Last week I posted about open and close systems. Ironically I then got into a very interesting conversation with Peter Dickman (Engineering Manager at Google Zürich)
in the Scottish Education – Google+ community. You need to join the community to read it, hence the irony, but anyone can join. (I’ve still not got my head round g+ yet)

This morning I had a bumper breakfast from my RSS reader, mostly about the open web, open education and the like.

Alan Levine:

And so it goes with the lost web. It’s the individual who is finished. Blogging is dead, and our remaining bits of expression are locked into the data churning ad returning machines of GoogleFacebook, a web of two billion million data analyzed, ad-served, status messaging, app infested bots, totally unnecessary as human beings and as replaceable as …

from: It’s the Individual That’s Finished – CogDogBlog

Audrey Watters:

When I think of “open learning,” I think about the “open Web.” And for me, it isn’t simply a matter of what’s becoming a rather tired cliché that “you can learn anything you want online.” (You can’t. Lots of great stuff isn’t available there, or it's behind a paywall.) Rather, the open Web has allowed me to write and share and learn and collaborate with others — in public, in open and informal spaces, with openly licensed content, with open-ended and unscripted inquiry.

from: Reclaim Your Domain: A #ReclaimOpen Hackathon Project

Jim Groom:

Reclaim Your Domain has to be about a variety of hosting options, services, resources, and possibilities to manage your identities online across a variety of services, this is not necessarily “give up all social networks, drop offline, and feed the rabbits” —rather it’s about controlling (to the extent you can), backing up, and syndicating the work you do on the web. A home for your data that can be as distributed and decentralized as the platform it’s designed for.

from: Reclaim Open Learning | bavatuesdays

From Alan’s fears, through Audrey Watters’ mapping of what is good to Jim’s action plan.

Talking about it isn’t good enough / But quoting from it at least demonstrates / The virtue of an art that knows its mind. // Seamus Heaney : Squarings

By which I mean I don’t have anything deep to add other but I am enjoying and nodding along.

A decade ago, metadata was all the rage among the geeks. You could tag, geo-tag, or machine-tag Flickr photos. Flickr is from the old community. That’s why you can still do Creative Commons searches at Flickr. But you can’t on Instagram. They don’t care about metadata. From an end-user point of view, RSS is out of favor. The new companies are not investing in creating metadata to make their work discoverable and shareable.

from: Joho the Blog – [berkman] Anil Dash on “The Web We Lost”

Some great reading this morning starting at How the Web is being body-snatched ~ Stephen’s Web through Doc Searls Weblog – How the Web is being body-snatched to the post with the above quote.

This quote really jumped out at me, I’ve loved the flickr API for a long time and used it for lots of fun. I enjoy Instagram too, for its easy, quick hit, and lightweight community.

I really hope that we are not drifting away from such valuable resources with apis and rss feeds to the easy and locked in.

One of the things that makes the huge gap between sites like flickr and facebook is who has access to data and how they access it. When you share on flickr you are doing something quite different, and potentially much more valuable than sharing on facebook or google+.

I hope that open never gets old.

Starlings roosting by Steven C Wilson Attribution-NoDerivs License

I’ve written several version of this post now, thinking about blogging, e-portfolios and CPD I am not particularly happy about this version but I don’t think I can get it clearer.

A while back I got a comment here from Joe which included:

Feels like usual suspects still blog or tweet interesting stuff
We need more teachers to confidently own this space and lay down some more positive challenges to learning community

The comment came in as I was reading a post by Geoff Cain Brainstorm in Progress: MOOCs and Connectivist Instructional Design:

What we noticed was that students started helping one another as much as we were helping students. One of the reasons for this was that each assignment was basically a detailed guide on how to use a particular tool, and each assignment asked the students to share their work with one another. They wouldn’t just sign up for Twitter; they would add the entire class to their account. They wouldn’t just sign up for a social bookmarking site; they would share their bookmarks with the class. Creating the community was built into the lessons. This class was not MOOC but it gave us the experience of letting the community, even the community outside of the classroom, drive the learning.

Geoff Cain also mentions DS106 along side moocs in this post (which I loved and highly recommend) and I think beginnings to provide an answer to Joe’s problem.

Is blogging an Answer?

When I started blogging about my classroom practice and educational ict, in the first flush of teacher blogging in Scotland, I was convinced that most teachers would see the value of blogging, grasp the usefulness of RSS and blogging would become normal. This didn’t happen, although blogging is firmly embedded in a minority of teachers’ cpd, it is limited to what Joe calls usual suspects.

The majority of teachers I talk to do not even seriously consider blogging as a cpd activity and I can’t see that changing easily. Blogs are still not really understood by a lot of teachers. I’ve been involved in a lot of training for glow e-portfolios and it has surprised me that few teachers read or understand blogs. What Geoff, ds106 and the Connectivist provide for and develop with their learners is community. This is the hard bit, our original bunch of ScotEduBloggers or the pedagoo folk have a great community, feel well connected and are open and welcoming to newcomers. I think more is needed. These sorts of community can still be intimidating to newcomers no matter how friendly.

When my class started blogging there didn’t seem to be too much of a problem getting views or comments, not many schools were blogging. I often wondered how this would go when it became more common. If everyone is blogging their professional development who will read all the posts? This could be solved by following ds106 or QuadBlogging and organising people into groups.

Another problem is that of ownership of spaces. There have been,attempts get teachers to share their experiences and expertise with other online, I made one that failed myself. I think part of the problem is that to get someone to got to a place not their own and jump through hoops to share is a big ask. Quadblogging, ds106 and some of the conectivist MOOCs allow folk to use their own spaces where they feel comfortable and use familiar tools.

Teaching Scotland’s Future – National Partnership Group

The word e-portfolio appears on 7 of the pages in the Teaching Scotland’s Future document by the National Partnership Group:

In turn, a single e-portfolio will be developed that will allow all teachers to document and record the outcomes of learning linked to the Professional Standards and the system of Professional Update being developed by the GTCS. It will be possible to access the e-portfolio through both Glow and myGTCS and Education Scotland and the GTCS will work together to ensure the e-portfolio is effective, well- designed and meets the needs of teachers.


Other stakeholders such as local authorities should also be consulted to investigate whether they have any specific requirements of the portfolio. The e- portfolio will be ready to use by all teachers in Scotland in advance of the start of the August 2013 academic year.

While I applaud the idea of teacher having a way to record their cpd online, and possibly share it with others, again I am not sure I have as much enthusiasm for a single e-portfolio. If we have learned one thing about online life and learning over the last few years it is the importance of personalisation and choice.

Some folk are already recording, documenting and sharing their learning, perhaps not linked to the Professional Standards but valuable anyway.

Blue Sky ds106 style

RSS Diagram by jrhode
Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License

Perhaps we are at a point when things could change. At the moment there are over 70000 glow e-portfolios created using wordpress by pupils in Scottish schools. In a few years, those pupils now in S3 using blogs as eportfolios will reach Teacher Training (the ones that want to be teachers;-))

We will have a cohort of new students that have some understanding of blogging. Imagine:

  • On arrival at college these students create their own blog.
  • These blogs are aggregated into classes.
  • As the students move through their education their blogs (or categories of those blogs) are added to various aggregations.
  • The students are shown how to use a feed reader to view the aggregations that are interesting to them or for the classes they are currently involved in.
  • As they move into employment they have the opportunity to continue their blogs, these are aggregated into schools, clusters, local authorities.
  • When join in a CPD opportunity they can join that aggregation, follow it.
  • Aggregations can easily be set up by lectures, schools, CPD organisers, anyone.

University blogs would be compulsory at least for some of the course, profession not.

I think we already have the technology to do this. There are a few RSS aggregation tools, FeedWordpress, gRSShopper and River2 spring to mind.

For arguments sake, lets say we use FeedWordPress. Students or teachers could create blogs with any system they like as long as it had RSS feeds.

Using WordPress blogs with FeedWordPress anyone could build an aggregator, for example in college a lecturer would have an aggregator for their students, this would either pull in all posts of those students or ones with particular tags. The links to the posts and comments for the post are pointed to the original blog. The aggregator blog could then automatically add further tags. These aggregators could be themselves aggregated, all aggregators in a college or university pulled together for a site wide blog. Or someone with a particular interest, say a math lecturer could aggregate all the maths posts.

Each aggregated post points back to the original comments stay on the original posters blog. The bloggers have ownership of their blogs, part of the induction could be setting up a domain of their own or using free services.

The grouping would provide each blogger with a set of communities where they can work together, comment on each other’s posts a provide peer support.

Something like Pedagoo could be built by setting up an aggregating blog pulling in, again for arguments sake, posts tagged pedagoo from members blogs, I am presuming that it will not be too hard to have some sort semi automatic signup for aggregating blogs and there would be minimal maintenance needed.

For participants it will be much easier to contribute to groups just by tagging posts on their on blogs.

This system becomes what the users want it to, bit at a time in a loosely joined fashion, it is not owned by the system, the participants are the system. It is flexible ready to take advantage of new technology and serendipity. It is not reliant on any one player, holes are easy to fix, new alliances easy to make.

Most of these ideas are based on the work at the University of Mary Washington, some links.

We are probably at a moment when this is possible and fairly easy, glow blogs are beginning to be established, the idea of journaling cpd accepted, I wonder if there is any interested in a loose flexible system that gives ownership to participants?

Over the next few months, our focus will be on setting out the user requirements for Glow Plus and understanding the platform requirements that will underpin it.  The members of the Group bring a wealth of experience but others will have important views to share too.  You can follow and contribute to the discussion on Twitter using #GlowPlus.

Professor Muffy Calder
from: ICT in Education Excellence Group – The view from the Chair

I’ve made the odd #glowplus tweet over the last week or two, rendered useless by: Older Tweet results for #glowplus from:johnjohnston are unavailable. Luckly, if you want to pay attention to me, I’ve also saved them on pinboard. Given the focus on user and platform requirements I though I might expand a bit on the links I tweeted:

We need teachers

Left to its own devices, the mob will augment, accessorize, spam, degrade and noisify whatever they have access to, until it loses beauty and function and becomes something else.

from: Seth’s Blog: A tacky mess: the masses vs. great design

For me, this post points to the fact we need teachers in the system, giving pupils, or even teacher-learners, an online space is not a solution to anything. In these spaces we need teachers to be actively involved. This is what seems to separate the likes of ds106 or Colin Maxwell’s Ed Tech Creative Collective from more automated, impersonal or self-services courses: the online involvement of the leader/teachers with the learner. We need spaces that are designed to make interaction between teacher and learner as easy as possible.

For example, glow provides wordpress blogs, the wordpress technology can tick many boxes (see again ds106). Unfortunately the implementation in glow excludes the use of RSS and aggregation that would allow teachers to keep up with a class full of e-portfolios without many many clicks.

Watch your users

You don’t need to guess what your users might want or how they will experience your product. Just watch them.

from: Shane Pearlman Help Us Help WordPress | Smashing WordPress

This posts is for developers working on extending wordpress, I feel it will fit with any system, the main thrust of the advice is to watch your users, in our case pupils and teachers, using the system.

Most days of my working life I watch teacher, pupils or both using glow. Even watching experienced users I see their mice move to where they expect the next click to be, this is consistant, they are often disappointed. In setting out the user requirements I hope the ICT in Education Excellence Group will be able to take the time to watch users, not just relay on what their knowledge and assumptions. From the example in this post and my own experience, this need not be many users, and not take too long.

Learners owning their own spaces

I want to think of education using a vocabulary of creating, shaping, discovering, sharing, imagining and adapting, not one of owning, selling, earning, adding, collaborating, or marketing.

from: Personalization and Responsibility ~ Stephen’s Web

This, in my mind goes along with:

I’ve been blogging here for over 10 years. On my domain, running my software pushing out HTML when you visit the site on any device and RSS or ATOM when you look at it with Google Reader (which 97% of you do.) I control this domain, this software and this content. The feed is full content and the space is mine. Tim nails it so I’ll make this super clear. If you decide to use a service where you don’t control your content, you’re renting.

Own your space on the Web, and pay for it. Extra effort, but otherwise you’re a sharecropper. – Tim Bray

In a time where we are all gnashing our teeth about Twitter’s API changes that may lock out many 3rd party developers, Google Plus’s lack of content portability or lack of respect for the permalink,

from: Your words are wasted – Scott Hanselman

Which I quoted in a previous post.

Jaye, a member of the Glow – Schools IT Excellence Group, blogged about facebook replacing websites, and

Do we need to spend millions developing intranets like GlowPlus when platforms like this are or will be available.

as I commented I find this

a depressing thought. FB is a closed system centralised , easy to get info into but hard to get it out. There are a lot more interesting and exciting ideas out there. See for example this oldie:

Learners keep ownership and can enter co-operative spaces via aggregation.

I am much more excited about the possibilities the Charlie Love demonstrates with glew where sharing out as well as aggregating in is easy. The potential of using wordpress with the feedwordpress plugin, which is already a glew feature, is huge. Teachers could set up projects where pupils could join in by signing up and tagging posts on their own blog, FeedWordPress pulling together everything in the one place even though it is published in the learner’s own.

I also imagine a learner at some point, exporting their glowplus blog at some point, moving it to a domain of their own, this surely could be part of the picture of a successful Scottish life long learner?

Lots of information about glow and glow2 trickling through twitter recently. There seems to be a change in timescale for Glow2. This was discovered: View Notice – Public Contracts Scotland which is a strange way to find out about the change, especially after Mike Russell’s initial announcement how Glow will be developed in September 2012 on YouTube. That announcement and the following summit last October lead me to expect more regular and open engagement.


On monday Charlie Love sent me an interesting link and which I then discussed tonight on Radio EDUtalk, after which Charlie tweeted:

Glew Tweet

What is Glew

Glew is beta software of a single sign-on framework which can be used to integrate Google Apps for Education and other services such as WordPress Blogs, Media Wiki, Moodle and many more. This is a test site so please accept that authentication and users may be removed during testing.

So pretty much a glow 2 style site with a lot of tools I’d expect from Glow 2. Although a Beta you get a really good idea of how this would work. The most interesting feature, to me was the expandability of the site, I asked Charlie about the possibility of adding a wiki to the feature set, in 15 minutes he had added a MediaWiki (the software used in Wikipedia!)


I highly recommend you pop over to Glew and have a look around.

Hopefully the 15 months that the Government have to work on glow will let them build something like this, if I was the Cabinet Secretary I’d give Charlie a call.

Drew Naace tm win

A while ago I got a tweet out of the blue from Drew Buddie, @digitalmaverick. He had proposed TeachMeet for a Naace ICT Impact awards. As Drew is part of naace he though it better that someone else should represent TeachMeet. As I’ve been hanging round TeachMeet since the start he asked me if I’d like to do it. I was of course honoured. At some point I had to write a wee bit about TM to support Drew’s bid. TeachMeet was been shortlisted for a Naace ICT Impact Awards. This was in the Collaborative group project, In recognition of the way TM is a radical form of CPD and is transformative.

The next step, I then found out, was to produce a short 3 minute video to support the bid. I though it best to spread the work and put out a call to crowd source some media

This was both a great idea, and a daft one. Great because I got a whole lot of great quote, pointer to blog posts, flicker sets, the odd bit of audio etc. Daft because I then had to pull it all together. There is no way I could explain the whole of TeachMeet in on 3 minute video, but I did the best I could in the time I had. I would have really liked a lot more time to work on this, hopefully judged for the idea rather than the execution. Click the image below to


Naace Impact Awards 2012 Winner

I got an invite to the Naace awards, but given distance, work etc I could not make. I did watch twitter on Friday night.

Joe John tm Tweets

The 1000s of winners is the main point, the power of TM has proved, in opinion, not to have been the individuals who started driving it, the ones who have picked up the baton and seem to lead now but to be the crowd.


To which I replied:


In one way I was really disappointed not to be at the awards, but that is not the point. Drew picked up the award (nice tie) but there were 1000s of winners. anyone could have knocked up a video or turned up and picked up the award, better by far is walking into a buzzing room, seeing old pals, new folk grabbing a beer and waiting to be “learn something new, be amazed, amused and enthused”.

Future of TeachMeet

I and many others have blogged about concerns over Future of TeachMeet. I remember being part of one 5 hour twitter marathon, which mostly proved twitter is not a medium for debate;-) I’ve also been part of several attempts to straighten out TeachMeet, reorganise the wiki and even to protect the brand.

I don’t think any of this did any good, organising TeachMeets is like herding cats, fun but pointless. At the moment TeachMeets is serving several different purposes. It will continue to do so.

For me the goodness of TeachMeet is the serendipity, disruption and sense of subversion. This might not last, sometimes TeachMeets seem over organised, over sponsored sometimes they hit the spot, your milage may vary. Well worth joining in and having fun.

chancery knocker

This was the first of the EDUtalk Conversations which are part of EDUtalk. You can read about the plan on the EDUtalk Conversations page. There were half a dozen or so folk signed up to come along but it ended up with just 3 of us: David @parslad, Olivia @owexelstein and myself.

Although we were initially surprised at the low turnout we ended up EDUtalking for four hours. I, for one, had a great time. learnt a lot and came away with some food for thought.

The event was held at the Chaplaincy of Strathclyde University which was a great space. There were sets of couches and easy chairs and given a bigger number it would have been easy to split into sub groups an d use the space flexibly.

I felt there were subtle differences meeting in a neutral space: not some ones school and early in the day: not a pub. I felt that this, and the fact the event was due t run for a couple of hours with expansion time available, made the conversation open ended and relaxed.

This conversation ranged over a lot of topics, circling, ict, glow and challenging behaviour a few times. We were each invited to bring some topic to the table, I am not too sure if we covered Olivia’s or David’s but mine was talked about and I saw linked ideas pop up in other discussions.

Bbc Micro

I was thinking about the way good teaching or classroom ideas bubble up, spread a little and go away again. My example was blogging which I think we are now on the third or fourth wave or bubble. I wonder why something that seems to be a great idea fades and then is rediscovered. Olivia delighted me by recounting using a BBC computer game embedded in her topic work back in 1992 (I was surprised she was old enough to be teaching way back then). I got the picture of the BBC being used as one part of a rich topic. Obviously Olivia’s practice continues to be enriched by here experience (check out here blog) but the question remains why this is not now standard practice? It can’t be lack of hardware as Olivia (I presume) would only have had one BBC for her class.

We also talked about the possibility of other EDUtalk Conversations and wondered if it might be better badging these TeachMeet 365 as well. THe idea share a lot of common ground, especially the idea of avoiding sponsorship. David has collected a few free locations that could be used and we could see all sorts of possibilities.

I certainly hope to see more of these events and am kean the idea spreads.

Teachers Doing

TeachMeet has been shortlisted for a Naace ICT Impact Awards. This is in the Collaborative group project, In recognition of the way this radical form of CPD is transformative.

For one reason or another my name has been attached as representative. Obviously I can take no credit for TeachMeet or its impact, by dint of the fact that I’ve been in the fringes of TeachMeet since its inception I can, with a ton of help make some sort of representative.

My history with TeachMeet is long but not deep: I’ve attended a fair number, in the flesh and virtually; I’ve presented at a few; compared one; provided a bit of casual tech support and blogged a bit.

After TeachMeet was shortlisted I received this email:

All shortlisted nominees are being invited to submit a short edited video (of no more than 3 minutes) – perhaps working with their pupils or colleagues – which demonstrates the impact of the work that you’ve done. Please note that entries will be judged on the basis of impact rather than video quality.

I am quite relieved the TeachMeet’s impact will judged on my video editing, but realise that I am not capable of demonstrating the impact of TeachMeet.

I though the best way to do this would be to crowdsource the video. Given the rather short time frame for a collaborative project (All videos must be submitted to Naace by Friday 3rd February 2012) I think it best to keep it reasonably simple.

Last night at BETT2012 I didn’t even make TeachMeet due to my travel arrangements. I quick recoded a audioBoo and tweeted a request to the organisers to play it. The audio briefly explains my idea:

Impact of TeachMeet (mp3)

My idea is this: TeachMeeters send me some images, text, slides, cartoons, audio snippets or even micro videos showing the impact of TeachMeet. I mash them up into a 3 minute video.

We have 3 minutes to fill, so you should probably keep audio and video shortish. I’ll feel free to chop up anything sent.

Please focus on the impact

How to contribute

  • Send me the media
  • Send me a link to the media
  • Tweet a string of text with the hashtag #TeachMeetImpact
  • Leave a comment here with a link or text

Tweets with #TeachMeetImpact will be grabbed by ifttt and saved on my delicious account.

You can send me a link via email if you know my email, DM me if you want that. or just DM me the link or tweet and tag it #TeachMeetImpact

Send me the media via email (DM me if you want that).

I am john johnston (johnjohnston) on Twitter

Given the time frame I’ll need to get started ASAP. Please forward this post on to as many teachmeeters as you know, (I don’t usually ask for publicity or blog posts but given TeachMeet has grown way beyond my network I need a bit of help)

Ollie Best cpd

As usual at this time of year I’ve been looking back over the posts. In the past I’ve tried to summarise a few, but this year I though I’d take a different view.

Posts Per Month

Posts per month

In May I started posting interesting finds via one of my posterous blogs, these are shown in yellow. My posting to my main posterous blog ( has decreased this year and turned into a stream of iphone photo walks, but I’ve been posting a lot more to enviable stuff ( which in turn gets auto posted here, these posts haven’t garnered many comments but they get the odd retweet and as I enjoy posting them I am assuming they are worth doing;-)

Comments are down I think, this has never been a blog with lots of comments but except for the odd post not much discussion has taken place this year. I don’t really write for comments, a lot of posts here probably drop between stools (eg code to weird for educators and to poor quality for developers) and have a very small interest group


Titles 440

Putting eduscotict and glow together would probably make my two main interests in the year glow(and its development) and edutalk. I was interested to see that update stands out.


Tags 440

The tags point to a obsession with iOS devices this year. I’d bet most of the video tag will be on iphone posts.

The stand out tag is community which reflect the stand out tile words, eduscotict and edutalk. The second biggest tag in this blogs history, classroom is dropping back as is my most frequent tag blogging.

ds106 is starting to rear its head, I expect it will grow as I learn next year joining in the digital story telling class.

I hope eduscotict will be growing a bit next session as glow develops into its next stage, I hope too that my posts about glow can move from critical friend to fan;-)

I though with the previous post I’d finished blogging for the year, but this is too good to keep.

This morning firing off the EDUtalk bot brought in a couple of new podcast episodes one from iPadio and one from AudioBoo.

I is always interesting seeing what comes in to an open invite and the flow of posts on EDUtalk comes and goes, some times a trickle and occasionally a flood, I didn’t expect much over the holiday period.

The two posts today are both interesting and exciting in themselves and as an indication of a couple of recent branches that have developed on EDUtalk.

Hack Rap by Alan O’Donohoe

One Hack Rap by Alan O’Donohoe (teknoteacher) is a rap boo to attract pupils to computing, Alan has a great series of boos about introducing programming to pupils. His mission to TEACH COMPUTING not secretarial skills. Alan is Co-founder of the very exciting Hack To The Future. This hacking theme has been popping up fairly frequently on EDUtalk,for example Talking #Hackasaurus with @iamjessklein at #HiveLondon #MozFest by Doug Belshaw and a lot of Leon Cych‘s edutalk input. Leon has been one of the major EDUtalk contributors and posting a ton of fascinating eduhacking stuff there and on the Learn 4 Life site (where Hacking, mentoring and rapid prototyping as new models for learning is one of my favourites).

MAT4ESL iDeaCast 04 by Scottlo

MAT4ESL iDeaCast 04 by Scottlo this is Scottlo‘s second contribution to EDUtalk. The phlog has bee echoing round my brain all morning lots of exciting ideas for all sort of things. The Scottlo Radio Blog comes from Japan, Scott is a contributor to DS196 and involved in ds106 Radio which of course provided inspiration and instruction for Radio Edutalk. David and I have been starting to plan with Scott about possible collaboration between Radio EDUtalk and ds106 Radio.

As I blogged a couple of posts ago, I am going to try joining in with ds106 after the new year, it looks like leading to some very interesting places.

Both of these posts link nicely, in my mind, both linked deeply to ideas of hacking education both philosophically and practically. Hack To The Future has the same spirit as the mashup culture of ds106. I really hope we can get most of this in 2012.

I’ve deliberately not embedded the audio here but I hope lots of folk go to EDUtalk and have a listen.