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Are you a-GLOW yet?

August 27, 2006

This is just a heads-up for those that might not have heard about GLOW yet. This is the new name for the Scottish Schools Digital Network (SSDN) which is/was being set up by Learning & Teaching Scotland (LTS).

GLOW will be (in its own words)

…the most ambitious education ICT project anywhere in the world.

It certainly looks it… and there’s also no shortage of money being spent on it. Check out the movies by clicking on the picture. I have to be honest… I’m really excited by the possibilities it represents and I hope not just for the obvious/usual reasons.

To me, GLOW appears to have negated the research and work I have been doing over the summer into ELGG, Moodle et al. Having completed the Open University Certificate in eLearning (T186) last year, I have been looking around to find opportunities to enhance my teaching, admin, and most importantly, the learning experience for my pupils. T186 was illuminating, but ultimately frustrating as it appeared to be geared more towards a full online learning model like, I suppose, that provided by the Open Univerity itself. My investigations into Moodle and ELGG were beginning to fill in more of the gaps, but the real revelation came when I began to appreciate the versatile nature of Blogging. However, there has always been a fundamental stumbling block to implementing a lot of the Web 2.0 technologies in the classroom… school firewalls!

For those that don’t know, schools live a strange online life (not all, I know… but the 4 or 5 that I’ve taught in do). Schools carry the very great responsibility of ensuring that the pupils in their care are kept safe when online… and so they use programmes like Content Keeper or i-Gear… both of which do an excellent job of preventing teachers accessing dangerous sites like the Open University, the BBC, or in an absolute classic of the genre, our own council website (the reason given by Content-Keeper was that the council fell into the categories of “Dating Sites” and “Computing/IT“). The fact that the pupils all appear to know how to use proxies to circumvent Content-Keeper is a constant bone-of-contention. GLOW, by dint of the closed nature of its set-up, may just fix all this by removing the need for Content-Keeper/i-Gear or any other ineffectual firewall on school computers.

I remember hearing John Connell of LTS speaking about the SSDN (as GLOW was then called) at SETT two years ago and thinking it was a brilliant idea that I wanted to be involved with. In my naivety, I went up to him at the end of the talk and offered to help. Och well… at least I was keen!

One of my great hopes is that all the bits they are offering us fall into place and work as well as they do in the video. I miss my colleagues in the last school I taught at, and the thought of being able to rope some of them in for collaborative work/learning… the ability to share resources with them (and by extension, every teacher in Scotland)… the reality of video-conferencing makes this a truly exciting time to be involved in education…

If you’ve heard of GLOW, how do you think it will change the way you work?

2 Comments leave one →
  1. soutra permalink
    August 28, 2006 8:38 pm


    Thank you for the very kind words about Glow (aka SSDN), and for making me feel guilty for not following up your enquiry 2 years ago! I did try to follow up everybody who spoke to me over the past 4 or 5 years, but I did not always succeed.

    Your comments about safety/security are interesting because, although Glow will have that critical layer of security that comes from the national authentication system that will sit at its core, it won’t be a ‘closed’ system nonetheless. Anyone with the requisite permissions will be able to invite ‘guests’ onto Glow, so that, for instance, a teacher will be able to set up collaborative sessions (using the video or audio conferencing, or a chat session, for example) between, say, a group from their own class and kids from anywhere else. The guests could be from another school somewhere else in the country, or they could be experts on a subject, or whatever.

    Best of both worlds, I’d say.

    Nice blog, by the way (or should I say blogs) – you might want to glance at mine at:



  2. August 28, 2006 10:08 pm

    I’ve already got your blog bookmarked… 🙂 I’m more impressed that you found mine!

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