Replied to The startupification of education (
But not everything has to be scalable; not everything has to be venture scale. There are a lot of public services, technologies in the public interest, and fully-profitable businesses that benefit by not trying to reach scale. Relationships are the building blocks of society; eradicating those in favor of analytics, in education of all places, is counter-productive, to put it charitably.

This is a wonderful post Ben, thanks you.  It speaks, to me as a primary teacher, to more than just EdTech and startUps. The big internet beasts have some claws in education and seem to be working towards what you call the  rat-maze simulation of intimacy. Governments seem bent on datafication.

Technology can be part of informal & formal personal relationships. The technology I find interesting is messy engaging and has not much to do with scalability & market share.

In my tiny world, I hope technology helps inclusion, engagement, diversification of approaches and fun. The presentation & recording of learning in a useful way by learner that is still individual, not auto analysable and open to conversation.

Reposted by Glow Scot (Twitter)

Are you looking for an introduction to Glow WordPress Blogs? In this webinar @DigiLearnScot are joined by Breadalbane Academy with lots of tips on how to access and use Glow Blogs and how they are being used in the classroom!

Guide to getting started with #GlowBlogs. Input from
@KiwiGrant21 who’s marvellous pupil poetry blog, Breadalbane Academy P7 Poetry Blog is a brilliant example with poem ideas that are just great, I’ve borrowed a few:-)

I occasionally use Word Cloud generators for school use, for example a header on a blog post. Each time I just search and try a couple until I find one that is free, doesn’t need a sign-up and does what I want.

I’ve also occasionally used iPad apps, but never found one I like enough to remember.

This week I needed one again but given I has 30 minutes free I searched for commandline wordclouds instead. This took me to amueller/word_cloud: A little word cloud generator in Python.

A bit of copy pasting in the terminal got this installed. I can now make lists of words in a text file and quickly create a word cloud with something like this:

wordcloud_cli --text spelling-list-1.txt --imagefile spelling-list-1.png --width 800 --height 400 --colormap tab20

It only take a few seconds. I could batch process a pile of lists all at once.

The app has a lot of features, colour schemes, size variations, fonts and the like and is beautifully documented: Command Line Interface — wordcloud 1.8.1 documentation.

The featured image uses text from Get Drunk! a handy test text.

wordcloud_cli --text get\ drunk.txt --imagefile getdrunk-3.png --width 800 --height 400 --colormap tab20 --fontfile /Library/Fonts/GiddyupStd.otf

The music lives on – Apple

iPod touch will be available while supplies last

I feel quite sad about this. I don’t think the iPod every got the traction it deserved in the classroom.

Back in the late 2000s I had a click wheel iPod in my class. It was a great device for recording audio on the move. Despite the low quality of recording by class found it really easy to use compared with other recorders at the time.

In 2010 I was involved in supporting a class using 1–2–1 iPod touches, and blogged a fair bit about it I though. They had a great deal of potential for the primary classroom. The introduction of the iPad put paid to that. I still think that a pocketable device might have been useful in school. Reviewing these old posts I found quite a few records of efforts to develop ideas for using webpages for teaching and learning with iPods. I had a bit of fun with that.

In my fantasy classroom pupils would be equipped with iPod touches and MacBooks, maybe the lovely 11 inch Air.

Over the last few years I’ve had quite a bit of fun with micro:bits. Given I’ve been using the same ones all that time they were pretty good value. It is great to see them getting a bit more traction in Scottish schools.

We are to get some more free ones: Scottish schools to receive 20 micro:bits. This will be great. I’ve got access to plenty but the new ones have some nice new features. Built-in microphone, speaker, capacitive touch sensor, and power save button. The speaker will be particularly welcome, avoiding a bit of footering . The power button too as I’ve found that detaching the battery is quite tricky for small fingers. I hope they arrive soon.

There are also a lot more support events & materials for classes appearing.

19 May 11 – 11:45 Code Along with micro:bit – Relaxation & Mindful Breathing looks fun, but clashes with our sports day. My class did participate in a couple of similar scratch events via Teams. Although these were not anything I could not have covered myself. I did find the pupils were extra engaged with a virtual teacher and peers.

You don’t even need micro:bits to take part,

Micro:bit not required as you can still take part using the MakeCode simulator.

Which until this week I would have though was missing the point. The other day I was re-introducing some of my class to micro:bits. They had made simple rock, paper, scissors shakers. We were discussing the problem of knowing, for sure, if the shake had worked. Two similar results could be due to random selection or by nothing happening. While the pupils were playing with solutions to this one explained he was not going to flash the micro:bit every time. He preferred the simulator! This surprised me, as I think the device is a big draw for most pupils.

The other week New support for teachers launched today | micro:bit. I’ve already found the examples and projects on very useful. I am looking forward to getting to try the ones for the new micro:bits.

In class we have been using the iOS micro:bit app rather than the web. This solves the issue of flashing the micro:bits via usb by using Bluetooth and works really well. We did a bit of work on our arcade devices this session. That meant pupils using the web downloading hex files on their iPads, air dropping to a MacBook and then transferring to the devices. Bluetooth avoids the “one MacBook” bottleneck.

The other bit of micro:bit information I have is that Glow Blogs now supports the embedding of the micro:bit simulator. This enables pupils to share their creations and keep a record of their achievements. I’ve just updated the microbit instructions for Glow Blogs. I hope to see some examples in the wild soon.

Well I am quite excited. There is a new plugin in Glow Blogs, H5P. This is quite different from anything else in blogs.

H5P is a system for creating interactive HTML5 content. It can work inside several types of publishing platforms including WordPress.

The range of content types that you can create with H5P is pretty wide. Some are ways of presenting material, accordions, image galleries. Others are learning activities, quizzes, multi-choice questions, word searches and crosswords. More sophisticated types include interactive video. Videos can be paused by viewers to respond to questions and quizzes and 360 tours. Responses to quizzes, cloze procedures etc are gathered from logged on users.

You can combine these content types , or display them on a blog in different ways.

I’ve spent a bit of time making some simple examples for Glow Blogs which has allowed me to start to think about how best to use these.

I’ve also started to build up a small bank of resources for spelling for my class: igh example. So far I am only scratching the surface.

I’ve always enjoyed making online resources for my classes to use. but these can take a lot of time and can be difficult to make presentable or present. The H5P plug-in solves many of these problems and are made “inside” the blog.
Having them on a blog allows resources to be quite easily organised. The Display Posts plug-in or using the make theme helps. Post listing in Gutenberg will be useful too.

Here are a couple of examples embedded from Glow Blogs.

A 360 tour:

and a fill in the missing words exercise.

In Contra Chrome, Leah carefully charts this road and its terrain in a funny and easily accessible way. In webcomic form, she documents how over the last decade, Google’s browser has become a threat to user privacy and the democratic process itself.

Contra Chrome is a pretty amazing pice of work from any angle.

The fair use of Scott McCloud‘s Google-commissioned Chrome comic from 2008 is a nice touch.

screenshot of

One of the things I am interested in as part of my work on Glow Blogs is what people are using Glow Blogs for.

Glow Blogs is made of of 33 different WordPress multi-sites. One for each Local Authority in Scotland and one central one.

The home page of each LA lists the last few posts. Visiting these pages will give you an idea of what is going on. In the past I’ve opened up each L.A. in a tab in my browser and gone through them. I had a script that would open them all up. I’ve now worked out an easy way to give a quick overview.

Recently I noticed shot-scraper ,Tools for taking automated screenshots of websites . I’ve used various automatic webpage screenshot pages in the past. These have usually been services that either charge money or have shut down. I used webkit2png a wee bit, but ran into now forgotten problems, perhaps around https?

shot-scraper can be automated and extended. It is a command line tool and using these is always an interesting struggle. I usually just follow any instructions blindly, searching any problems as I go. In this case it didn’t take tool long.

Once installed shot-scraper is pretty easy to use. shot-scraper Dumps an image johnjohnston-info.png

There are a lot of options, you can output jpegs rather than pngs. Run some javascript before taking a screenshot or wait for a while. you can even choose a section of the page to grab.

So I can use shot-scraper to create screenshots of each LA homepage. Then display them on a web page for a quick overview of Glow Blogs.


    cd /Users/john/Documents/scripts/glowscrape/img

    URLLIST="ab as ac an ce cl dd dg ea ed el er es fa fi gc glowblogs hi in mc my na nl or pk re sa sb sh sl st wd wl"
    for i in $URLLIST ;
        /usr/local/bin/shot-scraper -s "#glow-latest-posts" -j "jQuery('.pea_cook_wrapper').hide()" --quality 80"$i" -o  "$i".jpg && continue

This first hides the cookie banner displayed by blogs and then screenshots the #glow-latest-posts section of the page only.

The script continues by copying the image over to my raspberry pi where they are shown on a web page

I hit a couple of problems along the way. The first was that the script stopped running when it could not find the #glow-latest-posts section. This happens on a couple of LAs who have no public blogs. adding && continue to the screenshot fixed that.

The second problem came when I wanted to run the script regularly. OSX schedules tasks with launchd. I’ve used Lingon X to schedule a few of these. Since I recently updated my system I first needed to get a new version of Lingon X. I then found that increased security gave me a few hoops to jump through to get the script to run.

I think it would have been simpler to do the whole job on a raspberry pi. But I was not sure if it would run shot-scraper. I’ll leave that for another day and a newer pi.

This is a pretty trivial use of a very powerful tool. I’ve now got a webpage that gives me a quick overview of what is going on in Glow Blogs and took another baby step in bash.

The first thing that surprised me was the lack of featured Images on the blog posts. These not only make the LA home pages took nicer they also make display blog posts on twitter more attractive.