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.

 

 

 

Also on:

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.

Also on:

One of the activities I get my class to do is to record themselves reading for self assessment. This is not particularly exciting or complicated but I think it is worthwhile.

We use bossjock jr a free iOS recording application 1. This allows pupils to record their reading. After they are finished they can export the recording into the Notes app and add their self assessment. This can then be air dropped to me. Using Apple Classroom means that I don’t have to accept the drop, it waits for me in Classroom until I’ve time to move then to my Notes. 2

From my point of view Notes is not the greatest app for organisation, but I can move the notes to a folder at least.

The pupils can also upload their recording to their e-Portfolios on Glow Blogs.

This is slightly trickier as they need to get the files somewhere they can be uploaded through the browser. This means a 2 step process:
1. Export the files from either bossjock or notes, via the Files app to iCloud or OneDrive 3
2. Choose the recording from Files in the file upload on blogs.

The class all have managed this fine, it might take a few goes for some of them to remember they need to export. 4

I love that you can ‘share’ media straight from Notes into the Files app.

I have also tested Drag and drop from Notes to Safari and that seems to work too, it seems easiest to drop it on the Upload Button in the WordPress media library.

I’ve not tested this with the pupils yet. Next time.

  1. Bossjock jr, and its paid for big brother bossjock studio, do a lot more than simple recording. They allow you to load up carts of sounds and make a recording mixing them together.
  2. Something has stopped classroom working on our network at school at the moment, I’ll be delighted if it can be fixed, it is a game changer for distribution and collection.
  3. It looks like OneDrive is finally a full partner with the files app, we have been using iCloud, but might switch to OneDrive if it works as well.
  4. I share a screencast with them all showing the process, but any who needed a minding of what to do just asked me.

Featured image: a screenshot of the DarkSiteFinder.com map.