Online Spaces – Portability and Longevity

online spaces

In a previous post a comment by Ray Tolley got me thinking about what happened to the various online spaces I had set up for Primary 7 stage children in the past.

Ray commented:

“Perhaps one important point missed so far is about longevity. Having taken the trouble to help pupils build up an e-Portfolio, what happens if there is no ‘portability’ to the Secondary school or beyond? I doubt that promises of ‘interoperability’ will really materialise in the next 10-15 years! I think that it is very important to invest in a system that is future-proofed. I feel that children will get very frustrated if they have to start from scratch all over again when they move on to another school.”

I’ve been revisiting some of the spaces I set up and contemplating primary/secondary ‘portability‘ and ‘longevity‘ issues mentioned in Ray’s comment. Stories of some missed opportunities are outlined below:

  • Portability Issue 1 – Jamie’s Story

Jamie was typical of most of the boys in the class that year. They seemed less motivated than the girls when it came to imaginative writing tasks. When they were given their own space in a wiki, however, and allowed some freedom as to the subject matter, Jamie demonstrated that he was actually very capable of writing a great imaginative story. I’ve copied some of his story here:

His face shone dark in the moonlight, while his coat lay torn slowly floating in between the reeds. His shirt was dirty and wet. The dark waters that lay behind him gave him the appearance of a demon or a dark shadowy creature moving in the night. His sheath was well padded and worn away because of constant usage, it had three diamonds encrusted in it. It had a gold rim and a thin copper lining wrapped around it. This lay on his back but it never wieghed him down as it was as light as a feather. He had black boots on and they were half-covered by his camouflage trousers.
He walked on at a normal pace when he heard a purring noise, after a while he ignored it and carried on his stroll. He heard it again. He was watching a certain bush knowing that there was a creature behind it because of all the wierd purring noises. the world stayed as still as a stick insect as they lay eyes on eachother there was more rustling then the beast came out, a tiger that was as orange as sunset heading speedily at Kai. In reaction Kai drew his sword from his sheath and took a deep slash at the tiger’s leftpaw then stabbed it twice roundabout the same place the tiger had gave in to the pain and there it lay dead……

Everyone in the class was full of praise for his effort. It turned out that he liked a particular type of story and had read lots of them. He also enjoyed writing them in a notebook that he carried around. His Laughing in the Face of Death story started a craze and soon the boys in the class began carrying their own notebooks where they wrote similar styles of stories. I remember hearing them comparing stories, as well as seeking and giving advice.

Soon after Jamie’s story appeared on his wiki, we had a visit from two High School teachers from the English Dept. I’m not sure of the original purpose of  their visit but at some point our HT had asked some of the pupils to share the class wikispace with them. They were impressed with Jamie’s attempt at story writing and had also heard about our primary stage ‘two stars and a wish’ assessment strategy and had left a comment for Jamie on his wiki space:

Star 1 ~ Fabulous use of imagery
Star 2 ~ Fantastic description
Wish ~ Develop the use of personification

… but that was the end of the High School teachers’ involvement. They had no idea of the ‘behind the scenes’  information I was privy to. On reflection, it would have been great if more had been made of that opportunity to bridge the gap between Primary 7 and S1.

  • Portability Issue 2 – High School Induction Days

In June each year, the Primary 7 pupils from our cluster spend three days getting to know their new High School. This is great for helping the transition to s1, and the children’s blog posts about their experience gave further insight into how they coped with adjusting to their new environment.

Lisa appeared to have no reservations at all! She wrote:

“I loved Larbert High, it has been one of my  best experiences. I made a lot of cool new friends……”

Tessie, however, wrote about her confusion over the lunchtime arrangements:

“….after that it was lunchtime. a confusing nightmare. we had to line up and put money on our card which was easy. but then we went to the hub *dinner hall* and we got told to get a drink. easy. but then if you went and said can i have a burger please she would say something about do you have a meal deal drink. and i was like what??? it was weird.”

Maryam was anxious from the outset:

“I was shaking in the back seat. My Mum gave me £2.50 for my dinner money. Then when we eventually got there I stepped out the car not knowing which way too go then I saw some other people walking by that were in my class so I just followed them.”

Last year on the three day visit, I gave the primary 7 pupils some of our mp3 players with built in microphones (they had been used to using these in class) and they interviewed some of the teachers and ‘buddies’. We shared these interviews once the children had came back from their visit. I’ve included one of them here – I have permission from all involved to share this online:


I wonder what potential blogging has for smoothing out the primary/secondary transition journey?

  • Longevity Issue 1 – Marc’s Blog

 Of all the primary 7 pupils, Marc was the most successful in keeping his blog going as he moved on to High School. In fact, in April 2008 he received a comment from David Gilmour:

David commented:

“Hi Marc, this is just to let you know that last month, April 08, your home page was the second most popular entry page on, with 2571 visits.”
Marc obviously enjoyed his blog that had been set up for him in Primary 7, and he continued writing posts until Second Year at High School. His main love was for drama/singing/dancing (and probably still is!). He began receiving comments containing words of encouragement from like-minded people … comments such as:

“Hi Marc, i’m the drama teacher at Knox Academy, just wanted to wow and well done for doing your own theatre company, it’s very hard work but liking your name and what you are doing! keep me posted in your future projects! break a leg!”

… and:

Hi Marc – can you give me the details of the Flannan Isle play that you are doing. I will be doing a project with my class based on the mystery of the Flannan Isle and would be interested to know where I could get a copy of the play. Thanks

and …

I’m glad you like Wicked! one of my favourite musicals! if you haven’t seen it yet you must! i seen Idina and Kerry and now booking to see the new Elphaba. We just took S2 and S3 students to see it in London

These comments were from Drama teachers – not from Marc’s own school, but from schools in another Local Authority. Despite the popularity of Marc’s blog, no-one in his own school ever commented (and the chances are that no teachers there were even aware that he had his own blog). It’s been a wee while now since Marc last updated his blog, but it is worth mentioning that he regularly posted to it for two years after he left primary School.

  • Longevity Issue 2 – Kayleigh’s New Home

Marc wasn’t the only one that year who continued to post to his blog after he’d moved on to high School. A handful of others posted during their first year of High School. Danni was one of these … and it was amazing to see a comment on her last blog post from Kayleigh.

Gi Day Danni
sorry it’s a long time since i spoke last. Iv’e just been so busy at school. I came 4th in the school cross country and 18th in the interschool cross country leauge out of a 110 people the lap was about 3km. They after that we had our faction sports carival (there like the houses we used to have) am in beard which is blue. these are the individal avents i took part in : 100m sprit i came 3rd out of the 8 people i raised ,i came 4th in the 200m out of 8 people, i came 3rd in long jump my longest jump was 3.29m and the last of the these events was the 400m i came 4th out of 8 people. After that we went onto team avents this is what they were: my team got second in leaderball, we came 3rd in flag relay, tunnelball,zigzag realy and shuttle relay But sadly we came last in passball. I have done other this as well i will tell you about them some other time
have a good on
from your friend kayleigh

The comment was from Kayleigh, who’d left Carronshore half way through primary 7 to go and live in Australia. It was just fantastic to read her blog post to say that she’d arrived safely and was settling in to her new life ‘down under’. It was also wonderful that there were 15 comments on that post in reply. These included comments from:

  •  friends in her old Carronshore school
  • virtual friends she’d met via her Carronshore blog who live in another part of Australia
  • classroom assistants from carronshore
  • teachers from Carronshore
  • the HT from Carronshore!
  • a member of staff from another authority in Scotland

You can read Kayleigh’s post and comments here

Longevity and portability Issues  – Troubles with edublogs

The blog posts from the next group of Primary 7 bloggers didn’t have as much success when it came to either ‘portability’ or ‘longevity’ issues. Unfortunately just as these primary 7’s left primary school, edublogs began to have problems with bloggers logging on to their blogs. Passwords had stopped working and I looked for help on the edublogs forum – I discovered that others were also having difficulties accessing blogs.

I asked for advice:

I’m also very concerned that all the blogs I set up last session for my class now can’t be accessed by them. They were all added as users (admin status) but have now moved on to High School. If they try to log in, will they not gain access? Although I still monitor their blogs, I’ve no easy way of showing them a way around this new problem. Their blogs can be found at

Luke replied that I should ask the pupils to reset their own passwords … not straight forward in my case because I’d set up the blogs in such a way that I had given the pupils control over their own passwords … equal admin rights.

Hi Luke,

The students have their own blogs (set up with the gmail hack). I can reset their passwords because I know their usernames, but can’t then change the new passwords back to their own on because I don’t know what this was.

They’ve all moved on to High School now so i can’t even ask them!!

The blogs were set up in August 2007. I know that some used them just recently.

Because of the gmail hack set up I can access them with my own username and password as I also have admin rights to each of their blogs, but that doesn’t help them to gain access

The reply was:

Quite a sticky situation there. You could maybe add a contact form/note on your blog, asking students who can’t log in to contact you. You can then give them the new password. Other than that, maybe James might have a better idea.

This problem led to a lot of the primary 7’s being confused as to why they couldn’t access their blogs. I know this was happening because I was receiving ‘change password’ email requests – but I’d no way of getting the new passwords to the ‘High School’ pupils.

Ok, that was hard work writing this and it’s time to press the  publish button – but I’m thinking that there might be a way forward with some of these ‘portability’ and ‘longevity’ issues  ….. watch this space 🙂


5 thoughts on “Online Spaces – Portability and Longevity

  1. This is a good topic to debate, thanks for spending your Saturday night doing such a detailed post!

    I’m really pleased that Marc got such a good audience for his writing.

    Another aspect to this, which cropped up this week for us with the demise of, is the longevity of Web 2.0 services. Inevitably there’s an element of risk in using these free services, and we’ve accepted that. For the schools involved, we’ve had a lot of useful learning – and fun – from it. The slideshows will vanish from the sites, but they’ve probably served their purpose and copies of the original images will still be on disk in the schools.

    With portfolios that are needed long-term, though, we’ll need to be careful to take such risks into account.

  2. Thanks for the comment, David.

    It was a very long post – apologies to any readers as I got a bit carried away with the copying and pasting from original sources! (Just as an aside to any other non-techies like myself, I’ve learned that copying from elsewhere works a treat if you hit the HTML tab first before pasting).

    That’s a really good point about the demise of Web 2.0 sites. The same thing happened with jumpcut a few months ago. What was pleasing to see though, is that they’re not just disappearing, but sending emails with instructions as to how to retrieve any pics, etc. from their site. I have until November to rescue my bubbleshare data – annoyingly, I missed the deadline for our jumpcut videos 🙁

    Advising schools to keep copies of originals as you have done seems like a sensible idea!

  3. An interesting predicament you have there.. I have taken some of this into account, I think maybe I can make primary blogger email a copy of each blog to its owner as a single file once a month or so? Would that be useful as a backup?

    Thanks for the post. This is a great post 🙂


    • Hi John,

      I’m really sorry about the delay in replying to your comment. I did notice earlier, then ‘back to work aftern 7 weeks off’ issues took over 🙂

      Thanks for offering to do this. I’m sure that getting a blog back-up emailed monthly would reassure teachers here.

  4. Pingback: Learning, Teaching and ICT » Glow Wikis, ePortfolios and Longevity

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