Glow, SETT, TeachMeet06

Well, after yesterday's experiences at SETT, I had it in mind to write a blog post entitled "Glow vs Teachmeet06". But now that I'm home, I discover that John@Sandaig has already written a post with this title here.

I feel rather more stongly than John about the difference between the two (either that or he's more discrete than I am!). I think the Glow launch was a real let-down, for several reasons.

Firstly, it was obvious that Glow was supposed to be ready for launch at this event in some form, but it wasn't. The overall feeling was of vapourware.

Secondly, nobody speaking on the stage seemed to be convincingly excited or passionate about what Glow is offering (although the dance performance was great fun). We saw the same old faces from Masterclass looking rather tired and stressed. No disrespect to them, but I think we need some fresh blood if Glow is going to have a real buzz about it (this is why I initially didn't put myself forward as a Glow mentor). A critical moment as far as I am concerned was the point at which a speaker said "we will be in touch with you soon. We'll be talking to your authorities to organise how that happens". WHAT??? Digital immigrant thinking. Why not say "here's the address of the Wiki", "here's the Google Group we've set up in the interim", or even "please start blogging, and tag your posts 'glowscotland' so we can put together a feed"? Glow has potential, but I think that the really exciting stuff will happen outside Glow unless it can really pick up on the amazing stuff that's going on right now.

Speaking of which, I saw the future at TeachMeet06 (good summary on David's blog here). I saw passionate, convinced and convincing speakers who are actually walking the walk right now with classes, using Flickr, Second Life, blogging, podcasting, JumpCut etc etc.

To end on a positive note, if you are a Glow mentor - get blogging and tag it "glowscotland". I look forward to entering into a dialogue with you directly. Why wait for LTS to catch up?


  1. I think LTS got a real awakening to the potential of 'this world' when they saw how many people and how well we self-organised ourselves. As someone who works in LTS I also know that we are making huge efforts to encourage more blogging, podcasting and wiki-ing. It's an organisation - organisations always take more time than individuals. But we are moving. Quicker now than ever before ;-)

  2. I relate totally to your frustration..... it is like you've discovered soemthing fantastic, labour saving, that damn it, just makes more sense, and you want other people to discover it too, you want them to share in your excitement.

    I can't speak for the whole organisation because they wont let me ;-) but I agree with Ewan - I know that people expect LTS to be leading them but in truth it is a collaberative process - we need to know what people expect, what they need, what they want, we need constant and open dialogue - just dive in there with your suggestions, share your expertese - because there are people listening and afterall we are all aiming for the same thing( I just jumped over and spoke to the glow guys about their plans for creating a community for the mentors to share ideas and questions - they are looking at a blog, at wikis and other collaberative tools - it is on its way, but like Ewan says orgainsation just can't move as fast as individuals.....

    Patience is a virtue we are all learning to master

  3. Hi Nova. Sounds like an interesting job you've got there ( although grass is always greener....)

    I think I'm realistic about what a big organisation like LTS is capable of achieving - an awful lot, but in a much more measured and conservative way than a passionate individual would.

    I'm 100% behind the Glow initiative, and am delighted to hear that they are planning to offer modern tools for us to collaborate as mentors.

    The aims of Glow are vast, and mulit-tiered. It seems at the moment as if a huge amount of this is going exactly right: we are putting lots of money into bandwith and caching, and have settled on the web as the platform. It is a shame in this context that the launch for Glow mentors was such a damp squib.

    My original post on this topic, composed at midnight on Wednesday, was much more strident ( I wonder why?!). Something along the lines of "the revolution is happening. LTS can't control it, nor can they do much to help it, other than by encouraging an IT culture which gives practitioners the freedom to innovate". A little harsh, on reflection! LTS sets the tone, and that is a very important thing. Glow is also providing us with tools upon which we can rely - flickr could close down tomorrow!

  4. Robert,

    I am, as they say, biased, but I think some of your points deserve at least a mild riposte from someone who has probably been closer to SSDN/Glow than anyone over the past few years. This is in no way intended as criticism - we are all absolutely entitled to our opinions, but I hope you will understand my urge to put my own perspective on your views above.

    I also appreciate your note of optimism and your self-evident enthusiasm for the overall notion of Glow - it is interesting and gratifying for me to see that, whatever individual concerns people might have about aspects of the programme, there is an obvious groundswell of commitment to its aims for our schools over the next few years.

    In no particular order:

    ...there are actually lots of new faces involved in Glow, but there are also, of course, lots of Masterclassers too - Scotland just isn't that big a country, and Scottish education is an even smaller country (village?). When we need a big group of people willing to take the lead in ICT in education, it often falls to the same people to push themselves forward. When you look around, you do see many of the same faces, but look closer and you will start to see the new faces too.

    ...Glow is definitely not vapourware, although it is still at an interim stage of development - but we will see the rest of the integrated package arrive in very short order indeed, between now and April/May next year. For an undertaking on this scale that is actually pretty good going - remember, no one else anywhere is trying to do what we are doing, putting all these apps and services onto the Web in a single package. To date we have the core portal, and we already saw the early versions of the integration of the video/audio conferencing, virtual whiteboard, application sharing and SMS at one of the demos on the LTS stand on Thursday. There is still quite a bit of work to do even on this last set of tools alone, but we're confident enough to have shown them to the wider public last week

    ...the 'launch' at this year's SETT was always going to be the start of the process of raising awareness of the project amongst the wider teaching audience, not the introduction of the whole package as such - I helped draw up the plans for the process over a year ago and I can vouch for that. I've known since I started managing the project that the hardest part to get right is communication, especially when the audience is so big and so diverse.

    ...and however useful we all think wikis and blogs might be, when it comes to complex project management (and, believe me, Glow is a big, complex project involving a frightening number of workstreams and issues with a huge range of stakeholders) we simply cannot do without detailed and lengthy face to face contact much of the time, especially with the local authorities. You're right, though, to expect much greater use of the Web 2.0 technologies and this will happen over the next few months, as both Ewan and Mova have said.

    Anyway, hope you don't mind me giving my tuppence-worth here.

    I like the blog!! Like you, I host my own Wordpress blog, so it's good to come across a colleague that I might be able to bounce the odd issue or problem off on occasions.



  5. Hi John. I'm delighted to have one of the main architects of SSDN/Glow appearing on my blog - please go ahead and criticise! If I were you I'm sure I would ;) When I met you at the ELC IT Policy day I was particularly impressed by the emphasis you put on basing Glow on open standards. I think that may be the one most important thing that Glow has got right.

    There's nothing in your "mild riposte" that I disagree with John (apologies to readers hoping for a screaming argument!) - thanks for taking the time to put straight my "from-the-gut" initial post. I'm aware as a software developer myself that there's no worse insult than "vapourware" - sorry about that.

    Without wanting to sound like Uriah Heep, I do realise my relative insignificance in the huge program that is Glow. But having said that, I would hope that those now in charge would be grateful for some honest feedback about perceptions at the chalk face. There genuinely was a sense of disappointment amongst most of the mentors I spoke to. This disappointment was mainly born of impatience rather than any concerns about what Glow is eventually going to deliver, but it did not feel good at the time.

    Thanks for the kind comment about the blog. I am very pleased with Wordpress - feel free to get in touch about it, though be warned that I may do the same to you ;)

  6. Robert - I'm forced to admit that I'm someone who actually saw Uriah Heep live back in the 70s!! But then I guess you're talking about another Uriah Heep? :-)

    I've always tried to be as open and as honest as I can be in the context of a big commercial procurement such as SSDN, so I have no problem whatsoever with any and all perceptions from the chalkface being communicated to me and to my colleagues on the Glow team in LTS. I will make a point of sharing your specific points with them so that they can think through the implications.

    The feeling of impatience is one I can understand, but I guess it's more important to get it right even if it takes a little longer to get there.

    Thanks for the offer of the mug!

  7. I haven't given Glow a try - but I may now - thanks for a great post!


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

ActiVote Walkthrough Part 1

Learning styles are a myth and I am not an auditory learner

The actor's life for me