If I turned the clock back a couple of years, my experience with ICT in the classroom had not really progressed beyond having my classes word –process essays for English Folio. I could muddle about with e-mail and the Internet but most of it was completely alien to me. Glow, Scotland’s national intranet, changed all that. Glow has turned me into a Blogger, ICT geek and a much, much better teacher. I know there will be those of you who will harrumph and dismiss, but I remain convinced that, despite the flaws, we must persist with Glow if we are to engage all teachers in Curriculum for Excellence in Scotland.
In case you are unaware or haven’t heard or don’t care, Glow is the world's first national intranet for education which hopes to transform the way the curriculum is delivered in Scotland. The idea is, simply put, that all teachers, pupils, schools, can share ideas, lessons, everything in a safe environment. We can access all sorts of online tools, including Blogs, Wikis, Chatroom, as well as document stores for pupils, parents and other teachers.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m aware of the problems. It can be cumbersome and difficult to manage at first. Log in can be problematic. Finding your way around can be confusing. However, after a great deal of patience and persistence, logging on for a few minutes every day, the process becomes much easier.
Glow has transformed my classroom. Only last week I had my senior class on Revision Chatrooms for four nights before their final Higher English exam; my challenging S3 class beginning reflective Blogs and S2 class uploading Imaginative Writing. During the year I had an online poll, creative writing Blogs, and I could provide all sorts of important web links and movie clips. Two years ago I couldn’t do that. Without Glow I probably wouldn’t have done that.
‘So what?’ you may say and you may be right in that. Many a computing teacher has smirked at my claims. Of course there are better online tools out there. Of course we have more easily accessible online resources. But I’m sure you are very tech savvy. There are thousands of teachers out there who are not.
If we are truly to expect all teachers to engage with the Curriculum for Excellence then we must encourage them to use available online tools in order to engage their pupils in a manner which reflects their changing needs and to enhance their practice with the new guidelines in mind. I believe Glow can do that. I also believe it is not especially helpful to deride Glow at a time when so many teachers are resisting the temptation of ICT in the classroom. Glow is a safe environment for people to get used to online tools and begin sharing with pupils. Then, perhaps, teachers can develop the confidence to go further. Glow might not be perfect but it is something. It would be foolish to give up on it now.