On Saturday, I tried out the new blogging facility in Glow.
I admit that I was a bit perplexed at first because the dashboard seemed to have a lot less options that the ones I’m used to. However, I eventually managed to upload a picture and add some widgets to the sidebar – and I’ve even figured out how to customise the header, now 🙂
There’s no option to easily select font sizes and colours … and I spent ages trying to embed a Voki (it didn’t work!). John has since left a comment, though, explaining that both the images and the wysiwyg is a bit broken at the moment, but that “the glow guys have all summer to fix it ;-)”
I’ve also received three other comments on the trial blog. The first two were from Alan and Malcolm (a colleague from work) saying they were looking forward to seeing how I’ll use the blogs with my Primary 6 class next session. I haven’t replied to their comment, but although I’d love to use Glow Blogs, there would need to be changes/additions made. I know that changes are planned, though, because I also received a third comment from Andrew asking for feedback so that any necessary tweaks can be made over the summer…. so here’s my tuppence worth 🙂
- At the moment, class teachers in Falkirk are using Primaryblogger and we’ve been spoiled by the super service they provide . Blogs need to be user-friendly because class teachers don’t have the time to spend hours trying to get them to do the things we need them to do. My new class won’t have experienced blogging before and it would put them off if it was too difficult.
It would be great to use Glow Blogs, though, so fingers crossed they can provide the things on my wishlist 🙂
My Wish List For Glow Blogs:
- Can we please have more options on the Dashboard?
It’s not easy to figure out how to add widgets – and changing the custom header (on K2 theme) took me a long time. If there was an ‘Appearance’ option like this on (even just the widgets and custom header submenus) that would save loads of hastle.
Some classes have worked very hard and are very proud of their class blog. For example, my own Carronshore one has been on the go since 2006. It’s been looked after by others during my secondment …. and I know I’ll need to import Mrs Willianson’s art posts in to another blog for her, or she’ll just refuse to give it back to me! (it’s an edublogs blog as I’m a ‘supporter’ until 2048 – but that’s a long story!)
Would it be possible to have the option to import existing blogs into a new Glow Blog by the addition of the ‘Tools’ menu?
- Extra Widgets
The blogs we are using at the moment offer the option of dragging over some very useful widgets to the sidebar. The ones shown in the image here are not normally available, but the people at primaryblogger have added them to the bank of available widgets.
I know that they could probably be added by teachers themselves using text widgets and some code, but the ‘drag and drop’ of custom made ones saves a lot of hastle – and they’re great teaching tools, too.
- Storage Space
John mentioned in his blog post that he’d like to see more storage space in the Glow blogs and demonstrated how quickly 10mb can be used up – even if images are resized. One of the great things about primaryblogger is the generous 1000 mb
- Please fix the ‘Visual’ tab so that we can easily change font size/colour, and upload images
- Embedding Code
I’m presuming that this is something that the Glow RM Team are working to fix. I spent ages at the weekend trying to embed a Voki into a Glow Blog. Embedding slideshows, sound files, etc. is a very important part of blogging … especially if there’s a file upload limit.
- Page Tabs
I’m not sure why there are no page tabs showing in any of the themes I played around with. I was able to create pages, but the only way to see them was to activate the pages widget – once I found where the widgets were hiding 🙂
Well, that’s my wish list for Glow Blogs….. so far! I hope this post doesn’t read like an advert for Primaryblogger. I have used other blog hosts in the past, but there were always frustrations involved – and that’s what makes class teachers just give up on the whole idea of blogging with classes.
Primaryblogger’s John McLear has always been very supportive, though, and has actually been in touch offering to help with the Glow Blog set-up. He mentioned that the main plugin used to simplify the primaryblogger interface is: Qwerty admin panel …all double-dutch to me, but it might be of some use to the folk at RM 🙂
Thanks so much for this post – very helpful to us. As Andrew says in his tweet, we are wanting to give people to best experience that we can.
I will try and answer as many as your points as I can – we will always be open and honest with anyone who asks.
Glow should always enhance learning and teaching, and save a teacher time too! If it does not do that, people should not use it. I believe that Glow made me a better teacher in the classroom, as it solved problems for me and allowed me to engage more with my pupils. I love that Glow blogs will remove a barrier for me – in that the one login and no need for pupil personal email verification often got in the way of a good lesson.
Firstly, I was so chuffed to see that you were giving Glow bogs a try. There are a few people who have been pioneering in this area in Scottish ed, and you are one of them.
The dashboard – this will be fixed in the morning and you will be able to format text, add images and embed code including voki’s – this was not an issue when the blogs were in approval. Thanks to you, and others, for providing feedback and being so patient.
As I have mentioned, if a part of Glow does not make your life easier it shouldn’t be used. I would hope that the shibboleth authentication and possibilities of linking a Glow blog to other Glow services, such as forums, will do just that.
Adding a widget and custom header button – I don’t think this is possible within WordPress but will feed it back. We will be producing help vids for users soon.
It will be possible to import existing blogs into your Glow blog.
We are looking at widgets and plugins and will respond to the needs of users. Different widgets are available on different themes, which is usual for WordPress users – again help will be given.
Glow blogs will have a storage limit of 100 MB. Schools needing this increased will for any given reason will be able to request this, similar to the agreement with establishment Glow groups space.
Qwerty admin panel is also double dutch to me – but I will pass this on to the team!
Thanks again for this post, and keep the ideas coming. Glow has the potential to make a difference, but only if we keep demanding more.
Alan, glad you have the shib auth plugin working and some other bits sorted.
The qwerty admin panel just makes the interface simpler and easier to use.
Good luck with your project and thank you for choosing WordPress 🙂 You made the right choice!
Primary Blogger has written several plug-ins and contributed various bits to the WordPress plugin which we would be very happy for you to use. I hope that RM/Glow understand how open source communities work and support the global community as well as the glow community in our ongoing efforts.
Here are 3 plugins/apps we would recommend glow adopt:
PGA top 4 games @ http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/top-5-educational-flash-interactive-games-for-schools/
Classdroid @ http://mclear.co.uk/sites/classdroid
CBBC News widget @ http://mclear.co.uk/2009/12/27/cbbc-news-wordpress-plugin-widget/
I would also recommend you allow embed and objects, other than that wordpress is a breeze of a system to adopt and your users will love it!
Hey Alan, thanks very much for your speedy – and informative – comment!
As far as blogging goes, I really believe that the set-up I’m using can’t be beat. It would be great if Glow could match it, tho – I’d move over, then 🙂
The reason that pupil personal email verification isn’t an issue for me, is that, because I set the blogs up for the students, then added them as users using the ‘gmail +’ trick, they’re all given admin rights, but I ‘own’ the blogs and there is no need to use their email addresses. I do the same when giving them Voki accounts, etc.
Adding a widget and custom header button must be possible, because I took those screenshots from a primaryblogger blog I setup – also wordpress based. They also provide the same widgets, no matter what theme is chosen (loads of themes to choose from!).
100 MB storage is great news – I could live with that, I think.
Querty Admin Panel …. maybe http://mclear.co.uk/ can help?