Oh dear, Glow dims once more


I’ve just spent another frustrating 40 minutes trying to join a Glow Meet. Don’t get me wrong, I have an emotional attachment to Glow and would love to see it work. I did, after all, make a small contribution to the tender process way back in 2003, so I really wish it well.

I was a mentor for a while but that never really took off the ground. I have my own group which I have never made public, not knowing how to go about it. My attempts to use Glow Learn (potentially a very exciting prospect) and Glow Meets linking P7s and S1s all came to nought, largely because there was no perceived need at the other end. As a support teacher you are very dependent on class teachers to run with the ideas: can’t do it in isolation. So I rather lost the will.

Mind you, as my service will be defunct in a couple of weeks, I have decided to get as many documents and links in the region’s ASN group as possible before I depart. Let’s hope my time will not be completely wasted.

Anyway, tonight’s CDP opportunity aimed principally at supply teachers failed miserably as there was either no sound or terrible screeching despite the presenter, Margaret Orr’s best efforts. We saw her though! I am meant to be giving my presentation tomorrow evening. Let’s hope all the preparation and the effort will not be wasted this time.

I’m off to get my belated dinner!


Scotland combats school closures by offering lessons online

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A glowing (sorry) report from the BBC descibes how some teachers and pupils are accessing learning through Glow:

The Scottish education intranet system, now being copied across the world, is allowing teaching staff and pupils to get some work done between the sledging and snowball fights.

The Glow programme, which was the world’s first national intranet for education when it was launched in 2007, has been rolled out to all of Scotland’s 32 local authorities. It is designed to link the country’s schools and provide a forum for pupils, teaching staff and parents in which to share lessons and resources.

In areas where snow has forced schools to close, Glow has proved its value, say teaching officials. Teachers can set work for pupils and engage with them, even though the school itself is shut.

Officials say there has been international interest in the system since it was set up in 2007 at a cost of £37m. Run by the curriculum body Learning and Teaching Scotland, Glow can be accessed by 850,000 pupils, teachers and parents. In 2008, the Star Wars director and education advocate George Lucas, told the US House of Representatives that America should follow Scotland’s lead and set up a similar platform for online learning.

I have to admit that after my initial enthusiasm (I did make some small contribution to the original tendering process all those years ago when Glow  – or Spark then SSDN as it was then – was a mere twinkle in the eye) I let my own Glow Group fall into abeyance  and only logged on infrequently. And let’s just say that my role as a Glow mentor never really took off.

However, this inclement weather and exponential leaps forward in take up and content mean that I am more inclined to speak about Glow’s benefits to all and sundry. Let’s hope others do the same.

Here’s a post from Anna Rossvoll, Creative Learning whatever the weather, wherein she describes using Glow this week.

CPD for Supply Teachers

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I sometimes (oh, all right, frequently) get cross because the needs of experienced Support for Learning teachers like me for inspiring (or just good would do) professional development are rarely met by formal in-service training.

However this gripe is as nothing compared with the lack of any sort of systematic development for those souls who populate our supply lists.

Thus it is heartening to be a part of a new initiative that aims to support supply teachers through Glow.

Read Nick Hood’s post about the GlowMeet some of us participated in this afternoon.

Join us!


The CALL Centre on speech recognition software

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Speech recognition software has been presented as a panacea for pupils with writing difficulties, but the reality can be very different! While there are a few schools where speech recognition has been used with pupils with great success, there are many more where it has been tried and quickly abandoned.

The CALL Introducing Speech Recognition in Schools project aimed to investigate best practice in schools where speech recognition was being used successfully, and develop and evaluate training materials to help other schools get going with speech recognition. It was funded by the Scottish Executive Education Department.

The main outcome of the project was a Training Pack (comprising a book and a CD) for schools to use when introducing speech recognition in schools. Copies of the books and CD were sent, free of charge, to all secondary schools in Scotland in March 2003. The pack includes:

  • Guidance on identifying pupils who might benefit from speech recognition;
  • Technical hints and tips on installing and operating the systems;
  • 10 Lesson Plans, with exercises, for introducing speech recognition to pupils;
  • Advice on management of speech recognition systems in schools.

The Pack was evaluated by 40 secondary schools in Scotland from November 2000 to March 2002, and modified in response to comments from staff and students. We chose to focus on Support for Learning Departments in secondary schools, rather than special schools or units, because the largest potential group of students are those with specific learning difficulties in secondary education.

Training Packs

Below are links to these training packs:

Thanks to S O’Neill through the ASN Glow Group for this link.

Glow Triumphs

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The Railway walk in Haddington

Who needs to go to school when you have Glow says an article in last Friday’s TES

Freezing temperatures, coupled with heavy snow, have prevented some pupils and staff in the north of Scotland getting to school.

But thanks to Glow, the schools’ digital intranet, learning is continuing for hundreds of youngsters.

The roads in some parts of Aberdeenshire have been impassable and the ice treacherous, says Anna Rossvoll, a Curriculum for Excellence officer responsible for implementing Glow in the authority. Mrs Rossvoll lives on a farm near Oldmeldrum, which is just minutes by car from her office at Inverurie High.

Hmmm. I spent 40 minutes making a 15 minute journey to work last week when the children were out. And was then sent home again. I only wished I had uploaded more of my documents on to Glow or Google Apps so that I could have worked there or in a school closer to home  Note to self: get organised!

The River Tyne – now the path is under water as the river has burst its banks. I’ve just had to curtail my walk.

Thanks to David Gilmour (is there no end to his talents?) for the photos.

Making Websites Talk

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Browsealoud is easy to download and could be a great boon for learners with difficulties reading online.

LTS is currently looking at how the accessibility of Glow can be improved, and a text-to-speech facility could be extremely useful. They are asking us to help to trial Browsealoud 6 within Glow. It will be ‘speech- enabled’ until the end of January 2010. Trial it for yourselves and let them know what you think here.

I downloaded it easily on my work PC and will try it at home on my Mac. So far I find it very user friendly – though perhaps it delays access for a second or 2.
Have a shot!

Scottish Poet Elspeth Murray returns to Glow

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Get your Glow log-ins ready because on Friday 22nd January, Scottish Poet Elspeth Murray will take part in her second live Glow Meet with budding young Poets across Scotland.

The event is on at 10am, Fri 22 January and is aimed at S2 pupils and suitable for teachers interested in getting some help and ideas with teaching poetry from a poet in real time. Teachers can take part even if they don’t have a class at this time.