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And They’re Off…

February 3, 2009

A little before 3 on Monday afternoon, my 1st year class became some of the very first pupils in Perth & Kinross to join Glow. It was a fun session, and I was really pleased with their obvious enthusiasm for this new (to them) tool.

I know I’m not the first teacher to set a class loose on Glow, but it was a first for me. I’d prepared a handout for them that had their User ID and initial password and was pleased at just how quickly they were able to get online, into Glow and select their own password. After that, I took a few minutes to point them at some of the tools before letting them ‘play’ with the theme settings and have a general explore.

Pacad Glow 02What I liked about the session was the fearless way the class started to poke and click on everything. They are really keen to find out what is possible, and this is good because it means I’m going to be kept on my toes finding engaging uses for the technology… but I am also acutely aware that it is the teaching, not the tech, that matters.

Despite my relatively long involvement as a Glow mentor, the realities of starting a class with pupils cannot, I believe, be overstated. In some ways, I do feel a little inadequate… Glow has so much potential that I want to make sure the pupils get the best return possible on their use of it. I also want to find out, as best I can, if it is making a real impact on their learning.

I’ll be posting some of my lesson ideas and plans here as they develop, but I thought I’d finish my first post with a couple of observations that my pupils made and which may have some bearing on the direction of Glow2.0…

Almost as soon as they’d logged in and started changing the themes, I had 3 or 4 of the class asking if they could add their own ‘skins’. At the moment, this is not possible, but I think this is something that should be looked at for the next iteration of Glow. If it was up to me, I’d be looking at the countless (mostly user-generated) themes available for WordPress. WordPress themes are effectively ‘vetted’ before being made available through WordPress.com, and this should be a relatively easy model for Glow to emulate. And imagine what a great incentive designing themes would be for pupils if they could:

a) completely personalise their own workspace, and

b) see their idea and design being made available for everyone!

The second thing they wanted was a word processor so they could do school work online anytime. I have to admit I wasn’t expecting that one, but it makes perfect sense to me. Bearing in mind that this is the class that use sliderocket (or at least they did until it became a paid app at which point it deleted their slides), and have been experimenting with Buzzword (Google docs are a no no in school), I should have realised they’d be looking for office tools in Glow.

Anyway, the ice has been broken and we’re off on our magical mystery tour. Where are we going to end up — I have no idea, but it’s already promising to be a thoroughly enjoyable journey. Now, how many lessons can you say that about?

Pacad Glow 01

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. Mark McShane permalink
    February 3, 2009 11:33 pm

    Yep…we’ve got a way to go and some of the clunkiness (sp?) in the interface is hard to swallow. However, we’ve got it at last and as you say…we’re off!

    Every time a train staff in the latest gubbins the hard bit is always the Tony VdK question…”To do what?” an that’s where the real challenge lies. So, keep up the great work and who knows what these comments will look like in two years time?
    Mark

  2. Adam Sutcliffe permalink
    February 4, 2009 10:22 pm

    Following this with great interest, Mr W. The great and good of Aberdeenshire have decided to let a select bunch of parents onto GLOW before the kids even get a sniff of it. Ridiculous, small minded backwards thinking. I’ve been glow champ since April, hardly touched glow because I think it will really come into its own when we can get students on it. Grrrr.

  3. Lyndsey McDowall permalink
    February 12, 2009 10:08 pm

    I was really glad to read your blog Neil, as I had the same overwhelming sense of how well do I actually know this?!?! My kids are very interested but I have not manageed to get them all logged on yet. Some of the less engaging boys were VERY interested when they saw a glow group about Guitar Hero! Swiftly scrolling down, I managed to keep them on track, but after using a WIKI with my class for a bit, I think they have real interest to find out more about glow and have a play about – as your did!

    Hope all is well…

    Lyndsey

  4. February 12, 2009 10:11 pm

    @Adam: I’ve a couple of new posts that’ll be going up over the next couple of days (Internet connection permitting)… I intend to blog a lot of the experience, good and bad, as I move forward.

    @Lyndsey: Great to hear from you! I know you’ll do well, but I think it is important to realise (as you imply) that we don’t know it all. Many mistakes to be made along the road, but that’s how we learn!

    As you know, just drop me a line if you think I can help you.

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