I’ve spent a fair bit of time mulling over this post: Laurie O’Donnell » Glowing into the Future and writing a comment. This turned into more of a post than a comment.

Laurie’s post was originally published in the TESS Glowing into the future may be easier said than done – News – TES and I am grateful that he also blogged it as I don’t read the TES.

I am pulling some quotes out of context, and order, and adding my 2d worth, if you have not already done so I recommend reading the post.

It is interesting to get the perspective of someone who is at the other end of the ranks than myself and who has a different viewpoint and a lot more knowledge of the bigger picture than I have.

The mainstream tools that are available free on the internet are fine, but to be usable in an educational context they should work off a single directory. It is also important that your stuff can be found easily irrespective of where and how it was created. Culture, confidence, practice, behaviours and engagement are also important but so is having the right tools, in the right place at the right time. Today’s open tools far too often become tomorrow’s commercial services. In many free services, such as Facebook, the user is less ‘the customer’ and more ‘the product’, with their personal data (preferences, pictures, contacts and habits) up for sale to the highest bidder. Not so bad if you sign-up for this as a private individual but perhaps not something the Scottish Government should be doing on behalf of our children.

I too fear the idea of our pupils becoming the product for someone to sell. I also like the single directory/signon, this must be made as simple as facebook (logon with facebook) but as secure as glow.

The Cabinet Secretary calls for a solution that is not based on ‘big companies investing in big projects’ but all the options on the eduscotict wiki appear to centre on either a Google or Microsoft based cloud solution.

I’ve long be of the opinion that a ScotEduTube would be no bad thing.I’d like to see Glow become a centre connecting the best of breed free and paid for stuff hosted on national servers. When I think of using Open Tools, I think of things like wordpress, or an open source wiki that can be hosted and controlled, rather than using services that become tomorrow’s commercial services.

The best thing about Glow, in my opinion, was it got around the various worries about safety and access to tools that beleaguer the use of ICT in the classroom. When blogs were added to glow there was no need for a discussion as to the validity of using them as they carried the stamp of national approval.

Everybody that I know has been arguing for many years that Glow needed to change radically, despite the fact that it already incorporates some of the same open source collaborative tools that will feature prominently as part of the new approach.

These tools surely were added because we argued that glow needed to change radically. Unfortunately they way they were added was fairly clunky and limited the tools. For example the blogs are limited to a handful of themes and plugins. The way that they are connected to ones glow account precluded the use of the MetaWebBlogApi and there use on mobile devices.

Given that, the folk who I’ve introduced blogs to have mainly needed help with the initial setup in the portal rather than working the blog once it has been setup.

I might be coming over as a glow naysayer but I am not, Glow has been my main occupation for the last few years, I’ve created a ton of groups, helped and trained lots of teachers and logged on 100s of pupils. I appreciate the fact that glow gave ict in education a huge push and was well resourced though the local and national governments.

We might not have reached the ambition of having every student, every teacher and every parent using Glow every day but the level of engagement dwarfs the number of people who have contributed to the largely disappointing #eduscotict wiki that was set-up following the announcement.

It might be a wee bit disingenuous to compare the levels of engagement of a short term wiki with a long term project that had a huge effort from LAs across Scotland and with many LTS & RM folk facilitating this engagement. Given the time frame, the fact that most Scottish teachers have never interacted on a public website or edited a Wiki I think we got the sort of response I’d expect.

I encouraged all the local ICT co-ordinators here to contribute, none, to my knowledge did. Some told me they had tried but found the level of technical language impenetrable and off-putting. Although many teachers have used glow to facilitate their children’s learning there are comparatively few who engage in online discussions inside or outside glow. If you compared the number of teachers who had contributed to a glow discussion or forum in the same timeframe as the #eduscotict wiki it might be a fairer comparison?

I do worry, as I believe Laurie does, that this #eduscotict initiative is moving very quickly. I do worry that a slanted picture of needs will emerge. To open up this debate to colleagues across Scotland would need more channels that seem to have been provided.

I wonder if this lack of participation, and inclusion of view for all sectors may set up the same category of problem as Glow 1. To my eyes (very much a particular perspective) the conceit and concept of glow was outstanding, the work done in bringing in LAs across Scotland was groundbreaking. The problems arose from the implementation, the software chosen. I wonder how long the decision makers tested sharepoint, I wonder how many teachers were invited to test, in real classrooms, how it was supposed to work, or were the decisions taken on demos, walkthroughs and pre built examples. I hope that when deciding on the new solution the decision makers test things at same time as full-time teaching, I wonder if they can do it in the time available?.

The way #EDUScotICT seems to panning out is that we are getting more opinion from troops on the ground, but perhaps we are getting it from a quite small sub-set of these troops: the specialists, the ones who are experienced in using online tools the believers who will go the extra mile to get thing working. The challenge for the government is to expand the debate.

Although the eduscotict / ICT Summit has overtaken this post, and I’ve probably changed my mind on some of the above, I thought I’d post his before starting to think about this afternoon’s discussion.

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