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Wednesday, 30 April 2008

E-learning material

Over the years, we have produced a range of e-learning material to support the IT awards at HN level. Most of the funding for this has came from ESF.

Although many of these developments were ad hoc, there are now sufficient units covered by online learning that entire group awards can now be delivered this way. The entire HNC Computing can now be delivered online; as can the new HNC Interactive Media; most of the HNC IT award is also covered; and some of the HNC Computer Networking. In total, 29 units are now supported by e-learning materials.

All of these materials will eventually appear on the SQA website but, for the moment, some are hosted elsewhere. In fact, three websites: here, here and here. Please contact Caroline for further information.

Speaking of e-learning, you may be interested in this paper on how e-learning effects teaching and learning.

Wednesday, 23 April 2008

Writing objective tests

I get frequent requests for my Guide to Writing Objective Tests from centres (and individuals) who are tasked with creating a test (usually for online delivery). Many of the new awards in my portfolio using multiple choice questions and the Guide is a good source of advice on writing this type of question.

The latest version of the Guide is maintained on Scrib and can be downloaded from that site (in various formats including PDF and Word).

Read this doc on Scribd: Objective Test Guide

Monday, 21 April 2008

Graded Unit (Project) EV training

I attended a training event on Saturday along with the Computing External Verifier (EV) team. It covered new guidance on the Graded Unit that was recently sent to centres (I would link to the PDF but I can't find it on the SQA website - in spite of our "new, site wide search facility").

It was an interesting event that gave us the opportunity to discuss standards relating to Project-based Graded Units - of which there are many in my portfolio.

I would be interested to know how satisfied you are with the Project-based GUs and if you would like any additional guidance from SQA (please use the comment facility).

Monitoring of Standards - HN Computing

We are looking for an FE & HE representative to take part in a Monitoring of Standards exercise focussing on a selection of HN Computing Units sampled from candidates over a selection of centres.

This work will take place during the summer break and will be paid work lasting approximately 2-3 days.

If you are interested in taking part, please get in touch with me direct (caroline.douglas@sqa.org.uk).

Friday, 18 April 2008

The demise of Computing in schools and the rise of digital culture?

The subject of Computing goes through peaks and troughs. I remember fighting off students for my HNC Computing day-release class in the early 1990's, whereas today most day-release classes have vanished. So the subject is going through a lull in popularity. But I'm confident that it is only a lull and it will return to its former popularity in a few years time.

I attended another meeting of the Schools Computing group this morning at Jordanhill College. The group has had considerable success in raising the profile of the problem, and there is an action plan to try to improve the popularity of the subject in Scottish schools.

I recently mentioned that some of the most exciting developments in our sector happen in the library area. We're about to update the Advanced Diploma in ICT for Librarians, and, as part of that development, we're going to develop one or more units relating to Digital Culture. I've asked a developer to create a framework covering SCQF Levels 6, 7 and 8. This framework will include various topics such as Web 2.0, e-citizenship, e-democracy, netiquette, social networks, e-learning, citizen journalism, and online activism. It will embed the "new literacies" of digital literacy, media literacy and information literacy. These unit(s), once developed, could be added to any qualification framework.

I believe that that is part of the solution for our subject. We may have to re-invent ourselves for the 21st century by embracing areas like digital culture and information literacy. Scotland continues to need talented software engineers but the subject may have to evolve to include these new areas.

We have already diversified our qualifications by developing awards in IT, Interactive Media and Computer Games. As a result, the number of students doing HN "Computing" awards has fallen by less than 10% over the last five years - at a time when university entry to Computing courses has fallen by 50%.

Continued innovation is needed during the current lull to maintain numbers for this vital part of the Scottish economy.

Wednesday, 16 April 2008

The Ultimate Steal

As you might be aware, in September Microsoft launched ‘The Ultimate Steal’ where students can save over £500 off the cost of Microsoft Office Ultimate 2007 at www.theultimatesteal.co.uk .

This has been fantastically received, and by popular demand, we’ve now managed to open up this offer to staff. That means if you are a member of staff and you fulfil the following criteria:

1. You must hold a valid email address at a UK, Jersey, Guernsey or Isle of Man educational institution, ending in either ‘.ac.uk’, ‘ac.im’, ‘ac.gg’ or ‘ac.je’.

AND

2. You must be employed at an education institution geographically located in the United Kingdom, Jersey, Guernsey or the Isle of Man, for at least an average of 8 hours per week or 4 teaching hours per week.

You can now purchase Microsoft Office Ultimate 2007 for just £38.95 .

However you must act quickly as the offer closes on April 30th 2008.

Tuesday, 15 April 2008

Today's Herald follows up on falling Computing numbers

Interesting article in today's Herald.

HNC Interactive Media assessments

I've had lots of enquiries about the availability of the assessment exemplars for the new HNC Interactive Media. The award itself was validated last June so the packs have taken a long time. I won't bore you with the reasons - but they were the usual delays that can happen.

Anyway, they are coming now. Some are available right now from the SQA secure website. Others are just about there. As I wrote in my recent update letter, they will all be available by May. Please contact Angela for further information about these materials or any other aspect of this qualification.

Don't forget to check the dedicated blog for the corresponding HND development.

Monday, 14 April 2008

Digital Culture

Some of the most exciting developments in ICT are taking place in the library sector. We devised a couple of PDAs a few years ago for librarians called ICT for Librarians at Diploma (SCQF 7) and Advanced Diploma (SCQF 8) levels.

We're in the process of updating these awards and, as part of that update, we are considering the development of a new series of units entitled Digital Culture, which would embrace the "digital lifestyle" of blogs, wikis, virtual worlds, gaming, citizenship, participation, etc. It sounds like an interesting project.

You can find out more about the current awards from Angela.

TESS story on Computing in schools

Interesting front page story in this week's TESS.

Meeting with IBM

Caroline and I met with Cally Beck and Linda Grigoleit of IBM this morning to discuss ways of incorporating IBM-curricula into SQA qualifications. It was a productive meeting and we agreed to identify existing HN units than could be used to deliver IBM skills. IBM has a new qualification relating to their System I and we were confident that we would be able to map this into existing (or new) HN unit(s). Cally talked about a number of ways IBM would be willing to support Scottish centres, including placements and guest speakers. We're hoping to have an arrangement up-and-running for August. Watch this space...

Wednesday, 9 April 2008

PC Passport - Credit Transfer

The SQA has created a guide to credit arrangements for PC Passport. These arrangements cover centres and candidates who may be undertaking the existing version of PC Passport, who wish to obtain credit for units in the refreshed version of PC Passport.

It is recommended that centres note that registration of candidates for the existing version of PC Passport will only be accepted by the SQA only until July 2008. Candidates cannot be registered for the existing version of PC Passport after 31st July 2008.

Registered candidates of the existing version have until July 2009 to complete the award and centres should consult the credit transfer document to find out arrangements for gaining credit into the refreshed version of PC Passport.

The refreshed version of PC Passport also recognises industry qualifications and arrangements have been made to facilitate recognition of Certiport’s IC3 and Microsoft Office Specialist certifications for all versions of Microsoft Office.

Centres should note only the full vendor exam pass certificate will be accepted. Examples of these can be found under the Entering candidates section on the PC Passport website.

PC Passport Summary guides for credit transfer together with the full detailed credit transfer document can be found at: www.sqa.org.uk/pcpassport under the credit transfer arrangements section on the left hand side.

PC Passport is one of the fastest growing qualifications in Scotland attracting over 20,000 candidates annually. Contact your local SQA centre to find out more.

Tuesday, 8 April 2008

HND Interactive Media

This is a final reminder that there is a dedicated blog for this development.

You can keep up-to-date with everything that's going on via this link. Please bookmark it (if you're interested) and visit regularly. But no complaining that you didn't know!

Tuesday, 1 April 2008

Teaching blog

Thought you might like to see this example of a blog that a Computing teacher uses with his students.

Are there any other examples of teacher blogs?

HND Computer Games

An HNC Computer Games Development has been available to centres for some time. We didn't develop a corresponding HND award because there were question marks about likely uptake. Nearly all of the HNC students progress to university degree courses (in a related area).

But I have received a small number of requests to develop an HND. Although not large in number, these requests are regular. So I plan to arrange a meeting of interested parties later this academic year (probably June) to discuss our options and to determine if there is a genuine demand for an HND award.

I'll write to centres in the next few weeks but in the meantime it would be interesting to read your views via the comment facility.

Contact Caroline for further information about Computer Games qualifications.