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A Note about GLOW, the Scottish Education Intranet

Posted on | April 3, 2010 | Comments Off

I wrote a short piece in the Huffington Post today about Glow, the Scottish investment in an intranet system.  It’s worth a longer look, and I am overdue in finishing up a descriptive analysis of how it works and how it was created.

There are three important things to realize about Glow:

First, it is not about technology for its own sake.  Think of it as a teaching utility that makes collaboration possible.  Glow links teacher-created lessons with the national curriculum, allowing both standards and variation to exist at the same time.  In a sense, it manages the paradox of centralization and decentralization.

Second, it is a testimony that politics and government can tackle a big project, bring it in under budget, and create lasting infrastructure in education.  It took a decade to move Glow from first thoughts to countrywide roll-out.  During that time literally thousands of people were involved in the design.  The Scottish government relied on a quasi-governmental agency called Learning and Teaching Scotland to coordinate its development and a private contractor, RM, to do the technology work.  Meanwhile, local school authorities gained the broadband capacity to connect to high-speed intranet, particularly important in a country with lots of isolated rural schools.   All of this was possible only because the political system tolerated a long view of infrastructure development rather than short range achievement targets or “silver bullet” programs that promise dramatic results in months.  At root, Glow is about changing how a generation of teachers approaches their work.

Finally, Glow is a symbol of national pride.  It rose after the birth of Scottish legislative independence, and it marked a path toward education that was more broadly focused than that of England.

More about Glow from Learning and Teaching Scotland and iTunes U.

In future posts, I will be writing more about education technology in California and particularly in Los Angeles.  Suggestions welcome.

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About

Charles Taylor Kerchner is an Emeritus Professor and Senior Research Fellow at Claremont Graduate University. My daily musings appear in the blog. The archives of my EdWeek blog are available via link under the 'On California' head. Some of my photography can be seen by clicking on 'Gallery.' And numerous links to academic work and other research and commentary can be found by clicking on 'Projects.'

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