Saturday, September 10, 2011

#EduScotICT Future of ICT in Scottish Schools Ramblings

I just had a go at chipping some ideas in to an ongoing debate on future of ICT in Scottish Schools  . I am not sure if I put the right bits under the right heading but that is the joy and strength of a wiki and an open approach to encouraging the exchange of thoughts and ideas.  This approach has much to commend it.

At moment folks are still storming around the decision to stop the big national re-procurement of GLOW . Which is understandable but we must first remember that the system was courageously always in Beta.
We need to move quickly from talking about which bits didn't work to looking at what we need to support education across Scotland

I'll try to expand here on some of the bullets I added

If we have no GLOW do we still need a national system ?  - answer needs to be yes. But this time school system and policy makers need to learn from other parts of education system and build a system that supports life long learning. There is lots of experience in the College system around Management Information Systems and around the deployment and management of virtual learning environments. The University system has worked hard at building a national platform that is both open where it needs to be ( though it still needs to be more open) and closed where it has to be. The core  of the HE system is

  • Janet superconnect managed by UKERNA
  • Shibboleth secured authentication for users and content providers
  • Single login 
The most cost effective way to buy bandwidth for education system is to do this on a national basis 

A host of other local and national services are then built on this national infrastructure. The national services are in many cases provided and procured from those institutions that sit on the network. The system allows the purchase and distribution of collections of learning materials and other assets.  Even with the emergence of Open Educational Resources - secure repositories for some learning materials will continue to be a feature of learning for some time. The one thing that appeared missing from GLOW was a place where teachers or indeed national agencies could position content. Worth having a look at JORUM

A single login and robust authentication systems means that other services like e-portfolios or indeed a  national on-line assessment system can plug into this - in the  knowledge that the learner is already authenticated and verified by the system. A national directory should also improve all kinds of communication across the sector.

There is lots of space for cloud and web2.0 solutions in all of this. They should already be in wide use at school level and be used at national level where appropriate. Issue here is not about which service but around the fact that there are no standards for accessing these services across Scotland. Most teachers and learners will find their paths to services like these blocked.

We need a proper quality system that puts the onus on schools and local authorities to open up almost everything to teachers and have appropriate filtering for learners. Combined with a positive dose of digital literacy and Internet safety training.

We need to be more open around a lot of this - local authorities should be mandated to share on an open document system their policies and procedures. This would encourage both the adoption of good practice and discourage the fragmentation that does exist across the system - would help too the private schools , charitable institutions , special schools  and other smaller entities that are struggling too in this landscape. To reinforce the  duty of  the system to be inclusive for all learners in our landscape.

In Holland and Denmark academics in public institutions are now mandated to share their academic publications in open journals. Many UK institutions now use d-space and other platforms to openly publish their academic outputs the UK and the  global  education debate is about openness . To make Scottish education great we need to be part of this and be confidently sharing our learning materials beyond the walls of our institution , the confines of our local authority and be sharing and exchanging learning materials and ideas globally.


John said...

Hi Joe,
The current way Glow uses Shibboleth seems to be quite confusing for younger users. We frequently see Shibboleth error pages for instance. Shibboleth seems to provide authentication for blogs but pupils logging off glow can be left logged onto the blog confusing the next user of the machine.
I don't know the ins and outs of how this work but imo it does ned to be improved.

Joe said...

Been round and round this debate in both FE and HE sectors. Open Id and other systems don't give enough validity or security for some things.
Think simple bit of having a user name and password can be confusing enough but issues you highlight more likely implementation and by sound of things training - you need to log out when you are finished. About 20 years of experience in HE sector led to shibboleth and it is still not perfect - Athens from Eduserve still used too

Andrew Brown said...

I'm probably being a bit pedantic, Joe - the decision was to stop the particular reprocurement, not to stop Glow. I certainly hope the discussion moves on quickly to the bigger issue of the use of ICT in Education, however. There are much bigger topics in this debate than Glow - access, devices, filtering, behaviours are in my mind much larger questions than the tools and services of the intranet? I'm by no means belittling Glow here, but we need to get this in perspective, I think.

Joe said...

Sorry Andrew and understand this and agree with you sorry post is really in part response to some tweets and other comments I've seen in last few days that seem to miss all that has been learned.

In fact even fact that there is community of teachers tweeting blogging etc is great