Thursday, 28 August 2008

NC Digital Media Computing Level 6

Bobby and I met yesterday to discuss the progress of the NC DMC level 6 Award. The award went live this month with the arrangements document and Units available to download on the SQA Website. We are currently producing Assessment Support Packs for the following Units:

Computing: Digital Media Elements for Applications
Computing: Office and Personal Productivity Applications
Computing: Computer Hardware and Systems
Computing: Authoring a Website
Computing: Plan and Build a Computer Network
Digital Acquisition and Editing: Audio
Digital Acquisition and Editing: Video

These packs will be available and on the Secure Site in October.

Welcome to National Qualifications colleagues

SQA is actively looking at ways of using technology (and particularly Web 2.0 tools and services) to work more closely with schools, colleges and other centres. We're currently looking at tools like blogs and wikis to help us do that in a more inclusive and collaborative way than we've done in the past. The result should be that you notice a change in the way that SQA communicates and works with you in the coming months and years.

One immediate change is that the NQ Computing team (the team responsible for Computing qualifications in the school sector) is going to join this blog and post information about that sector. So, welcome to Derek and Dave!

In fact, it makes good sense since Computing qualifications are not neatly split between colleges, schools and workplaces, with qualifications such as PC Passport spanning all three.

Anyway, it nice to see the whole SQA Computing team collaborate in this way.

Thursday, 21 August 2008

Welcome back

I've been trying to find the time since Monday to post a "welcome back" message. I still miss the long summer holidays (as a Head of Department I was probably going to lose them anyway) and I know the "return to work" feeling that many of you will be currently experiencing. Anyway, welcome back!

The summer holiday has been quite productive for the Computing team. We've progressed the HND Interactive Media development and commenced the HND Computer Games Development.

I'll be writing to centres in the near future with my usual annual update letter, although it won't contain anything that readers of this blog won't know about already. It's a pity that I have to maintain the two forms of communication (web and traditional) since this places an extra burden on my team. I'm sure that the day is coming when update letters are a thing of the past.

It would be nice if this blog was more interactive in the coming year. I'm pretty sure that it has a high readership but there is little use made of the comment facility (or the polling facility - the current poll has three votes) and that's a pity because it's one of the strengths of online communications.

Friday, 15 August 2008

Internet Safety and Strathclyde Police

During the last year, Strathclyde Police has put every new cadet through the Internet Safety qualification. I met with Rob Hay yesterday afternoon to discuss how the project has gone.

It has went well. Of the 63 cadets recruited last October, 45 of them completed the unit (which is consistent with the normal cadet drop-out ratio). Rob reported that those who finished, enjoyed and benefited from the qualification. Rob came up against the usual challenges when introducing something new (such as the police firewall!) but the cadets overcame these obstacles. It was so successful that he hopes to offer it to every officer in Strathclyde Police.

This qualification appears to meet a need since some schools have offered it to entire year cohorts, such as Airdrie Academy which offered it to every pupil in second year.

You can find out more about Internet Safety by contacting Caroline.

Thursday, 14 August 2008

NC Digital Media Computing - Level 6

The arrangements document for the National Certificate in Digital Media Computing (Group Award Code - G90L 46) is available for download from the SQA website.

All associated Units are available for download using the NQ Unit search facility on the SQA website.

New National Occupational Standards for IT

E-Skills UK (the Sector Skills Council for IT) has been working on an update to the National Occupational Standards (NOS) during the last few months. I've been involved in some behind-the-scenes discussions about the new Standards.

I received notification today that the draft Standards are now available for public consultation. E-Skills would like your feedback.

The new Standards are important for many reasons. They underpin SVQs and, increasingly, other qualifications are expected to be "compatible" with them - so this development will affect all future IT awards.

You can find out more about this project by contacting Genny Dixon directly or contact Caroline if you want to know more about SVQs.

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

HND Computer Games Development

I attended a meeting in Edinburgh this morning to discuss the possibility of developing a new HND in the field of computer games.

SQA developed a qualification entitled HNC Computer Games Development three years ago and, after a slow start, it is beginning to take off, with several centres reporting a lot of interest and high uptake for the coming session. The attendance this morning seemed to reflect this high interest - 20 people attended (no mean feat given it's the last week of the holidays), representing 14 centres.

It was a very positive meeting. The overwhelming concensus was to develop an HND award to build on the existing HNC qualification. In fact, there was general support for a review of the HNC, perhaps reflecting the huge changes in this industry during the last three years.

We aim to have the new award available to centres from January 2010. The first stage is forming a Qualification Development Team. In the meantime, contact Caroline if you want to know more.

Monday, 11 August 2008

Edinburgh Interactive Festival

I'm attending the Edinburgh Interactive Festival today, which is being held in the International Conference Centre.

It's been a fascinating day that has helped me understand the computer games industry, which is a £50 billion industry. Of particular interest was trends in the games industry that include growth of gambling and collaborative games, huge increase in online games as the Internet becomes ubiquitous, location-based games that use your current location as an intrinsic part of the game, and new types of game that mix gaming with reality (Alternative Reality Games). The key message from today is: the future of gaming/entertainment is social i.e. games that involve lots of people and maybe mix the virtual with the real.

I'm currently involved in two related developments: the on-going HND Interactive Media development and the about to commence HND Computer Games Development. Today has been a big help to my understanding of the computer games industry... and how hugely important that industry is going to become in the next decade.

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

Get involved with SQA

It's that time of the year when you start to think about the new term that is about to commence.

It's the same in SQA... we're thinking about the new session and the demands that will be placed on the team to support and develop our awards. We can only do this with the help of the sector and we're always looking for people to serve in various roles such as unit writer/vetter, assessment writer and External Verifier.

So, if you're interested in getting involved in any way, please let us know. The work is either paid (to you) or you're given release from your centre so you don't work for nothing. And it's work of national significance, affecting every centre in Scotland (and it's good for your CV!).

Contact Scott is you are interested or want to find out more about the sort of work you can do for SQA.

Monday, 4 August 2008

More online assessments and teaching materials

I met with Graeme Clark, of the CAA team, this morning to discuss ESF funding of additional online materials to support Computing awards.

SQA recently received significant EU funding to support its awards (at SCQF Levels 4-6) and my team made a number of successful bids for some of this money.

Graeme is managing this work, which will produce online assessment material for a number of Units within the new NC Digital Media Computing award, and also online teaching material for some of the units. Centres offering the NC awards should have these materials by Spring 2009.

Some of this money will be spent updating the online question bank for the Internet Safety unit and we're looking for someone to work through the existing item bank to weed out the questions that are out of date. Contact Caroline if you're interested.

This work is at an early stage but the end result will be more Computing units supported with online materials.

Friday, 1 August 2008

HN Unit - D76D 35 - Internet: Web Server Management

We have made a slight change to the above HN Unit with the removal of the cutting score of 60% under Evidence Requirements for Outcome 1.

Please ensure you download the most up-to-date version from the SQA website. This is now identified as Version 02 (July 08) within the Administrative Information section of the specification.