It is now Week Eight of 23 things and the topic is Digital Curation, OneNote and ClassNote

Thing 15 is tumblr. I’ve been using tumblr for a few years now for all sorts of different projects, but I though I’d skip by that to the next thing, OneNote.

Try using OneNote on your pc/laptop/device.
Create a new Notebook, add some sections, pages, and try out the features. Use the Interactive Guidance Videos to learn your way around the platform.
Write a short blog post detailing your use of OneNote and how this may/may not be of benefit to you.’

Week Eight: Digital Curation, OneNote and ClassNote – 23 Things

For two years I worked alongside Ian Stuart who is a OneNote expert. Despite Ian’s enthusiasm for OneNote and many powerful demos it didn’t at that time click for me.

I tend to keep notes as text, HTML or markdown files in Dropbox. My _notes folder has nearly 1000 notes including over 300 in a blog posts subfolder and almost 100 in the snippets one. Searching via the finder is pretty effective for this sort of information[1].

When I moved to working in the classroom this August I though I should use the chance to revisit OneNote.

I am using the mac desktop version of OneNote, my pupils use the iOS app. So these notes pertain to those applications.

I started a ‘planning’ notebook, pulling in notes and information from the school and doing my weekly planning in a simple table. It was easy to archive these pages as I went and I could the simple syncing between work and home very useful.

The ability to combine files, images, media and text is useful and works fairly simply. The fact that I’ve kept using the system for planning and extended use to include a class notebook tells me I am finding it useful.

The only major flaw I’ve found using the mac app is an occasional failure of the copy and paste keyboard shortcuts. OneNote used the standard ⌘-c ⌘-v for pasting I find these often fail, especially the first time or two I use them after opening a notebook. The menus and contextual menus work fine, but the keyboards are my preferred method of doing this. Copying something and pasting to get the previous content of the clipboard pasted is alway annoying.

I would also really like to be able to have more than one notebook open at once. I believe this is supported on windows and not mac. Given that mac users are traditionally more likely not to have documents full screen and to use drag and drop between documents I find this a wee bit surprising.[2]

I’d also like to be able to set a page width rather than have a page of infinite(?) width.

I started a class notebook to use with the pupils in my class. They are using the OneNote app on iPad Airs.

I’ve used this to distribute information, worksheets and the like to the pupils and to gather in work. I started just before the addition of the class notebook tools. When the tools appeared I’d just had some fairly negative experiences with the class sharing and using Word and Onedrive on their iPads. I though I’d give OneNote a try for this instead.

When the tools work they have been very effective, I can create a page and distrubute it to all of the pupils easily, I can target the section of their notebook I want the content to go to. I can then easily find all of that content and mark it within the notebook.

I have also got a way of distributing shared resources to all of the pupils. The only part of the workflow that is missing was the ability to upload documents created in Word and saved to OneDrive to the web (glow blogs). But failures with that was the reason I started using a class notebook in the first place.

For the most part this has worked fairly successfully. When pupils are submitting written work they seem to prefer typing in the native iOS notes app (or even word) and pasting the finished text into OneNote.

Collecting a set of brief texts in the one place on a table in the collaboration section has been more successful that multi editing a word doc[3]

Occasionally I’ve had sync failures for particular pupils, while the distributed page gets to the rest of the class it will not sync to one pupil. Often logging off force quitting, going through the log on sorts this but not always[4].

I’ve had one really frustrating experience with adding notes to pupil work which did not sync at all consistently leading to a very confusing lesson but for the most part the class notebook has been a success.

Reading back over this post so far I realise that I’ve dwelt on the negative aspects more than the positive. I thing that is because I am finding the software pretty useful and these bits of friction stand out.

There are a lot of really cleaver features.

The ability to share with pupils as a group, individually, and to distribute content to each of them is great. The choice between letting pupils edit that content or not is also useful.
Another useful feature is how easily the pupils can record audio in a page. This allow them to listen to themselves read and me to collect there reading.
One of the most interesting is the way text in images is handled. This can be searched. It also, on iOS at least can be copied.
copy text from graphic

Ironically in getting this screenshot I had a repeat of a problem I had in class this week. After I inserted an image, OneNote crashed. It then refused to sync.

sync problem
sync problem

The answer was a tweet away.

On iOS I couldn’t copy the whole section, but I could select multiple pages and move those to a new section. After deleting the, now empty, problem section all was ok.

It would be good if the error message was a wee bit more indicative of the problem and how to solve it. It looks like a hangover of the Window’s desktop app? Even if I sync the OneDrive, where my OneNote files are stored, to my desktop, the OneNote files are replaced by a weblink. This raises another worry, total reliance on the cloud.

I am going to continue using the class notebook for a while and see if we can work around the problems. The many affordances of the software certainly seem worth further exploration.

It also may be that updates will fix things. The app has been very frequently updated, in fact it feels slightly beta like sometimes.

I don’t think I’ll be converting my own notes out of text files any time soon. Having them in an open format that I can open with a myriad of applications on different platforms is important and Dropbox[5] certainly seems to have syncing down a lot better.

featured image: Inside cover and first page of Foshag’s Kaminaljuyu-Jade field book by Smithsonian InstitutionNo known copyright restrictions


  1. on iOS I mostly use the drafts app to keep notes, this syncs via iCloud and has been rock solid for several years. Draft’s ability to push text to different places is outstanding. The Apple notes app is pretty good too although a lot simpler than OneNote.  ↩
  2. the first few times I used a windows computer this completely floored me, I could not understand why anyone would want full screen.  ↩
  3. this took us into of lot of failure, repeated attempts to log on and a lot of wasted time.  ↩
  4. I am not sure if these problems like others with the MS iOS apps are to do with the apps, authentication with glow or local network issues.  ↩
  5. Dropbox is not a suitable choice for use with my pupils. Onedrive via glow takes care of account management, data protection etc without me having to do any work.  ↩

At the weekend during pedagoo muckle there was a mini TeachMeet. Everyones name was in a bowel and there was a series of random 2 minute talks. I though I was prepared with this tip. In the event I was quite glad I didn’t get picked all the people who got picked had two minutes of great ideas, as opposed to a wee tip.

I did mention it to one or two folk at my conversation and it was well received so I though it would be work posting.

One of the minor hassles I’ve been having with Glow and iPads is multiple logons. Some of the MS apps seem to get themselves in a state of confusion, requiring pupils to log on frequently, and more than once. This is a particular pain if you work in Word, save to Onedrive and then upload that file through the browser. I’d like this to be a thoughtless and painless process for my class but it is not. This is compounded by the fact you need to put a glow email address into an MicroSoft iPad app, this them loads the RM Unify logon where you need to use your glow username and password. Given you can use your glow email in place of your username this make the tip even more useful.

iOS has a text replacement function. You can type a shortcut and the predictive text will offer the expansion to insert.

You set these up in the Setting App, General-> Keyboard- Text Replacement, the phrase would be your glow email, the shortcut something memorable, not part of a real word. We used gw and initials, so mine is gwjj.

Here is a gif showing how much easier it it to log on with a shortcut.

shortcut-gwjj

As a bonus, some of the pupils in my class added other shortcuts, for example d: for define: which hlps find the meaning of words in google.

ChromeStead is a really interesting blog from Guy Shearer who is head of IT and data at David Ross Eduction Trust, which I think is a private school.

From the title you would think it was all Google and chromebooks but the schools seems to use a mix of Google Apps, O365 and other products. This makes an enjoyable change from blogs from the PoV of one company supporter or another. The idea of using a mix is very appealing. The school has single sign on for both services, which I believe is possible using RM unify now.

Also from From a Glow perspective there are a lot of interesting posts about O365. Here is an example aside.

(I just wish someone at Microsoft could forget to invite the Sharepoint team to the next planning day so that they can come up with a Classroom competitor that works cleanly and simply like Sway).
ChromeStead: Sway: presentations reimagined, and some general thoughts on O365

TL:DR: I think that the problems in embedding digital in learning are complex. Glow, which address the software part is the one that is closest to being solved.

On Sunday I got added to a twitter conversation that started with a tweet about glow use from Derek Roberson

This got picked up by James McEnaney (@MrMcEnaney) and I and other got pinged:

My initial reaction was that there was not much room on twitter for the conversation I though was necessary.

But I dipped in with a couple of replies:

I suspect bad with access to hardware have more of an effect on digital learning than how good or bad glow is.

and

What I’d hope glow did was give ‘permission’ to use digital

Much more was batted back and forth, including this point from Derek:

not as simple as that. Getting the digital in to established practice and attitudes the real challenge.

James:

I’d agree with that, but I’m not convinced GLOW is the way to do it

James said the purpose should be

helping to embed digital & collaborative tools in established practice.

and

I’d argue the only reason GLOW survived is because of the political ramifications of admitting failure.

The conversation was quite hard to follow as it spawned several sub threads with different folk being included in different replies. I am not going to pretend to cover all the conversation, but do have a few thoughts to add and expand on.

Caveat, I was seconded as a “Product Owner” to Glow for 23 months and still support Glow Blogs on a part-time contract to Education Scotland. But this post is very much in the spirt of my disclaimer:

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.

I’ve also re-written this posts a few time and deleted a podcast. The digital in education, even when confined to Glow is a huge subject.

I do think these questions need to be asked and answered again and again.

Statistics

First, the 9% is a wee bit out, a recent FOI request leads to real stats:

The Cost of Glow – a Freedom of Information request to Education Scotland – WhatDoTheyKnow.

This points to a rather better figure that the 9% teacher login claim that started the conversation. The best month Jan – May 2016 had nearly 60% of Scottish teachers and 11% of pupils logging on.

I am guessing a lot of the teacher use is driven by LAs that have adopted O365 email as their main email system for schools. The pupil login is initially, at least, disappointing.

I wonder what sort of figure would be a good one. What does the use of a more successful tool look like? Do schools or education systems that adopt other systems have better stats? If so what drives these.

Is even the 11% all that poor? I would not expect many primary infants to be logging on independently, they are more likely to access Glow via a teacher’s logging on a smart-board than to be keeping their own blog.

Timetabling and access to ICT equipment in schools will also affect this. How many times does the average pupil in Scotland access ICT in school?

The quality of hardware, time to get set up and online and bandwidth will also affect teacher’s decision to use ICT in learning.

Finally there is the ability of teaching staff to manage digital learning on top of their other workload issues.

Embed digital

Is Glow helping to embed digital & collaborative tools in established practice?

It would be madness not to use digital tools in learning. These are soon going to be tools without the digital. I wonder how many pupils in my class now will handwrite anything as an adult. I know I had not written a sentence in the 8 years preceding my return to class a couple of weeks ago.

If we are going to help to embed digital & collaborative tools it looks like there are three areas that need addressed:

  • The software
  • How we access it (hardware & infrastructure)
  • Cultural (skills and appetite of staff)

Glow provides some of the first and had an affect on the third, some of the money spent on Glow could have been used to help the second.

The software

I was very enthusiastic about the concept of Glow and pretty disappointed by its original incarnation. Compared to the web2 tools I was using it felt clunky. Even once I understood some of the features, it was not, in my opinion, a good solution. I saw many interesting things done with old glow, but this was usually built on a lot of effort and support.

At the point that Glow was introduced it would have been very hard to understand the way that digital tools were going to evolve. At the time I remember being surprised that it didn’t include the tools that were beginning to appear. I now realise that the planning and preparation start a long time before implementation.

When I joined the Glow team I was still of the opinion that Sharepoint was not a good solution for Education. I began to be quite impressed with the O365 tools, Word online, Onenote and the like, but they still felt a bit Beta compared to the Google productivity suite. Fortunately for all involved I eventually fell into concentrating on the Blogs and stopped complaining about O365/Sharepoint.

Although Glow is not a login to a whole range of digital services there is no doubt O365 has become one of if not the major part of Glow. My own head and heart remain with Blogs but for many online teachers and learners O365 is going to be their main toolset.

What has happened is these tools have matured and continue to improve at a rapid rate. They have been joined by a suite of tools, Sway, Yammer, MS forms and more, themselves evolving, that feel like a much better fit than Sharepoint.

It was unfortunate, IMO, that the first bit of the O365 suite that was ready for business in Glow was Sharepoint. It still is not the friendliest environment I could imagine. I would think it could be very successful when supported by a team of Sharepoint developers, but it is not easy for teachers to modify and customise.

Now Glow provides a secure, safe set of modern cloud based software tools for communication and collaborating. If I was going to criticise the tools set I’d need to be quite picky. I also think that these tools are set to continue to evolve and improve.

A downside this evolution means that some of the services can feel a little beta. I think this is something that users of software in general are getting used to. It also needs a change in support material, not how to guides but how to figure out for yourself help, or a way of rapidly providing answers not just by the centre but by a growing community.

The perception that Glow is a poor set of tools is still held by many, I would suspect that they would not be so skeptical if they had the opportunity to spend a reasonable amount of time trying them out.

An idea expressed by some is that there are enough free tools out there to used and we do not need a national product. This is quite tempting. It would need a greater digital skill set to negotiate the different logons, data protection issues and security. 1

Hardware & infrastructure

I suspect that the effect of hardware & infrastructure far outweighs Glow in its effect. How often do pupils get access to hardware? When they do how long does it take to get machines/devices booted and ready to go? How fast are connections to the new online services?

This is the area I am least qualified to blog about. It does seem I’ve got better bandwidth at home than many primary schools. The efforts to tackle bandwidth need a lot of joined up thinking and investment. Given the cuts on local authority spend recently (I feel that one deeply), I am not sure how this could be resolved. There does seem to be a bit of divide opening up between schools across the country.

On hardware there is national procurement, but this will again be affected by local spending decisions. Some LAs are experimenting with allowing pupils and teachers to bring their own hardware and some with a variety of devices.

Cultural

The old Glow got a bad reputation some of this was deserved. A lot of staff have pretty negative feelings about this. I do get the impression some of these opinions were formed quickly and the holders have not had a chance to really dig into the new tools.

I also thing there were two sources of this dissatisfaction: the digitally confident, who knew of better tools and the less confident who were baffled by the system.

When new Glow arrived, in Oct 14, not much had changes, on the Blogs we had moved to a new setup with pretty much the same system. O365 mostly consisted of Sharepoint, with the business apps being quite rough in places. This unfortunately probably allowed some of the old opinions to stick. I believe that it is now worth folk taking a fresh look at the improved and developing tools.

Permission

One of the most powerful things that Glow does is give permission. Although James disagreed with that:

On various occasions it was also used to prevent me from using digital tools

I was lucky that when I started using blogs, podcasting and wikis with pupils, I was unaware of any rules that would forbid me for allowing pupils to publish online. I used common sense and kept myself and my pupils out of trouble. This is probably not a method that could be embraced by Local authorities and governing bodies.

Since then conversation continued discussing the Stats from the FOI request. James still questioning if Glow was the right way to go.

When I attempted to join North Lanarkshire Council to support ICT, I concentrated on this experience at interview. After I was in post, I was somewhat surprised to find that the council, at that time, did not allow schools to publish to services that were not controlled by the council on council servers. My thoughts of encouraging blogging and podcasting were rather stymied.

When NLC started using Glow and then it was enhanced by the original Glow Blogs I could start to use my experience. Glow gave schools tools and permission to use them. It to some extent, takes care of worrying about data protection and security.

Skills and confidence

Lots of teachers feel quite negative about their own ICT skills. Workload issues in the classroom are huge. How we provide support and training for the use of digital is really important. The training is also knitted into the software, hardware and infrastructure available in schools. It is not much use being trained on using great devices on a wonderful network to return to limited old kit of a stuttering connection.

How we provide that support nationally and in local authorities, with the spending constraints, is again a thorny problem. The kind of support you provide for an evolving and improving toolset is an interesting one. Past attempts (NOF, Masterclass, the old Glow roll outs) gave spotty results. I am hopeful that the embedding of digital in trainee teachers I see happening at the University of Dundee are a good start. Linking this with national, local and community support would perhaps give a jigsaw of encouragement. It would, I fear, require a bit more investment.

Glow is not the problem

The problem is a challenging. One part is the software. I think it is the part that has now been best addressed. I think that the hardware/infrastructure one needs to be solved while we address the culture/skills issue.

An invitation

If you are interested in this topic I’d love to discuss it further. I would imo, make a great topic for Radio Edutalk. Leave me a comment of get in touch (@johnjohnston) if you would be interested.

Featured Image: cropped from Components of Hudson Brothers chaff cutter No known copyright restrictions

1. I also think we need to think a lot more carefully about or software choices for all sort of reasons. I’ve tagged some thoughs DigitalUWS in old posts.

Return of the amazing Glo.li

 

From Charlie Love. A while back I posted here about shortening Glow O365 links to avoid the double authentication. Charlie has rebooted his glow.li link shortener and added in this feature in a much neater way. The form recognises a link to Glow O365 automatically and sorts you out with a link to take you in via RM Unify.

Charlie’s http://www.glo.li is beautiful, and has the advantage of nice branding with a url to remind you it is a glow link.

Sway has arrived for Glow users.

Sway allows you to

Create and share interactive reports, presentations, personal stories, and more.

I blogged a bit back in May.

Basically the app helps you present media online in a slick way. I’ve mostly looked at the iOS version. The different versions, Windows, web and iOS so far have different feature sets and a personal Microsoft account allows you do do slightly different things from a business/education account.

The app feels as if it is in pretty active development. Features that were coming soon in May are here.

What is particularly interesting, from my point of view, is that sways can be made public on the web and can be shared ready for remix.

This evening I used the iOS app on an iPad to build another sway (The featured image on this post is a screenshot of the borwser version of the sway, not the iPad view):

It didn’t take very long to add text and images. One difference I noticed was if I was signed into the app with a personal account I could upload video in iOS, I could not do this with my Glow account. Hopefully coming soon.

The browser app has a lot more options, including built in searches over flickr, youtube and other media sources.
Screen Shot 2015-10-26 at 21.29.19

It also looks like if you create or even edit a sway in the browser you cannot edit it afterwards on iOS (I might be wrong about this). I do not think either of these things are a great problem, we now know an iPad is a great content creation device and I would hope pupils would be using there camera and their own images for the most part on mobile.

Swaying in Public!

I’ve got the same feeling about the slickness of the creations as I had back in May, mostly about the ‘automatic creativity’ but the most exciting two things about Sway are public sharing and remixing.
Screen Shot 2015-10-26 at 21.19.24

Users have control over who the Sway is shared with and if they will allow their Sway to be duplicated by others.

Learning Opportunities

This is the first of the O365 services to allow public sharing which is very encouraging for those who see value on pupils sharing widely.  I also think that the ability to remix, change and improve someone else’s creation is a important skill.

There is obviously the opportunity to discuss aspects of publishing in public, Internet safety and copyright. The copyright issue is also nicely lead into by the browser version:

sway-copyright

We want pupils (and teachers) to understand aspects of copyright and creative commons. Unfortunately the editor does not auto-add attribution but it can be copied and pasted in the browser.

Glow Blogs?

I can embed a sway in this blog using the embed code. Unfortunately this is via a iFrame. iFrames are not supported in Glow Blogs. I do hope we can develop oEmbed like functionality in the Blogs soon in the same way as we have for ClickView video.

It looks like Sway itself supports oEmbed of other content so I’d hope that oEmbed of sways is at least under consideration.

I’ve barely scratched the surface of Sway, and look forward to seeing how it is used in Glow.

Update 11.11.2015 Glow Blogs support the embedding of sways, just paste the url to a sway into the editor: Embedding Media | Glow Blog Help.

Some links I’ve Pinboarded this week:

The problem

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.

For example: https://glowscotland.sharepoint.com/sites/GlowHelp/SitePages/Home.aspx will show the problem if you are not logged onto glow.

This is default behaviour of O365 and not something that can currently be altered.

Workarounds

In the glow help there is a workaround suggested:

  1. Encode the URL, using for example: URL Decoder/Encoder
  2. Add this encoded url as a parameter to this url:
    https://login.microsoftonline.com/login.srf?wa=wsignin1.0&wp=MBI_KEY&wreply=REPLACETHIS&whr=glow.sch.uk&CBCXT=out
    This will give in our example above:
    https://login.microsoftonline.com/login.srf?wa=wsignin1.0&wp=MBI_KEY&wreply=https%3A%2F%2Fglowscotland.sharepoint.com%2Fsites%2FGlowHelp%2FSitePages%2FHome.aspx&whr=glow.sch.uk&CBCXT=out
  3. As an extra use a URL shortening service.

The help notes that is quite a complex fix.

A better workaround

I though it might be an idea to try and make a one click solution to the workaround above. It seems to work: Simplify Glow Sharepoint links.

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.

Warning: I am not a programmer, my knowledge of JavaScript comes form google, there is a php element in the mix too, it does seem to work and after sharing it at the Glow Key Contact meeting Malcolm Wilson added it to the Falkirk glow home page.

Improvements

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.

And here is one using bitly: GlowBitLink.