So, today I was mainly responsible for the in-service training of all our teachers and SMT on Glow. I had decided, in discussions with Katie Barrowman at LTS to follow the model we had seenCon Morris use in his CPD Challenges, and so I set about constructing (with a LOT of help from Katie) a brand new Glow group called “Have a Glow @IMS” which was based round a set of challenges ranging from signing in to Glow all the way up to creating their own Glow Groups.
Often I find Glow confusing and almost too much information. For this reason, and based on the very sexy new National Site, I decided to go a different way:
As well as looking very nice, the new National Site utilised a graphical interface – clicking on various ‘objects’ on screen would take you to different places in Glow. I really liked the idea of using a visual menu, and Katie came up with a good way to put one together, utilising tables in a text editor web part. Over about a day and a half, I managed to build the whole group and its ten challenges from scratch, and without an iota of coding ability. I finally worked out about 10 minutes before I was due in school how to do the one picture, multiple links trick but by then it was too late and I had to go with what I had. Working collaboratively with Katie and Alan Hamilton (of Stirling High School) I managed to troubleshoot the group whilst taking part in the morning INSET activities.
Come the afternoon, we were ready to go. The teachers in my school are not, it is fair to say, Glow enthusiasts, so it was looking like a big ask. When I mucked up typing my password in on the first attempt, they all had a hearty laugh. Second time was better and we were in, and I pointed out the side menu links to the school page, and how to get to the group we were going to be working in. They were sent off then to find a computer in pairs or on their own and to work through the challenges. I was to ‘troubleshoot’ along with my DHT and one of the Instructors.
We spent a good bit of the first hour resetting passwords and helping people log in. The chat as I moved round was slightly negative – all the usual Glow Aunt Sallys; clunky interface, unintuitive, hard to get in to, etc, etc – but as the afternoon went on and they had a look round Glow the chat started to become a bit brighter. Once the challenges were getting completed, there was laughter and hilarity ringing round the school (in a good way I hope). There was even a decent number of (fairly simple) Glow Groups set up by the end of the day!
So what did I learn from this experience of setting up a Glow group and running it in this way?
First of all, I learnt A LOT about using Glow to create. Katie and Alan were a huge help in keeping me on the straight and narrow, but I did all the graft myself, meaning I became more comfortable and proficient using the interface. I even managed to work out the National Site trick, and changed my own Glow Group front page to utilise the same trick.
Passwords should maybe be done as a separate, perhaps preceding session, as this would have saved a lot of time at the start of this session.
I decided that as well as a home button at the bottom of each page, there should have been a “Previous Challenge” and “Next Challenge” button.
I learnt that if you give people time to ‘play’ on Glow, along with adequate support, they will begin to see the benefits of using it.
User account issues were another thing that should have been done in advance of the session, to prevent troubleshooting in the middle, or people missing out on a challenge.
I was also reminded of the power of Twitter – I had a number of people looking to join the group even before it was finished
Finally, I decided that what Katie Barrowman doesn’t know about Glow just isn’t worth knowing! Also, thanks again to both Katie and Alan for their help and support