#EduScotICT – moving forward together

Yesterday’s ICT Summit, held at the Stirling Management Centre, has brought me out of my blogging hibernation.  I started this blog to help me reflect.  The reason for my lack of posts here has more to do with the arrival of my beautiful daughter than anything else; my heed is bursting and my now 10 month old daughter has learned to go to sleep so here goes my thoughts on what needs to happen next:

The wiki and twitter feed have been great places for debate and ideas, although the wiki ended up a little too unorganised for my brain to cope with.  Neil Winton talked passionately and with authority on his blog about the rare opportunity this consultation (and I do think it is a genuine consultation) gives us.  I agree with him.  The rub for me is the potential for the opportunity to be wasted.  We need to grab this opportunity with both hands and come out the other side with a clear mandate for what needs to be change.

I’m worried that might not happen.

I’m a positive person, always looking for the solution and try to not get bogged down by the problem, but I worry that there are too many views surrounding the future of Glow and ICT in schools and we will get lost in the argument.

Let’s look to the future.  It genuinely saddens me to constantly read about ‘Glow’s failings’.  (I’ve just deleted a whole paragraph as Jim Buchan captured many of my thoughts much better than I had been able to on his blog today).

One example of a question that has been asked on the wiki:

Why do I use Glow groups instead of Google docs to collate pupil work? 

This simple answer:  I started using Glow before I knew what a Google doc was.  I knew about Glow because it was a National Initiative.  I cannot easily give my pupils access to Google accounts.  They forget the passwords and I have no way of resetting them.  Google docs is blocked in my LA.

Moving forward:  I need the single sign on to continue.  I don’t have to reset S1 pupil passwords anymore because they log on so often (not just in my class and also at home) that they remember what their password is.  The only reason pupils forget their username and password is when they go weeks and months without a reason to use them.  I would be delighted to see my pupils log into Glow 2 and be shibbolised to a Google doc, or Microsoft Windows Live, or iCloud account.  I can’t do that just now.

STOP.  I am dirtying the waters again.  Let me try, as briefly as possible to put down what I think needs to happen.

1      We are putting the cart before the horse.  We need bandwidth and a joined up hardware solution before we get to the nitty gritty.  Our young people deserve every opportunity available to them.  I believe that giving them more access to the Internet is a good thing.  We cannot do that without bandwidth.  I know I am simplifying this, but in my head the SG give money to Education Scotland to provide the Interconnect to LA’s.  Too much of the Interconnect is syphoned by LA’s, not enough of it is given so schools.  This needs to change.

2      Many of our young people have a solution in their Smart Phones and tablet devices.  We actively stop them from using them in school.  This needs to change too.

3      We need a National plan to give access to those pupils and families who do not have access to the Internet at home.  Programs like the £95 computer is a start but the monthly cost of broadband is still prohibitive for too many.

4      We need to retain the Single Sign On.  This is crucial.  I used wikis and blogs in my classroom BG (before Glow), but the fact that pupils needed to sign up themselves and often forgot their usernames and passwords always got in the way.

5      We need a core set of tools.  We also need to enable educators and learners to add their own tools (Nick Hood’s question about a Glow API was a good one and would help here).  The biggest negative from today’s event was that it came from a group of like minded people who knew what an API was.  If we are going to increase the confidence of every teacher to use technology for the benefit of learning then we need to say here is a core group of online things that might help you.  Too much choice, with no guidance or support is the last thing that is going to improve confidence.

6      We need strong leadership from our Head Teachers.  They need to support all staff to embrace technology.  They need to have their hands untied from the red tape that dominates the barriers we face in open software and web filtering.

7      We can no longer see ICT as an optional extra.  It is a core part of the curriculum, not an add on.  It is mentioned explicitly in the SFR.  We can no longer shy away from the teacher who says ‘I don’t do technology’.  We don’t allow our teachers to not do Health and Wellbeing, or AifL.

8      We need to stop using the analogy that every teacher can use the Internet in their personal life; some cannot.  We need to support them, show them what they are missing out on and how their young people are suffering as a result.  A basic level of ICT knowledge isn’t acceptable either.  We need to lift our expectations, our young people deserve more.

9      2012 is not that far away.  We need to move forward, together, now.

10  We need to remember why we are doing this:  to improve opportunities for all learners, to enhance learning and teaching.  We have limited time, a finite budget and a huge opportunity to put in place a solution that works for every learner, educator, parent, business and granny.

And that was me being brief?  This is difficult, but so so important.  Whatever happens, for the sake of education in Scotland, we need to move forward together.