Ironically just after my last post I had a very interesting and useful time on twitter today. Mostly about Glow and GlowPlus and Glew

I’ve collected the tweets here: #glow blogs – #glow365 – #glowplus #glew (with tweets) · johnjohnston · Storify

Interesting points include:

  • Glow blogs will be moving from wordpress to sharepoint. My worries is that they will then go back to wordpress with glowPlus, I am nor worried about WordPress, I believe it is the best of breed (see next post) but to many unnecessary changes in too short a time is not good.
  • Charlie Love can add something to glew as you think about it.
  • It would be possible to bypass 365 and use glew as way of getting from glow to GlowPlus, I don’t see that as being official enough for Local Authorities.

If you are interested in the glow/glew/glowplus events have a read of the tweets.

Jaye commented here:

My other thoughts are about the need for anything at all. Are we past the age of intranets? Should we concentrate on disseminating good practice and let teachers use all the miriad tools available now and in the future

(Jaye had already expressed this sentiment on her blog).

It is a compelling idea. If I was still in the classroom I am pretty sure I’d be happy with using some of these tool myself rather than a set of nationally provided ones. When I was in the classroom I tended to use unconventional tools, self hosted pivot blogs and a pmwiki for example. I was happy researching and choosing what I needed.

However there are a couple of problems with this approach.

  1. Services are often blocked in schools. I recall building A flickr CC search toy so that my bloggers could easily attribute pictures for their posts. Unfortunately I could not persuade the Local Authority that Flickr was a suitable site for children.
  2. time: I was naturally inclined to spend a lot of time on the web, researching, setting up and playing around with the tools. Many teachers do not have that interest, time or sometimes the confidence in their ict skills.

These two problems were partially tackled by Glow. Glow provided a set of tools, eventually including blogs and wikis, that were otherwise unavailable in some Local Authorities. Glow also did. A great deal to encourage the penetration of ICT into the curriculum. Partially by giving teacher access to the tools but also by proving a fair bit of cash and other resources for training. The national push to get folk using Glow filtered via the Local Authorities into schools and classrooms.

I also believe that being a member of a community can be useful. A sense of being in it together, helping each other and having fellow practitioners with similar experiences and challenges could be provided by a national intranet. Although I am fairly indifferent to political nationalism I do feel identified as a Scottish educator.

Jaye also commented:

So far though, I can’t see how we could better Glew, or something similar.

No argument form me there.

Blogged with a hand knitted system

Education Secretary Michael Russell has appointed the Chief Scientific Adviser Professor Muffy Calder to convene an ICT Excellence Group to consider the future development of the schools’ intranet ‘Glow’.

As previously indicated, the new ICT excellence group will draw on the experience and expertise of end-users, and educational technology experts to scope the long-term user-centred future of Glow.

from: Engage for Education » Archive » Glow – Schools IT Excellence Group set up

The list of members was posted yesterday. There are some great choices, personally the inclusion of Charlie Love give me great hope for the technology behind glow being flexible and adaptive.

I was a wee bit disappointed that mainstream primary education was not represented. I’ve also noticed, from the twitters a few other omissions.


ICT Excellence Group – Am I the only one really disappointed in lack of Primary on this group?? We were pioneers surely ??


ICT Excellence Group – Who on this group has a thorough insight into additional support needs and the role of ICT in support?


Very blinkered. There is more to ICT than Glow. Too many are excluded from Glow. FE, as usual, not represented.


ICT has massive positive effect on ASN pupils but their needs are different great to see teachers on panel can we ASN as well?


Make up and balance seems wrong somehow. No problem with those on group but it needs more balance, spread & depth

Of all the folk on the list I know, or have read/listened too, I would not want any to be omitted but the list could certainly do with some additions.

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.

A while back I posted about a system for Simplifying the glow logon I was developing. Hopefully some folk in North Lanarkshire will be using this next term.

Yesterday I was thinking about another way to improve the glow logon screen again along the lines suggested by Sean Farrell – logging into glow at TeachMeet SLF 2010

This is a very simple way to ‘improve’ the glow logon, works in Safari and Firefox and is ready now. It works by using a JavaScript bookmarklet which can be added to your browsers bookmark bar, clicking it on the glow logon page results in:

  1. The font size of the username & password fields is increased.
  2. If you hover the mouse over the password field it will show you what you have typed into the field.

Here is a wee video showing how to add the bookmarklet to a browser and using it on the logon screen.

If you would like the bookmarklet you can get it from

Or just drag this link to your bookmarks: Big Log On

It should be easy enough to make this work in Internet explorer too.

At the moment the bookmarklet just loads this simple script.

Glow has added wikis to it list of features.

What is a wiki? (from wikipedia):

A wiki is a page or collection of Web pages designed to enable anyone who accesses it to contribute or modify content. Wikis are often used to create collaborative websites and to power community websites. The collaborative encyclopaedia Wikipedia is one of the best-known wikis.

Examples of wikis edited by pupils( not glow ones):

  1. australiatopic
  2. A Broken World
  3. Year 7 Mathex
  4. Sandaig Primary Wiki

Background on using wikis, blog posts by Neil Winton (Perth Acedemy):

  1. SLF08 – Wikis Part 1
  2. SLF08 – Wikis Part 2

Example of wikis used by teachers to share resources ( not glow ones):

Sample Glow Wiki with information on wikis which you are free to edit (glow logon required)

Wiki category of Glow Help blog

The Glow folk have started a Scotland Schools Wiki

“Over time we hope that this wiki will build into a ‘Domesday Book’ of schools in Scotland in the 21st century.”

Any glow user can add pages for their school and edit pages

Nice things about wikis:

  • collaboration
  • tracking of edits you can see you did what
  • easy to roll back to previous version is someone makes a mistake.

Best thing about glow wikis: Much easier than glow pages to edit, think a Text Editor that works.

NB. posted in annoyance!

A while ago I took the time to fill in the survey on the Glow Futures home page, and had a quick look at the forums. Like most other folk in education I am quite busy but intended to add my 2 pence worth. I’ve revisited the site a few times but quite often it loads slowly or just show me a blank page.

Today as I am on holiday I though I’d take the time to add something to the debate. After a frustration half hour I though it worth posting my experience here, as I doubt many folk will have the patience to read about it on the forum if their experience is anything like mine.

On the forum I again found I have to frequently refresh the page after looking at a blank one while browsing the forum. This is quite off putting. I did find a topic that I though I could add to: How can Glow become more appealing?. As I went through the process of posting my post changed to become a log of the process I had to go through to post to the forum (too much recursion?). Here is what I posted:

Alex Duff said:

What needs to change in Glow so that it becomes more appealing to more teachers?


Although this forum is not in glow it feels glow like to me:

  1. Arrive on forum page (often need to refresh to see anything)
  2. Click login
  3. Taken to a login page which advises I login via glow
  4. Click glow login button
  5. shibboleth page appears
  6. redirect to glow
  7. login
  8. shibboleth page appears
  9. redirected to my profile
  10. click forum
  11. Read a post & click quote to reply
  12. quote doesn’t appear
  13. Switch browsers and repeat steps 1 to 11

I’ve forgotten what I was going to type.

Admittedly this is a worst case picture, but not unlike the number of clicks needed to do something in glow.

Trying to explain to primary 3 that they need to click and hold the back button to skip past shibboleth so that they can add their purple mash creation to the glow group that they started from is not always easy.

Just resized the text field I am typing in, now can’t scroll field have to use arrow keys to go back up and check what I typed.

On the blog issue I am happy enough with wordpress, I don’t think you can run tumbler on your own server so it could not be part of glow. But everyone will have their favourite blog platform, mine is posterous:-)

This session most of my day to day work has involved glow, I’ve been creating content in glow, training staff and worked in classrooms with glow in demonstration lessons and team teaching. I still love the idea of glow, the conceit (in a good way) of having a national intranet providing a fantastic toolkit for teaching and learning is wonderful indeed. I am quite familiar with a lot of the glow groups tools and have been able to bend them to my needs fairly successfully, I’ve seen teachers create great learning opportunities with glow but…

A lot of folk I talk to have experience with glow similar to mine with the forum, things are hard to use, this will put off the less technophile. If I’d not had a bit of time on my hands I’d have given up on contributing to the future of glow on the forum. As it was due to my difficulty with the usability of the forum my contribution is pretty inarticulate and fragmentary. I wonder how many valuable contributors have been put off?

  • I listened to EDUtalkr online panel discussions about Scottish education: #1 Glow the day after the live discussion, it really deserves a blog entry to itself, but I don’t have the time. The audio is not great but the discussion is interesting, lots of agreement and shared ground from folk I didn’t necessarily expect to agree. If you are a scottish educator, interested in glow, and have not listened to it I suggest you do.
  • I’ve started collecting html5 links on delicious, troutcolor’s html5 Bookmark, some very interesting stuff going on that suggests that long term lack of flash might not hold apple back.
  • At work I’ve been updating the webpages that support Apple RTC courses.
  • Heard my first cuckoo here
  • Yesterday I went for a wee walk in Glen Douglas, not good weather for photos but I’ve mapped some: Glen Douglas 24.04.10

A while ago (2 years, time flies!) I blogged some GarageBand plans for making simple music in class. I used it a lot at Sandaig, resulting in the Sandaig jukebox.

I’ve been using the technique again in developing some glow ict groups in North Lanarkshire.

This has given me the chance to work with some pupils again and to improve my instructions. Yesterday I decided to try and screencast the procedure and the result is show above. The process let me work a bit more with ScreenFlow, which is a lovely screencast editor. I am still working on my presentation skills which results in a few odd pauses and repetitions, but I though the movie worth publishing.

It also gave me a opportunity to test our Apple Wiki Server to publish the screencast: Simple Music with GarageBand. The Apple Wiki server provides one of the easiest to use podcast publishers I have seen, although configuring and theming the wikis and blog is a bit tricky. I was lucky to have one of the North Lanarkshire network guys set up the server and get me started. I am looking forward to finding a school or two who would be interested in some podcasting.

Some of the experience in themeing the wiki helped me in setting up some glow groups, I found some interesting ways to get glow to do what I want and hope to get the chance to talk about this for 7 minutes at TeachmeetSLF09 on Glow Hacking on Wednesday night.

My blogging seems to have hit a all time low. I think this is mainly because I used to blog about my classroom practice (with some iPhone, web tech and the odd AppleScript thrown in). I was never one for educational theory I am afraid. I now don’t have a classroom to practise in and blog about.

My more technical posts have never been popular (judging by comments) and fall between absolute beginner and competent so don’t have that wide an audience;-)

Anyway I am going to start a wee Glow post and see what happens.

Glow 2blogpost

I’ve blogged about glow before but never had the chance to use it in the classroom. Over the last few weeks I’ve watched North Lanarkshire teachers and pupils start to use glow in practise and have been involved in helping with some of the training.

So far I’ve seen glow have a remarkable effect on some teaching and learning in the first schools to get on board. Teachers have been setting work on glow, children posting work and commenting on other pupils work, locally and further afield. Classes have joined and contributed to National groups and in one case I know off a teacher created a national group within about a week of joining glow. There seems to be a real appetite for getting children involved in all sorts of online collaborating.

One of the favourite activities seem to be the use of Marratech video conferencing through Glow Meet. This is a little ironic as North Lanarkshire has run its own Marratech server for several years. Although this has been used for many projects I think there has been a significant increase in video conferencing in the first couple of months of glow.

I am beginning to think that the most important aspect glow is the way that online collaboration and communication receive promotion and support. There is top down encouragement that is being met by great enthusiasm, almost as if folk have been waiting for the tools unaware that they were already available.

Watching folk take their first steps in glow also highlights some problems with glow and perhaps some pointers for Glow 2.


Glow Password Change

I’ve watch a fair number of people click the cancel button to start all over again by accident. There are a number of similar examples.
The editing of pages in glow is quite a laborious process compared to many web 2 applications there are many examples of slicker interfaces. Compare adding an rss feed to glow and to, say netvibes. Editing information in glow usually seems to involved lots or page reloads and then some scrolling.


Groups are hierarchical and difficult to find, interesting groups may be buried inside others. The ability to search group descriptions and the tagging of groups would help this. Some sort of way of filtering and organising groups is needed.
Recently I found a group discussion in glow asking for suggestions for glow 2. I posted a couple of comments but there is very little discussion on the board, perhaps because folk cannot find it?

Data Exchange

One of the strengths of Web 2 applications is the way many of them allow syndication and distribution of data, I can have flickr update in my blog, recent posts from blogs listed in a wiki and so on. At the moment RSS in glow relies on 3rd party scripts or widgets. The is no way, as far as I know, of getting information out of glow in an automatic way. It is hard t ofollow the work of groups you are interested in and no simple ways to share what a group are doing.
Some of this is due to the overriding concern for security but glow does allow for public facing html webpages so the idea of some of glow being open to the public is not beyond the pale.

Wish List

It would be good if Glow 2 was in some way modular, allowing users and groups to add popular and useful open source components, making them private or open to the world. So a group could have a wordpress blog, a phpBB discussion forum, a choice of cms, wikis VLEs etc. etc. Adding the ability for glow to update and add modules would also make Glow a work in progress, in perpetual Beta, rather than a fixed toolset.
I don’t think this is to far fetched, at the moment glow will allow secure access to lots of external content. If this could be expand to give users a choice of the tools it could be wonderful it would help with some of my GUI and data exchange wishes too.

2 Stars & a Wish

We, in Scotland, have an amazing opportunity in Glow which could be even better.

Basic 5 Point Gold Star Beveled The vision of a national collaboration and communication space for education..

Basic 5 Point Gold Star BeveledThe promotion and support of this collaboration and communication..

BubblesWhen the dust settles we have the best tools for the job, and tools that we can swap at will as better ones come along..

I’d be interested to know what other users have on their glow 2 wishlist? Or if you know where the best place to discuss this would be?

Top image with this post’s text.