Saturday, 30 May 2009

HN Computing review meeting

I've mentioned previously what SQA planned to do to help with the performance indicator problem in this subject area.

A sub-group of the QST for HN Computing, along with some other volunteers, met this morning to identify specific assessment exemplars that are currently causing delivery issues and that we could improve.

We identified four examplars that we plan to rewrite:
  1. Computer Operating Systems 1
  2. Computer Architecture 1
  3. Computing: Planning
  4. Software Development: Array Data Structures
Each pack was assigned a couple of writers who will produce alternative assessment exemplars that, we hope, will be less demanding (in terms of time and pass marks). The Senior Verifier was on-hand to ensure that national standards were maintained.

We also looked at ways of integrating assessments and one concrete action was to produce a new exemplar that combines the assessment of IT: Applications Software 1 and Working Within a Project Team.

So, all in all, we will produce five new assessment exemplars to provide alternatives to the existing packs and that may lighten the assessment load on student and teachers.

It takes time to get new packs into the hands of teachers but I hope that these new improved versions will be available to centres by the autumn.

Contact Caroline for more information about HN assessment exemplars or other support materials for HN subjects.

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

HND Interactive Media

The Arrangements Document for HND Interactive Media (Group Award Code: G9AY 16) is available on the SQA website for download by clicking here

The Units are available via the SQA website and all Unit titles and codes are available within the arrangements documentation.

We are in the process of writing Assessment Exemplars for the following Mandatory Units within the HND Group Award:

Sound and Vision for Interactivity
Interactive Media Composition
Designing and Developing an Interactive Active Product
Human Computer Interface
Professional and Legal Issues for Interactive Media Developers
Interactive Media: Graded Unit 2
Building an e-Business

These are being project managed through our Support Materials section and all packs should be available for the start of next session (August 2009).

HNC/D Computing assessment review

The Computing for Change group has met a couple of times to consider ways of improving the performance indicators for HNC/D Computing. As part of that work, I agreed to look at specific issues with the assessment of these awards.

A sub-group of the Qualification Support Team is meeting this Saturday to look at "problem" assessment exemplars and also consider ways of integrating assessments (across units) to reduce the assessment load.

I met with Caroline this morning to discuss the arrangements for the meeting. So far, we've had a low response to requests for the names of the specific units/examplars causing problems. It's not too late to suggest examplars that need to be improved so please use the comment facility to suggest packs.

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

CIW Site Designer Foundations Masterclass

SFEU have arranged two events based around the CIW Site Designer Foundations Masterclass.

These are being held on Tuesday 23rd & Wednesday 24th June 2009 at the Glasgow Metropolitan College.

To register online for these events as well as find further information on start times, venue location, agenda etc please click on the URLs below:

Please note that this is not an SQA hosted event so if you have any queries, please get in touch with the events organiser (details found on information pages above).

ESF financial support for Scottish qualifications

SQA has received significant sums of funding from the European Social Fund for several years, and we were recently told that this would continue until, at least, 2011.

As part of this funding, I've been asked for ideas for resources to support NC and NPAs in my area. This could be additional assessment exemplars or teaching and learning material or online learning or assessment material. In fact, the financial support is available for e-assessment at any level (including HN).

So if you have any ideas for support materials that you would like, please post a comment here.

Monday, 25 May 2009

E-assessment as default

I attended an internal SQA staff update session this morning and one of the key messages coming out of it was that e-assessment "should be the default position" for new qualifications. In other words, rather than justify its use, we should justify when it's not used. By and large, we're still producing paper assessments - and sometimes assessments that are actually barriers to e-assessment - so this is important news.

I plan to produce some guidance for my assessment exemplar writers to illustrate how, in Computing, we can put this into practice. For example, on Saturday I attended a training event for writers of assessments for the new HND Interactive Media units so this is a good opportunity to put this into practice.

Reminder - HND Computer Games Consultation Events

This is a reminder that we have two consultation events coming up in both Glasgow and Dundee. If you intend to come along but have not yet registered, please do so using the URLs below as these spaces are on a first come first served basis.

The first event will take place on Thursday 4th June at 1330 hours in the Crowne Plaza, Congress Road, Glasgow - If you would like to register for this event, please click on the URL below:

The second event will take place on Monday 8th June at 1030 hours in the Queens Hotel, 160 Nethergate, Dundee - Again, if you would like to come along, please click on the URL below:

Look forward to seeing you then.

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

PC Passport and UCAS points

I received a query this morning about UCAS points for PC Passport, which made the check the current position.

Some time ago, I posted a message indicating that PC Passport (at SCQF Level 6) was likely to attract UCAS credit. Well, it's now official. From 2010, PC Passport at Higher level (SCQF 6) will get 45 UCAS points (approx. the same as a Higher "C").

Planning for NPA validations

Shirley and I have been planning for the forthcoming validation events for six new NPAs.

On Monday, 1 June, there will be two validations events - one in the morning and one in the afternoon to validate the following new NPAs:
  • Software Development (Level 5)
  • Website Enterprise (Level 5)
  • Computer Hardware and Software (Level 5)
  • Digital Media Production (Level 6)
  • Digital Media Photography (Level 5)
  • Social Software (Level 4)
We have got Panel members identified, including college, industry and Sector Skills Council representatives so everything is in place.

I'm hoping for a successful outcome so that we can make these awards available to centres as soon as possible.

IT Exam Exemplars

We are still looking for a couple of exam exemplar writers for the HNC Information Technology Graded Unit.

These are for availability Winter 2009, therefore this would be work over the summer period alongside a specified vetter/verifier.

If you are interested in becoming involved in this project, please contact me direct (

Thursday, 14 May 2009

Successful NPA validation

As many of you will know, we are developing a large suite of NPA awards, three of which were validated a couple of months ago resulting in a large number of conditions to be addressed before the awards were acceptable.

This morning we held the re-validation event for the following awards:
  • Digital Media Basics (SCQF 4)
  • Digital Media Editing (SCQF 5)
  • Digital Media Animation (SCQF 5).
This time the awards were validated without conditions. There were a large number of recommendations, but no conditions, which means we can operationalise them immediately and make them available to centres as soon as possible.

There are two more validation events for NPAs in early June, when we hope to make another siex awards available to centres. And three more game-related NPAs have just started development.

Contact Shirley for more information about these or any other NPA awards.

Monday, 11 May 2009

HND Computer Games Consultation Events

We have two Consultation Events coming up for the development of the new HND Computer Games award. The aim of the day is for the Qualification Design Team (QDT) to give an update on where we are at with the development, possible structure themes, survey findings and the opportunity for feedback from those in attendance.

The first event will take place on Thursday 4th June at 1330 hours in the Crowne Plaza, Congress Road, Glasgow - If you would like to register for this event, please click on the URL below:

The second event will take place on Monday 8th June at 1030 hours in the Queens Hotel, 160 Nethergate, Dundee - Again, if you would like to come along, please click on the URL below:

Look forward to seeing you then.

Thursday, 7 May 2009

Team changes

Over the last few weeks I have been involved in discussions and interviews relating to the make-up of the vocational Computing team within SQA. The outcome is that the team is going to change.

Jacquie has already moved to a new post and Shirley is about to join another vocational area (relating to textiles). In return, the Computing team will be gaining Hilary Weir, who is joining us from the Support Materials team. Both Jacquie and Shirley are part-time (with me) and Hilary is full-time, so this change should improve the service to centres. These changes will take place on 1 June.

I'll post an updated organisation chart, defining who is responsible for what, once we have agreed this.

I'm very grateful to Jacquie and Shirley for the help they have given me during the last few months. Shirley, in particular, has a long association with this sector and has played an important part in the evolution of vocational Computing qualifications in Scotland, and has developed friendships with many of you over the years. Both will be missed but Hilary, in time, will become well known to you.

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Changes to Group Awards

Following my earlier blog posting detailing the HN Unit changes that were in the process of being made, I've listed below the HN Group Awards these changes will affect - please note that all revised Units below have a lapse date of 31/07/2009 and a finish date of 31/07/2011:

Professional and Legal Issues for Interactive
Media Developers (DF6A 35 revised by F6BY 35 in these frameworks)

Multimedia Computing: Web Development G7DE 16
Multimedia Computing G7DF 16

Human Computer Interface (DF60 35 revised by F6BV 35 in these frameworks)
Multimedia Computing: Web Development G7DE 16
Multimedia Computing G7DF 16
Computer Games Development G7Y8 15
Information Technology G857 15
Information Technology G8CX 16

Narrative and Genre in Computer Games (DE30 35 Revised by F6BX 35 in these frameworks)
Computing: Software Development G5VT 16
Interactive Multimedia Creation G7A6 16
Communication with Media G7GW 15
Communication with Media G7GX 16
Creative Industries: Professional Writing Skills G8MY 15
Media Analysis and Production G916 15
Filmcraft and Animation G92V 16

Graded Unit Exam Exemplars - Writers Required

We are looking for a batch of writers interested in writing HNC Graded Unit Exam Exemplars for the following HN Units:

DH36 34 HNC Computing: Graded Unit 1
DV6D 34 HNC Information Technology: Graded Unit 1
F21G 34 HNC Interactive Media: Graded Unit 1

We will be producing approximately three packs for each Graded Unit for availability Spring 2010.

If interested, Please get in touch with me direct ( and I shall provide further information.

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

HNC/D Computing assessment

I've posted several times about the problems with student achievement in HNC/D Computing.

On Saturday, 30 May, a sub-group of the Qualification Support Team for these awards is going to meet to discuss how best to (quickly) reduce the assessment load in some of the component units.

So I would appreciate if you could identify particular units, or particular assessment exemplars, with demanding assessment loads. For example, there may be a particular unit that you teach where you feel the assessment takes an undue amount of time. Or an assessment exemplar that could be rewritten to reduce the time taken to complete it.

If you know of any units or exemplars, please post a comment here and we will consider your suggestions on the day of the event.

HND Interactive Media - Update

Some of you have been in touch regarding to the new HND Interactive Media award - I though I'd give a brief update on where we are at with having the award coded and available to centres.

The award conditions were lifted approximately 2 weeks ago and we've been busy having new units finalised, new codes allocated to many of the units, arrangements document house-styled and all unit and group award codes added to the documentation.

This is currently with our in-house wordprocessing team and as soon as this is received (ie end of this week) we shall undertake a final proof and upload to the website.

The following new HN Units have been uploaded to the website by our web team:

F6BM 35 Web Server Platform
F6BN 35 Developing Rich Internet Applications
F6BV 35 Human Computer Interface
F6BW 35 Interactive Media Composition
F6BX 35 Narrative and Genre in Computer Games
F6BY 35 Professional and Legal Use for Interactive Media Developers
F6C1 35 Self Describing Data (XML)
F6C2 35 Web Development: Dynamically Generated Content
F6C4 35 Web Development: Producing a Data Driven Website
F6C5 35 Web Development: Web Optimisation

The following Units should be avaiable for download by the end of the week:

F6BS 35 Digital Imaging: Advanced Bitmap Techniques
F6BT 35 Digital Imaging: Advanced Vector Techniques
F6JJ 34 Building an e-Business
F6JC 35 Sound and Vision for Interactivity
F6JB 34 Digital Portfolio

As soon as the remaining two units have been coded (ie HND Interactive Media: Graded Unit 2 & Designing and Developing an Interactive Product) I shall inform you of the new code for download.

If you have any questions relating to this new award then please get in touch with me direct ( and I shall be only too happy to help.

Friday, 1 May 2009

HND Computer Games and SVQ meetings

There were two important meetings this afternoon. One related to the HND Computer Games qualification that is currently under development, and the other related to the new SVQs that we are producing.

The QDT for the HND Computer Games Development award met to discuss progress. The project is being led by Tony Gurney. We are at the consultation/market research stage so things tend to move a little slowly but we are making progress. There is currently an online survey and we plan two public meetings in early June to discuss our plans (one in Glasgow and one in Dundee). Contact Caroline for more information about this development.

At the same time, there was also a meeting about SVQs. E-Skills recently revised the National Occupational Standards for IT Users and we now have the task of creating new qualifications (SVQs) to match the new Standards. David Drennan is leading this work. We're not sure what the time scale will be but new SVQs will be available in the not too distant future. Contact Shirley for more information on this development.