Can schools innovate with a national intranet on the horizon?
It's great to see that Neil has been doing something constructive instead of blogging (we were missing you, Neil) by setting up a new school website (yet to go online) and (this is the exciting bit) a new Perth Academy blogging system on Word Press MultiUser.
WPMU is what we've used in East Lothian to create the eduBuzz service, and it forms one element of about a half dozen. The other things we have linked up or are in the process of wrapping up are:
- an easy way to see what other people are blogging about;
- an easy way to search for stuff, for wee people as well as less wee people (I've been tipped off that Quintura will be improving their regular service with visual search, too);
- an easy way to add suggestions on how the service should be developed further;
- an easy way to get help, and give it;
- an easy way to publish your own written work, visuals or collaborative work.
Neil has been doing some additional work installing and populating a Moodle virtual learning environment to help his students and staff organise their Higher English revision materials. If I remember Higher English from my own days at schools it appeared to be very content heavy, but required a huge amount of practice of skills, too, if you were to stand a chance of getting the best grades. Organisation of the content was half the battle so that you had time to practice the skills. Moodle should be a great help for students in organising that content and planning their time.
East Lothian also has a rather mature Moodle service for its employees' professional development. Well, all employees except for education, that is. Education employees make up half the council payroll yet, with a national intranet and CPD portal on the horizon, it's difficult for the education department to get excited about learning to use another system in the interim, even if Glow is a relative unknown for most teachers in terms of what it can do and how that shapes up to blogging and Moodle combinations for tracking professional development.
I am fairly confident that, as we stand in February 2007, the CPD element of the Glow portal will impress traditionalists and bloggers alike for its versatility and cleverness (though it hasn't even been built yet, of course). But there are two points I don't get yet:
- What of Local Authority wide Moodles, VLEs and online learning platforms? Moodle's already being used successfully in places like Aberdeen City and, now, Perth. Edinburgh City has spent years populating its StudyWiz network. I use my blog to track my professional development and del.icio.us to share my resources. What are these more innovative education departments doing with the material that has been built up over the years? Transferring, starting from scratch or a mixture of both?
- What about the potential to integrate rather than separate? How are Local Authorities' non-education departments feeling about the potential lack of integration of development tracking and learning resources? Sure, very little integration currently exists but it seems that we are moving further along the separatist route than the unified approach. There must be something that the Education Department of a Local Authority can offer for the lifelong learning of non-Education Department employees.
It's something that we are not sure of in East Lothian so I'm pretty certain other Local Authorities haven't thought of things in this light, either. Or if they have, they haven't blogged about it ;-) Given the amount of work going into Glow 1.0 I don't think it can be added to the list of "Things To Do" at the moment, either, so there's a great potential here to help contribute to Glow 2.0 - a great opportunity for schools to innovate without having to create tools themselves.
What I'm talking about here is lifelong education and how Glow fits into that. Should we be finding ways in the future to integrate the learning and tracking of development of our Council solicitors, construction workers and park wardens? Or should we continue to concentrate on improving the lot of our 3-18 year olds?