a new system. Both the unpicking and requirements have moved on.
We are now at the point of getting some Wordpress expertise in to aid out Technical Architects. This required another procurement exercise! After we get advice from them, the Technical Architects will give advice on technical options. Next the requirements will get revisited. Finally the the solution procured (I've probably missed out many steps here, but hopefully it gives a flavour).
We have been doing other things, there are other projects, much to discuss. One interesting way that projects develop here. A set of principles are laid down first. For glow Ian and I are involved in this process. Nothing that would surpass anyone who thinks about online education but it will be good to get them fixed in stone. We will be refining these alone with two new product owners, John Sexton and Christine Lamont when they start after Easter.
Wiki Requirements - Help
We are now starting to look at requirements for Wikis. I'd be delighte to talk to anyone in Scottish education interested in Wikis. Especially ones who have used Glow or other wikis in learning and teaching. Comment here, tweet @johnjohnston or #glowscot or get in touch inside glow (the O365 newsfeed for example) if you would like a chat.
I keep a tumblr of enviable stuff, here are a couple of recent quotes I've stashed there:
Openness helps here. Open technologies allow users to innovate without permission. Open licensing is just part of that open technology jigsaw; open standards another; open access and accessibility a third. Open interfaces accessed sideways. And so on.
The best way to learn something is to start doing it. Don't wait for full knowledge to come to you. Often it won't. Just pretend you know what you're doing, and hit the walls. That helps define the shape of the problem. Make it small enough that you can start solving it right now, without waiting. Each part of the problem is smaller than the whole thing. And tell yourself you can do it, because you can.
One of favourite online learning activities is DS106. I've blogged about it here had have a whole blog where I publish my DS106 learning.
Ds106 is a rather unique experience, it is an undergraduate course at the university of Mary Washington(and other places) on Digital Storytelling but anyone in the world can join in.
Last Autumn I took part in the Headless 13 iteration of DS106, a course without a link to a 'real' class for open online participants only.
I enjoyed the course immensely and was a amazed at the creativity and energy of my fellow participants. At the end of the course one person, Mariana Funes, posted a reflection on the course in 106 bullet points. Mariana was interested in teasing these ideas out a bit more and asked me if I'd be interested in helping out with a podcast and internet radio show. I was delighted.
We are planning 106 episodes, each 15 minutes long, to be broadcast at 8pm on Sunday evenings on DS106 Radio. They will then be archived as a podcast, currently in EDUtalk.
The podcast is called in punning fashion “The Ds106 Good Spell” and we are having a bit of fun around. Imagery, slogans, and audio branding.
The idea of the show is to think about DS106, online learning, creativity and collaboration. Like some of Mariana's bullet points DS106 can, at first, feel a little had to understand from the outside, hopefully we can help decode both bullets and the course in a way that is interesting and informative to others and fun for ourselves.
If 106 episodes are not enough we started with Episode 0 giving some background:
In May 2012, I launched Glew, a proof of concept platform for education, linking a wide range of tools for learning to a single sign-on authentication. Glew brings together Google Apps for Education, Wordpress, Mahara, LimeSurvery, MediaWiki and Moodle into a single platform for education.
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 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.