Thursday, 29 November 2007

Computer Games Development

This morning Angela and I met with Joanna McGillvray of Forth Valley College and Tony Gurney of Ayr College to discuss possible developments in the Computer Games area.

There is currently an HNC Computer Games Development available to centres (developed by Stow College in 2005) and this is now offered by a number of colleges. There has been regular requests for a corresponding HND award but we've not taken this forward due to doubts about student numbers.

What was clear from this morning's meeting was that there is a need for something at HND level - this could be a stand-alone award (HND Computer Games Development) or part of an existing award (HND Computing: Software Development). We also discussed possible changes to the existing HNC award.

We have a National Progression Award in Computer Games planned and it would make sense (if we decide to do anything) to take forward the development as a whole (NPA, HNC and HND).

With so many options, we decided to consult with the field. I plan to organise a questionnaire to get the views of Heads of Computing on these questions. This will take place sometime in January.

I appreciate that consultation takes time and slows down developments but it gives me confidence that whatever we decide to do has the support of the field. Look out for more information soon.

In the meantime, contact Angela if you have any queries about the existing qualification. But right now, I'm off somewhere nice for the next week.

Monday, 26 November 2007

Heads of Computing meeting

The team met with Heads of Computing on Friday at the Menzies Hotel in Glasgow. It was a very busy agenda, which covered all of the developments which have taken place, and are currently taking place, in this subject area.

There were presentations from various people. I gave an overview of developments.

Gillian Leitch spoke about the new National Certificates.

Caroline showcased the Internet Safety unit.

Angela spoke about HNC/D Interactive Media.

Tony Gurney, of SFEU, told us about a new national student forum.

There were also presentation from Colin Maxwell (from Adam Smith College) about Adobe, and one from Michael Kowbel about Computer Clubs for Girls.

The event seemed to go well and, I think, attendees got a lot out of it. For my own part, it's always to good to hear from practitioners - which reminds me what really matters to people.

Monday, 19 November 2007

Welcome to Tricia

Tony is still covering another post within SQA and his replacement (Laura) left for a permanent position last week (with another organisation). So Tricia Hanlan joined the team on a temporary basis this morning. Here is the latest organisation chart for the Computing team.

Tricia will be with us for a short time until Tony is covered on a more permanent basis.

Sunday, 18 November 2007

Thursday, 15 November 2007

E-Assessment Question Conference

I attended the E-Assessment Conference yesterday. The event was held in Glasgow. I was speaking about objective testing.

My presentation was based on The Guide to Writing Objective Tests.

There were lots of interesting presentations including one from Martyn Ware of SQA who outlined SQA's e-assessment strategy.

Monday, 12 November 2007

E-learning material for HN units

Over the last couple of years, we've developed a large number of digital learning packs to support various HN units, mainly thanks to ESF funding.

There have been four development phases. Phases 1 and 2 developed material for HNC Computing. The material can be found here. Phase 3 focussed on HNC Information Technology; we're still working on these materials but they will be available soon. Phase 4 focused on HNC Interactive Media and is now virtually complete. The materials for this Phase can be found here.

The materials are available to anyone and are free to use but contact Caroline if you want further information.

It would be interesting to know what you think about these materials and how you're using them.

Saturday, 10 November 2007

National Certificate unit check

We spent most of today checking the new units that form part of the National Certificate in Digital Media Computing at Level 6.

The purpose of the check was to ensure that the units are fit for purpose - in other words, they are fit to be delivered in centres. So, we invited a couple of experienced college lecturers to come along and look over the units. It was very productive. We made several changes to make the units easier to deliver in centres by, for example, simplifying the assessment or reducing the resource requirements.

We didn't manage to get through all of the units in the time available so we'll be meeting again to finish the task.

Thursday, 8 November 2007

Qualification and credit framework

England, Wales and Northern Ireland are creating a framework similar to Scotland's SCQF and I've been in London for a couple of days to get up-to-speed on developments. It's been very interesting.

The Qualification & Credit Framework (QCF) has nine levels (SCQF has 12) and uses 10 hour credits (rather than SQA's 40 hour credits). But the underlying principles are the same. Of course, it's a major undertaking to standardise qualifications in such a complex environment as England (there are hundreds of awarding bodies for one thing) but QCA appears to have made a lot of progress.

One of the interesting aspects of the event was the location - Chelsea Football Club, which was a great meeting place and the stadium itself looked fantastic.

Tuesday, 6 November 2007

HND Interactive Media

I will be writing to centres in the near future regarding the development of the HND Interactive Media.

The HNC award was developed last year (although too late for centres to offer from August) and we are now going to turn our attention to the HND award(s).

I plan to walk-the-walk during this project... I'm going to make extensive use of Web 2.0 tools to create the new awards in collaboration with developers, teachers and other interested parties. I've written a process for doing this.

It will be interesting to see how this experiment works out. Please post your comments on the procedure here (if you have any).

I've created a group on Scribd for SQA documentation (the stuff that relates to Computing). You'll find it here. Scribd provides many useful features, including audio (MP3) versions of all documents. Please subscribe to the group if you find it useful.

Safety fears holding back education?

Today's Herald has an article about the use of Web 2.0 in the classroom - and it features someone that most of us know very well. Walter argues that safety fears over new technology are holding back the use of new technology in the classroom. Definitely worth a read.

Friday, 2 November 2007

Sector Panel... and Qualifications for the future

There was a Sector Panel meeting on Wednesday morning. The Computing & Call Centres Sector Panel meets twice per year to discuss sectoral issues, such as employment trends and education issues. Members include SQA staff, Sector Skills Council representation, HMI, college staff, employers, and representatives of other national agencies (such as Learn Direct). Wednesday's agenda was interesting and included uptake in Computing and gender issues. Chris Morrow (of E-Skills) gave a particularly interesting talk on the forthcoming changes to the National Occupational Standards.

Speaking of which, I attended a meeting yesterday at Strathclyde University where Chris (and others from E-Skills) commenced a long process of engaging with employers, awarding bodies and other interested parties, on the new Standards. It's early days in the process but the proposed changes look good.

I finished the day at the Millennium Hotel in Glasgow where SQA has organised a Qualifications for the future masterclass. As part of the Curriculum for Excellence, we're looking at ways of modernising our qualifications and we have arranged a number of events where prominent educationalists speak about key educational developments. Yesterday, Professor Ray Land of Strathclyde University spoke about the effects of Web 2.0 on today's learners. His talk was very interesting and he made reference to some of my own writing on this area.