Gets Easier to Use

Screenshot of the new edubuzz interfaceIt’s become even easier to get publishing on following today’s upgrade to Version 1.5.1 of its WordPress MU software.

The interface redesign is the result of a lot of work by the WordPress community, including extensive usability testing. First impressions are good, but we’ll need to do some checks to see how students and staff react. Some differences bloggers will notice:

  • a more up-to-date appearance
  • a new arrangement for adding media
  • the confusing term “slug” has been replaced with Permalink:…/ Edit
  • a full-screen editor facility has been added
  • “Timestamp” has been replaced with Publish immediately…/Edit

Testing is still under way, but so far at least things seem to be going well.  An existing bug with creation of new blogs, which was leading to login difficulties under Internet Explorer, has also been fixed with this update, although a few existing faulty blogs still need to be fixed.

Update:  There’s an issue with inserting images in posts. I’ve encountered it under Firefox, but have found it’s working OK under Internet Explorer 7. Thought things were going too well…

How To Change An Early WPMU Database from latin1 to utf8 Encoding.

I’ve written a note on how to do this, which is on a separate page was one of the early WordPress Multi-User (WPMU) sites.  It started off with Version 1.0 Release Candidate 4 of the WPMU software. The way WPMU encoded tables within the database changed in later versions, and needed changed. This has proved an extremely time-consuming exercise, and the note is an attempt to save others some time if they encounter the same problem.

Helping Internet-Savvy Staff Make Sense of Glow

Glow logoWe’re noticing that staff new to Glow view it through the prism of their existing model of how the web works. Most of the time, that’s fine, but in some areas it can cause confusion.  Clearly it’s better if we can avoid that confusion, and we’ve been talking today about how we might do that.

The catalyst for the discussion was a planning meeting today with Martin Brown and Karen-Ann MacAlpine of the Glow team for a probationer training session on Glow in August. We expect the probationers will be very experienced internet users, so might be particularly at risk of this confusion.

So where is confusion occurring? Some examples are:

  • an expectation that as it’s web-based, it will be possible to search for content with a search engine
  • an expectation that if you’ve access to a Glow Group, you’ll be able to see it in your list of Glow Groups
  • an expectation that because it’s a private intranet, you won’t be able to hyperlink to things from the public web

What is it that’s happening? We’re presenting people with a very large, complex system which is completely new to them. We do it in relatively short training sessions of only an hour or two, inevitably fairly jam-packed with new terminology. To help make sense of it all, people will use their “best fit” mental model – in this case the one they’ve built up over recent years of how internet stuff works, and – mostly – that’s fine. The confusion occurs, though, when something happens that doesn’t make sense in terms of that model.

What might we do about it? Today we were discussing the possibility of creating some big, simple, “building block” diagrams that could help speed teachers through the process of developing their own mental model of “how Glow works”. We talked, for example, about maybe showing Glow as an iceberg, with just a little bit – the web publishing facility – above the waterline and in public view.

edubuzz blogs help build East Lothian’s learning community

An East Lothian teacher I met tonight mentioned how odd it seemed that, in her few years teaching here, she felt that she knew so many staff in the other authority schools, and so much of what was going on.

She’d been in a city school in a previous life, and had felt much less in touch with what was going on despite the relatively short distances between them.

She didn’t put forward any reason for this, but went on to mention how her class had been:

  • using blog stats from other school’s blogs for data handling exercises
  •  stealing ideas from other class and school blogs to use in class
  • enjoying publishing their own blog and getting comments back

She had been actively involved, too, in publishing the work of a project for others to share, and enjoyed browsing staff blogs.

Of course, this doesn’t in any way prove cause and effect, but more and more of this kind of anecdotal evidence is emerging to suggest that this spider’s web of connections between schools, classes, students and staff is gradually creating a strong sense of a single learning community.

The Top 100 Web2.0 Apps

Webware Top 100 Web2.0 Apps

Via John Naughton,  the Webware Top 100 ( . Webware provide a navigator to help with browsing them.

Organisations will soon be scrabbling to get people who can choose the right tools from the Web2.0 toolbox, and use them effectively. Schools that continue to churn out students who’ve been “protected” from them are going to have a lot of explaining to do…

BT, er, clarifies get-out terms in time for Phorm

I’m getting worried about my old friend BT. She’s fallen in with the wrong company, Phorm, and started behaving completely out of character, being evasive, and started getting into trouble with the law. It was like she didn’t know who she was any more. Saw her interviewed recently, and she couldn’t even answer a simple question.

Today she wrote to me to “keep me informed”, she said, but it was like her memory had gone completely; she didn’t mention any of it. “You can have complete trust in me”, she said.

And she’s losing her grip on language. If you were asked to clarify the term “significant disadvantage”, would you replace it with “material disadvantage”? No, I thought not. That doesn’t clarify it, it completely changes the meaning. But here’s what her letter said.

Changes to the Terms and Conditions for … BT Total Broadband … took place on 3rd January 2008. The changes are summarised below:

  • All references to contractual changes which are to your ‘significant disadvantage’ have been changed to ‘material disadvantage’. These changes are for clarification purposes only.
  • In future when we make contractual changes that we reasonably believe is to your ‘material disadvantage’ we will also let you know that you may end the agreement early without paying a charge for doing so.

She seems to have completely lost her grip of how language works, and has started to think you can just redefine words at will.

Or maybe there’s method in this madness? A reasonable person would view introduction of compulsory interception of their private internet traffic as a change to their significant disadvantage. That might lead them to decide to go elsewhere. Even if they were locked into an 18-month contract, they could walk away without charge, because of that “significant disadvantage”.

But if those terms were, er, “clarified” to replace “significant disadvantage” with “material disadvantage”, the old girl might just argue that things were different. Intercepting private traffic without permission might be illegal and breach the psychological contract between ISP and customer – but it might just be argued that it doesn’t cause a material disadvantage.

This episode has got me suddenly appreciating the emphasis on texts of all kinds in the literacy outcomes.

The definition of ‘texts’ also needs to be broad and future proof. Within Curriculum for Excellence,
a text is the medium through which ideas, experiences, opinions and information can be communicated.
Texts include those presented in traditional written or print form, but also orally, electronically or on film. link

This is, of course, a private view.

Eee PC to get special Windows build

 Not that Microsoft are worried, of course not.

KrispyChips via Slashdot

“In what could be a first Microsoft is working to create a special build of Windows, just because Windows doesn’t run very well on a certain computer. ASUS’ runaway success Eee PC is now ‘officially’ available with Windows XP, but (according to APC magazine) is not exactly a great experience. There are none of the nice pre-loaded apps that come with the Linux version, for example. And XP has some real problems coping with the screen size and limited system specs of the unit. As a result, ASUS says it is going back to Microsoft and working on a special XP build that will be lightweight and more suited to UMPCs.”

Welcome at Do Not Call it a Blog!

Just had the odd experience, while checking for WPMU news, of finding this “What if…?” post which describes a future vision that’s not a million miles from describing East Lothian’s edubuzz community.

Welcome at Do Not Call it a Blog!
What if we didn’t understand what we do in education with blogs as “blogging” but as a quick and easy way to publish online within a learning community? Or a place to feature a portfolio of students’ best work? Or a site where professors and staff track their professional and personal development? What if we understood “campus blogging initiatives” as a community publishing platform to share, learn, and integrate various resources from around the Web into a more specific community?

Will Glow need this much juggling?

Before today’s Glow Mentor training started, Paul Trickett of Preston Lodge High School gave an impromptu demo of some 3-ball juggling.

Juggling Maths teaching and Glow Mentoring, we feel, won’t cause Paul any difficulties.

[kml_flashembed movie="" width="400" height="326" wmode="transparent" /] offer some new customisable themes

If you’re thinking it’s time your edubuzz blog got a makeover, you’ll find there are now a few more themes to choose from.

These are themes that have been shared by James Farmer of, and many have customisable header images.  The ability to customise the header is proving a key feature for schools, classes and students so these are welcome additions.