Wednesday, 28 January 2009

HND Interactive Media validation

We held the validation event for the HND Interactive Media qualification today. Ron Dillin of Stow College chaired the Panel, which included representatives of industry (including SkillSet), FE and HE. The QDT was led by Mark McPhee of Adam Smith College.

The Panel were very thorough and we got several conditions and recommendations to deal with, but, overall, the outcome was positive, and the resulting qualification will be much better for it.

We agreed to address the conditions and recommendations by 28 February so the qualification should be available to centres from Spring.

Please contact Caroline for more information about the validation or this award.

Monday, 26 January 2009

HND Computer Games

As you will probably remember, we have started developing a new HND award relating to Computer Games.

I created a blog this afternoon to record developments so that you can keep up-to-date with what's happening. You'll find the blog here and you may want to bookmark it if you are interested in this new award.

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

NPA validation event

Three more NPAs were validated on Monday... or, rather, we held a validation event on Monday because the result of the meeting was a large number of conditions that we must meet before the awards will be validated.

Although we were a little disappointed at the outcome, the Panel was very thorough and the awards will be much better as a result. But we have got a lot of thinking to do about precisely what NPAs we should develop. I had planned to produce 19 awards (including the seven we have already validated) but the Panel asked us to think again and ensure that each award is worthwhile in its own right and does not overlap with any other award. We were also asked to carry out research to ensure that there is demand for each qualification.

The end result, I'm sure, will be better, more popular awards but it does mean that the full suite of awards (however many that will be) will not be available to centres until August 2009. I'll let you know our precise plans once we've worked them out.

Please contact Shirley for more information about NPAs.

Thursday, 15 January 2009

Next Generation User Skills

Some time ago, I mentioned a report (partly commissioned by SQA) that looked into the sort of skills needed by IT users in the future. The report made several recommendations relating to SQA provision and this morning I met with John Gordon, who many of you will know, to discuss how to take this forward. John is going to examine each recommendation in the report and identify the action that SQA should take to address it. I'm hoping that this work will be complete by the end of February.

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

HND Interative Media validation

I posted a message on the HND Interactive Media blog today about the forthcoming validation event (which takes place on Wednesday, 28 January). I also reported that I did not intend to continue with that blog and to use this one instead.

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Best practice event for National Certificates

Glasgow Met is hosting a best practice event for the NC Digital Media Computing awards on Friday, 6 March in Glasgow. The purpose of the event is to share experiences of delivering the new National Certificates.

Although this is not an SQA event, it sounds very worthwhile and should prove valuable to any centre involved in the delivery of the new awards. Unfortunately, I won't be able to attend since I am on annual leave at that time, but Shirley will represent SQA.

Please contact Mike Jannetta for more information about the event.

Monday, 12 January 2009

NPA validations

They've taken a long time coming but we have got there eventually... the much-delayed validation event for three more NPAs will take place next Monday. I met with Shirley this afternoon to check the arrangements for the event and everything is in-hand.

The three awards are:
  1. Still Images, Audio and Video (SCQF Level 4).
  2. Still Images, Audio and Video (SCQF Level 5).
  3. Animation (SCQF Level 5).
Gillian Leitch (Langside College) is leading the Panel, and Bill Brown (Adam Smith College) and Loraine Johnson (James Watt College) are representing the development teams.

We're hoping for positive outcomes and for the new awards to be available to centres from August.

Please contact Shirley if you want more information about these, or any other, NPAs.

SQA on Scribd

The Computing team make use of a web service called Scribd, which is a publishing/document sharing service. I've spent a little time today tidying the SQA group on Scribd. It contains a lot of useful documentation such as the new Guide to Assessment.

You can subscribe to the SQA document feed here.

Friday, 9 January 2009

External verification team

I've been working on criteria for selecting and de-selecting External Verifiers today.

Appointing EVs has traditionally been at the discretion of the Qualifications Manager (i.e. me) but I've never been comfortable with the subjectivity of the system. The current system also makes it difficult to "break into" the EV team since new people are put on a reserve list.

Becoming an EV is fantastic CPD. You get the opportunity to visit centres throughout Scotland (and sometimes further afield) and it gives you a unique insight into national standards, which can be used in your own centre to ensure national standards are being met. It's also good for your CV!

So I hope that a more transparent system of EV selection and deselection will give more people the opportunity to benefit from being a Verifier. If you want to know more about becoming an EV contact Allison Paterson.

Vocational Computing team

I've been updating the organisation chart for the team. Here is the current version. It would be a good idea to print this and keep it handy so you can refer to it when you contact SQA. Contacting the right person will ensure a prompt response.

Thursday, 8 January 2009

Development plan for 2009/2010

I've been working on my development plan for 2009/10. This runs from April 2009 to March 2010 and defines the projects that my team will work on during the next 12 months.

Some of the plan writes itself (the projects carried over from the current year such as the HND Computer Games Development and completing the suite of NPAs) but apart from that we are free to include whatever we think is needed (and can be justified).

The major new development is the review of the existing HNC/D Computer Networking (which is due to be reviewed) but I would be very interested to know what you think we should be concentrating on. Please use the comment facility on this blog (preferred) or e-mail me directly (not preferred). The sort of feedback I would value would be:
  • what new qualifications should be consider?
  • what existing qualifications need to be changed?
  • what support materials need to be provided?
  • what CPD do you need (relating to assessment standards)?
We will take any feedback seriously.

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

ICT for Librarians qualifications

We have offered two specialist awards for library staff since 2004 - both PDAs, one at SCQF Levels 7 and one at Level 8. Last year we revised the Level 7 award and we are currently revising the Level 8 qualification.

I met with the development team this morning to discuss progress. Ted Hastings is the lead developer and he is currently finalising the Level 8 award for planned validation in April. I'm hoping that this qualification will be on the books by August.

Although the actual uptake for these qualifications is small, their potential (given the number of librarians in the UK and Ireland) is good, and I'm hopeful that they will become popular in time. The Level 8 award is particularly interesting, featuring two new units: one on reflective practice and one on digital culture.

Contact Jacque if you want to know more about these awards.

Monday, 5 January 2009

Feedback to SQA

People often contact me and my team with comments about unit specifications, assessment packs or other support materials. When they do, we ask them to complete one of two forms depending on the nature of the comment. If the comment relates to assessment, we ask them to complete an Assessment Feedback form:
Discover Simple, Private Sharing at

and if it relates to another issue (such as the contents of a unit) then we ask them to complete a QST Proposal form:
Discover Simple, Private Sharing at

I'd appreciate if you would use one of these forms if you wish to provide feedback. Both forms can be downloaded from the SQA drop.

New Year resolutions and a new paper

The team returned from holiday today - and held the first of our monthly team meetings for 2009. I took the opportunity at that meeting to discuss how we can improve the service to the sector and one of the ways we identified was to increase the use we make of the blog, so that readers have a clear idea about what the team is doing and, more importantly, what is happening in the sector. So that's our New Year resolution for 2009.

There are costs to running a blog (the main one being the time involved in contributing to it) but I think that it is worth the effort, given the positive comments that I get from people who read it. I appreciate the effort my team make to contribute to the blog - it's not mandatory and I know it can be a pain to take the time to post a message - but it provides a unique communication channel between the team and practitioners. It would be great if readers made more comments on the blog since this provides valuable feedback to the team.

I took the opportunity over the holiday to finalise a paper I had been writing about online collaborative assessment. It's now available on Scribd. It might be worth a read if you assess student's using blogs or wikis or other collaborative tools.
Online Collaborative Assessment