A couple of interesting posts on Glow recently have pointed up the fact that there is not just one Glow covering Scotland, but 32 Glows, one for each local authority. The whole service is delivered from the single national data center in Edinburgh, but how Glow is managed and phased is quite different from authority to authority. The nature of the development process for SSDN, as it was known originally, ensured that each local authority in Scotland would be able to shape Glow to suit its own local circumstances, dovetailing the roll-out of the service with all the myriad other developments happening across the country’s schools.
The care that was taken to ensure that local control over Glow would be maximised was, of course, a positive aspect of the programme, and certainly gives the lie to those who, with no knowledge of the project whatsoever, tried to demonise it as “….the computers of 800,000 Scottish teachers and pupils….wired to a centrally controlled national intranet….”. The idea of Glow as a large-scale, unwieldy, unresponsive managed service in the traditional top-down sense was precisely what the planning and implementation of the service were designed to avoid. I believe we succeeded in that regard by the simple expedient of listening and responding to the concerns of those who manage ICT in our schools, the local authorities.
But, this multi-speed Glow, in which each authority is able to undertake its own planning and project management of the roll-out of the service, with the help of the national Glow teams based in Learning and Teaching Scotland, does bring certain pressures with it. One of those is that, as teachers in those authorities that have decided to take longer to implement Glow see colleagues in faster-moving authorities using the tools and applications in their teaching, they will begin to ask questions of their administration. Doug Semple’s post on Approaches to Glow points this up, I believe, by asking why the training in Glow appears to be inadequate. This might be because the local authority in question has planned for this to take place further down the line. Those who are managing the implementation of Glow in each authority are only too well aware of the weight of training requirements for teachers covering the Curriculum for Excellence, Assessment is for Learning, and many other vital developments. Glow training has to be fitted in to the already-heavy schedule.
Nonetheless, the message in Doug’s post is one that we might see repeated elsewhere over the next couple of years as teachers’ desire to make use of Glow runs ahead of their authority’s (or their school’s) phasing of the training required. We need to be realistic, basically, about Glow’s place within the wider framework of developments happening in Scottish education currently, but authorities also need to be aware of the growing impulse of teachers to get their teeth into Glow sooner rather than later.