Friday, 26 June 2009

QDT meeting for HNC/D Computer Games Development

The QDT for the HNC/D Computer Games Development met this morning to finalise the qualification frameworks and agree who is doing what over the summer.

The meeting was led by Tony Gurney and was very productive. We had a lively but constructive discussion about exactly what the qualifications should look like and then decided who was writing and vetting each unit. In total, 14 new units will be created, which is a lot but not that surprising given the nature of the subject area. So, it's going to be a busy summer for most of the members of the QDT.

We are aiming to have the units completed by mid-September when we will post them for public feedback so watch this space. The qualification is due to be available to centres from January 2010.

We are also developing games-based awards at SCQF levels 4, 5 and 6, which means that, at the end of these developments, we will have qualifications in this area at levels 4-8.

Contact Caroline for further information and the HN awards and contact Hilary about the NC awards.

Thursday, 25 June 2009

Scotland's Colleges Annual Computing Confererence

Central College hosted Scotland's Colleges' second annual Computing Conference today. There was an excellent turnout, with around 80 people attending, representing just about every college in Scotland. Speakers include representatives from the HMIe, LTS and and a number of vendors.

I gave a presentation about SQA developments over the last 12 months, which included the development of 12 new NPAs, the completion of an HND (Interactive Media) and the commencement of a new HND (Computer Games Development).

Discover Simple, Private Sharing at

I particularly pointed out the changes to the Computing team and recommended that everyone print-and-keep the current team set-up.

Discover Simple, Private Sharing at

When the current developments are complete, the portfolio of vocational Computing awards will look like this.

Discover Simple, Private Sharing at

Friday, 19 June 2009

Internet Safety and child protection

I've been in London for a couple of days attending various events relating to Internet safety in general, and child protection in particular. Our Internet Safety qualification has established a reputation for SQA as something of an innovator in this area but it's always nice to be involved in national initiatives.

On Wednesday I attended a FOSI event about mobile safety. The audience was from all over the world, including representatives of the major mobile phone companies and the UN, and I was asked to participate in a panel session to answer questions about national qualification in this area.

Then on Thursday I went along to the CEOP offices to observe around 100 people undertake the Ambassador training programme. This programme is designed for people who work with children to deliver the ThinkUKnow child safety course.

I had interesting and productive discussions with CEOP about how SQA could support this important training programme. More news will follow shortly.

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Scotland's Colleges 2nd Annual Computing Conference

You are invited to Scotland's College's Second Annual Computing
Conference being held on the 25th of June from 9:30am to 3pm at
Central College in Glasgow.

The event is free and is the perfect way to end your academic year and
send the whole department away buzzing with new ideas for next year.

Speaking at the conference will be Iain Lowson of HMIe on Ungood
Practice: 10 Things We Shouldn't Be Doing!, Bobby Elliot of the SQA on
the latest awards, James Stanger on the CIW qualification, Jenny
Kilgore of the OU on retention and attainment in Computing, Mark
Brownrigg of the LTS on the Curriculum for Excellence, Colin Maxwell
of Adobe on a range of support materials available and Tony Gurney of
Scotland's Colleges on the programme for next year. In addition there
is an exhibition area with your chance to chat to the speakers and
explore what's available from several other vendors.

This is also a chance to network, share practice, and start to address
issues that concern everyone involved with delivering Computing and IT
in Scotland's colleges.

The complete programme and the link to book for this free event is at and I look forward to seeing you there.

Friday, 5 June 2009

Adobe Flash Training

On Wednesday 24th June Adam Smith College will be hosting a one day training event for staff wishing to develop their skills in using Adobe Flash.

This instructor-led course is intended to equip F.E. Lecturers with the practical skills required to deliver the following units within the NQ Digital Media Computing framework.

F180 11: Interactive Multimedia for Website Development
F1KB 11: Animation Fundamentals

The course uses a hands-on approach and is geared towards beginner and intermediate users and will focus on the following topics:

Introduction to Adobe Flash
The Flash interface
Drawing tools in Flash
Frame-by-frame animation
Motion and Shape tweening
Adding simple interactivity - Play and Stop buttons
Introduction to movie clips
Publishing a Flash animation

There will be examples of how Adobe Flash can be used to deliver these units and discussion regarding suggested teaching approaches, all within a friendly and relaxed environment.

The session will commence at 10am at the Nairn campus in Kirkcaldy and finish at 4:30pm, with a break for lunch, which is provided, between 1pm and 2pm. Tea and coffee will be available throughout the day and there will be plenty of opportunities to network with other lecturing staff and discuss teaching issues.

The cost of this event is £100 including lunch and places are limited.

To book please contact Mark McPhee on:

Tel: 01592 223719

Thursday, 4 June 2009

HND Computer Games Development consultation event

We held the Computer Games consultation event in Glasgow today. We had planned to run a similar event in Dundee on Monday but we cancelled it due to lack of interest. And the turn-out today wasn't great (eight people attended but three of these were members of the QDT). I'm not sure why there has been so little interest in these events. Perhaps it's the time of year; perhaps it's just that there is not a great deal of interest in this area; or perhaps it's "development fatigue" since there have been so many developments in this area over the last couple of years.

Tony Gurney, the lead developer, discussed the proposed arrangements and gave attendees the opportunity to comment on how the developments are going. There were lively discussions on the role of mathematics, the need for lower level games-based courses, and the skills required from graduates from these awards.

So, in spite of the low attendance, it was a good event and it achieved its goal -- of giving Tony feedback on the general direction of the development to allow him to firm up his ideas and get on with producing the qualifications.

Contact Tony if you want to find out more about this development or use the comment facility on this blog to provide feedback.

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Welcome to Hilary

Hilary Weir joined the team on Monday. She replaces Shirley who has moved to the textiles subject area. Hilary also replaces Jacquie Campbell and effectively picks up both Shirley's and Jacquie's portfolios.

Crudely put, Hilary will deal with National Certificate/NPA/SVQ awards (including PC Passport) and Caroline will deal with HN/PDA awards. It's not quite as simple as that and the attached organisation chart defines who is responsible for what.

Discover Simple, Private Sharing at

Save File: HN SVQ team (June 2009).doc

I'm delighted to have Hilary in the team since she is full-time and provides more continuity to centres. In time, as she learns the ins-and-outs of the subject area, she will be a valuable source of help and support to you.

I would advise you to print and store the organisation chart so that you know who to contact for your particular queries. The document also contains our e-mail addresses and telephone numbers so that you know exactly how to contact us.

HN Graded Unit: Projects

Some time ago, SQA published guidance on the assessment of project-based Graded Units. The main change was that each stage in the project (design, implementation and evaluation) should be separately marked, and each student must pass each stage (rather than a single overall pass mark for the entire unit). The existing computing GUs take this holisitic approach and, therefore, require to be changed. These are the project-based Graded Units for the following awards:
  1. HND Comuting: Software Development
  2. HND Computing: Technical Support
  3. HND IT
So Caroline and me met with David Drennan (Senior EV) and Deryck Nutley (Cardonald College) to discuss how to take this forward. We agreed to take the opportunity to claify the unit specifications while we were revising them. Once we produce revised unit specs, we will also write new assessment exemplars to reflect the revised units.

The new units and assessments will take some time to produce but I'm hoping that they will be avaialble to centres by the end of the year. In the meantime, the existing Graded Units and exemplars are fine to use.

Contact Caroline for more information about this project.

PC Passport changes

PC Passport was first introduced in 2004 and rapidly became SQA's most pupular vocational qualification. It was revised in 2007 to make it compatible with the National Occupational Standards for IT. We also took the opportunity to update its structure and contents.

Whenever major changes are made to any award, there are errors and ommisions and we've had a lot of feedback from centres about inconsistencies in the units and errors in the assessments. So, a few months ago, I commissioned Elaine Cunninghame, of Paisley Grammar School, to review the units and assessments and identify these errors.

I met with Elaine this afternoon to discuss her findings. It all seemed good, with sensible suggestions about to improve units and assessments. I should emphasise that these changes are small clarifications and improvements to the PC Passport suite of awards. It's not PC Passport v3.

It will take some time to "operationalise" these changes but you can expect to see the improved units and assessments appear in the autumn.

In the meantime, contact Hilary for anything to do with PC Passport.

Monday, 1 June 2009

NPA validations

We held two validation events today - each consisting of three NPAs. All six were validated with conditions.

The awards are:
  1. NPA Software Development (SCQF 4)
  2. NPA Social Software (SCQF 4)
  3. NPA Website Development (SCQF 5)
  4. NPA Computer Hardware & Software (SCQF 5)
  5. NPA Digital Photography (SCQF 5)
  6. NPA Digital Media Production (SCQF Level 6).
There were several conditions and recommendations but none that should take too long to address. We're hoping to have the conditions lifted by end-July (due to holidays between now and then). The awards should be available to centres from end-August.

I'm particularly grateful to Ron Dillin (Stow College) and Lorraine Johnson (James Watt College) for convening the panels.

More information about these NPAs (or any other NPAs) from Hilary.

Dundee Event - HND Computer Games Consultation

Unfortunately we have had to cancel the above event in Dundee on the 8th June 2009 due to insufficient numbers. This is the first time we have had to cancel an event but we strongly felt that there was limited representation from the field to consult with at this point in time. An e-mail to those who had registered for the Dundee Event was sent this morning giving alternative options.

The good news is that the Glasgow event on Thursday 4th June is going ahead so please, if you have not had time to register now is the time to do so by clicking on the URL below: