1. FeedLand is a feed management system for individuals and groups. So far it’s only been offered as a free service on the web.
4. Here’s the big news: The new FeedLand server software will be available as open source, so anyone will be able to run a FeedLand instance. It’s a Node.js application. Uses MySQL. You may want to hook up an S3 bucket for special features like RSS feeds for Likes. At first email sending will be via Amazon SES, the method I currently use. It will be possible to plug in new drivers to use other email services.
As someone who has been pretty excited about RSS for years this sounds great.
Wayback when ScotEduBlogs was a ruby app1, I had this wild idea that a visitor could create a subset of the feeds on the site, save that and view the subset in some way. I think an instance of FeedLand could do just that.
Apart from the unknown of how running FeedLand would work2 I think there are a couple of barriers:
The lack of blogs about Scottish education, maybe twitter problems will help that).
Unlike social media, these older content-creation tools did not restrict the length of contributions or steal your attention every waking moment with incessant dopamine-releasing notifications. Instead, they allowed developing thoughts to be published, ideas shared and shaped, links made to like-minded thinkers, and documents to be written collaboratively – the very values cherished by both luminaries of the Scottish Enlightenment and the creator of the web.
What was missing in 2010 was any sort of directory: a working record1 of the many flowering blogs, themes and ideas. A “ScotsEdu” wiki would quickly establish this, editable by all, allowing for information to be updated quickly and providing a map for educators, linking ideas, papers and research.
In short, it would provide a one-stop shop to support an ongoing national discussion about Scottish education.
I saw this article via twitter after a link was tweeted by Ollie Bray. Ironically Ollie was once a very prolific Scottish educational blogger.
A working record
A working record is not missing, but perhaps un-noticed. ScotEduBlogs has a record of posts going back to 2006!
ScotEduBlogs goes back to a Wiki started by Ewan McIntosh on Wikispaces. When the list of blogs became a bit to long to follow by clicking links, we 2 created ScotEduBlogs . At first it consisted of a aggregation of posts from across Scotland and a supporting Wiki. Over the years it has shrunk to an aggregation site now maintained, in a fairly lax fashion, by myself.
The site started aggregating class & teacher blogs. After the move to WordPress I reduced it to ‘professional’ blogs. It had gained some higher education blogs, but the frequency of posts has dropped.
The article made me visit the backend of SEB for the first time in a while. Much to my embarrassment I found a request to join by the TES article’s author Andrew McLaughlin. I’ve now added his blog. The form on the site has failed to send me an email. I added a link to email me requests, which should do as a stopgap.
I took a moment to improve the menus on mobile. I also set up a mastodon account for SEB so that people can get the link to new activity in their mastodon account in the same way as they could follow the twitter account. Given the current twitter woes, I hope the mastodon account will be useful.
It might be time for a revival of ScotEduBlogs. I would be delighted to add more sites. I’d also be interested in any ideas for improving the site
Personally I rarely visit the SEB site, I subscribe to its RSS Feed in my feed reader. This gives me all the news from all the blogs in SEB without having to subscribe to them all individually.
Just after I discover RSS in the “flowering” of theScotEduBlogs community I got interested in aggregating RSS and creating specialised readers. Back in around 2006 I was blogging some ideas which lead to Robert Jones & Pete Liddle creating the first iteration of the ScotEduBlogs aggregation. Later I moved the site to WordPress using the FeedWordPress plug-in. I’d seen this in use on the marvellous DS106 site which aggregates blogs of students and open participants of the many iterations of the notorious Digital Storytelling course. The flow on DS106 has pulled in 91749 (at time of writing) posts since 2010.
ScotEduBlogs is at a bit of a low at the moment, there are not so many folk blogging about education in Scotland. I still love the idea of ‘specialist’ or community aggregations or feed readers. Of course the site has an RSS feed that can be subscribed to. Dave Winer’s FeedLand, which I noted in a previous #FeedReaderFriday, can also create ‘News Products’ with similar results.
Folk to Follow
I like to follow some human aggregators, even better if they add their own opinions. One of my favourites in Arron Davis his Read Write Collect blog is an IndieWeb style collector of replies, bookmarks and other responses. RSS.
Some of Tom Woodward’s Bionic Teaching – utan blixt consists of his harvest of links with brief comment. This might be auto posted, perhaps from pinboard? He also posts about higher ed use of technology and, of particular interest to me, his work with WordPress. RSS
This post is part of a series with a wee bit about readers and a couple of suggestions of feeds to follow.
I was encouraged to write this by Jill Berry and Lena Carter, who both wrote excellent reflective blogs recently that show why they’re two of the most important voices in education, and are people that I respect greatly (links are at the end). It’s been far too long since I wrote something for my own website, but I’ve been able to contribute pieces to various other blogs and media outlets this year. If you’ve never taken up writing about education, but have always had an itch to do so, I strongly recommend it. The thought process that goes into blogging is, for me, the best and most therapeutic form of professional reflection.
James Furlong and Owain Bristow
There can be no doubt that 2020 was a year that brought many lows, but for me the loss of two colleagues far outweighs anything else that happened. When I was Head of History at Wellington College, James Furlong was in the same role at the Holt School in Wokingham. He was a lovely guy, with a sharp intellect and superb subject knowledge. I got to know him through professional learning events that we ran for history teachers, and he very kindly took on School Direct trainees from my department. They always came back full of praise for the wisdom and advice that he imparted. James was tragically killed in a senseless terrorist attack in Reading, and I can only imagine how that would have impacted on his school community – who, it must be said, gave wonderfully compassionate support to their staff and pupils. James was an active member of the LGBTQI+ community who went out of his way to help people; he was the very epitome of kindness. The Holt are raising money for a memorial garden in his memory, and you can make a donation here.
In August, our Head of Biology at Robert Gordon’s College, Owain Bristow, died in a tragic accident just after we had returned to school. Owain was a brilliant scientist, with a quirky sense of humour, and the tributes that poured in showed just how much he meant to everyone in our community. He loved the outdoors, and dedicated much of his spare time to volunteering with Aberdeen Young Walkers. He was also a top-level athlete, an enthusiastic pantomime performer, and a much-loved son, boyfriend and uncle. The book that we put together of all the letters, cards, pictures and messages we received shows just how many lives he changed for the better.
Both men gave so much to their schools, but also to wider society. As teachers, we know what we do is important, but we perhaps underestimate just how much. The legacy left by James and Owain shows the true value of the teaching profession. They are greatly missed.
Life as a new headteacher
I started my first headship in August this year, and the phrase that I have heard many times is that I’ve had “a baptism of fire”. True, crisis management has been a consistent feature of my first few months, but ultimately you know what you sign up for when you become a head. It is undoubtedly hard, and it’s not for everyone, but the support you get is amazing. My advice is to try to build up a strong network around you; people who can advise you, provide a sympathetic ear, and also be a critical friend. The better your network, the more able you are to do your job.
I wrote this blog a few years back about senior leadership, and reflecting on it now I think it holds up pretty well. The tweet by Amy Fast that inspired it is, still, excellent advice:
I did the Scottish MSc level qualification ‘Into Headship’ in 2019-20 at Stirling University, and I can very much recommend it. Everyone I know who has taken it has been full of praise, unlike many people I know who have done NPQH. The reading part is the most challenging for many, but I loved that aspect and picked up a few things along the way. The work on the Complexity Leadership Theory (CLT) by Uhl-Bien et al (2007), although not on the prescribed reading list, was perhaps the best thing I read so if you have time then try to delve into it. I think it’s the closest thing to my experience of senior leadership so far.
Lockdown and remote learning
I described the second lockdown in a message to parents this week as “the sequel that nobody wanted, to a movie that no one enjoyed.” However, it won’t last forever and it has at least forced us to find creative solutions to problems that we’ve never faced before. Another colleague made a great point to me this week, namely that the paradigm shift that we’ve experienced has done much to destroy the ‘aye beens’ culture that affects not just Scottish education, but global systems too. That is to say, that we do many things because that’s the way we’ve always done them, without questioning why. I’ve never bought into that; I think we should do things because we know it’s the best way to do them. That’s now throwing national assessment into sharp relief, and I’ve been involved with other leaders in Scottish education in trying to open this debate up since before lockdown, as you can read about in this TES piece. We might, at last, be getting some traction.
I wrote a piece when we entered the first lockdown about remote learning, and I think much of it still holds true. However, things have moved on, so there is scope to update this based on what we’ve learned over the last few months. It’s been interesting to see this blog getting a lot more hits in the past fortnight, so if you have fresher thoughts about what makes for effective remote learning then please do share them.
Srebrenica – the 25th Anniversary
Two of the things that I’ve been very sad to see fall by the wayside due to COVID were events for Remembering Srebrenica Scotland. I was supposed to lead a delegation of Scottish educators to Bosnia last April, and we’ve had to put this on hold until we’re able to travel again. My colleagues at RSS, especially Marsaili Fraser and Robert McNeil, put a huge amount of effort into curating an exhibition at the Kelvingrove to mark the 25th anniversary of the genocide at Srebrenica. I hope that their efforts will be available to the public in due course. I did manage to record a podcast with Jasmine Miller (who I’ve been privileged to work with on many different educational projects), and her full Srebrenica Stories series is well worth listening to. I was also privileged to interview survivor Hasan Hasanovic, who runs the memorial centre at Potocari (the film of that interview, called ‘On Planting Seeds’, was made by the brilliant Eva Magdic Govedarica). Hasan’s new book, with Ann Petrila, Voices From Srebrenica, has just been published and I strongly recommend it.
The point of what we do at RSS is not to vilify any groups of people, but to challenge toxic ideology. We’ve seen far too much of that in 2020, and the recent events on Capitol Hill show that misinformation and demagoguery holds the capacity to rip apart the fabric of civil society. We are in the midst of a struggle to establish the values that we want for the future, and I sincerely hope that the consequences of the death of George Floyd will lead to the better angels of humankind rising above our demons. If we are going to live in a world that is just and fair, we need to see diversity as strength, and build a culture that actively celebrates it, and doesn’t just acknowledge it. As one of my colleagues says, tolerance is a weak virtue. Let’s take allyship forward this year, and champion the causes that matter.
Professional learning – a golden age?
One of the definite silver linings of the past year has been a flourishing of professional learning. I ran a series with Mark Healy called the Professional Learning Gaitherin’, which brought together some of the leading voices in Scottish education to give weekly talks and twitter chats each Saturday morning during the summer term. It developed a strong following and it’s been interesting to see people watching these long after the series came to an end. A key feature is that the PL Gaitherin’ was free, and the same applied to excellent collections produced by researchEd Home and the Teacher Development Trust, and new events like ScotEd 2020 (you can find me at the end, but you’re much better off starting at the beginning). Some have called this a ‘golden age’ of professional learning, which is correct in the sense of the opportunities out there, but perhaps less accurate in that teachers struggled to engage with anything beyond upskilling on technology. Still, the legacy is there and I hope 2021 allows people more opportunity to become research informed in their practice.
Coming out of the curve
There will be a post-COVID world in which there will be incredible opportunities. I’m trying to use any spare energy and time to plan for that world, because it will be a unique moment in time in which we can capitalise on the gains that we have undoubtedly made. I’m genuinely excited by that, and what I’ve written above shows, I hope, that it has never been more important to be involved in education. As Tom Paine said, “we have it in our power to begin the world over again”. Let’s get it right this time.
Jeffery Zeldman argues that in being unable to pay mortgage associated with the web, we have become indebted to the mob that is platform capitalism. This has led us into the money trap, which demands unrealistic rewards that care more about clicks than community. Zeldman’s suggestion on how to fix...
As part of my summer holiday fun with WordPress I though I might create a ‘proper’ RSS feed for my microcast.
There are quite a few podcast plugins that would do the job but I though it might be interesting to try a bit of DIY.
Back when I started a class podcast at Radio Sandaig I used to create the RSS feed by hand with a text editor and a fair bit of copy and paste. Over at Edutalk we use feedburner to massage the feed for iTunes.
I am finding micro.blog a really interesting community.
From an educational POV the most positive experience and the one that I would like to see replicated (in Glow and elsewhere) is #DS106.
DS106 influences the way I think about ScotEduBlogs and the way I built two Glow Blogging Bootcamps 1.
In particular these sites aggregate participants content but encourage any comments and feedback to go on the originators site.
Micro.blog is making me rethink this a little, there you can comment on micro.blog (the same as the blog hub in DS106) and that comment gets sent as a webmention to the originators site. This makes thinks a lot easier to carry through.
Micro.blog also provides the equivalent of the #ds106 twitter hashtag but keeps that in the same space as the hub/rss reader.
Manton recently wrote:
Micro.blog will never be that big. What we need instead of another huge social network is a bunch of smaller platforms that are built on blogs and the open web.
Firstly it reinforces how Manton really thinks hard about making micro.blog a brilliant place, avoiding the pitfalls of huge silos.
Secondly it speaks to idea of multiple social networks. Imagine if DS106 and ScotEdublogs where both platforms in this sense, I could join in either or both along with others using my blog to publish. I could decide which posts of mine to send to which community, and so on.
It is the same idea I’ve had for Glow blogs since I started working with them 2.
Class blogs could join in and participate in different projects.
It would be easy to start a local or national project and pull together content and conversation from across the web into one learning space. Although I’ve spoken and blogged a lot about this idea I don’t think I’ve made it stick in the minds of many Scottish educators. I wish I could.
Blogging Bootcamp spring 2015 & Blogging Bootcamp #2 Autumn 2015↩. I believe the potential for these sorts of educational activity is much underused in primary and secondary education. I wish I was in the position to organise and design more of these…
The service is very new and so far has changed and developed every day.
The idea is, you publish short posts, these are mirrored on micro.blog/yourusername via RSS. The posts can be from any RSS feed. You can get a micro.blog hosted blog at yourusername.micro.blog or use your own hosting.
The micro.blog iOS app will post to your micro.blog blog or your own WordPress blog. Or you can use your own system. There is a microblog bot that will post your posts on to Twitter too.
The difference between the hosted blog and your micro.blog/username stream is a mite confusing at the moment. I wonder if a different domain name might have helped.
Both the hosted blog and the twitter bot are paid for options. The docs make it clear that you can host your own and point to IFTTT as an alternative to the bot.
The system follows the indieweb principle of controlling your own content and sending it on to other spaces.
Replies on micro.blog to your posts are sent as webmentions to your own blog and show up as comments if you have the webmention plugin installed. I had that already to get twitter replies as comments.
I’ve added a new category here, micro. I’ve edited the blog to not have posts with this category show on the home page, they show on micro instead.
I set the micro.blog app to create posts with the status format in the micro category.
I turned off the jetpack social posting to Twitter function. I’ll manually post normal posts. I’ve set up a micro.blog bot to post to Twitter.
The service is very much a work in progress, and I’ve not really read the docs but I’ve noticed a few interesting things.
On is that the posts on micro.blog consist of descriptions with no titles. When you post form the app, you get a post on your blog without a title. A post with a title on your blog is posted as a link to micro.blog. With a post without out a title the description becomes the content of the micro.blog post.
That means you get lots of posts listed in your dashboard as ‘no title’. Since I didn’t like this I tried to auto add titles to posts without titles with a little Google-fu and some WordPress coding.
This worked out fine, except the posts on micro.blog consist of a title and a link, the tweet posted by the twitter bot is the same.
I am now looking to create a custom RSS feed without title. More googling ahead.
Alternatively I could use the code from Tweaks for micro.blog that adds dates as titles, micro.blog ignore these.
Or just learn to live with ‘no title’ posts in the dashboard.