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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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