Glow Meet could soon be enabling new links between schools and industry across Edinburgh, thanks to Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce’s Education Policy Group.
At today’s meeting of the Group, chairman Ray Harris of Edinburgh’s Telford College identified the development of school / industry links as one of the key themes to be progressed this year. This links strongly with the Curriculum for Excellence principle of Relevance.
Children should understand the purposes of their activities. They should see the value of what they are learning and its relevance to their lives, present and future.
Earlier discussions on this had flagged up that many of the barriers to developing links were associated with the overheads involved in organising the physical travel and supervision. Not only does this present difficulties for schools, there are similar difficulties for organisations faced with hosting school children on their sites. Glow Meet offers the possibility of developing virtual links at much lower cost, so I’ll be meeting with Roger Horam of the Chamber to explore the possibilities and get a pilot link-up organised.
Possibilities discussed included:
- Link-ups with a experienced professionals, to allow students to find out about their jobs
- Link-ups with recent school-leavers, to find out what was and wasn’t useful from school
- Link-ups with specialised people, of interest to only a few students, which could be advertised to schools Edinburgh or Scotland-wide
- Recording of these Glow Meet sessions for future careers staff use
It was also agreed to set up a blog to record progress, which will be set up on edubuzz soon.
Feedback from an introductory training session on ICT for this year’s East Lothian NQTs apparently included the request that we should have covered how to use the school email system, in place of introducing Glow.
Maybe this is a sign of the times, as increasing numbers of younger people make less use of email, preferring instead the immediacy of MSN? If so, these people are going to be out of their comfort zone if they find they can’t keep in touch – with colleagues as well as friends – via MSN while in school.
Taking things a step further, we may be seeing a new generation bringing new expectations of what communication tools should be on a school PC desktop. Glow Chat may just have arrived in time.
East Lothian’s newly qualified teachers (NQTs) will be able to stay in touch, support one another and find their programme documentation, via their own Glow Group this session.
Their induction training before the session starts includes a day-long session on use of ICT in East Lothian schools. This year, the session will include some time on Glow. Of course, we wanted that to be hands-on and relevant, which is where the idea of a Glow Group to support the NQTs came from. By doing this, we’re hoping to make it easier for them to get their heads round what Glow is all about through practical experience.
So far the site has been populated with some sample links, Glow Meet, Glow Chat and a couple of documents from the Probationer Programme. It’s hoped that the group will have plenty of ideas for further improvements.
We’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.