Tag Archives: glowblogs

RE: 💬 Three Ways to Keep Track of Students’ Blog Entries⤴

from @ wwwd – John's World Wide Wall Display

Three Ways to Keep Track of Students’ Blog Entries by Aaron DavisAaron Davis (collect.readwriterespond.com)
This is one of the big challenges with student blogging. When I used Edublogs in the classroom, I would moderate everything, therefore I would know what is being posted that way. However, I have been wondering lately about the idea of creating a formula in Google Sheets using IMPORTFEED where each n...

In Glow Blogs, we have the Glow Blogs Reader (Follow Blogs)

The Glow blogs reader allows you to ‘follow’ a number of Glow Blogs. In following blogs you will be able to see which of these blogs has been updated in your dashboard rather than have to visit each site to check for updates.

Useful because 1. it allows you to follow private blogs which an RSS Reader will not and 2. For teachers unfamiliar with RSS and readers it will be a lot simpler.

It doesn’t have the facility to mark off or record posts that you have commented on which is of interest to Aaron.

 

Syndication not Silos⤴

from @ wwwd – John's World Wide Wall Display

I just saw a provocative link from Aaron Davis, down with syndication, it was a reply on his site to an original post with that title by Ben Weirdmuller.

Arron has be a great example of an educator exploring the IndieWeb of which Ben is a major proponent.

Ben’s post is concerned with the idea of gaining more independence from the silos (twitter, Facebook and the like) and publishing more on his site. A lot of IndieWeb concepts involve publishing to your own site and sending links or repeating the posts across social media (like a link to this one will be auto posted to Twitter).

In his post Ben writes of leaving the silos behind completely. Just keeping things on his own site:

I think it might be more effective to move all the value away: publish on your own site, and use independent readers like Woodwind or Newsblur to consume content. Forget using social networks as the conduit. Let’s go full indie.

Ben mentions IndieWeb readers, that allow folk to create their own ‘syndication’ and reply, bookmark etc on their own site.

Nothing I’d disagree with there. I am quite shallow and enjoy likes, especially from Instagram coming a back to my blog via brid.gy but, in theory, I love the idea of full independence.

The provocation, to me came from the word Syndication. Before I’d heard of IndieWeb I’d been involved in DS106. This means that for me syndication means something different than a silo. To me a syndication is something set up for a group, long or short term that can be completely separate from any silos. DS106, and many other educational syndications uses a WordPress blog to syndicate content from other sites. Alan Levine, @cogdog, has set up many examples of this sort of thing.

When I was involved in the migration of Glow Blogs one of the features I managed to get included was a syndication plugin. This took quite a lot of insistence on my part, but the University of Dundee and Derek Robinson have certainly made that worthwhile with EduShare which syndicates trainee teacher reflections. 1

These non-silo syndications are, if not a gateway drug to the IndieWeb, a great way to get people considering how and where they publish to the web and how community could be built.

These syndications can be used for long running or short projects 2, the participants don’t need the expertise beyond setting up a blog. You can participate in different communities from the same blog.

The great thing about a syndication is that the content doesn’t go away if the syndication does. Any discussion can take place on the participating sites. All the hub does is make it easy to read and make connections. Micro.blog reminds me of this in many ways, although the participants are not grouped round a class or topic.

Now I am thinking I should do a lot more to publicise the possibilities for syndication in Glow Blogs.

Featured image: Silos | Darko Pevec | Flickr Creative Commons — Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic — CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

  1. The UoD is by far the biggest and best example of syndication in Glow Blogs. I’ve used it for a couple of smaller examples but it is IMO one of the features of Glow that could be used much more widely.
  2. A example of a short aggregation I organised on Glow Blogs Blogging Bootcamp #2 | Get your blogs up and running Autumn 2015

Word Press for Weans 2018 #pressedconf18⤴

from @ wwwd – John's World Wide Wall Display

This is a summary of my presentation for PressED – A WordPress and Education, Pedagogy and Research Conference on Twitter. I’ve pasted the text from the tweets, without the conference hash tags below.

I am @johnjohnston a primary school teacher in Scotland. I acted as ‘Product Owner’ for Glow Blogs from 2014 to 2016 & continue the role on a part time basis.

Glow is a service for to all schools & education establishments across Scotland.

Glow gives access to a number of different web services.

One of these services is Glow Blogs which runs on WordPress.

  • Glow Blogs consist of 33 multisites
  • Total number of blogs 219,834
  • Total number of views in February 2018 1,600,074
  • Number of blog users logging on in Feb 2018 243,199

All teachers and pupils in Scotland can have access to #GlowBlogs via a Single signon via RMUNIFY (shibboleth)

 

Development

#GlowBlogs developed & maintained by Scottish Government considerable amount of work going into dev, testing, security and data protection. This differs from many edu #WordPress set ups as changes developed relatively slowly.

Major customisations include shibboleth signon, user roles & privacy. Teachers/Pupils have slightly different permissions.
Blogs can be public, private or “Glow Only”
There is also an e-Portfolio facility added via a plugin.

 

How the Blogs are used

Glow Blogs are currently used for School Websites, Class Blogs, Project Blogs, Trips, Libraries, eportfolios. Blogs By Learners, Blogs for Learners (Resources, revision ect), collaborations, aggregations.

 

e-Portfolios

ePortfolios supported by plugin, custom taxonomy. ‘Profiles’ print or export to PDF. Pupil portfolio blogs can have sparkly unicorns or black vampire styles but the profiles that come out look clean and neat.

Pupils

Pupils can learn to be on the web but with <13 we have duty of care.
Pupils can create blogs. Cannot make blogs public.

A member of staff can make pupil’s blogs public. Pupils can be members of public blog and post publicly.

 

Examples


A collaboration https://blogs.glowscotland.org.uk/glowblogs/worldmustbecomingtoanend
Bees https://blogs.glowscotland.org.uk/nl/buzzingaboutbees/
A Blacksmith https://blogs.glowscotland.org.uk/st/scottishblacksmith
An aggregation https://blogs.glowscotland.org.uk/glowblogs/uodedushare
pupil projects: https://blogs.glowscotland.org.uk/ab/endeavour
more https://blogs.glowscotland.org.uk/glowblogs/glowingposts

Possibilities

Only scratched the surface of the potential of #WordPress the tools are in place, Scottish teachers and learners are exploring the possibilities but it is early days. We are tooled up for the future.

 

 

 

Listening to Aaron’s microcast⤴

from @ wwwd – John's World Wide Wall Display

Read Write Microcast #008 – Limits of Automation by Aaron DavisAaron Davis from collect.readwriterespond.com
Confident – the connecting of the dots and capitalising on different possibilities. Essential Elements of Digital Literacies In this microcast, I reflect on automating technology and wonder if there is a limit to how far we should go. Further reading: When Automation Goes Awry https://col...

The dilemma in supporting schools in using technology: Give out fish or teach to fish. Before I came back to school I was faced with this problem more than once.

What I would say now, in hindsight, is that if you make the solution yourself it adds risk. I thoroughly enjoy making simple scripts and workflows, but these are generally fragile. You might end up with more long term support than you thought, or worse raising and dashing expectations.

In my part-time life I am still supporting Glow Blogs. Quite often it would be easier to fix something in response to a request for help. More often now I try to write instructions instead. I can add these to the help and point the next problem a those.

I need to get back to microcasting. I enjoyed listen to this on my commute. The focus on one subject in the short form podcast is valuable.

Reading Self Assessment Workflows⤴

from @ wwwd – John's World Wide Wall Display

One of the activities I get my class to do is to record themselves reading for self assessment. This is not particularly exciting or complicated but I think it is worthwhile.

We use bossjock jr a free iOS recording application 1. This allows pupils to record their reading. After they are finished they can export the recording into the Notes app and add their self assessment. This can then be air dropped to me. Using Apple Classroom means that I don’t have to accept the drop, it waits for me in Classroom until I’ve time to move then to my Notes. 2

From my point of view Notes is not the greatest app for organisation, but I can move the notes to a folder at least.

The pupils can also upload their recording to their e-Portfolios on Glow Blogs.

This is slightly trickier as they need to get the files somewhere they can be uploaded through the browser. This means a 2 step process:
1. Export the files from either bossjock or notes, via the Files app to iCloud or OneDrive 3
2. Choose the recording from Files in the file upload on blogs.

The class all have managed this fine, it might take a few goes for some of them to remember they need to export. 4

I love that you can ‘share’ media straight from Notes into the Files app.

I have also tested Drag and drop from Notes to Safari and that seems to work too, it seems easiest to drop it on the Upload Button in the WordPress media library.

I’ve not tested this with the pupils yet. Next time.

  1. Bossjock jr, and its paid for big brother bossjock studio, do a lot more than simple recording. They allow you to load up carts of sounds and make a recording mixing them together.
  2. Something has stopped classroom working on our network at school at the moment, I’ll be delighted if it can be fixed, it is a game changer for distribution and collection.
  3. It looks like OneDrive is finally a full partner with the files app, we have been using iCloud, but might switch to OneDrive if it works as well.
  4. I share a screencast with them all showing the process, but any who needed a minding of what to do just asked me.

Gutenberg on iPad⤴

from @ wwwd – John's World Wide Wall Display

I’ve been testing the new Gutenberg editor for WordPress a little. I just sent the url to this short video in the feedback form.

I am finding using the editor a little tricky on iOS. It is a lot better in portrait mode. I can see that many folk will like Gutenberg and it has some interesting features.

I really hope that the experience on iOS can get better before we get this in Glow Blogs. Just from a selfish point of view, my class use iPads to post to their e-portfolios. Having said that I alway get them to write in the Notes app first. Pasting multi-lne text in to Gutenberg seems to be handled nicely, the double/treble returns my pupil like to type gets stripped out sensibly.

How to improve Glow Blogs?⤴

from @ wwwd – John's World Wide Wall Display

I’ve been involved with Glow Blogs as product owner for a few years now 1. I think my main aim has been to avoid the stagnation that happened with the previous system and to keep the service as useful as possible for teachers and pupils 2.

So far we have I think managed that by keeping up with WordPress releases and adding features to improve various different aspects.

Since the rebooting of Glow in October 2014 there have been around 3 major releases of Glow Blogs every year. At the end of last session it was decided that these gradual improvements were going smoothly enough to drop back to one major release each year 3.

It was also decided to formalise the way we get ideas for improvements a little. To do this we are trying to gather suggestions in one place as opposed to the rather ad-hoc system that was in place before.

It seemed like a good idea to use the blog service itself to gather these ideas so a page has been added to the Help Blog for suggestions.

Anyone who is interested can suggest ideas and these will be triaged into the release for next summer.

This doesn’t mean that all suggestions will be taken forward. I’ve learnt my lesson a few times with suggestions of my own. Some ideas might be too expensive, some might be insecure or too difficult to implement in our setup. It was surprising how complicated adding features to Glow Blogs turned out to be. Glow Blogs is, I believe, the biggest WordPress set up in Europe so changes cannot be made lightly. On the other hand the service needs to met the needs of teachers & pupils in Scotland.

If you are a user of blogs I hope you will take a bit of time to think of how the service could be improved. Then it is just a case of filling in the form and we will take it from there. If you leave contact details with your suggestion I’ll certainly get back to you, possibly with some questions. We will also post the suggestions as they are made to the help blog to allow others to comment or express interest.

One more time, here is the link for suggestions. The cut for next years release will be at the end of November.

Featured Image: Image from page 196 of “Suggestions for handwork in school… | Flickr No known copyright restrictions.

  1. Now on a part time basis.
  2. And others involved in Scottish education.
  3. In addition to any security releases of WordPress itself.

e-Portfolios in practise⤴

from @ wwwd – John's World Wide Wall Display

As an enthusiastic proponent of pupil blogging when I first heard about the e-Portfolio system developed in Glow Blogs I was rather worried. I think this was around 2012. I had been excited about Glow Blogs giving the opportunity to Scottish teachers to get blogging into their classrooms. When I saw e-Portfolios appear I saw them as adding complexity to the process (the rules, the capacities and Es & Os). The idea of blogging being a requirement and be controlled and constrained felt as if it was against my idealistic ideas.

Over the next couple of years I worked in many schools helping set up e-Portfolos with groups of pupils. I rarely saw the end result. One good thing I saw was teachers realising that posting to WordPress was a lot easier that their usual way of creating a website. In our Local Authority like many others schools started to move their websites to Glow Blogs.

It was ironic then that when working on Glow in 2014-15 that I spent a lot of my time working on improving the e-Portfolio system.

Last session I found myself returning to class teaching. Over that year I did some blogging with the class and set up and used e-Portfolios a bit. Less than I hoped but getting back into teaching after a major curriculum change had its challenges (I am still working on some of these).

One of the things that has changed is the ease of getting an audience. Providing an audience for pupil work was one of the main benefits I found in Sandaig. A lot has changed in the 12 year since I started getting pupils to blog. There has been a massive increase in publishing by schools. It seems a lot harder to gain an audience.

Last session e-Portfolios became less of a focus when I found out that the secondary we feed had its own requirements for a pupil profile and this was not one created by a blog.

This session I decided to give the e-Portfolios another chance, focussing on informal self evaluation and celebration.

After a term I think this is going pretty well. The class are largely enthusiastic about the process. We are managing to make at least one weekly review post a week. In addition the pupils are sometimes posting their artwork, writing and at some end of sections review of maths work.

The children are taking posting seriously, recording learning and some beginning to pinpoint next steps.

I’ve been giving out a template with suggestions for the weekly review asking different children to complete more or less depending on ability. Some pupils need 1-2-1 support every time, others are running away with it. The template is the sort of thing you would expect (best work this week, why, didn’t like, why, enjoyed etc). One thing the pupils especially like is to summarise their week in emoji. I added this as a wee bit of fun, but it has been fascinating to see how some really think about this.

With a class with a wide range of abilities, across p4-7, it is a bit of a challenge to manage the process. This is somewhat eased by the fact there are 17 pupils in the class and we have 1-2-1 iPads.

Next term I’ll change these around a bit giving some pupils simpler templates to start. I do vary the questions from week to week already.

At this point the posts have a fair number of typos, spelling and grammar errors. I try not to focus on these but will pick that up later on this session. I want the pupils to enjoy posting. I encourage photos along with text and the pupils are posting some multimedia. I’ve also asked them to post about learning outside school too.

I do review what they write briefly before they transfer from notes to their blog. I am a fan of editing blogs posts in external app 1.

I was delighted one week when a Primary 4 pupil was still working at the end of the session, he had decided to make a short video of a magic trick he had learnt as an example. This was off his own bat without any prompt.

One of the things that has surprised me most is the pleasure I get in ‘marking’ the post by leaving comments. I can’t say marking jotters is something I always enjoy but I do love commenting.

I’d though that the process of posting weekly would speed up and not take some much time after a few weeks, this has not happened yet. Some pupils need support in publishing, more in writing. I do think the process is justifiable in terms of basic literacy as a exercise in writing, grammar and spelling. It is also hitting a few Health and Wellbeing E&Os 2. Perhaps some ICT too;-).

There are a few different e-Portfolio systems on the go across Scotland, several based on different Glow services. I am of course biased towards the web, blogs and WordPress. Glow Blogs now have a nice follow system that makes it easy to keep up with pupil blogs, I know my way round WordPress, it is flexible open source software with good exit/export paths 3.

Apart from system used, I am pleased with the results I am getting by using e-portfolies, a a little surprised at the range of learning that can go on in the process.

Featured image E-Portfolio | Oliver Tacke | Flickr Public domain

  1. This one started in drafts.
  2. See Healthy Lifestyles – Second Level – Achieving for example
  3. I think it important to start, at least in baby steps, talking about ownership, copyright, relationships to software and companies who own that software.

Organising Pupil Content on Blogs⤴

from @ John's World Wide Wall Display

This is hopefully a useful tip for organising pupil created content on WordPress blogs like Glow Blogs.

Most of the content posed to blogs consists of posts or pages. Posts join the stream, pages are static generally accessed from menus.

This is another way to organise content that can be useful. Especially if several pupils are posting similar content at the same time. It helps organise that content and the early posters don’t get pushed away down the stream.

An Example Banton Birds

At school we are trying to pay attention to the local birdlife. We took part in the BIG BBC Bird watch with local Bird watchers, Mr & Mrs Carter. We started feeding the birds and trying to get some photos.

The pupils are doing a bit of research on the birds we saw (not too many it was a windy hour) and I hope they will continue over time adding other birds seen in the playground and around.

I want to organise these bits of research automatically collecting them together. To do this the pupils create, not posts or pages but a custom post type, project.

How it is done

This is just one way to do this but it is, at least on Glow Blogs, the most straightforward. It uses the JetPack Custom Content Types module and the unfortunately 1 named Portfolio Projects.

These projects are like pages in that they are out of the flow but like posts have Project Types (like categories) and Project Tags (like tags) that can be used to organise them. The also have a shortcode that can be used to create an index of the projects by type or tag2.

  1. Activate the Jetpack plugin.
  2. In Jetpack Settings Activate Custom Content Types.
  3. In Settings-> Writing Enable Portfolio Projects for this site
  4. Pupils create Projects for each item, add a project type (in this case Birds).

To create an index of these projects I add a page Banton Birds and add a shortcode to the page:

[portfolio include_type=birds display_types=false]

To make the index more visual the pupils make sure they have added a featured image to their posts. That automatically creates a thumbnail.

I’ve used this technique several times on blogs myself, including the Projects page on this blog. I’ve used it too to provide and organise photos and links on the Biggies blog for the pupils.

1. For Glow Blogs where we have a lot of pupil e-portfolios through a custom plugin.

2. You could do the same with pages using the hierarchy and the Display Posts Shortcode plugin, but not as easily.

Bringing it All Back Home at the UoD⤴

from @ John's World Wide Wall Display

Yesterday Derek Robertson tweeted out a screenshot of the 1000th post syndicated into the UoDEdushare | The central sharing hub for #UoDedu teacher education students at the University of Dundee.

One of the features of blogging I was passionate (or a pin in the neck) about getting into Glow Blogs was some sort of syndication. This allows posts from a set of site top be pulled into a central site while respecting the original post and it owner (by linking back and pointing to the original as the source).

Derek has been tireless in pursuing his vision of the students working in this way, publicly sharing their learning. It is a marvel to see in action.

I used the same idea for a couple of small projects last year but am thrilled to see this in a much bigger scale.

It is also wonderful that so many student teachers are not just exposed to technology in a fly-by way but it is incorporated into their learning. I’ll be interested to see the effect this has of using tech, and in particular blogs, in schools across Scotland in the next few years.