While I enjoy a geeky lifehack blog post as well as the next person I rarely take the advice. My inbox is pretty messy, I have no consistent way of organising files and I keep notes in text files in several different places (mostly dropbox), links in and that is about it. No GTD here I am afraid.

I have been watching the technical guys at work use kanban boards on the wall for a while now so was interested in Doug’s recent posts on Trello 1. Combined with a rainy day and the opportunity to just run through an open badges experience I though I’d give it a go.


Trello is certainly easy to set up. I though I’d have a we shot at organising Edutalk episodes. We had been doing this with Google Sheets, but that seemed to be getting a bit complex.

Trello is a free web-based project management application originally made by Fog Creek Software in 2011, that spun out to be its own company in 2014 2

It basically lets you organise lists of cards and move them from one board to another. For the 101 badge Doug suggested Create a new board with (at least) three lists: To do, Doing, and Done.

I changed this to Possible Guests, Shows, Broadcast.

The card have names of the guests, notes, a check list (contact, agreed, set date etc). labels etc. When the date is agreed I set a due date and drag card to the Show Column. The fact it has a due date adds it to a calendar and I subscribe to that with my mac/phone calendar app.


This got me the Kanban 101 badge, thanks Doug. That let me work through the P2PU badges process, which is pretty straightforward.

  1. You go to the Kanban 101 badge page.
  2. Click submit a project for this badge and away you go. (you do need an account for P2PU but I seem to have picked one of those up before)
  3. Claiming the badge only requires a screenshot and a few lines of text.
  4. Once you submit you get an email and then another one when your submission is approved. Visiting the page allows you to add this to your mozilla backpack (I got one of those a while back)

This process feels pretty smooth, the only problem I came across was sending the badge to my backpack. I had a problem doing that until i went and signed on to backpack before submitting as opposed to as I went along.

Another Badge?

Doug has also made an Advanced Kanban Badge so I though I’d give that a go too.

The Criteria:

  1. Add a ‘Work In Progress’ (WIP) limit to the ‘Doing’ list
  2. Define and use labels effectively
  3. Add attachments and due dates to cards
  4. Collaborate with others

My Effort:

  1. I didn’t add a WIP limit to my doing (shows list) as it does not need one.
  2. I had already added labels, for Wednesday/Tuesday the days we do shows and red one for ‘Agreed’ to indicate if guests have agreed to be on a show.
  3. Due dates are added when a card become a show to produce the calendar as describe above. I’ve tested out attachments and that might be useful going forward, it is pretty easy.
  4. I’ve invited my partner in EDUtalk to the board.

Given I’ve not exactly met the criteria I though I might try something else to see if that would get me a badge.

I’ve made a few customisations to the board, adding an icon and changing the background colour so I though I might change the background of the lists. There are no preferences for that.

I use an extension for Safari that allows you to test out CSS which got me what I wanted. I then need to use these styles when the board loads. I searched Safari extensions but didn’t find what I needed, but I did notice I had an unactivated extension stylish so activated that.3

Here is the styles I am using:

.list:nth-child(1) {
    background: #ccffcc;
.list:nth-child(2) {
    background: #ffcccc;
.list:nth-child(3) {
    background: #ff00ff;
.list:nth-child(4) {
    background: #ffffcc;

The final style just zooms the page out a wee bit letting me see the whole board on my macbook. It looks like there a pile of styles available for Trello at these might be better than mine;-)

This gives me the screenshot at the start of this post. The final advice on the Advance kanban badge is:

Evidence may be provided via a screencast, a series of screenshots, and/or a blog post.

Hopefully this will do it.

I wonder if this will make any difference to my organisation, I am hoping it may given kanban/trello seems to be an extremely simple system and the trello site is quite usable without recourse to any help.

Recently we have had quite a few guests on Radio EDUtalk who have talked about or been interested in open badges1. As I’ve blogged about before I am not completely sold on badges for learning but I am interested enough to want to try them out is a small way. Unfortunately I don’t have any pupils to use a guinea pigs. I therefore though it might be worth a wee experiment on EDUtalk badges.

A little googling lead me to davelester/WPBadger, A lightweight badge issuing platform built using WordPress and I’ve installed the plugin at EDUtalk. After installing there are a few different additions to the dashboard:

  • In the settings there is a WPBadger Configuration section where you set up an email that will be sent when a badge is awarded.
  • The Badges section is where you create Badges, these look like custom posts. They contain a description and an image.
  • There is an Awards section where you award the badges by creating posts.

It took me a few attempts to get to a system that seems to work. I had to use the version rather than the one in the wordpress plugin repository. I also made a few mistakes setting up badges, you need to limit the description string to long and then had single quotes in a description. Once I had changed that things began to work.

I’ve not tested the system to any great extent, Robert Drummond kindly helped, but it seems to work. I don’t think I’ll award badges willi-nilly to all our previous guests of contributors, but please get in touch if you have been a guest or contributed audio if you want me to send you a badge and help testing the system.

It looks as if setting up a badges system is pretty simple for teachers who have access to a wordpress blog they can install plugins in via FTP and pupils or learners with a mozilla backpack.

I’ve blogged a fair bit about badges but still am conflicted about their value in the classroom. Perhaps because I’ve not used them in anger.
Doug Belshaw when talking at the SQA assessment event last month, lit a wee lightbulb, he said something like: Badges from you community to show others, that is it for me, it is the community that issues the badge that is important. I love my talktina badge badge as I value the community that issued it.

Anyway yesterday I had a quick play with the Displayer API · mozilla/openbadges Wiki · GitHub and came up with a wee page that produces a script that will display a public collection from your open badges Mozilla Backpack

Show My Badges

More an effort to improve my baby steps JavaScript than anything else, this might be of use until something more professional comes long.

This way. Or maybe this way. Wait. No. This way. by Stéfan
Attribution-ShareAlike License

I tweeted back to Iain Hallahan this morning about Open Badges and an interesting conversation ensued. David Gilmour tweeted:

BuddyPress achievements could potentially be added to WP Glow blog eportfolios.

At this point I mentioned that the glow eportfolios were moving out of WordPress into some sort of sharepoint solution. Pointing to the SICTDG post: Moving e-portfolios to a Microsoft blog which at the point of writing has 31 Comments.

I’ve put a bunch of todays ensuing tweets into Storify as I think an interesting tale is emerging.

Not a lot of people know…

One thing that becomes apparent reading the tweets and comments on the SICTDG post is that quite a few folk are not clear about what is happening with glow. The way forward is a wee bit confused. This is not a good situation to be in. Glow despite its many technical failings drove ict into many areas of the curriculum. This was largely due to the huge effort by LTS and LAs to promote and train folk in using glow.

This is how I understand how things played out. I may very well be wrong and would love a really clear picture.

  1. The contract for Glow was coming to an end, there was a procurement process started to shape the next iteration.
  2. Mike Russell announced on YouTube that he was cancelling the procurement and the new glow would be based on Free tools and Open Source Services.
  3. The Scottish Government/LTS/Education Scotland started planing the new glow.
  4. Everything was looking good for a while and according to various sources it was coming down to a choice between Google Apps for Education and Microsoft 365. Rumour had it that google was in the lead.
  5. For some reason the Government then announced a invitation to tender rather than just make a choice between free solutions.
  6. Google Withdrew from tender process.
  7. Lots of the back story was opened up by Jaye Richards-Hill Glow plight – pride of Scotland or ‘zombie’ network?. She suggested,

    Come on then Mr Russell; it’s over to you. How about cutting through all the civil service failures, restoring Andrew Brown and his team to the Glow successor project, and getting them to carry out a review of just what has been achieved, and what’s possible now there’s a little more breathing space. Andrew Brown is one of the most respected figures in education today, and together with the international reputation of Ollie Bray and technical expertise of Charlie Love, he could manage the birth of a successor to Glow which, if not totally future proof (what is?), is at least what the people want, would work properly and meets the needs of learners and practitioners. It would also be well managed and provide better value for money than its predecessor.

  8. Mike Russell announced Glow’s Next Phase

    To ensure continuity we have taken the step of extending the current RM provision through to December 2013. Microsoft have agreed to provide the tools and services of their integrated application suite ‘Microsoft Office 365 for Education’ for free through to December 2014; this was the first offer of its kind in the world for a national schools project.

    There would be an ICT Education Excellence group.

    The excellence group will have the immediate task of scoping the long-term user-centred future of Glow.

What happens next?

So far so confusing. At the moment there seems to be two development happening with glow:

  1. The development of the RM solution which will create a new front end to glow and incorporate MS 365
  2. The development of GlowPlus by the ICT Education Excellence group.

We know about the first of these through the information provided in glow itself: Migration of Glow to Office 365 (glow account required) and the second by a fair bit for tweeting and blogging by members of the group. Local Authorities have been kept up-to-date though the Key Contacts.

What is wrong with this picture?

There seems to be very little joined up thinking between the two plans. Education Scotland and the ICT Education Excellence group do not seem to be working in the same room. My fear is we are going to get a two step transition, Glow to MS 365, MS 365 to GlowPlus. This does not seem like a great idea. I think I’d have preferred to stick with Glow 1 and then go straight to GlowPlus if that is where we are heading.

I can’t imagine how we got to this point without some bad decision making by the government.

e-Portfolios and blogs as an example

Over the last couple of years one of the major uses of glow has been the development of e-portfolios. Designed in part to help with the profiling of pupils progress and the profile for pupils at p7 and (this year) s3 the e-portfolio solution used by more that 60000 pupils in Scotland is based on the wordpress blogs provided by Glow. WordPress is not going to be provided by Glow 365. There is a new MS365 based solution in preparation which will replace the blogs at the end of this session.

On the back of the introduction to blogs though e-portfolios the use of the WordPress blogs for class and school blogs seem to have picked up. As I understand it these to will be migrated to 365 but some features and structures of wordpress blogs may not be supported.

According to tweets by members of the ICT Education Excellence group, wordpress is very much part of GlowPlus, it can be seen and tested in Glew which has been developed by Charlie Love a member of the ICT Education Excellence group.

There has been a reasonable amount of anxiety surrounding this for example on the the SICTDG post Moving e-portfolios to a Microsoft blog.

So are we going to move from wordpress to 365 and back over the next few years? The other area of glow may have similar movements, Adobe Connect the video conferencing tool in glow will be replace by a MS 365 solution will that change again in a year or two, is the new solution better than the old one?

Every day I am talking to schools and teachers about e-portfolios and blogs. How do I answer David Terron‘s tweet:

RT : eportfolios look like going to sharepoint solution – And they want me to set up 300 WordPress blogs?

Personally thinking

Most of the above has been an attempt to list where we are and where we are going. I’d love some authoritative explanation giving an overview of where we are going and why?. The following are just some personal thoughts and opinions.

I feel we have already started losing traction with glow. I believe there is a lot of good to be had from a national intranet. I also believe that a lot of the best of glow has come from teachers and others trying to bend what they have been given into tools to met real needs. Recently, I’d guess, that eportfolios are by far the most used section of glow. These take the rather limited and old wordpress setup that glow provides and twist it to fit the needs to Teaching and Learning in Scotland. To my knowledge most of this twisting was not done by RM or professional programmers but by Education Scotland’s Alex Duff.

This post started with discussions on twitter by Ian Hallahan, Robert Jones and David Gilmore on possible enhancements to wordpress blogs and eportfolios, adding open Badges, ideas from teachers who have proven time and again that they can improve open source tools for their circumstances. I am not a WordPress fanboy, this blog is not using WordPress, but WordPress is a class of software that can be hacked (in a good way) to fit users needs by users. This facility is shared by many open source solutions. Mike Russell suggested glow would be built on OS software, the next revision is not.

Ewan McIntosh tweeted:

WPMU not being supportable is daft & shows deep ignorance of legacy. It’s Glow’s biggest scs


We may need to consider how to find Ctrl-Z on some of those current changes.


Yeah – @Feorlean’s mission for #ICTEx is not designed to be stymied by short termism & quick fixes.

I am guessing Ewan knows a bit about @Feorlean’s vision. I am wondering if @Feorlean’s eye is on the glow ball? Is it to late to Ctrl-Z on some of those current changes I wish someone would let me know.


I’ve been keeping half an eye on the Mozilla Open Badges project, mostly through the blog of Doug Belshaw.

I’ve also being looking at some of the Mozilla Webmaker tools on and off. This time last year I was Playing with Hackasaurus and popcorn and had some fun. More recently I was running an introduction to html, css and a wee bit of javascript for North Lanarkshire computing and business studies teachers and made use of Hackasaurus as a way to look at HTML elements. I had peeked at thimble, the third of the webmaker tools occasionally but not given it much attention.

Yesterday I read Webmaker Badges Are Go! and decided to check to thimble and how it had incorporated badges.


Thimble is an in browser html editor with live preview.

Bad points

Unfortunately I was reading Doug’s post on my iPad and dived into thimble on that. This was not the greatest experience, selecting text was a total pain and the standard iOS text editing was disabled. I could not copy or paste. I managed to do a bit of a better job by linking a bluetooth keyboard where I could copy and paste via keyboard shortcuts. Selecting text was still very difficult.

I then switched to my macbook. Although this is not a recent model it is usually fast enough to get thing done. It runs 10.6 and I use it for all sorts of things. Unfortunately it did not seem fast enough to edit thimble. Again it was hard to select text, clicking somewhere to move the cursor was hit and miss and I deleted some bits of code without meaning too. This could be very off-putting for a school pupil or someone else unused to editing html. I did test Safari, Firefox and Chrome none were much good.

The Good Bits

After not having much fun with my macbook I switched to my work macbook pro. This is not exactly a monster machine, 2.3GHx i5 with 8 MB of RAM, but it handled thimble a lot better.

I began to see what was happening, thimble does a fair job of syntax highlighting as you go, alerting you to any errors. But the neatest thing was the integration of the badges. I had signed in with Mozilla persona at the top of the thimble page. As I added various bits of code to the page small alerts popped up to tell me I had earned a badge. Clicking on the badges button allowed me to send the badges to my Backpack. This entails accepting the badges and then you can organise them into groups.

I guess all the code highlighting and checking to see if you have earned a badge is what slows down the iPad and older mac.

Personally I don’t think I’d be very motivated by badge gathering but I could see this being attractive to some sorts of learners especially as you can show the badges you have earned on a public page and also embed them on your blog or other webpage.

I’ve added some more notes about thimble on the thimble page I made.

Sharing your Success

Badges Badges

As well as the public page there is a wordpress plugin WPBadgeDisplay currently at version 0.8. I’ve not had the chance o look at it. Iain Hallahanlet me know about Badge Widget Hack which will generate some JavaScript to display a group of your badges I found that this limited the display to 3 badges in the group but it was simple enough to edit the code to see more it looks like open badges provides a json feed for the badges (eg: which you can use to display badges. Here is a slightly better looking view of my thimble ones.


Open Badges Backpack is in beta, it says so in the url, It seems to be developing nicely and it is now a lot easier to get your head round how badges play out in practise. I can see some real use for thimble and badges in the classroom and I hope to test performance on other older computers soon. Hopefully it is better than on my old (2008) macbook or that the experience will improve over time. I hope too that Mozilla will not forget about iPad users as we are seeing a lot more of these in our classrooms now.

Finally I just used the ‘Start From Scratch’ option in thimble, there are a lot of interesting looking starter projects that you can use to get ideas for what to make.

Classroom ideas

I want all the children I teach to develop a love of learning, not for ticks, badges or scores, but for the buzz of learning.

from: Robert Drummond » Blog Archive » 20% time Robert is giving his pupils free learning time in the same way Google developers get to follow their own interests, I am looking forward to see how this goes.

Here is the exam. Write your own questions. Write your own answers.

from: Seth’s Blog » Blog Archive » Tyler Cowen’s Unusual Final Exam I guess it would take a bit of work to get this going in class, but echo the 20% for me.

When you click on ‘Sign in with Glow’ you will be taken to the Glow login page. Here you can login to Glow using your usual username and password. At Glew we won’t know these details and they stay secure with you.

from: Using Glow to make a Glew Account | Charlie Love makes Glew an even more interesting choice. If I was in class I’d give it a go.

Online learning

Mechanical MOOC” – a free and open introductory course in the programming language Python that weaves together existing resources (content, Web-based study groups, quizzes and so on).

from: The Mechanical MOOC Audrey Watters point to this new MOOC, No degrees or credits or certificates or letters of achievement will be awarded, if I though it would only involve a couploe of hours a week I’d join up.

Mozilla wants to create a generation of webmakers.

from: What we’re up to with Mozilla Webmaker (Open) badges. | Doug now works for Mozilla Foundation. I am all for making more webmakers, and am interested in how badges play out, less sure of badges effectiveness (see the first quote in this post). I suspect badges need to be augmented by personal or social media, I didn’t find codeacedemy badges much of an incentive. I am looking forward to seeing Doug speak at eAssessment Scotland this Friday.

An introduction for new programmers
So easy your human companion could do it too!

from: JavaScript for Cats looks pretty useful, I think I am involved in an intro to HTML, CSS and baby steps JavaScript for computing teacher later this year.

Odds and Ends

Alan O’Donohoe who has produced some great AudioBoos (some of which he kindly tags EDUtalk), is looking for donations to get a pro account:
Audioboo Appeal « Teach Computing.

What I am questioning, however, is whether the logic of Capital and private enterprise should be applied to the institutions of our state. Some things, after all, are public goods.

from: Some thoughts on time, performativity, and the State. | a good question.

Tuttle SVC: Should Teachers Consider TED a Reliable Source? Why, Exactly?


Badges, surely, are a way of recognising achievement.  They don’t solve any problems, nor explain anything.  What they do do is allow an alternative way of enabling people to feel motivated (and, in some cases patronised, but that is another matter), and an alternative way for onlookers to judge whether they believe the individual has the knowledge/skills required for a role.

a comment by @patparslow on a post Badges: talking at cross purposes? |

The whole conversation started by Doug Gaining Some Perspective on Badges for Lifelong Learning is fascinating (some flying over my head).

Personally I’ve found comments more motivating than badges. for example, I worked a lot longer harder and learnt more after a few comments than I do on Code Year where Badges are auto generated.

One of the things I’ve really been enjoying about DS106 is riffing off the ideas of Alan Levine (CogDogBlog) like many edubloggers I’ve been following and being inspired by his blog for years. 50+ Web 2.0 Ways to Tell a Story is a standard teacher 2.0 text I’ve also, like many, used Feed2JS on several occasions. A while back I even tried to get a piratebox working after reading of the Storybox.

Anyway it is great to watch Alan teach his ds106 sub group and to follow his hyper activity on his blog. The other day, playing with the current #ds106 audio section he blogged: CogDogCodeAcademy: A Random Freesound Generator – CogDogBlog, this struck a cord as I recently posted #edtechcc Assignment 2 The Sight of Sound using the wonderful Freesound site. Revisiting it and looking at Alan’s code I notice that Freesound has an API. This looked interesting. I’ve now managed to create what I hope may be a ds106 Assignment flickrSounds.


flickrSounds is a simple mashup that searches Freesounsd and flickr for the same word. It then display the sound and picture. You can reload either until you get an image and sound you like. This can be added to a list, and the exercise repeated. Once you have a set of picture/sounds you can grab an embed code to put hem on a blog. A set of pictures/sounds could create a story, illustrate a quote, saying or slogan.


This is for searching for ds106 4 Life. I clicked through a few images and sounds for each word.


by electrovert
Attribution-NonCommercial License


by California Cthulhu (Will Hart)
Attribution License

4-23-10 20 distort.wav

by dingatx
Attribution-NonCommercial License


DS106 and Over Branding

Jim Groom Color

I’ve built in a Jim Groom busy widget into the webpage, the default search is dog, my example plays off the ds106 4life meme. Stephen Downes suggested in a comment that ds106 might be being over-branded I love ds106 but I think it’s being over-branded, this didn’t go down too well, but has inspired a lot of interesting stuff:, Martha Burtis’ The Cult of 4LIFE a graphic jokey one and I’m Still Chewing on that Over-Branding of DS106 Comment | mbransons and the comments on that post stand out for me.

It was an interesting idea, as someone just joining in I can see what Stephen Downes means. A lot of the DS106 rhetoric is fairly full on, there is a lot of self reference and pride/ego involved. I also could be put off by not sharing a culture with many of the other participants, being much older, having different frames of reference etc. Looking across the Atlantic it there is a very USA vibe. Lots of other folk with different backgrounds would have different reasons, I can see how DS106 could seem a bit hard to penetrate when looked in on. I thought a wee bit before joining in. but…

There are a couple of things that point the other way, DS106 is incredibly welcoming, the instructors are obviously giving a huge amount of time to the course and still have time to engage with the drive-by participants. They even made an effort to include my rather non standard blog RSS feed in the ds106 site. This seems to me to more than compensate for any exclusivity that ds106 might project.

The over-branding can be seen as glue, very important when you are trying to get participants to work together, and is more over more often than not obviously jokey, mocking the course and the organisers. #jimgroomart (eg: Blue Jump Suit #JimGroomArt #ds106:) is just an example, mock the teacher is one way to strengthen the connection, personalise the course, have fun and in weird way honour the amount of effort Jim makes to comment and make folk feel welcome in DS106.

I am also blown away 1 by the delight ds106 participants take in someone else grabbing what they have created and playing with it. The flickrSounds page is an example of this, without Alan’s positive reaction to my first tests I would not have carried on with this and had so much fun learnig a wee bit more JavaScript.

Code Thoughts

The root of this bit of fun was Alan’s post, in it he compares ds106 style learning with the new badges style learning:

Heck, I would rather do my own code challenges than someone else’s monkey see, monkey do. Thats the rub with this stuff, the motivation changes completely when it is something you need/want, versus someone else’s rote exercise for badges.

I commented to the effect that I found codeyear quite useful. I’ve been trying to keep up with the weekly JavaScript lessons there (just 3 weeks behind at the moment), as an afterthought I noted that Freesound have an API. This got me started on flickrSounds. In a way this proves Alan’s point, I’ve spent much much longer playing with this than I have in several weeks of codeyear. Partly because of the intrinsic interest of the task and partly due to Alan’s encouragement (blog comments and twitter).

But… I have messed about with javascript a few times now, but this is much neater code than usual (still horrible but relatively better). some of the improvements came from my experience of another CogDog/ds106 inspired piece Visualize That Quote but partly due to codeyear, where for the first time I’ve had the beginnings of an understanding of the basics of JavaScript.

There is a way to go with FlickrSounds, I need to add the ability to remove sound/pics from a ‘saved’ set and I need to test in IE, I’ve never manages to write any JavaScript that worked in IE first time.

Spirit of DS106

This has not been a ds106 assignment, I’ve not done any this week. I’ve only done one daily create, but I feel pretty much in the ds106 zone this weekend.


blown away is the nearest I can get to the DS106 comment style. This is much less reserved that my usual nice;-)

Investigating new ways to credentialize learning

With the upcoming release of Mozilla’s Open Badges framework this group is an opportunity for educators and interested parties to discuss the various ways such badges could be used in educational contexts.

Proposed: Semester of Learning: Open Badges and assessment | and organised by Doug @dajbelshaw this course has a ton of interesting information and links about using Open Badges in education. Weekly (Saturday 8pm! I am not going to make that, but I am enjoying following up lots of stuff including:

I wonder if anyone at Glow Futures is following this? Could be interesting integrating this with the developing glow e-portfolios.