SSDN Team Reunion – SLF09

Above photo taken as I walked from the hotel to the meal venue –
featuring the Squinty bridge as it is locally known.

The night before the Scottish Learning Festival and I was able to attend a reunion event for the team that conducted the procurement process for Glow. We all worked out of Learning and Teaching Scotland for the duration of the process but some of us have now moved on to new challenges. It was really great to have the chance to catch up old friends and colleagues and also to do this at the time when there is real evidence that Glow is now being used is some very innovative ways. It is quite rewarding to see that our collective efforts back then, backed up with the Scottish Governments resolve and finding is now starting to bear real fruits.

I have published the photos I took during our meal and just afterwards (these are all downloadable for the benefit of any of the team that want to have a memento of the evening).

http://gallery.me.com/jimbuchan#100241

You can also read John Connels post on the topic which says a little more about the event.

http://www.johnconnell.co.uk/blog/?p=2257

Roll on next year 😉

From Projection to Reality

This week I presented a Technical Brief about the Glow project at the Scottish Learning Festival. Part of the presentation included a few slides about the amount of network traffic that Scottish Local Authorities have generated since the introduction of the SSDN Interconnect some three and a half years ago. There is an often quoted trend which is that Internet Traffic level double every 1 – 1.5 years. So having collected data about traffic level since the start of the 2004, it seemed like a good time to see what the underlying trends are.

But First, what is the SSDN Interconnect – it is a wide area data network which connects each of the 32 local authorities and national organizations like the Scottish Qualifications Authority and Learning and Teaching Scotland to each other and to the Internet via the JANET network. The management and development of this network has been one of the main aspects of my work since it was installed. There are current 49 actual circuits which connect the participating bodies. This infrastructure provides the primary means for deliver of the Glow service – another project that I have been working on of late.

OK – back to the real business of this post.

The following Graphs show the traffic trends for the SSDN Interconnect as a whole since the start of 2004 up till the and of July 2007.

Click on the diagram to see it in more detail.

The fine detail is not too important, the blue lines represent the actual traffic levels which are plotted on a monthly basis (horizontal axes) and the black line which indicate the overall trend. The top diagram provides the detail for all the traffic leaving the connected sites and heading for the Internet and the bottom graph shows the detail of the traffic coming from the Internet to the connected sites. As you can see more traffic enters the connected orgaizations then leave them. The data plotted are the aggregate figures for all the connected sites. The lower graph shows that the traffic level at the start of the study was approximately 5,000,000 Mb per month whilst the traffic level at the end of the study was approximately 40,000,000 Mb per month – this is the total through put in the months in questions. So this shows that during the 3.5 year period that the network has been operating we have seen traffic level more or less double in each 12 month period.

Of course there are some seasonal dips and peaks which we might expect. Note that in the periods labeled 7, 19, 31, 43 there is a notable dip – this relates to the fact that schools will be on holiday between July and August each year – month 7 was July 2004 etc….. So the needs of education as clearly quite considerable and represent the main use of the Interconnect.

But the overall trend is always upward. I expect that this trend will continue in the future and for me it is good to find some empirical evidence that confirms the often quoted predictions that traffic levels will increase at the rates confirmed here.

For the future, I predict that, as Glow becomes embedded into the Scottish Education system, as an every day tool for teachers and learners that we will see an increase in the amount of rich media network based resources which are use in the classroom – that can only service to maintain the traffic trends shown here. But then there is another prediction, I wonder if we will be able to confirm this one in another 3 years or so?

Lighting up Learning – Glow

I have commented here about the YouTube service which can be use to publish videos etc. I just heard that video about an educational project that I have been working on for the last few years has been published on YouTube.

The project is now called Glow and will deliver a Scotland wide education intranet. The solution which is still under development includes a Portal, Email system, a Virtual Learning Environment, Discussion Groups, Web Conferencing (video and audio and application sharing). Eventually, the user base can include all of Scotlands pupils, teachers and other people who work to support the classroom. It is a very ambitious project which is being implemented on a scale which is big by any standards. A key feature of Glow is that it is a closed environment which is only accessible by authorised users. Pupils safety in the online environment is a number one priority so this system is definitely not like other ‘public’ on line community environments like BeBo and MySpace.

The video shows a teacher (actually one of the project educationalists) talking about the Glow system and how she uses it with her pupils. Of course this is actually simulation as the Glow service is not fully developed as yet.

You can read more about the Glow project here

Click here to view the Glow Project web site.

or

Click here to view the video on YouTube.

It is currently planned that Glow will be available for use starting in late August 2007. I expect that it will take some further time before it will be fully available to users throughout Scotland. Local Authorities and schools have some work to do to setup user accounts and configure their networks to facilitate access for their users. Glow can also be accessed from the home too assuming that the user has a suitable connection.

I think this is a very exciting project that has the potential to allow teachers and pupils throughout Scotland to deliver and support learning in ways that hithertoo have not been possible.