Glow must be more reliable

16th April 2010 at 01:00

It has been nearly three months since I wrote my TESS article calling for a moratorium on the future development of Glow, until it becomes usable regularly. I've watched with fascination as a polarised and fractured debate has developed around many of the challenges surrounding this project.

Andrew Brown and Marie Dougan from Learning and Teaching Scotland (LTS) have come forward to defend Glow in The TESS, and others have been equally positive on various blogs. But the most numerous replies have been from classroom teachers agreeing with my stance and going much further with their critiques.

The optimistic rhetoric around Glow is not a problem exclusive to Scotland; it is common with any medium or large education IT project. There is much less talk on the proper and rigorous evaluation needed to justify spending huge sums of public money. It is not good enough for us to accept platitudes such as "it makes learning more fun" or "children are more engaged" without proper assessment of the impact of such projects on achievement.

And just because there is international interest in Scotland's so-called national (this is anything but true at present) intranet, does not mean it is good.

I still use Glow, but selectively, and it is not an embedded part of my classroom practice. It won't be until it delivers more and better. It is currently a resource bank for my students, but we are planning to move stuff away from Glow and on to the school website - just because it is more reliable and easier for pupils to access.

Glow has excellent features and, with a little creative subversion, parts such as Glow Meet and pupil-driven Glow groups can be used very effectively in the classroom to contextualise and situate learning firmly and collaboratively in the realm of reality.

These links with the real world are vital for effective deep learning and knowledge retention. But this depends on reliability, ease of access and infrastructure availability - something outside LTS's control.

Jaye Richards, Cathkin High, Cambuslang.

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