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Pupils work from home using Glow as snow forces many schools to close
Using Glow
Update by news editor   06-12-2010

Who needs school when you have the internet?

Thousands stuck at home but there's snow excuse for falling behind

Scottish pupils who were kept out of classrooms by the snow last week have been logging in online to keep up with their work.

Loads of schools now use Glow, the world's first national intranet system for education, which allows pupils to access class work from home.

Homework assignments can be given out using Glow, and you can join in activities like creative writing, photography and outdoor activities by logging in.

The pupils at Carmondean Primary School in Livingston have been kept busy on Glow. Special homework and fun activities have been provided online by their teachers.

"Children have been encouraged to build snowmen, measure and count the number of buttons, then go online to see who has built the tallest," said Jan Lumsden, the head teacher.

Rebecca, a primary three pupil at Carmondean said: "I've been out measuring the depth of snow in my garden and working out the average depth.

"I'm making a bar graph which I will take to school on Monday. I have also been doing a scavenger hunt where my teacher posted photographs online to see how many we can spot including a snow drift, red sledge and animal footprints."

The education secretary, Michael Russell, is keen for more people to use Glow in this way while the big freeze continues.

"I would urge local authorities and schools to embrace Glow and other remote learning opportunities for the benefit of pupils who are unable to attend their local school."

Maybe this is a taste of what school will be like in the future - if your teacher can be beamed into your living room over the internet, you can do your lessons in the garden and send your homework in by email, why bother going back to school at all?

Have you tried logging into Glow through the Daily What News? We have loads of fun stuff for you to have a go on from quizzes and games to photo stories and interactive diagrams, and lots more.

Lesson ideas and suggestions

Who needs school when you have the internet?

Kids able to learn at home, but why have we ground to a halt?

More than 1000 schools were closed in Scotland last week as a result of the most severe early winter weather in about 45 years, with about 250,000 pupils having time off.

Thankfully, the existence of Glow, the world's only schools intranet system, has allowed many pupils to keep up with their learning. But many parents and politicians are angry that so many schools were closed, while transport chaos, and food and fuel shortages have been raising one question - why can we not cope?

Glasgow came in for criticism on Wednesday after its late decision to close all of its schools and nurseries, especially since schools in neighbouring East Renfrewshire managed to keep their doors open.

Meanwhile, there have been demands for the Scottish Parliament to investigate the travel chaos caused by winter weather. The Westminster transport secretary Philip Hammond has promised to find out how the weather has ground airports, the rail network and roads to a halt.

Charlie Gordon, from the Scottish Labour Party, demanded an investigation into the country's preparedness to deal with the winter weather.

He said: "I believe that an inquiry by the Scottish Parliament's transport committee would be the best way to consider the issues of long-term planning and the resources that are necessary to keep Scotland moving."

And fuel retailers were warning that some forecourts had already run out of petrol, with many more expected to dry up soon.

The Retail Motor Industry Independent Petrol Retailers Association (RMI Petrol) said tens of thousands of motorists could be without fuel by Monday.

"We are close to a critical point in what is fast becoming a fuel crisis as well as a weather crisis. Acute problems of supply, particularly of diesel, are being reported by our rural members in the north east of England and eastern Scotland," said Brian Madderson, the chairman of RMI.

Edmund King, the president of the AA, said:

"The UK has lost tens of millions of pounds over the last few days due to road stagnation and rail paralysis in some areas. We have had people trapped on motorways and on trains for hours on end and that is unacceptable. In the 21st century we should not have people stuck on the motorway all night or stranded on trains or at train stations. We need better plans."

Some shops are reporting shortages of basic supplies like milk and bread as customers stocked up their cupboards and lorry drivers had problems making deliveries.

Scott Allan, 33, said supplies of milk and bread were low at his Co-op store in the Ibrox area of Glasgow.

He said: "The shelves were nearly empty, with just a couple of cartons of the more expensive organic milk left and a few loaves of bread. Now that the weather looks like it's here to stay I am planning to stock up on the way home from work."

It is a common complaint that the UK struggles to cope with a few inches of snow, while other countries that are blanketed for months on end seem to manage fine. So why is this?

One reason is that bad weather in the UK is unpredictable. As David Quarmby from the RAC told the BBC, it is hard to know when the British winter will start and how severe it will be, as this varies from year to year.

He recommended "a little bit more investment in things like snow ploughs, getting farmers' contracts in place to use more tractors and so on - that's the kind of thing that is fairly low cost, and you can bring those into action when you do get these relatively rare events of large amounts of snow," he said.

Countries like Sweden and Canada have other solutions to rely on in bad weather. Motorists use snow chains on their cars, for example, which give them better grip in icy conditions and enable drivers to continue to make journeys throughout the winter.

But snow chains are expensive and drivers here may use them for a month one year, but not at all the next, so are reluctant to splash out.

Other countries, like Norway, even have heated pavements!

But the idea that other places can cope every winter with no hiccups may be a bit of a myth. Train passengers were stranded for days in icy conditions in Norway in February and March this year, while 3,000 passengers spent the night stuck on German trains last Wednesday.

And innovations are afoot in the UK. For example, heated rails for commuter trains are being trialled in Kent.

At least, unlike last year, we haven't run out of grit for the roads…yet.

Today's stories were chosen by delegates from the US, Norway, Holland and Italy at the Online Educa conference on technology supported learning in Berlin, in our latest You Choose the News event. If you would like to take part in a You Choose the News event email:

Lesson ideas and suggestions

adapted from article by Susan Swarbrick
read original story here

Experiences & Outcomes

  • I explore and experiment with the features and functions of computer technology and I can use what I learn to support and enhance my learning in different contexts. TCH 1-04a / TCH 2-04a
  • I enhance my learning by applying my ICT skills in different learning contexts across the curriculum. TCH 3-04a
  • I can use ICT effectively in different learning contexts across the curriculum to access, select and present relevant information in a range of tasks. TCH 4-03b
  • I can use evidence selectively to research current social, political or economic issues. SOC 2-15a
  • I can use my knowledge of current social, political or economic issues to interpret evidence and present an informed view. SOC 3-15a
  • I can evaluate conflicting sources of evidence to sustain a line of argument. SOC 4-15a
  • Through discussion, I have identified aspects of a social issue to investigate and by gathering information I can assess its impact and the attitudes of the people affected. SOC 4-16b
  • By comparing my local area with a contrasting area outwith Britain, I can investigate the main features of weather and climate, discussing the impact on living things. SOC 2-12a
  • I can investigate the relationship between climate and weather to be able to understand the causes of weather patterns within a selected climate zone. SOC 3-12a
  • I can demonstrate an understanding of weather and climate by explaining the relationship between weather and air pressure. SOC 4-12c