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Glow fails to outshine its critics

As new chief counters negative feedback via his blog, schools intranet undergoes an enhancement

As new chief counters negative feedback via his blog, schools intranet undergoes an enhancement

The new head of Glow, Andrew Brown, is using his blog to take on critics of the schools intranet.

In The TESS earlier this month, Glow pioneer Jaye Richards called for a moratorium on further development of the intranet to focus on "getting the basics right". The principal teacher of learning and teaching at Cathkin High in South Lanarkshire argued that Glow was "clunky and not user- friendly" and "vast swathes of the country" had no plans to use it in the near future.

But Mr Brown, via his blog (, has claimed the number of people regularly logging into the system continues to increase. He is becoming "more and more convinced" Glow is being embedded into teachers' practice and making a difference to Scottish education, he says.

Responding to our headline, "Is Glow losing its lustre?", he writes: "I hope so. Lustre suggests `sheen' or `patina'. Anything that's well used should lose this as it gets more worn."

The article, which appeared on the front page of The TESS on January 8, has been given a four-star rating by readers online. One questions how Glow could lose its lustre if it has never shone, and calls it a "badly- managed, poorly-implemented shambles". Another says unless Glow changes, it will become "a black hole for money and an embarrassment for all involved" (see panel).

And in a letter in this week's edition (p20), Richard Booles, a teacher in Hawick High, says Glow "doesn't do what it says on the tin".

Responses to Mr Brown's blog are also largely negative.

Ewan McIntosh, who worked as a new technology guru with Learning and Teaching Scotland, which is responsible for delivering Glow, says it is less effective than services and content already available online - but often these are blocked by local authorities. Teachers use Glow because of a lack of alternatives and they are supported to use it, not because it is the best, he claims.

A primary teacher in West Lothian makes the same point: "My experience with Glow is that I can find better resources for my teaching elsewhere, I can store and share my documents more easily using other means, the areas that I do access are not as accessible as their counterparts in the non- Glow world and I can share resources and ideas with a range of teachers from around the globe, using simple-to-use web 2.0 tech such as Twitter and Google."

Glow will radically change for the better this year, with some web 2.0 applications becoming available, counters Mr Brown. "In 2010, Glow will contain tools that are regarded as the best web-based technologies - WordPress being a great example," he writes.

Glow is undergoing a period of enhancement based on user feedback to ensure it is meeting needs. Take part: www.rm.comglowfeedback

Reader responses to The TESS report, "Is Glow losing its lustre?"

Posted by Euan MacKenzie

Great article, but how can something lose its lustre if it never shone in the first place? Glow is a badly-managed, poorly-implemented shambles.

Posted by Robert Sim

I don't agree with the sweeping criticisms of Euan MacKenzie. The support provided by the Glow team nationally has been exemplary. What gets forgotten is that smaller authorities don't always have the resources to support alternatives. Glow has provided us with facilities we didn't have before. And the Glow team are keen to make improvements based on feedback, so let's give it time.

Posted by CTC

If Glow wants teachers to use it and produce material, then that has to be achievable within the normal course of our work. The technical problems and the complicated way things have to be done within Glow at the moment do not make that possible. I am a PT of computing and a Glow mentor. In the many years since Glow and its predecessor, the SSDN, have been in existence, there have been problems. How much time does the Glow team need to sort out problems? If Andrew Brown really believes everything is rosy, then I see little hope for Glow to develop into what it could and should be. My plea to him is simple - please get out and speak to practitioners.

Posted by Chuck D

I so much want to love Glow. My kids in school do a lot of social networking (Bebo, Facebook, MySpace) and love the interactivity that it provides. But its use in my school hasn't worked and I've spent hours and hours trying to get Glow to do the things I want for my pupils. The search tools are poor. Groups are hidden inside other groups inside others. You have to guess where to find things. I can't reorganise my content the way I want and delete groups which I am not interested in from my view. Unless Glow seriously adopts a different platform then it will become a black hole for money and an embarrassment for all involved.

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