Sunday, 27 January 2008

Glow on Harris and Lewis

I Recently I had the pleasure to work with Glow mentors from the Western Isles in Tarbert on the Isle of Harris. On the drive south from Stornoway to Tarbert, I recognised scenery from a previous visit. I had spent three weeks camping on the machair at Valtos and Cneep fifteen years before. That visit had given me a valuable insight into a local community and a crofting township. As the car meandered past a landscape full of small lochs and climbed over the mountains into southern Harris I recognised the remains of black houses next to modern bungalows and traditional one and a half story houses dotted along the roadside. I wondered, how many people live with their family history and community archaeology in daily view, in their garden, as they do on the Western Isles? These strings of houses look very isolated... but if you get involved in local conversations, or as I did, visit a local cemetry, it soon becomes clear that these communities are connected, to each other and to distant places around the globe. People here have a local and a global sense of place not least because of their connections with and across the Atlantic.

Everyone should visit the Outer Hebridese to enjoy the landscape, at least once: to see the warmer colours, whiter sands and open spaces with no trees. As I approached my destination I shifted my thoughts from Cneep and Valtos to Tarbert, and work. From the backseat of the car, I overheard my host, Hamish, telling my colleague: "the local council are moving to Voip".
I thought, ah crofting township, and asked: "where is that?" There was alot of laughter; because as you well know Voip is not a gaelic name. It is a protocol!

During my two nights and two days in Tarbert the weather deteriorated and connectivity was interrupted but training went ahead without pause. Technical problems were replaced with opportunities for discussion. It was great to be involved in local conversations. Here was a group of people who could see the potential of Glow and were talking about how it could be used to

overcome traditional and current problems in schools. Mentor training includes workshops in using a range of communication tools such as Glow Meet (video conferencing) and how to apply these in an educational context.

It was clear that these mentors were talented teachers with excellent technical support and a good sense of what technology can offer. Add to this certain local advantages: small average class sizes, high expectations of formal education and strong communites and then it is not difficult to see why this is such a good place for Glow. Here are the building blocks for successful 21st century learning and teaching, where the emphasis will be on creativity, connecting and collaborating.


olliebray said...

Sounds like a great trip and an action packed training programme! I have never made it over to the Western Isles - I really want to get Sea Kayaking there one day.

martin said...

Hi ollie it is agreat place. i know Skye really well but this is different again. You should see the beaches on the west coast.
Check google-earth and look south west of Callanish Stonesfor a great tour through small islands.