A few new things in #GlowBlogs
Themes, plugins and embed more external content #GlowScot
A few new things in #GlowBlogs
Themes, plugins and embed more external content #GlowScot
An owner of a team (a teacher) was muted and couldn’t post in any channels within the team. There’s no option to mute or unmute a team owner, so she couldn’t chat with her class.
This was handy. Driving me crazy.
Over the summer I am working on #GlowBlogs help site, improving accessibility, clearing out out of date content etc. Any suggestions for improvement very welcome. #GlowScot @GlowScot
I didn’t find the lack of video for pupils a problem during daily lockdown classes. This post goes over the reason why video might be a problem and lists some ideas for compensating.
also keeping in mind some people are voice shy, and some people have noisy home environments
Although from a higher ed perspective it all rings true from a primary perspective.
“We’re noticing more students shutting off video feed in gatherings ... all sorts of possible reasons but students grappling with the visibility of poverty is the one I worry about the most, as well as who gets ‘seen and valued’ in Distance Learning settings ... #nwp #clmooc”
This is interesting in the context of @GlowScot
decision not to support pupil video in conferences. #glowscot
The new Office app simplifies how you work on a phone by combining Word, Excel, and PowerPoint into one app and adds mobile-first features so you can get more done all from one app. This app maintains all the functionality of the existing Word, Excel, and PowerPoint mobile apps but requires far less phone storage than using three separate apps. New features leveraging the camera help you create content in uniquely mobile ways. Additionally, the app includes a new Actions tab so you can accomplish many common mobile tasks without needing to switch between apps.
Works with Glow’s O365 education accounts.
I don’t use office apps on my phone very often except for office lens.
This looks like an interesting development.
The quote above was grabbed with the Image to text function. This seems less powerful than Lens (no immersive reader) but allows you to copy text without a trip to OneDrive/Word which is handy. For my use, as opposed to pupil’s, it should be more useful.
— Derek P Robertson (@derekrobertson) October 3, 2016
Yesterday Derek Robertson tweeted out a screenshot of the 1000th post syndicated into the UoDEdushare | The central sharing hub for #UoDedu teacher education students at the University of Dundee.
One of the features of blogging I was passionate (or a pin in the neck) about getting into Glow Blogs was some sort of syndication. This allows posts from a set of site top be pulled into a central site while respecting the original post and it owner (by linking back and pointing to the original as the source).
Derek has been tireless in pursuing his vision of the students working in this way, publicly sharing their learning. It is a marvel to see in action.
I used the same idea for a couple of small projects last year but am thrilled to see this in a much bigger scale.
It is also wonderful that so many student teachers are not just exposed to technology in a fly-by way but it is incorporated into their learning. I’ll be interested to see the effect this has of using tech, and in particular blogs, in schools across Scotland in the next few years.
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
RM rep told us last week 9% teacher login rate. Yes work to showcase Glow but Glow Meet just wrong for this. https://t.co/z0QhRLFBWh
— Derek P Robertson (@derekrobertson) August 27, 2016
This got picked up by James McEnaney (@MrMcEnaney) and I and other got pinged:
— Mr M (@athole) August 28, 2016
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.
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.
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.
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.
First, the 9% is a wee bit out, a recent FOI request leads to real stats:
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.
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:
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Users have control over who the Sway is shared with and if they will allow their Sway to be duplicated by others.
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:
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.
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.