Mimanifesto – Jaye’s weblog

Our school in the cloud

Posted on: March 4, 2013

Last week, Ollie Bray published a blog post with his thoughts on Scotland’s Glow saga. It was the  post many folks have been waiting for him to write. As someone who has been at the very centre of the government’s attempts to come up with a strategy for it’s on line education presence, it must be taken very seriously by everyone concerned with the future of the Glow project. Ollie doesn’t hold back, particularly with his thoughts on why Glow has not worked. He says…

the failure of Glow (in my opinion) has been down to poor leadership (at Scottish Government level), poor decision-making, blocking at a project management and board level, risk aversion, and ultimately the greed of a handful of people – who, quite frankly should be ashamed of themselves and their hobby which seems to have become the burning of taxpayers’ money.

Strong stuff, and a pretty damming indictment of the Scottish Government learning directorate. Whilst there are parts of his post I don’t agree with, generally, its a pretty good summing up of where we are now and where we need to be. Now is the time to focus very firmly on the future whilst not forgetting the lessons of the past which must in part inform our actions from now on in.

maintenance-morphLooking ahead, I think we are in a much stronger position to move forward from than has previously been the case. The Cabinet Secretary has accepted the report of the ICTEx group in full, and this includes the agile development model we proposed together with a small implementation team. The Digital Directorate will be involved as well as the Learning Directorate, so this should bring some fresh big-league technical savvy to the project, and putting the secure authentication system out to procurement might allow more time for a sharpened up focus on the portal configuration and the core /supported tools

Changes at the learning directorate also mean that GlowPlus will be headed up by    new acting director Fiona Robertson, who arrives with no baggage from the previous problems alluded to by Ollie in tow. As we now have a blueprint for the future, which, although similar to those envisioned in the past, is good to go, perhaps its time to see what can be delivered by these new faces, unencumbered by past failures.

Maybe the chemistry of adding together new people focussed on delivering the future, rather than covering up the past, a cabinet secretary who acted last year to stop the rot and promised that users would be at the very heart of all future development, and a new senior management ethos at education Scotland which acknowledges the need to deliver something fresh and innovative, helped by the catalysts which are the Key reference and Stakeholder engagement groups will react together to give us  the national intranet fit for purpose, fit for the future, and fit for learning. I did write about this last month after our report was submitted, although that post probably slipped under most people’s radars..

Sugata Mitra’s acceptance speech at TED (he won this year’s TED prize) imagined a ‘school in the cloud’ where kids could connect and learn from each other. His paradigm of  Self Organised Learning Environments (SOLE) is gaining traction in education following his ground breaking work with Indian slum kids and computers. Might it be too much to hope that the next generation Scottish managed learning environment could be our school in the cloud?

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