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Evaluating Glow Plus #ICTex

I’m pleased to see the ICT in Education Excellence Group’s final report has been published today. I think it’s a great piece of work and it’s good to see that they’ve worked hard to get this out quickly in order to allow progress to be made rapidly.

I only raised one small issue with the interim report, and I’m pleased to see this issue of “usability” has been addressed much more explicitly in the final report.

Glow Plus must be so easy to use that no training is required before use.

I’m also delighted to see that there’s a mention for communities such as Pedagoo in the report too!

Teacher-initiated informal CPD groups exist at present outwith Glow; these should be encouraged and supported, and the learning within them brought into Glow Plus, either as summaries, actions to change/add services or merely by making a wider audience aware of them.

I think the only thing I would like to see strengthened is the approach to evaluating the success of Glow Plus. There is one statement I can find which goes in the right direction, but given our experience of Glow I feel that this could be made stronger in the report.

Glow Plus should have an annual review process. The review should look at all the Operating Conditions, core services, future developments and promote a culture of ICT in learning and teaching.

There’s actually an example of this from today in the current Glow. The following tweet from Education Scotland drew my attention to some support materials for the new National Qualification support materials.

I need my Glow password to access these materials. When you get into the site it says…

This website provides quick, secure and easy access to a range of course materials and focus papers which support the new National Qualifications.

Is this secure? Does that mean I can’t share the materials from here with colleagues myself? If so, that’ll need to be made clearer on the documents…and, why not just use SQA Secure? The SQA already has a perfectly good secure website and the advantage of that is that all centres can access it. How do our colleagues in FE access these documents?

I believe that both LTS and HMIe led the way on using the web to share resources. All of the LTS produced resources for the current National Qualifications have been publicly available online up to now, why the need to change? My guess is that this is all to do with Glow usage statistics. If we put these documents into Glow, teachers will want to see them so they’ll have to log in. This wouldn’t be surprising, I’ve heard numerous examples of resources and tools being put into Glow with no reasonable explanation, except for to get people logging into Glow. This is so wrong. Decisions should be made on the right approach for the end user, not the right approach for the Glow statistics. If it can be public, it should be public. I must add though, I’m not so cynical as to think there are evil people rubbing their hands with glee as they put these documents behind a password. I’m inclined to believe that they are trying to do the right thing by making Glow a success. I just don’t agree with the way they’re going about it.

Again, the #ICTex report does recognise this issue…

The new service should be as open as possible, with only personal and procured content and services behind an authentication barrier.

I’m pleased to see that they’ve emphasised the purpose of Glow Plus…

Any digital learning system has to be able to allow for changes in pedagogy, such as the shift to project based learning and interdisciplinary learning and away from “knowledge delivery”.

And stressed that the data should be public…

Ensure that system analytics are openly accessible and easy to use for all users and the interested public.

However, there is a slight risk here still. With the stats made public, there might well be even more pressure ironically to get them up! I therefore think that it’s key that not only are the intended outcomes stated very clearly at the outset, but also that there will be a commitment to evaluate the service against those outcomes. If we want Glow Plus to allow for changes in pedagogy, some more sophisticated research than web analytics and anecdotes will need to be undertaken to evaluate the extent to which this is occurring.

Once again, I support the group and think they’ve done a power of work in the time. It’s just an emphasis issue I’m raising again and I’m confident this can be addressed as the project progresses.


  • Reply John |

    Complete agree with all points here Fearghal. Usability is a, if not the, major concern.
    The idea of openness and connectivity, bringing in pedagoo and hopefully allowing non secure data to flow out of glow easily will make working together across sector, school and nation easier. Especially if the data in glow follow working standards.

  • Reply Jaye Richards-Hill |

    Im in complete agreement with your concerns about mechanisms for boosting GLOW stats for the sake of it. Glow needs to e an attractive and essential part of a learners (and I include educators in this category) armoury. To ‘force’ people to log in and use GLOW just continues with the outdated paradigm we’ve hopefully abandoned with this ICTEx report. I’m confident that it represents the hopes and dreams of users. that’s my job done now. Others will take this through to completion. I hope they succeed.

    • Reply fearghal |

      Thanks Jaye,

      Good work, and enjoy your future freedom!

      There’s one thing you said there which draws our attention to the whopping great elephant in the room: “[the report] represents the hopes and dreams of users”. Will our hopes and dreams come true this time? I’m very concerned that the usual barriers will be erected and our dreams will once again be dashed…

  • Reply Robert Drummond |

    “Again, the #ICTex report does recognise this issue…(of requiring password/logins)

    The new service should be as open as possible, with only personal and procured content and services behind an authentication barrier.”

    I’m not so sure I agree Fearghal.
    Often in class before allowing my children to access a resource they require to enhance their work, I often make them tell me a username and password, before unlocking the books, pencils, rulers they require! 🙂

    Seriously – great post!

  • Reply Nick |

    Glow Plus – it needs to be more than what’s out there now otherwise we stop spending money on it and spend it on GIRFEC etc.

    Why is it not App based for phones ?
    Why is it not MOODLE or similar ?

    We have SQA Secure, NAR, EDUSCOT Secure, SEEMIS. All different programs but funded from the same body. SEEMIS and GLOW should be merged. We are teaching and learning in GLOW then transferring assessment/progress data across long hand.

    MS 365 and the storing online via this is a huge step change – no versions or compatibility issues across platforms etc.

    WordPress blogs was a good step change too. Lets keep them as we can add widgets etc over time.

    Main issue is the ‘Safe Harbouring’ if teachers use non Glow storage and programs. But already a lot of teacher have gone down the DROPBOX, EDMODO route. Will they come back ?

    Flashcards – I have some free Flashcard apps on my Android phone which automatically collate, score and suggest what topics I need to learn etc. A very simple but effective learning tool. Why does GLOW not have one ?

So, what do you think ?