Pressure mounts as unpopular new Glow is weeks behind schedule
Opposition figures are demanding answers after it emerged that a critical update to Scotland’s schools intranet Glow is weeks behind schedule, preventing teachers from using services and blocking access to past work.
The migration of local authority data from a previous version of Glow to a new system using Microsoft 365 and Sharepoint 2013 software was started in April, and was due to have been completed by the start of the current school year.
However, during questioning by Labour MSP Kezia Dugdale in the Scottish Parliament last week, Education Secretary Michael Russell revealed that 12 local authorities had still not been migrated to the new system.
Russell said that the migration would be completed by December, when the existing contract with service provider RM Education runs out.
At a session during the Scottish Learning Festival, Education Scotland officials were told by local authority IT staff that teachers found the new Sharepoint system “very confusing”, and felt that “it doesn’t seem ready yet”.
Holyrood can reveal that Education Scotland’s own user testing conducted in 2012, when a tendering process for Glow was still active, revealed an overwhelming preference among teachers and pupils for Google Apps for Education over the Microsoft 365/Sharepoint system now being rolled out.
Documents that the Scottish Government has previously declined to release under Freedom of Information legislation show that in a focus group of 56 teachers asked to assess both options, 100 per cent preferred Google Apps for Education.
Google was judged to be superior in each category compared to its Microsoft competitor. 80.4 per cent of students in a 46-strong focus group also preferred Google.
A spokesperson for Education Scotland, which operates Glow, told Holyrood: “Glow users from local authorities that have not yet been migrated do not have access to the new Microsoft 365 platform. They are using Glow as they always have in the past.
“It is only when they are migrated they will see a change and the benefits that Microsoft 365 offers, including access to much improved tools such as Lync and One Note as well as significantly increased storage.
“At end of September, 20 local authorities have had either all, or most of, their content migrated into the new service. The remaining local authorities have dates scheduled for their migration to start and the migration of the portal will be complete by mid-December, as planned.”
The spokesperson added that the local authorities already migrated were those with the largest amounts of data to transfer.