Old Glow is dead. Long live Glow.

A day of days. The world’s first national intranet for schools had a significant moment today. Glow, the original running mate in 2004 for our new curriculum policy, Curriculum for Excellence has been shut down to give way to its new incarnation, Glowconnect. (The hashtag seems to be #glowscot but that might just be me not quite up to speed). This has taken a while. There have been loads of delays and mistakes. However, looking back across the broader piece, in early stages lots was done to encourage young people in schools to make best use of this ground breaking technology, but the system didn’t quite seem to be capable of moving with the times. And how times have changed in online terms since 2004. In spite of this huge attempts were made in encouraging educators as well, to collaborate online for their own professional development within the structure of a system increasingly being left behind as online collaboration advanced faster than could have been imagined. A sizeable network (2000+ educators) was developed to support these interested professionals. Glow hosted online communities where these people could meet, share and work together in a time and cost efficient way, while using secure advanced technology to do so. Where else (outside some businesses) might this have been happening at the time?
The focus in the early stages of Glow was definitely on user involvement where the user was a school-aged person. Imagining the possibilities for educators within this system was something that seemed to go beyond the original scope. This imagining was made possible by the hard work of my former colleagues Con Morris(adviser) and Margaret Alcorn (coordinator, leader) both of the former National CPD Team. Both Con and Margaret knew that if real and significant change was to happen in schools then teachers had to be at the heart of it, at the very start of it to parody a song. Both had expertise to make this happen. I was utterly privileged to work with them in this team. Today seems a bit like a second chance. Let’s hope those in charge can make it work for everyone this time.

About catrionao

I'm a lecturer at UWS and a PhD student at Stirling University, studying a school based practice of teacher professional learning.
This entry was posted in online CPD, Policy and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Old Glow is dead. Long live Glow.

  1. Des Oates says:

    The problem I noticed with the old Glow as a layperson, was that it was like a full featured walled garden, but the main focus was the wall. In order to get success in these things, it is imperative that is attractive to use. The barriers to adoption of the old glow were too high. The key is finding the right balance between security and protection of privacy of the system, without making it too difficult for the target user base to access the features they need.

  2. catrionao says:

    Thanks for your comment Des and you make a good point. I’m not expert on this – there are far better informed opinions out there than mine, but as a fairly advanced user of the system I had a reasonable degree of experience with it. I think security versus protection is the key tension here. The reluctance of a sizeable majority of professionals to share their practice, even within the security of the walled garden was problematic, but understandable within the culture of constant rhetoric of good practice and excellence from Education Scotland, local authorities, ministers etc that they were (and still are) faced with. One of the consequences of this was that Glow became more of a broadcasting service rather than the busy interactive environment it could and should have been.
    Another problem seemed to be it’s inflexibility and in-adaptability. It was designed I think around 2003/04 but templates and design frames stayed more or less the same until the end, as far as i can see. This might not have been a problem entirely attributable to the system, Perhaps management has some responsibility for this as well. Overall though I think underlying structural and cultural forces at work damaged Glow more than these more superficial problems, which lets face it should be entirely resolvable. Central management of the system, the structural paralysis that seemed to grip government agencies and latterly the glacial pace of change in management and government systems cost the system dear in reputational terms. I also think for a long time Glow just wasn’t a policy priority.. It seemed to be quite acceptable to let the world’s first intranet for schools drift and be eclipsed by other issues. So ten years on, we have new Glow. I hope we all manage to make a better fist of this one. Cheers!

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