It’s no secret now that the job I was almost off to do was this one. I wasn’t able to go as my school wasn’t able to recruit a biology teacher to cover my post.
I mentioned this on twitter the other night and, just like any other time you mention the word “Glow” on twitter these days, this resulted in a fair amount of Glow-bashing. The point of my tweet was just to help promote the secondment to increase the chances of getting someone good into the role, and yet I’ve also somehow found myself being a defender of Glow on twitter. Which is odd, because I don’t use Glow. I use the twig videos which require a Glow login, but that’s it. I don’t log in for any other reason and my students don’t know their logins – most of them in fact have never heard of Glow.
Like most of the glow detractors on twitter, I use Edmodo and Google Apps instead of Glow. So, why on earth am I defending something I don’t use? For me there’s a difference between Glow as it is now, and what Glow could be in the future. When I’m defending Glow, I’m defending what it could become. I agree that edmodo and google apps are much more user-friendly than Glow as it is currently, and as a teacher I am glad that I am able to choose to use them (many can’t). At the same time though, I still see real potential in the Glow project. It will take a long time for free tools such as edmodo and google apps to move beyond the few, and some will never want to use them due to data security reasons. Scottish Government/Education Scotland carry a lot of weight with Local Authorities, School Management Teams and many teachers. If Glow were to become user-friendly I think it would penetrate Scottish classrooms & homes much more quickly than completely open source independent tools.
I also believe that despite the controversy about the cost of Glow so far, it still makes economical sense going forwards. Without it, I think schools and LAs will eventually begin paying for commercial alternatives to get the security and data privacy they often demand, and a better user experience than currently provided in Glow. At this point, the total cost to the public purse could become both vast and hidden. If each school or LA started paying yearly contracts to private companies, which already happens down south, surely the combined cost could easily outweigh a single combined solution?
Of course all of this assumes that the project will be well managed going forwards and produce what it is we need, and I can understand why many would be sceptical of this. I suppose the difference for me is that I’ve got to briefly hear how the project will be managed in the future and clearly have enough faith in what I’ve heard to have been prepared to join the project.
Ultimately I suppose, I don’t actually care about Glow as such. All I care about is that we get our learners making the most of the potential of the web. I still believe that from a policy, leadership and whole-system perspective Glow still offers a great way of achieving this if done well.