The ScotEduBlogs site which aggregates posts from Scottish Educational bloggers mostly hums along by itself.

Every so often I get an email to add a blog, or one for someone ignoring the, “Please do not use this form if you want us to review a product or you want to post here, we will not do so or reply”. notice.

Recently something went wrong with the form and I missed a couple which I’ve now rectified.

This reminds me to post about SEB here. I think it is a valuable resource, gathering blogs posts from around the country and sectors. It provides a handy twitter feed too: @ScotEduBlogs auto tweeting the posts.

I guess a lot of educators are a lot more engaged in twitter than blogging now. I think that is a pity.

You can follow ScotEdublogs by just reading the site, by following  @ScotEduBlogs or by adding the RSS feed to your feedreader.

If you are a blogger and write from a Scottish pov or about Scottish educational matters you can add you site.

 

I just saw a provocative link from Aaron Davis, down with syndication, it was a reply on his site to an original post with that title by Ben Weirdmuller.

Arron has be a great example of an educator exploring the IndieWeb of which Ben is a major proponent.

Ben’s post is concerned with the idea of gaining more independence from the silos (twitter, Facebook and the like) and publishing more on his site. A lot of IndieWeb concepts involve publishing to your own site and sending links or repeating the posts across social media (like a link to this one will be auto posted to Twitter).

In his post Ben writes of leaving the silos behind completely. Just keeping things on his own site:

I think it might be more effective to move all the value away: publish on your own site, and use independent readers like Woodwind or Newsblur to consume content. Forget using social networks as the conduit. Let’s go full indie.

Ben mentions IndieWeb readers, that allow folk to create their own ‘syndication’ and reply, bookmark etc on their own site.

Nothing I’d disagree with there. I am quite shallow and enjoy likes, especially from Instagram coming a back to my blog via brid.gy but, in theory, I love the idea of full independence.

The provocation, to me came from the word Syndication. Before I’d heard of IndieWeb I’d been involved in DS106. This means that for me syndication means something different than a silo. To me a syndication is something set up for a group, long or short term that can be completely separate from any silos. DS106, and many other educational syndications uses a WordPress blog to syndicate content from other sites. Alan Levine, @cogdog, has set up many examples of this sort of thing.

When I was involved in the migration of Glow Blogs one of the features I managed to get included was a syndication plugin. This took quite a lot of insistence on my part, but the University of Dundee and Derek Robinson have certainly made that worthwhile with EduShare which syndicates trainee teacher reflections. 1

These non-silo syndications are, if not a gateway drug to the IndieWeb, a great way to get people considering how and where they publish to the web and how community could be built.

These syndications can be used for long running or short projects 2, the participants don’t need the expertise beyond setting up a blog. You can participate in different communities from the same blog.

The great thing about a syndication is that the content doesn’t go away if the syndication does. Any discussion can take place on the participating sites. All the hub does is make it easy to read and make connections. Micro.blog reminds me of this in many ways, although the participants are not grouped round a class or topic.

Now I am thinking I should do a lot more to publicise the possibilities for syndication in Glow Blogs.

Featured image: Silos | Darko Pevec | Flickr Creative Commons — Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic — CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

  1. The UoD is by far the biggest and best example of syndication in Glow Blogs. I’ve used it for a couple of smaller examples but it is IMO one of the features of Glow that could be used much more widely.
  2. A example of a short aggregation I organised on Glow Blogs Blogging Bootcamp #2 | Get your blogs up and running Autumn 2015

I’ve been on holiday for the last two weeks, the second spent unwell with a sinus infection that made me uninterested in everything bar Lemsip and a bit of netflix.

Feeling a bit better and reviewing my pinboard links. Most seem to be around poetry, maths and micro:bits in the classroom ( I need to get out more).

Header image created with above mentioned Sketch Machine.

This is a summary of my presentation for PressED – A WordPress and Education, Pedagogy and Research Conference on Twitter. I’ve pasted the text from the tweets, without the conference hash tags below.

I am @johnjohnston a primary school teacher in Scotland. I acted as ‘Product Owner’ for Glow Blogs from 2014 to 2016 & continue the role on a part time basis.

Glow is a service for to all schools & education establishments across Scotland.

Glow gives access to a number of different web services.

One of these services is Glow Blogs which runs on WordPress.

  • Glow Blogs consist of 33 multisites
  • Total number of blogs 219,834
  • Total number of views in February 2018 1,600,074
  • Number of blog users logging on in Feb 2018 243,199

All teachers and pupils in Scotland can have access to #GlowBlogs via a Single signon via RMUNIFY (shibboleth)

 

Development

#GlowBlogs developed & maintained by Scottish Government considerable amount of work going into dev, testing, security and data protection. This differs from many edu #WordPress set ups as changes developed relatively slowly.

Major customisations include shibboleth signon, user roles & privacy. Teachers/Pupils have slightly different permissions.
Blogs can be public, private or “Glow Only”
There is also an e-Portfolio facility added via a plugin.

 

How the Blogs are used

Glow Blogs are currently used for School Websites, Class Blogs, Project Blogs, Trips, Libraries, eportfolios. Blogs By Learners, Blogs for Learners (Resources, revision ect), collaborations, aggregations.

 

e-Portfolios

ePortfolios supported by plugin, custom taxonomy. ‘Profiles’ print or export to PDF. Pupil portfolio blogs can have sparkly unicorns or black vampire styles but the profiles that come out look clean and neat.

Pupils

Pupils can learn to be on the web but with <13 we have duty of care.
Pupils can create blogs. Cannot make blogs public.

A member of staff can make pupil’s blogs public. Pupils can be members of public blog and post publicly.

 

Examples

Possibilities

Only scratched the surface of the potential of #WordPress the tools are in place, Scottish teachers and learners are exploring the possibilities but it is early days. We are tooled up for the future.

 

 

 

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The tabs left open from yesterday. The internet is a more fascinating place that I’ve got time for.

Worth mentioning that a lot of these links are coming from micro.blog as well as my RSS reader.

Some recent finds collected with pinboard

Featured images, a montage of gifs from skipi, which is stuttering away. For no particular reason.

Read Write Microcast #008 – Limits of Automation by Aaron DavisAaron Davis from collect.readwriterespond.com
Confident – the connecting of the dots and capitalising on different possibilities. Essential Elements of Digital Literacies In this microcast, I reflect on automating technology and wonder if there is a limit to how far we should go. Further reading: When Automation Goes Awry https://col...

The dilemma in supporting schools in using technology: Give out fish or teach to fish. Before I came back to school I was faced with this problem more than once.

What I would say now, in hindsight, is that if you make the solution yourself it adds risk. I thoroughly enjoy making simple scripts and workflows, but these are generally fragile. You might end up with more long term support than you thought, or worse raising and dashing expectations.

In my part-time life I am still supporting Glow Blogs. Quite often it would be easier to fix something in response to a request for help. More often now I try to write instructions instead. I can add these to the help and point the next problem a those.

I need to get back to microcasting. I enjoyed listen to this on my commute. The focus on one subject in the short form podcast is valuable.

My class have been writing short descriptive passages about soldiers in the WW1 trenches.

At the weekend I planned for them to record these over a background of sound effects. I had spent some time at freesound.org and downloaded 20 or so effects and sounds. I had converted these to MP3 files, to reduce file size and placed these in a folder in OneDrive which I then shared. I have also made a list of credits for the files, all are Creative Commons.

The plan was to get the class to listen to the files in OneDrive then ‘open’ the ones they wanted to use in bossjock jr. These could then be loaded into ‘carts’ alongside the voice recordings. The pupils then played the different sounds and record that for their final mix.

To make sure everything went smoothly I got the whole class to open OneDrive and make sure they were logged in. That first step worked fine. The problem was OneDrive reported that there was not an internet connection and showed no files or folders. Since the class had logged into Glow this was obviously wrong.

I ended using most of the morning interval and lunchtime trying to see where the problem was. Strangely when I opened the iOS Files app when also allows you to see OneDrive files, I started slowly seeing files on the pupils iPads. And when I switched back to OneDrive the appeared there. To give the pupils access to the shared folder I needed to send a url. This opens OneDrive, and that told me I needed to open the browser, doing this, and signing on to Glow again (in the browser this time) eventually gave pupils iPads a view of the shared folder. Unfortunately I couldn’t get these to open and then open in bossjock in a timely fashion. It just was taking too long.

Time for a rethink.

On my iPad I had earlier made the files available off line in OneDrive. This took a while. I did manage to see the files in the Files app, from there I copied the MP3 files to the Notes app. 2 notes with about 10 files each. I quickly tested sharing these notes via Airdrop, it was pretty quick.

I suspected that airdropping notes with 10 audio attachments might be a bit slow, especially without Apple Classroom. I was wrong. In the afternoon I just dropped the notes to the pupils in groups of 4 or 5 at a time and in 10 minutes had distributed 20 audio files to all of the class. From there they could listen to the files in notes and copy the ones they liked to bossjock.

The rest of the afternoon when well, the children recorded their voices and mixed in the sound effects. For a first try the results were good. Next time I think we will record the audio live over the backgrounds that would allow us to duck the effects and make sure all of the words were clear. I think once the logistics of moving audio onto the iPads was sorted it becomes an interesting and valuable lesson. Fortunately the class missed all of the boring bits and no one asked why we had opened OneDrive earlier in the day.

lessons learned (again)

  • My home WiFi is faster than school.
  • Moving files locally is quicker than the cloud.
  • We can have a lot of fun with bossjock.
  • Notes and Airdrop are marvellous.

featured image, screenshot of sending audio from Notes to bossjock jr.

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