Tuesday, 30 October 2007

Online communities for Computing

A couple of months ago, I posted a message about online communities to support specific Computing awards and this is a reminder that the groups are there to help you deliver SQA qualifications.

Although the main means of support on these groups is peer-to-peer, me and my team are members of most of them and try our best to respond to queries. The membership of the groups is growing with, for example, 50 members of the National Certificate community.

So I would encourage you to subscribe to the relevant groups and participate as much as time permits. These online services have great potential to support the delivery of SQA awards - and solve many of the problems you face in your day-to-day teaching.

Friday, 26 October 2007

Vendors, children, IT skills and blogging

I've been in London this week for CompTIA's Breakaway Europe event. SQA works with a number of vendors, through our DIVA programme, and we offer CompTIA's A+ certification through some of our HN units. The event has been interesting - especially the keynote speeches.

I took the opportunity while down here to attend a few other events. On Wednesday evening I went along to the CEOP offices in London to attend the launch of their cybercafe, which is targetted at 8-11 year olds. CEOP is responsible for child safety online and has shifted the focus from teenagers to younger kids.

Yesterday afternoon I went along to a Westminster e-forum entitled A UK IT SKills Gap? While there was a disappointing lack of hard evidence, some statistics were presented: 46% decline in applications for Computer Science courses at university since 2001; 10% year-on-year decline in A Level entries for Computer Studies. There was a pretty unanimous conclusion that we're heading for an IT skill shortage unless things change.

It was interesting to note that one of these events (the CEOP one) stressed the importance of protecting children from such things as social networks, the other (the Westminster one) emphasised the need to make the school curriculum more engaging, using such things as social neworking!

Each day of the CompTIA event begins with a keynote address and two of them were particularly good - one from Steve Clayton of Microsoft and one from Adrian Webster who is a writer. Steve's talk was about the importance of engaging with customers through such things as blogs; he emphasised the importance of being honest with them. Adrian's talk was about motivation - and was hilarious - so I'm happy to plug him and his book.

Thursday, 25 October 2007

HND Interactive Media

Yesterday Bobby and I met to discuss kicking off developments for the HND Interactive Media. I am aware that we put out an email request a few months back for QDT members. Can I ask you to once again to email me if you are interested in becoming a member of the QDT and especially if you are interested in being considered for the lead developer.

All emails of interest must be with me by 2nd November 2007.

Internet Safey - Delivery Guide

A delivery guide has been produced for Internet Safey and is now available for download from the SQA wesbite.

It gives guidance on delivering the unit on a teacher-centred, student-centred or e-learning (self taught) basis.

To download a copy, click on the following URL:

Friday, 19 October 2007

Head of Computing meeting

I met with the team this afternoon to discuss arrangements for the forthcoming meeting of Heads of Computing, which we organise once or twice every year.

The next meeting will take place on Friday, 23 November at the Menzies Hotel in Glasgow.

We also discussed the agenda, which will include updates on a number of developments as well as presentations about DIVA and Computer Clubs for Girls.

Angela will send a letter to centres shortly but in the meantime you should put this date in your diary if you plan to join us.

More information from Laura in the meantime.

Wednesday, 17 October 2007

NC DMC Arrangements Documents

Yesterday I recieved a phone call asking the web location of the NC DMC arrangements documents. The documents are located on our NQ, NQ Group Awards Computing and IT page.

I hope this stops any confusion.

Friday, 12 October 2007

National Certificate Digital Media Computing - Level 6

Angela and I met with Walter Patterson and Bill Brown yesterday, to discuss developments relating to the new National Certificate at Level 6 (Higher). We've been so busy in the last few months with the level 4/5 awards (which are available to centres now) that we had somewhat neglected this work.

So yesterday was a catch-up meeting. We made important decisions about dates and who would do what. We agreed a validation date in January (provisionally the 17th) so, assuming we get a few conditions to clear up, the Level 6 award should be available to centres from March.

We also discussed a whole raft of new National Progression Awards that we plan to develop during the next 12 months (some of which are very exciting such as NPAs in Digital Gaming, and Animation). These awards would sit inside the National Certificates but could be offered stand-alone in schools or colleges. We're working on a timeline for these awards, with our priority being level 4 and 5 awards. But they will all be available by next October.

Please contact Angela for more information on the National Certificate or National Progression Awards.

Wednesday, 10 October 2007

Software Development - Object Oriented Collections

Today saw the published version of the HN Assessment Exemplar DM33 35 Software Development: Object Oriented Collections posted to the SQA Secure Website.

Access to this material is through your SQA Centre Co-ordinator.

Strathclyde Police cadets commence Internet Safety

I met with Rob Hay, of Strathclyde Police, and Steven Lamb, of James Watt College, yesterday afternoon to agree arrangements for delivering the new Internet Safety qualification to police cadets.

I'm really pleased about this project since it's a compliment to SQA that Strathclyde Police think that the qualification is good enough to give to every one of its new intake of cadets - with plans to adopt the unit as a formal part of the training programme in the future.

One the main selling points of the qualification is its flexibility - it can be done entirely online or using a CD-ROM... which fits nicely with the cadet training programme since they are dispersed across Strathclyde in various police stations. You can find out more about Internet Safety from Caroline.

Monday, 8 October 2007

Online meetings

The results from the recent poll (see panel on right) are interesting. You've given a clear thumbs-up to occasional online meetings. So, I'd like to give this a try.

The most widely used online communication program is Skype so I propose to use this. You can download it here.

I plan to organise monthly meetings on a particular theme such as the HNC Computing Graded Unit and the support materials for the new NC awards. These meetings would also provide you with an opportunity to "meet the developers" - the people working behind the scenes on developing new awards.

So please download Skype and look out (on this blog) for the notification about the first meeting which will take place later this month.

HNC Exam Exemplars

Over the last few months, writers of the HNC Graded Unit Exam Exemplars have been busy finalising their materials and these have been through some rigorous vetting checks.

These are now being passed over for verifier checks before being sent to our support materials section for publishing.

We anticipate that the following will be published by late January 2008:

DH36 34 HNC Computing - Graded Unit 1 (3 versions)
DV6D 34 HNC Information Technology - Graded Unit 1 (3 versions)
DE36 34 HNC Interactive Multimedia Creation - Graded Unit 1 (3 versions)

These will be in addition to the published versions already available for download on the SQA secure website.