Glow’s Next Phase
Glow was first conceived in 2001 as The Scottish Schools Digital Network. Its concept was simple, to use online tools to support teachers and pupils to enhance Scottish education. That core mission remains, but the online world has changed radically in the last 11 years and to remain relevant to its users Glow must change with it.
Since 2001 myriad new services have begun or grown. It’s worth reflecting that conceptually Glow predates SmartPhones, Twitter, Skype, Facebook, Flickr and Youtube.
I articulated in September last year my vision for the future of Glow, and in October the ICT in Education conference took place and the user community generated invaluable insights on how Glow could develop in future. Debate and suggestions examined how we could deliver on my 5 key principles for Glow:
– Change the culture of use of ICT
– Improve confidence in the use of ICT for learners, teachers, school leaders and parents
– Promote new behaviours for teaching
– Deepen parental engagement
– Strengthen position on hardware and associated infrastructure
The informed engagement through the ICT conference, and other mediums such as Twitter, has crystallised for me the need for the long-term future of Glow to be user-led, and potentially user delivered. In the meantime it is vital that we secure continuity of service for Glow’s users and for its current application suite to be overhauled.
To ensure continuity we have taken the step of extending the current RM provision through to December 2013. Microsoft have agreed to provide the tools and services of their integrated application suite ‘Microsoft Office 365 for Education’ for free through to December 2014; this was the first offer of its kind in the world for a national schools project.
Microsoft have also agreed to go further and deliver a package over and above the integrated application suite to deliver on the 5 key principles for Glow. For example, the improvements to the functionality and ease of use of the Glow application suite will be aided by a full-time dedicated staff member funded by Microsoft to help support and promote the service.
As a Government we will also work to integrate the ICT choices made by local authorities for their own education communities within our co-ordinated national effort.
As I set out in September 2011 Glow must continue to evolve and become more dynamic. At the heart of this is seeking a secure way through Glow for pupils, parents and teachers to utilise the free tools and the open source services that already exist on the web or that will emerge in the future.
One criticism of how Glow has developed over the years is that users were not sufficiently involved in directing its future. I agree.
We must build on the successful user engagements of the ICT conference and the debates on the future of Glow that take place online. As the First Minister has said, we do not have a monopoly on wisdom.
With the roll-out of the new and improved integrated application suite and the agreement to extend the services of RM, the work of the current iteration of the ICT in Education programme board will draw to a close. To oversee the next phase in development I have asked the Scottish Government’s new Chief Scientific Adviser, Prof Muffy Calder, to convene an ICT Education Excellence group. The excellence group will call on the expertise of education technology specialists and end users.
The excellence group will have the immediate task of scoping the long-term user-centred future of Glow. Their challenge will be to imagine a future for the service that provides a seamless user experience and connectivity on the one hand and an open pluralist range of tools and applications on the other.
The group will draw on the contributions made to date and further explore community generated contributions like Glew.
11 years ago when Glow was first conceived it would have been hard to imagine the range of free online tools and services that could be used to enhance education today.
The exciting opportunity is to develop Glow to be a service that evolves with the demands of teachers and pupils, and utilising new tools as they emerge. Only by creating a user-centred Glow will we ensure that in 2023 the service remains relevant and vital to Scottish Education.
Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning.
Have your say
Join in the discussion and help us make Scottish Education even better.