East Lothian Glowers... well, has a Glow meeting
Will the word play ever give up on our national intranet? I don't know. Don't care. I quite enjoy having fun with it.
East Lothian Glow mentors met yesterday in the totem-poled Gothenburg Hotel, Prestonpans, to see how they will be involved in the national intranet. What will glow mentors do? They’ll be encouraging colleagues to use Glow and supporting them in sharing and collaborating. The infrastructure brought by Glow will help bring people together a little easier than we currently can with traditional blogs, wikis and podcasts, grouping people geographically à la Plazes or by interest à la Yahoo! groups.
The great thing for East Lothian colleagues is that two of our schools, Knox Academy and Kings Meadow primary school, will be part of the pilot from November, feeding into the improvement of services. From January next year the collaborative tools like Marratech video conferencing, instant messaging, shared whiteboards and sharing areas will be let out of the bag one by one for East Lothian staff to pilot. Importantly, they’ll also be the guinea pigs for the training materials.
The kind people at Glow will be organising some “educational activities” for the pilots (sounds very like Scout camp, now ;-), to help everyone get to know the portal and tools.
What sounds highly beneficial are the residential courses on offer for mentors – or video-conferenced sessions, using the Glow VC tool, if they can’t make it. The Masterclass programme used a similar programme, looking at scenarios for technology use: what does that English teacher with one networked computer do with a national intranet? This programme had some success, but a lot of folk went back to school and did not ‘cascade’ their knowledge and make a long-term commitment to training colleagues. Some could not because their school management failed to offer support to those individuals: even if it’s just leaving some of the extra non-contact time to support colleagues instead of giving cover for an absent art teacher.
If the Glow training is to work effectively, the Glow mentors need to make a long-term commitment to the network and supporting colleagues. I think, from the ‘togetherness’ and community I am feeling this morning, that this is going to happen. Correction: this is happening.
Even more important, though, school leaders need to support the Glow mentors in a way that seemed lacking in the past with Masterclassers: give them a break when it comes to covering other classes, involve them in IT decisions of the school, ask them for advice on exploiting the tools, create dates in the calendar for them to speak to the whole staff. Where a head teacher had gone through the HT’s version of Masterclass, Leadership for Learning, this was something we saw in good schools. But is this a picture that resembles your school yet? I also know that some people disagree with this in principle, since it drives a gap between 'them' and 'us', the non-Glowers and the Glowers. And that leads to a lot of glowering. Oh dear, we're back to the word play again.
But what should we do in a world where anyone can participate, where anyone can pretend to be an expert or, even worse, be taken for one?