Education Fast Forward Debate – number 4

A very stimulating EFF debate about Innovation, Learning and Uncertainty  took place on 18th April 2012. The event was hosted by Cisco at 15 of its Telepresence rooms and on this occassion included one external room at the University of Virgina.

The debate was organised by Education Fast Forward which aims to bring together global experts and change experts from around the world to discuss the topics that matter most.

The event was simultainiously broadcast by Cisco TV on a channel where the recording will be available for viewing again soon.  The recoding was published overnight on 24th March  and can be viewed here

There was in parallel a very busy Twitter conversation which has been archived for viewing here.

Tony Parkin was responisible for posting tweets about the event as it proceeded and he kindly provided  the above Storify archive of the twitter activity for the last 90 minutes of the event.

I was most intersting to see how the debate continued into the evening on twitter long after the formal session (lasting 2 hours) had ended.  Much of the conversation in Twitter centred around the use of games in the classroom.

It seems to me that a great deal of great work was done in Scotland led by Derek Robertson (he was listening in and commented on Twitter) through his work at the Consolarium which was setup at Education Scotland ( Learning and teaching Scotland at the time).  For those interested in “games based learning” the linked site above is definitley  worth a browse.  The Consolarium led by Derek was a real hotbed of innovation – but seems to have been constrained somewhat recently.

The next EFF debate is scheduled to take place on the 10th July 2012 with the topic “Peace one day” so do keep an eye on the EFF web page for updates about the topic and precise timing.



The Welsh approach to next generation of e-learning #EduScotICT

I was most interested to be directed towards the following artical in a reply to one of my recent Tweets in the context of the current work in Scotland to implment a successor to Glow.  Here is the link to the document I am referring to which is entitled Find it, make it, use it, share it: learning in digital Wales click here to view the whole document.

I have not had enough time to read the whole document but I am impressed by a number of top line comments.  First I am impressed that the Welsh Government has commissed a working group to consider how to move forward.  The above document is the product of the groups work.  Here is the remit which is summarised by Janet Hayward ( Chair )

In September 2011 the Minister for Education and Skills, Leighton Andrews AM, set up an external task and finish group to consider ‘which digital classroom delivery aspects should be adopted to transform learning and teaching’ for those aged 3–19.

In particular, the group was asked to consider:

* how high-quality, accessible digital classroom content could be developed
*how National Grid for Learning (NGfL) Cymru was used, and whether there was a more effective way to deliver its aims
*whether and how a cloud-based content delivery system (e.g. the ‘iTunes university’ model) would work alongside an online learning platform for Wales
*how high-quality English- and Welsh-language content could be generated
*how to develop Welsh intellectual property which can be used to deliver digital teaching content
*how teachers might get the digital teaching skills to use ICT to transform schools

The group was also asked to identify the implications for funding, planning and governance of services arising from these points.

The Group identified and developed a number of key requirements which it regards as essential for success, these are:
*a national, all-Wales approach to planning, with a national body at its heart, in harmony with the Welsh Government’s Digital Wales agenda
*the ready sharing of skills, methods and resources between teachers and learners
*equal access to all resources for all teachers and learners
*a ‘national collection’ of digital resources, derived from multiple
*sources and accessed by multiple channels
*consistent treatment of intellectual property rights in the resources providedestablishment of a high level of digital *competence (in digital technologies, information literacy and digital citizenship) in teachers and learners.
It also identified a need for national action in two main areas.
* encouraging, supporting and preparing teachers to operate in a digital environment and, crucially, to share their digital practice (Theme 1)
* establishing and developing a system and a national collection for creating, storing and sharing digital learning resources (Theme 2).
I am impressed that this seems to acknowedge the key role that teachers have in the provision of good resources and also the recognition that a “national” or education system wide approach is makes good sense.
I believe much of this was embodied in the original Glow project.
I do feel a need to make some reference to the current situation in scotland in this post.  I  feel that the situation in Scotland may result in the demoralisation of teachers if the Glow platform were to be discontinued or disrupted without a fully thought through strategy for migration to a better platform.  After all many Scottish teachers and pupils have come to not only use, but to rely on the Glow service so it would be essential in my view to orchestrate a well planned and smooth passage to the next generation platform, what ever that may be.   I am pleased to hear that in recent weeks there have been procurement initiatives to provide a national authentication system and also to migrate user content from the current platform to then next.  But I am concernted that this is  a bit  of a last gasp effort – the original Glow contract was for 5 year with the option to extent to 7 (which has been exercised) – so it could be argued that there was sufficient time to plan and execute a smooth migration to Glow Futures.
Back to the Welsh paper:
In my view the Welsh paper embodies some excellent ideas which could be informative to those considering how to secure a solid basis for the national learning plaform in Scotland. In fact I would be surprised if they are not already  awar of this paper and its recommendations.
Following and for easy reference are the “Headline Recommendation” from the Welsh paper – definitely worth a read in my view.  I do not want to single out any of these a more important but I was glad to see recommendation no  5 there which I do feel is at the heart of any nation learning platform.  I was also inrigued by the absense of any reference to internet safety although there a reference to security and legal issues in recommendation 10.

1. Establish a powerful organisation (working title ‘Hwb’) to manage, oversee and develop these recommendations. Its remit will be to lead, promote and support the use of digital resources and technologies by learners and teachers, and create and develop a national digital collection for learning and teaching in English and Welsh.

2. Establish a group, including representations from existing practitioners, as well as other bodies both public and private, to govern the implementation of these recommendations.

3. Ensure that a substantial difference is made to educators’ digital competencies and skills, and how they apply them to learning and teaching, by prioritising training and sharing good practice.

4. A national digital collection should be created by acquiring English- and Welsh-language resources through commissioning, purchasing, obtaining licenses, and also through actively encouraging contributions from learners and teachers.

5. Give all users their own individual logon ID, potentially for a lifetime of learning. This will take them into their personalised user experience and will be accessed from anywhere.

6. Ensure that learners and teachers have the freedom to access rich learning and teaching resources from anywhere, at any time and from any device.

7. Manage intellectual property rights in learning and teaching resources to ensure maximum access by learners and teachers and create income from external licensing.

8. Commission new resources in English and Welsh and procure national licences for existing materials and tools, to ensure economies of scale when building the national digital collection.

9. Use existing tried and tested web-based products and services to disseminate existing and new content.

10. Ensure that a culture of digital citizenship is encouraged and developed by learners and teachers. In addition to key digital skills, this will help learners develop the competencies and values to use digital technologies responsibly, ethically and safely, with an understanding of the security and legal issues surrounding the ‘digital space’.

Glow account management in the “free world” #EDUScotICT

I have been tracking progress with the Glow reprocurement in recent months.  It seems that after the procurement exercise was started it was abruptly stopped.  This followed by a period of public consultancy – which I think is still underway.  The timescales which relate to the procurement process are quite critical.  I understand, the current contract will end in September 2012, further more this will be a hard stop in view of the fact that the original 5 year term was extended to 7 with in the terms of the original contract.  At the end of this extended period I expected that the current contract would end to be replaced by something new and better.

I want to use this post to reflect on one critical aspect of the old and possible future service.  I am concerned here with the need for a core service which manages the creation of user accounts.  In the original system this was done by an account provisioning service which took its inputs from School MIS systems and then created all the necessary accounts through a batch process.  I did not use the plural for account here by mistake!  In Glow each user needs to have account provisioned for a number of different services including the portal, email, discussion boards, Glow Learn and so on. In addition it is necessary for each user to be added to any Glow Group to which they should belong.  This is a none trivial process which I do not plan to elobourate on – but I do want to make the point that although user access to all services in Glow is controled by Core ID giving the impression that there is only one service.  The Single Sign On service was mandatory requirement of the original Glow service – I hope it will continue to be a feature of Glow Futures.

In order to explain my concerns I have produced a short video which provides a highlevel overview of the issues as I see them.  In the video I detail the original Glow service components and also specualte about what might be needed to maintain an environment where users need only be concerned with accessing and using their accounts and all the component services with-out any need to be concerned with account setup or registration.  The Schools and Local Authorities would remain the authority for user account creation and maintenance.

click the following link to access the video – be patient will take a few minutes to download.
Video about account Management in Future Glow