Monday, October 20, 2014

Glow - I hate you!



If you have a child at school in Scotland, the word 'glow' probably no longer leaves you with the warm and cosy feeling it is meant to evoke... (or is my family its only victim?)

They've been trying to roll it out across East Ren at least since Lots was still in primary, if not longer. How difficult can it be to write an online system that kids can use to access their school and school work? Countless times we've been asked to access it, usually with minimal, if any, instructions on where to find the page pertaining to a specific project, homework, class or whatever. I'm not particularly computer-illiterate - I have worked on one daily since 1991 and can cope with writing small Unix scripts and similar but 'glow' fills me with fear and loathing and leaves me frustrated to the point of wanting to go back to papyrus scrolls.

The first issue is that every time we attempt to log on the child's password has been changed. Yes, they may have been given something simple to remember but they are using it at 5 or 6 years old so when you ask their password, you get told last week's or last month's or their username, or the password they thought about using but didn't, or the password the kid sitting next to them used. So problem number one is invariably trying for a whole evening to log on, unsuccessfully trying different combinations of surnames, pet's names, minecraft handles and similar, and believe me, when you have four school-age kids, you don't have time to devote a whole evening to hacking into the system for just one of them. Around midnight you write your first letter of the week to the teacher (knowing that by Friday, you'll be back on first name terms).

By day 2 you are one day behind on the homework (that you only had four days to do in the first place) so are already stressed. You finally get in, invariably using one of the combinations of username and password that didn't work the previous evening but now mysteriously does, but you have no idea where to go... (and the interface has always changed since your previous successful break-in). The kid takes the mouse and manoeuvres you through three screens till you finally see, not without some relief, the class teacher's name. You click on it, knowing you are finally just one screen away from finally discovering what this week's homework assignment is and as you click it laughs in your face and flashes the message 'You do not have the permissions to view this page!' You find yourself shouting 'Fuck off glow!!!' and shaking your fist at the laptop much to the surprise of junior, who wonders why 'glow' always provokes such anger in his parents.You reach for the pen to write the teacher your second penpal letter of the week, because you really have nothing better to do with your evenings with a job and five kids than play hide and seek with 'glow' every evening.

This week Léon announced his teacher has decided to save paper (or was it the planet?) by putting all homework from now on on 'glow'. FFS, just pass me a gun now...

At high school (after the initial period of three months having them reset Charlotte's password on a daily basis) 'glow' does work, though still takes longer than just opening a text book and actually doing an exercise, but at primary, many of the children just aren't clued up enough to use such a buggy system. I really don't see how they can consider using it as a default system if children cannot get it to work without hours of parental intervention. I'm so fed up with it that I am losing the will to live. Tonight we 'do not have permissions'. I am not writing another letter. I have told Léon to tell them he can't see his homework and I refuse to devote any more time to it. If we don't get in by Thursday I will write a single letter saying ' Léon cannot access his homework so we did not do it'. That will be a first as none of my kids has missed a homework assignment in the 12 years they have all been at school. Enough is enough!


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