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Looking Back

Page history last edited by olliebray@... 12 years, 7 months ago

This page has been locked and the contents passed to the Scottish Government for analysis. Thank you for all your contributions.


How to start? This is a very personal addition to the conversations/debates that have taken place since Mr Russell’s announcement on 8 September. I have followed and occasionally contributed to conversations at school, in the national press and on twitter with varying degrees of optimism, pessimism and even with a little cynicism at times.  I now would like to share my reflections, maybe a little selfishly perhaps, on my journey of using ICT and glow in the classroom over the past few years and my hopes for future endeavours. As we move forward into this time of change in education in general and the use of ICT to support learning and teaching in particular two quotes from George Eliot seem quite apt: 


"It is never too late to become what you might have been."


“The important work of moving the world forward does not wait to be done by perfect men.”


Not bad for a maths teacher. OK I’ll come clean and admit to looking up a quote site on the internet. However as I ramble on in the next few paragraphs it is important to note that Glow was an ambitious and original programme of international note.  As with all such programmes things didn’t go as smoothly as was originally planned or envisaged but importantly Glow evolved into a tool that is being used well to support Scottish learners.  What you will see is evidence of what I would consider to be a success in my practice.

It is important you know a little about me. I teach maths at a secondary school in West Lothian and consider myself a fairly competent IT user in and out of the classroom. I was Glow Mentor for my school for several years. I have presented on the use of Glow in the classroom at the Scottish learning Festival 09 and at the ninth ICTMT conference in Metz, France in the same year.


Parts of Glow that I considered were successful  and hope will continue in some form in the future:


Glow Groups & Web Parts-  class glow groups promoted a sense on online class community that added to identity of the class in the classroom. The discussion forums are the heaviest visited area within a group as a homework/study aid outside of the classroom.  My recent higher class’ discussion forum had over 1400 views throughout the year. This from a class of 26 pupils. The beneficial use of the groups was very apparent when the pupils from an S4 maths class were asked to comment on their group


“Glow has been really fun to use and has been a useful and productive alternative to revising at home and homework help in class. The added sense of responsibility to help one another out has been a boost in my confidence in maths and at times i have understood explainations from my peers better than the teacher(you're still a great teacher Mr S!) Apart from the rare technical hitches Glow has been one of the best and most exciting resources I have used in the school and will hopefully give other pupils the same confidence and knowledge (and fun) I have gained.”


“i've really enjoyed using glow :D it's really helped with questions i usually wouldn't know what to do, and i think it's a great way to get the class to interact with each other. i also thought it was helpful as it let others help with problems and not just mr sexton. so thank you for letting us use it “


“i think glow really helped me to gain confidence in maths, and made me feel more confident to ask questions about things i didnt understand :-). it also helped with homework because i was able to answer all the questions and it got everybody helping and that made everyone build a good realationship with one an other (like megan said). Now i feel im going into my exams knowing all i know thanks to mr sexton and the help of glow :-O! because he can give us advise at any time now :-)! “


Glow Meet- A fantastic tool to aid transition from primary to secondary. I’ve used this over the past few years with P7 pupils throughout a whole school year. Again from pupils (click on link for video)


Comment 1  Comment 2  Comment 3  Comment 4  Comment 5


Also recent comment from HMIE after witnessing a Maths Glow meet at a cluster primary school


"Children in P7 linked with the mathematics department in ...... High School through the Internet to explore key mathematical concepts. These children are becoming more skilled in discussing their thinking and strategies used."


Glow Web Spaces- Being able to host your own web sites within glow is a fantastic resource. I have made extensive use of this facility to host several PUBLIC sites. Click on the links below

Common strategies   Higher Maths Integration


Glow Blogs- A fantastic way to share learning. Glow Blogs are being used by many colleagues as pupil learning logs to aid pupil reflection on their learning.


As said above this is very much a personal record and others use many of the other applications available within Glow quite differently. I have made no use of Glow Learn as it doesn’t suit my style or approach to teaching; others make fantastic use of this application.  I think as we look to the future we must appreciate that any built infra-structure should include a full range of applications that allow choice of approach. Also we must consider user support. The structure of support available is just as important as the structure of application available. Probably a bit more so if we are, as suggested, going to be using a variety of different open source applications. 


As we move to the future can I again refer you to:

"It is never too late to become what you might have been."


Following on from John’s post I feel it is important as class teachers to look back at the good, the bad and ugly, learn from what went well and think about even better if.


I used Glow with 2 different Primary 6 classes for a year and a half before I was seconded as a member of the National Glow Team and now the Curriculum Team. I am not biased about Glow because it is my job, as some suggest, I am honest and very aware of the benefits and issues of Glow as I have used it as a teacher. These are my personal reflections of using Glow as a class teacher.


What went well:

  •    Training: I feel in West Lothian the training for using Glow was well thought out and implemented effectively, each school had a Glow Mentor which helped with training the rest of the school. I also used the cookbooks and the Glow Training Guides that were available at a National Level. I felt that the way we shared successes with Glow in WL worked effectively, sharing ideas at Head Teachers Meeting, Network Meeting, Scottish Learning Festival, through the Cookbooks, and lately the Sharing our Learning Blog (which is about CfE, not just Glow). In our school we first of all introduced the concept of using Glow with staff to improve our staff communications and when they felt comfortable using it we began to look at how it would enhance our learning and teaching with our classes.
  •  Glow Groups: For me our class Glow Group was the central hub for our class, it was our community area. For this reason I have not published the Glow Group as I feel it was a safe area for mt pupils to share their work and communicate with each other, it was up to them who we gave access to. If you are interested in our class Glow Group there are several cookbooks on my group. For me using Glow was about improving learning and teaching in my classroom, if it didn’t make things easier, make my teaching more effective or improve my teaching and the pupils learning then I didn’t use it. We used if for many areas of the curriculum: Literacy, Numeracy, Health and Wellbeing, Interdisciplinary Topics, etc and for homework. It allowed us to fully embed Assessment is For Learning techniques into classroom practice – Learning Intentions, Success Criteria, Peer and Self assessment was embedded using the various tools within Glow. It gave the pupils a sense of success and achievement as they shared their learning with their peers, other classes, parents and the school management team.
  • Communication: Parents commented on parent’s night that they felt they had a better overview of what was happening in the classroom as the class Glow Group gave them an insight into their children’s learning. After I left the school they held an information evening for parents to show them how they could use glow with their children (the parents did not have log ins). The school also decided to use a Glow Blog for their school website as it was easier to use then the original website software. 
  •  Glow Meet: Glow Meet allowed the pupils in my class to access learning that would not have been possible – talking to NASA astronauts, Dr Bunhead helping with our Science work and Glowing Thursdays. It also enabled pupils to link with other schools to share their learning, teach other pupils, improve transition, share their stories and on one occasion they even taught teaches who attended a Critical Skills Training Session. It improved their confidence and presentation skills and gave the pupils a sense of achievement.
  • Resources: Pupils had the opportunity to access resources through their Glow Log in these resources have continued to improve over the years.  
  • Blogs and wikis: I have not personally used these tools with pupils, other than during our e-portfolios pilot with schools but theses 2 tools are something that I am very excited about using when I return to school in March.
  • Single log on: This one log in allowed pupils to access a various range of resources plus their class Glow Group. Personally my pupils did not have any problem remembering their passwords as they were frequently accessing Glow at home and in school. My class assisted with helping the infant classes log onto Glow and taught them some them some basic skills – uploading a document and adding to a discussion board. 
  •  Safe and Secure: As Glow provides a safer and more secure area for pupils to work, I think teachers felt more comfortable with using the software. Through teaching Internet Safety and Responsible Use pupils knew that they were responsible for every comment they made, piece of work they uploaded, etc. Within my class we never had any issues with misuse of using the technology.

Even Better if:

  • Access to hardware: for me this is one of the big issues concerning the use of ICT in the classroom. A lot teachers who would like to embed ICT or Glow in their learning and teaching just find it impossible due to the lack of hardware in their schools.
  • Teacher Confidence: For me, I felt comfortable using the pupil’s expertise to help me if I became ‘stuck’. Not all teachers feel this way, which means they can lack confidence as they feel have to ‘know more’ than their pupils. I think there are 2 different things to consider, the technology available and how we use technologies for learning. For some teachers using technologies for learning is naturally how they think for some it is not. Having delivered a lot of Glow training, it is very clear that a lot of practitioners do shy away from using ICT in their classroom, this is definitely a culture that needs to be changed if Glow, ICT or Technologies are going to be embedded in all classrooms across Scotland.


In Summary:

We always knew that Glow was going to change and for me that is a good thing, technology is always changing, that’s the beauty of it. For me it’s important that we reassure and ensure teachers that the time they have invested in using Glow with classes and for their own personal CPD, is still of benefit to them and their skills will be transferable into whatever Glow will be. Personally Glow did transform the way I used technologies for learning in my classroom, as it did for many teachers. Pupils feedback on using Glow was that; it gave them a purpose for their work, it was fun, they got to present on TV (Glow Meet), it helped them use laptops, they could teach others, share, better than jotter work, they could take ownership, they could mark each other’s work (all elements of CfE).

Glow should be the name we give to all the technologies for learning that we use in our classrooms to enhance learning and teaching. There is a slide that I always use when I am presenting about Glow (which came from the Glow Team slides)


...  it’s not about the tech it’s about the teach ...


and going forward I think this is something that needs to lie at the centre of all our thinking.



Comments (4)

Robert Hill said

at 10:57 pm on Sep 19, 2011

It's good to hear from the Chalk Face and about the real experiences of teacher and pupils.

Jaye Richards-Hill said

at 2:04 pm on Sep 22, 2011

You know, i think it's great that you are using Glow in ways which are working for you. I'd like you to consider how much time you spend creating and administering your sites and groups, and the resources you use. My big beef with Glow v1 was that it was just not cost-effective over a longer period of time. I was of the opinion, right at the start of my Glow journey, that it would be a time saver, however, over time this proved to be a false hope. Our use of time as teachers has to be effective. Spending hours creating resources and groups, sites, or whatever...is this really what we expect of all our colleagues? I know I can do things much more quickly on blogs, facebook, twitter, or even google+ and similar sites.

I could go on, but my fours years experience of using Glow is all over on my own blog. The initial optimism, the attainment gains, the reality, LTS, and finally, the findings from the research and the call for a rethink, nationally.


If you don't already read it, that is...

John Sexton said

at 7:28 pm on Sep 22, 2011

Like you Jaye I thought version 1 would be a time saver and this was a promise made by the "Glow angel" (remember the video) and yes I would agree it was a false hope. However with all things it did slowly change for the better and yes at time frustratingly slowly. Do I still look for it to be a timesaver. Well to be honest I gave up looking for timesavings a while back however the way I use the many tools in glow (as opposed to USING GLOW) does not "cost" me more time. I like the phrase "cost neutral".
Again I can't disagree with you on the many other applications that are quicker or better even! I thank the god of ICT every day for inventing twitter. However I have invested a lot of time (that word again) discovering applications that work for me bearing in mind the many others that you investigate that don't. Now initially that is far from cost neutral but a wee bit like you ICT is a personal interest/passion and I am prepared and to a certain extent enjoy the exploration process. Would others be prepared to do that? Of course we haven't even considered the ever changing face of what is available. Yes I know twitter will not be around for ever. Where I do think Glow ultimately saved time (collectively rather than individually) was that it was an umbrella for many usable applications that allowed a personal choice of usage. Initially this wasn't the case as it was a bit of all or nothing but now without too much time I can create & populate, blogs, discussion forums, class areas (I've stopped using the phrase glow groups) etc. My time is now used more smartly with these tools to collaborate effectively and safely with my students at a time & place of their choosing.
I always read your blog with interest Jaye as it always stimulates discussion and gets me thinking. Don't always agree but how boring would that be.

Ian King said

at 9:38 pm on Oct 5, 2011

I'm afraid I have to echo Jaye's comments on the time-effectiveness of Glow. Like her I was an early Glow adopter - courses ported to Glow Learn, Glow groups for my classes, Glow forums, Glow blogs and Glow websites for every S1 and S2 pupil. Each time my initial enthusiasm was killed off by the realisation that Glow was actually proving to be a hindrance to what i was trying to do rather than an enabler.

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