Microcast 3: Whose blog is it anyway?⤴

from @ John's World Wide Wall Display


Last week I attended the morning of the Always on (them) event at the University of the West of Scotland. This was organised by Professor David McGillivary. It looked at Digital and Social Media use in Education.

Last week I posted a brief summary of my talk and links to the audio I recorded for EDUtalk.

I ended my talk with a few questions that I though were worth thinking about. This is the first of a few microcasts doing just that.

Here a three questions I think go together:

  • Are we getting the best out of Social Media?
  • Should pupils be more involved in posting?
  • Do we read others productions or are we using SM mainly as a broadcast?

These are the easiest questions to start with. They come from the recent rapid expansion in the number of schools blogging and using Twitter across Scotland. I am comparing it to how I though blogging was going to go when I was actively involved in classroom blogging with pupils from 2004 till 2008.

At that time I primarily though about blogging as an activity for pupils. I also tried to get my pupils reading some other pupil blogs, doing a wee bit of commenting, occasionally blogging in reaction and the like. This was quite time consuming. It did lead to some interesting experiences.

We did not perceive much of an impact on our local community or even parents. Only getting engagement online for parents when we went away for week long school trips.

Reading class and school blogs more recently I get the impression that they are more targeted at local community and parents and are largely authored by staff.

A couple of days before the event I tried to see if I could gets some numbers to back up this impression.

Glow blogs consists of 33 instance of WordPress one for each Local Authority and one central. Each has a home page listing up to 40 of the most recently updated public blogs.

I did a bit of scripting to:

  • Scrape a list of urls from each LA page (1212 blogs)
  • Download the RSS feed latest posts from each of these blogs (9002 posts)
  • get the authors for all of these posts.

From that I could guess that users that were Mr, Ms, Mrs, Miss, Dr and the like were adults, there are a few who use their glow usernames which I discarded and some who have initial second name who I presume are adults. Finally I removed a few familiar faces who I know are not pupils.
This left me with 15% of posts that could have been posted by pupils. I suspect it is even lower as some teachers use their full name as their display name on Glow Blogs.

This is quite different that the figure I would have guessed 10 years ago. At that point I though blogging would have become a place for pupils to share their learning and gain audience and for teachers to post for professional development. It looks like we are using blogs more to broadcast to parents and community.

I’d be really interested in finding out about school use of Twitter in a similar fashion. It appears to me that most of the tweets are coming from teachers. I wonder if there is discussion of what is tweeted with pupils, if classes look at other schools tweets. How much engagement between classes and learners is going on? Is Twitter part of learning or is it mostly used by schools to showcase that learning?

In both blogging and tweeting is the idea of more pupil voice a good one? Is it too complex to manage? Is there anything to be gained by engaging with other classes and groups of learners?

I have always presumed that these were good ideas. They don’t seem to have gained the popularity I expected.

I seem to have ended up with even more questions than I started with. Given it looks like I’ll be teaching in school next session I am looking forward to testing some of these things out in reality.

featured image: Portable shortwave transmitter | Flickr – Photo Sharing! used under a Creative Commons — Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic — CC BY-NC 2.0 licenses.



I am feeling paralysed. Too many upsetting, infuriating things have happened this week. Some at work. Some in the world. Some just in my head.

Too much to think about. To much to say. Too much to do. Overwhelming.

But on my angry, tear-fuelled cycle ride just now, I have realised. They are connected.


Miss Bell is a newly qualified teacher on a temporary contract teaching German in a secondary school. She is trained
to teach French but did German as a second subject in her degree and hopes that this job may lead to a permanent post in the new academic year. Today is the last time this term she will teach her Year 8 class. She has not had an easy ride with them; at first she found the class a challenge but she worked hard to get to know them and to understand their needs and recently she has grown to love teaching them.
Today she has planned a special treat. The lesson started as normal: structure, learning intentions, success criteria and a task whereby they presented a short speech, prepared for homework and based on the learning of the term. And they have aced it; every single pupil has presented to the best of his/ her ability and there has been collective and well deserved praise and pride. One pupil in particular has earned Miss Bell’s admiration and respect; Molly has out-performed all her peers even though she has ADHD and sits at the bottom in assessments in all of her other classes.
Miss Bell of course doesn’t make a huge fuss about this in front of the class because Molly would loathe that. But they have shared a secret smile and understanding.

And now the treat time has come. Miss Bell has long talked about a song which only very special classes get to hear when they have worked really hard. She has has said that it is her ‘German Winner’s Anthem’. And today the time has come for this class to hear it: Culcha Candela’s ‘Von Allein.’ It is a catchy hip-hop, rappy celebratory song and the video is a cool celebration of European culture and passion.

She has bought Gummi-Bärchen. (Not chocolate, as Jake is allergic and she does not want to draw attention to that.) She lets the class sit round the smart board and watches as they get to hear the song. She smiles as they spontaneously start to dance along and she encourages them to wave their arms along to ‘Deine Fahne in die Luft’. (Your flags in the air).
She smiles at their exuberance and wonder. She feigns refusal when they ask for a second playing but gladly gives in. She wonders what anyone passing might think at seeing pupils dancing and waving but then decides that seeing happy engaged pupils is entirely ok.
And then she steps back and feels overwhelmingly sad. Sad that she may not get to continue teaching this class. And sad that the multi-cultural diversity that is celebrated in the song playing and in her teaching of foreign languages is now threatened by the referendum results announced overnight.

Mrs Carter is exhausted. She has been up for all but three hours watching the referendum play out. She is shocked, depressed, angry. She also has too much to before the end of term. Staffing is a nightmare. Two English teacher posts still need to be filled after re-advertisement and the German situation rumbles on with Mrs Veidt sending in sick notes but never actually admitting that she needs to retire. There is a girl in doing a good job on supply but she will probably get snapped up by another school….
And then there is Molly’s mother’s complaint to deal with. ‘Why aren’t teachers enabling my daughter to succeed? Do they even know she has ADHD?’. Well, Mrs Molly, maybe if you imposed some boundaries at home, Molly’s so-called ADHD would disappear and she would stop disrupting the learning of all the other children I the class…
Why did being a head teacher ever seem appealing?

She walks down the corridor, head pounding and hears the noise from the class. Music blaring. What the f***?
She looks through the glass in the door of the class. Kids out of their seats, jumping, waving their arms. Molly pirouetting madly.
Is the teacher even there?

She storms in. ‘What is going on? She shouts. ‘Molly, what on EARTH are you doing?
She spots Miss Bell at the back, looking somewhat upset and surprised.
‘Molly, are you chewing? Spit it out NOW!…..Don’t you DARE answer me back! You know that we have a zero tolerance rule on chewing…. What? … My office. NOW!’

She turns to Miss Bell. ‘Sorry about that but Molly needs to learn some boundaries. Once again she has shown a complete lack of respect for my authority. I’ll take it from here’.

She leaves the class with Molly.

The atmosphere is flat and even the beat of the song still playing can’t get things back to where they were.

Miss Bell apologises to the rest of the class and tells them how much she has enjoyed teaching them and how much she has learnt from them.
Ending A
After the pupils have left, Miss Bell sits at her computer and emails Mrs Carter to thank her for giving her such a great learning experience in the school but stating that she will not be back next term.

Ending B
Mrs Carter leaves the class with Molly and realises at once that she has made a huge misjudgement. She knows from the expression on Miss Bell’s face and the empty Gummi-Bärchen packets on the desks. She walks with Molly to her office where she sits Molly down. ‘I owe you a huge apology’. She says. ‘I am tired and grumpy and I took that out on you by shouting. I made a judgement based on the fact that in the past you have been cheeky to me but I did not give you a chance to explain today. I am very sorry. I will not shout at you again.’

When the bell rings, she goes back to see Miss Bell. She explains that she has apologised to Molly and goes on to apologise to Miss Bell.
The two women have a mutual moment of weeping over the referendum result.
Mrs Carter then asks Miss Bell if she’d like to stay next term.
If they can’t change the world, maybe they can try to change things for the pupils in their school together…..

Miss Bell goes home overjoyed.

School is both a preparation for life and life itself. The relationships between staff and pupils, staff and staff and pupils and pupils are real and human.

We can use them as learning opportunities only if we admit to getting things wrong sometime and asking forgiveness.
Those in power need to be humble and see the truth of situations before making decisions that can have immeasurable consequences.

In a room somewhere, important men and women could now get together and apologise and learn from a huge error of judgment. There could be an ending B in the European story too.

Those in power need to be humble and see the truth of situations before making decisions that can have immeasurable consequences.

If ever I run a school or the world, these will be my non-negotiables:

Everyone must be willing to self-reflect and learn.

We all get things wrong and need to be able to apologise when we do.

We are all human and being in a position of authority does not mean you are better than anyone else.

Everyone needs to take time to see the reality of a situation and not fall into making judgements based on half-truths, prejudice or stereotypes.

Everyone is worthy of love.

A song for a sad day.⤴

from @ blethers

Brain keeps singing songs - even today, when the news is so bad and the country has gone crazy. Scotland votes to stay in Europe? No matter. We don't have the say. But the songs keep coming, and maybe it makes me feel better to let them. I'm not up to more cerebral poems anyway.

Unity no more

I woke up this morning
with the sun on my face
for a moment lay peaceful
just a moment of grace

till the memory roused me
of the graphs and the polls
and I reached to discover
that we’d traded our souls.

The country had chosen
to be duped in their choice,
to reclaim some lost freedom
to follow the voice

of those who shout hatred
for the lost and the strange
who would make us a fortress
put up barriers to change.

But the sun is still shining
and the birds sing in tune
and it’s only the people
who will recognise soon

That it’s too late for thinking
and it’s too late for love
and the voices have drowned out
the song of the dove

And the magpies are fighting on the grass
And the magpies are fighting on the grass.

C.M.M. 24/06/16

This time it’s different⤴

from @ Open World

I’ll never forget that feeling the morning after Indyref. I just felt sad, so fucking sad that so much positivity and promise had gone to waste. It feels different this time round. Today I’m angry. But the worst thing is, I’m not surprised. There seems to have been a horrible inevitability to the result of the EUref. It’s like watching a carcrash in slow motion.

Martin Weller has already written a really powerful personal response to the result that really chimes with my own feelings. I work in open education, and I believe passionately that as educators we have a moral responsibility to work together to improve opportunities for all, not just for a select few.

The Scottish Open Education Declaration says

“Open education can expand access to education, widen participation, create new opportunities for the next generation of teachers and learners and prepare them to become fully engaged digital citizens. In addition, open education can promote knowledge transfer while at the same time enhancing quality and sustainability, supporting social inclusion, and creating a culture of inter-institutional collaboration and sharing.”

I wrote that. Those aren’t just words. I actually believe all of that. That’s what I work for.

The thing that really struck me about Martin’s post was his reference to Primo Levi’s The Drowned and The Saved and Levi’s anger at those who try to absolve their guilt by claiming that they didn’t see the evil when in actual fact they chose to look away. It struck me because I’m reading The Drowned and The Saved right now and Levi’s anger has stayed with me since I read that passage in Paul Bailey’s masterful introduction.

So yeah, I’m angry. Angry that we’re sleepwalking over the edge. Angry that we’ll let the unthinkable happen because we don’t have the courage and the honesty to open our eyes and think, really think, about the consequences of our actions.

I don’t know how to end this post, because I really don’t know where to go from here. I guess if there’s one tiny glimmer of hope in all this, it’s that I’m so fucking proud of Scotland right now. That doesn’t make me any less angry though.


Early Years Conference⤴

from @ Education Scotland's Learning Blog

Join us live in Glow TV for this exciting day long broadcast on Monday 27th June from 9.50am.
This conference has been organised to further enhance the POET (pedagogies of educational transition) objectives of building networks and facilitating exchanges between the five POET countries namely New Zealand, Scotland, Sweden, Iceland and Australia.

In particular the conference will engage with a group of early years professionals from across Scotland:

to expand knowledge and understanding of the significance of dialogic pedagogy for educators working with babies, young children and their families;

to promote collaboration among early years professionals from a number of education authorities and agencies across Scotland;

to continue to facilitate the development of research skills and expertise among the participants; and

to generate knowledge transfer among and between researchers, educators, other professionals and policymakers involved in this field of early learning and childcare.

The conference would hope to generate further involvement in the existing (POET-project) and planned future international research partnerships (for example, the ‘infant project-from the beginning’ which is currently being developed between Strathclyde University and Waikato University).

09.50-Welcome to East Dunbartonshire Council Convenor of the Education Committee Cllr Maureen Henery and Chief Education Officer-Jacqui MacDonald.

09.55-Musical welcome to Bishopbriggs Academy-Rachel McLean S6

10.00-Clare Lamont Assistant Director Education Scotland

10.05-Mr Mark McDonald Minister for Childcare and Early Years

10.15-Chairperson for the day-Marion Burns HMI.

10.20 Keynote address: Associate Professor E. Jayne White, Waikato University

‘A dialogic ‘look’ at early learning and childcare for the under threes’


11.50 Lynn McNair OBE-Headteacher Cowgate Nursery-
‘Living with Dialogism’-presentation and discussion

13.40 Judith Thomas Head of Centre Ferguslie Pre-five Centre, Paisley.
‘You’ve got something really special here’ -A nurturing philosophy that supports our children to blossom and grow.’-presentation and workshop session.

Sign up and join us live – Early Years Conference

If you unable to join us for the live event you can always catch up with the recording at another time – Glow TV’s Watch Again.

Young voters in EU Referendum – improve politics education in schools so we can make more informed choices⤴

from @ Enquire - young people's blog

With thousands of young voters in Scotland able to take part in today’s EU Referendum, making sure young people have the political education they need to make informed choices has never been so important. In this blog, MSYP Amy Perry, who sits on the Scottish Youth Parliament’s Education and Lifelong Learning Committee, argues that PSHE lessons – Personal, Social and Health Education – is a perfect opportunity to engage pupils in politics.  SYP_LogoContinue reading

A New Skills Agenda For Europe⤴

from @ Education Scotland's Learning Blog

The new Skills Agenda for Europe launches a number of actions to ensure that the right training, the right skills and the right support is available to people in the European Union. It will aim at making better use of the skills that are available; equip people with the new skills that are needed – to help them find quality jobs and improve their life chances. The Commission invites Members States, social partners, the industry and other stakeholders to work together to:

  • improve the quality and relevance of skills formation
  • make skills more visible and comparable
  • improve skills intelligence and information for better career choices

This is set out in the Communication: A New Skills Agenda for Europe – Working together to strengthen human capital, employability and competitiveness.

The Commission proposes 10 actions to be taken forward over the next two years many of which have been already identified in the commission’s report on Developing Scotland’s Young Workforce lead by Sir Ian Wood (Wood Report):

  • A Skills Guarantee to help low-skilled adults acquire a minimum level of literacy, numeracy and digital skills and progress towards an upper secondary qualification.
  • Making Vocational Education and Training (VET) a first choice by enhancing opportunities for VET learners to undertake a work based learning experience and promoting greater visibility of good labour market outcomes of VET.
  • A review of the Recommendation on Key Competences to help more people acquire the core set of skills necessary to work and live in the 21st century with a special focus on promoting entrepreneurial and innovation-oriented mind-sets and skills.

Find out more about the report and related communications here.