It was with interest that I read Tom Conlon's article about the Dark side of Glow in today's TESS. After reading it I couldn't help but feel as though I was in some way an acolyte of Darth Vader and the Empire due to my and others 'irrational exuberance' for such a technology. Don't get me wrong, I am not on here to have a dig at someone that is looking at what is happening in the education world with such a critical and questioning eye. We always need that and I have taken on board and am still in the process of digesting what Tom Conlon says...however. I do feel that the view that comes across is somewhat negative and the article is significant for me in the sense that there is no mention at all of the positives that the initiative that is Glow can, and, is bringing to teaching and learning in classrooms across the country.
I was recently in a class in Bishopbriggs (blog post to follow on the Consolarium's blog) led by a teacher called Susan Yeoman. Glow had become integral to what was happening in this class and the evidence of learning that I witnessed was, in my opinion, damn good. The class site/s were packed with evidence of rich learning, they were engaging with other children, developing their skills in the field of technology, enthused about learning, sharing their work at home and using technology in a purposeful and relevant way. I have seen this in many other classrooms too. I thought that we had moved past the trough of disillusionment in Gartner's Hype Cycle (particularly in view of a recent key contacts meeting) and were moving towards the plateau of productivity but Tom's article still urges caution, a little too much in the negative for me.
I have some comments to make about what Tom has to say:
- I question Tom's suggestion that a free laptop for every teacher might have been a better option. Where is the evidence to support that?
- I also question Tom's focus on the phrase 'the speeded-up school'. I look forward to a 'speeded up school' that engages with technologies in as informed and evaluative a process as possible. This work will continue to evolve and develop and I believe that we need to be in there actually doing it in class. Why shouldn't we aspire to have schools where learning is speeded up...
- I sympathise with his comments about the digital divide but should this stop us from building the infrastructure that learners might be able to access via a PSP, a DS, a Wii or any other cultural significant technologies that young people use? Such an initiative, aspirational in its conception and desire, could and should play a part in cementing the arguments for the support and provision of access for all.
- The final part of Tom's article that I must say is disappointing is his comment about the cultural trivialisation of amateur chatter within Glow. What exactly does he mean by this? The work that I am seeing with young people engaging with Glow and some of the professional discourse that is happening in some Glow groups is, in my opinion, far from amateur but wholly professional and enlightening and evidential of the superb and thoughtful range of teachers there are in Scottish schools.
I realise that as an employee of LTS that this blogpost may come across as on message and partisan but I hope not, We need people like Tom Conlon to make us step back and out of any blind enthusiasm for new technological initiatives and to always keep a critical eye on what we are doing. We do however, I believe, also need to make the best use of technologies to engage learners and in so doing continue to contribute to the discourse about effective practice in such a domain. Glow has great potential and there are of a great many teachers out there who are making it happen, I wonder how much of this Tom has actually seen? I look forward to reading more of Tom's thoughts when they come out in the Scottish Educational Review.
Now I'm off to construct my own light sabre and find that pesky Yoda!