Computing teacher bids to provide Glow's successor

Elizabeth Buie

In David-and-Goliath style, a computing teacher in Aberdeen is hoping to take on the IT giants and provide the successor to the Glow intranet for schools.

Last month, Google dropped out of the tendering process to deliver the Next Generation Glow platform and RM Education's contract to provide continuity of service was extended by 15 months.

But Charlie Love, a teacher at Cults Academy, believes that with the right support, he could have a working, secure, limited system up and running by August or September, saving much of the pound;6.6 million to extend RM Education's contract.

A software developer and analyst in the oil-field sector before entering teaching, he was seconded from 2009-11 to the games-based learning Consolarium, run by Learning and Teaching Scotland. He has spent his free time over the past seven months developing "Glew".

In IT-speak, it is "single sign-on technology using open standards", which would support over a million users. He will demonstrate it tomorrow at a Google education-themed conference in Glasgow.

Mr Love says his vision chimes with education secretary Michael Russell's last September, when he pulled the plug on Glow Futures, saying Glow would instead consist of "the variety of free tools and open source services that already exist on the web" provided by an "integrated application suite".

Glew would support Google Apps for Education and has integrated a lot of the free and open source tools that teachers are already using. It also incorporates Moodle, the virtual learning environment used by the Open University, says Mr Love.

"This could, with some investment and support from Education Scotland or the Scottish government become the core of the next version," he told TESS. It could also accommodate the existing work by schools that is currently on Glow.

Laurie O'Donnell, who was director of learning and technology at Learning and Teaching Scotland and has been an independent learning consultant for the past three years, said of Glew: "It is certainly worth exploring. Charlie is well grounded in the classroom and how local authorities work and has a really good understanding of what Glow was trying to do.

"One of his biggest challenges will be public sector procurement, which is an absolute minefield. He would have to get to the point where he could genuinely supply all those services to the government. The route he would need to follow would be through Scottish Enterprise, or a similar body.

"But it's not easy for Mike Russell to say, `This wonderful inspirational teacher has got a great idea - let's just go with it.'"

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Elizabeth Buie

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