Thursday, 23 December 2010

Merry Christmas

The team's Christmas Party was held yesterday so a few of us are feeling a bit sensitive this morning.

The photo shows Santa drawing the Secret Santa before we left for our meal. I was lucky enough to get gold coins.

We close today until Wednesday, 5 January. The team wish everyone a relaxing and happy holiday.

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

HNC/D Computing and Networking QDT meeting

Some time ago, I wrote that there was a dedicated blog to keep you up-to-date with the review of HNC/D Computing and HNC/D Networking. We held the third meeting of the QDT yesterday. The blog has a full report.

I don't plan to post many more messages about this development on (this) main blog so please bookmark and read the dedicated blog if you want to keep up to date with what's going on.

Blogger has recently introduced new templates for reading blogs via a mobile device (such as a smartphone or tablet) and I have enabled that functionality on these blogs. So, if you're reading this on your phone, I hope that it looks good!

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Skills review for video games and visual effects sectors

I attended a meeting in London yesterday presenting the findings of a large piece of research relating to their video games (VG) and visual effects (VFX) sectors. The meeting was hosted by NESTA.

The findings will be presented to the government in the New Year. This was an invitation-only, early look at what will be in the report. SQA was the only UK awarding body invited, perhaps reflecting our position in this sector.

Some fascinating information was presented. Young people at school were unaware of the UK's significance in the computer games/visual effects sectors. Only 3% of pupils knew Grand Theft Auto was made in the UK. Nineteen percent of (UK) teachers knew this, although this doubled (almost 38%) of Scottish teachers. The authors said that this was a recurring theme - that Scotland was consistently more aware of, and more involved in, these sectors, the Scottish results being consistently higher than the UK average. There was poor awareness of the importance of Maths and Physics in the production of video games and visual effects (none realised that physics is involved in computer games), most pupils and teachers reporting that ICT (as distinct from Computer Science) was the most importance subject to prepare them for careers in these fields. The importance of highly developed programming skills was also not understood. Fewer than one in five (19%) ICT teachers had a degree in Computer Science; not many more (22%) were able to go beyond writing basic computer programs. The actions required included "bringing programming back into the classroom", and making Maths and Physics more attractive to school pupils, perhaps by introducing computer games and visual effects into these subject areas.

The researchers reported that around 1500 students graduated with a VG/VFX-related degree in 2009 and around 10% of these graduates found employment in this sector within 6 months of graduating. The success rate for industry-linked courses was higher (20%) and the overall employment rate (50%) was higher still. It was pointed out that 2009 was a very bad year for graduate employment in any sector. Interestingly, less than one in four VG/VFX degree courses included Maths as a mandatory part of the programme. This figure was lower in FE programmes, with 16% including any Maths.

Employers reported difficulty in filling VG/VFX positions (at all levels) with appropriate people. They complained about "inadequate programming skills" and poor team working and project management skills. The authors recommended a more systematic engagement between industry, HE and FE.

It was pointed out that the video game/visual effects sectors are presently worth $50 billion today and this will increase to $90 billion by 2015, making it one of the largest commercial sectors in the world.

The Livingstone-Hope Independent Review for Video Games and Visual Effects Sector will be published in early 2011.

Friday, 10 December 2010

Performance indicators in Computing

The performance indicators (PIs) for Computing are a problem for most colleges and it's an issue that has been raised by the Sector Panel on many occasions. At the last Sector Panel meeting, Ron Dillon (Stow College) and Joanna McGilvray (Forth Valley College) asked to look into this in more detail.
 So, Ron, Joanna and me met this afternoon to take this forward. We looked at some data about uptake, and unit and award pass rates.

It was an interesting meeting. We agreed to try to create a template that could be used, from year to year, to record and track progress in terms of course and unit entries and pass rates. This is not as easy as it sounds because of the inevitable complexities that arise when you look at any large data sets. But we hope to produce something that both SQA and centres can use.

Contact me if you want to know more about this project.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Weather problem

I put something on Twitter about the current situation re. the Computing team's availability during the severe weather. We're still operational! The SQA offices are open. I made it into the office today, Hilary is working from home, and Caroline is on annual leave. So, you will get a response to your queries but it is better to use e-mail than the telephone.

Twitter is better for updates like this than Blogger so, if you haven't already done so, please follow us on Twitter.

Help us improve

I've now set-up an evaluation questionnaire about the recent Heads of Computing event so, if you were one of the people who made it, I would appreciate if you would complete this short questionnaire.

One of the things I meant to say at the event, but forgot, was that I intend to create a survey in the New Year to gauge your satisfaction with the service that the team provides. I hope that this will be an annual survey so we can compare one year to another. I'll post a link to survey once it's ready.

Monday, 6 December 2010

Heads of Computing event

Friday's annual Heads of Computing event went ahead as planned in spite of severe weather problems. The start was delayed by an hour to give people extra time to get to Edinburgh. But, in spite of that, only 18 people managed to make it through the snow. We had expected 57 attendees.

I started the meeting with an update of what's been happening in the sector over the last 12 months and what is likely to happen in the forthcoming year. I highlighted what's already been developed, such as the NPAs in Computer Games Development, and forthcoming developments, such as the review of Internet Safety. My full presentation is below.
The key part of the day was a discussion about the current review of HNC/D Computing and HNC/D Networking. Gerry MacKie provided an update on what he's been doing over the last few months and sought advice about how to proceed. This meeting confirmed the views expressed at an earlier consultation event. There is a clear preference for one of the options. There is more information on the HN Review blog.

There were also presentations about the Curriculum for Excellence, our links with vendors, and a new National Certificate award in Computer Games being developed by a consortium of colleges. Genny Dixon of E-Skills UK also provided an update on a range of developments taking place across the UK.

The event seemed to go well. A formal evaluation will be sent to everyone who managed to get to Edinburgh. You can download all of the presentations here.

Contact Caroline if you want to know more about the annual Heads of Computing event.

Monday, 29 November 2010

Appointment of Linux Cascasde Centre

Arriving in College Principal and Heads of Computing inboxes this week is an invitation to consider working with SQA and LINUX  IT . In partnership we hope to

·         Upskill staff in Colleges
·         Build capacity across Scotland to deliver open source qualifications
·         Ensure that appropriate recognition is given for open source qualifications
·         Build a sustainable relationship with the global open source community

Saturday, 27 November 2010

External Verifier meeting

The team of External Verifiers (EVs) meet occasionally to discuss a range of issues relating to quality assurance. The Computing team met this morning in the SQA Glasgow offices. The meeting was led by David Drennan.

There is a standing item on the agenda when I update the EVs about recently developed (or soon to be developed) qualifications that they might come across while carrying out their duties. My update today included the recently developed NPA Doing Business Online, the new NPAs in Computer Games Development, and the range of vendor related developments currently taking place, such as the CIW project.

Gerry MacKie came along to update the EVs about the HN Review and to get their views on a range of issues. We had an excellent discussion. The EVs supported the idea of a common HNC leading to specialised HNDs, they also supported a generic HND award, and wanted the HNC to continue to be assessed by an examination.

Being an External Verifier is fantastic CPD for practicing teachers and lecturers. Contact Allison Paterson if you want to know more.

Friday, 26 November 2010

College/university subject partnership

I attended a meeting at Glasgow Caledonian University this morning about college/university links. Anne Russell is leading a project that aims to improve the links between colleges and universities in the Glasgow area. Representatives of universities and colleges attended. The project is funded - by the Funding Council - until July 2011.

It was a productive meeting. We identified some of the issues facing students who move from college to university, issues such as self-confidence, critical thinking skills, independent learning, and examination technique.

One of the ideas to come out of the meeting was to develop an HN unit expressly for this purpose -- to teach college students the essential skills required for surviving in university. This unit would focus on soft skills, such as presentation skills, self-confidence, and essay writing skills that are essential at university. I offered to liaise with the QDT for the HN Computing review to see if such a unit could be included in the new HN qualifications. If it's felt that a unit like this would be beneficial, Anne thought it could be produced pretty quickly (by April of next year).

I'd be interested to know your thoughts of including a unit like this in the new awards.

Monday, 22 November 2010

PDA Web Design

I met with Loraine Johnston of James Watt College this morning to discuss the progress with the new PDA in Web Design. Loraine is the Lead Developer for this project.

The new PDA is based on the official curriculum for the CIW Web Design Specialist (formally CIW Site Designer) qualification. 

The proposed award will consist of three mandatory single credit units at SCQF Level 7.  These are currently in the process of being finalised and will also be added to the optional section of the HNC/D Interactive Media awards.

We plan to hold the validation event towards the end of January 2011.  The proposed award  (i.e. PDA in Web Design at SCQF Level 7) would be available to centres by the 1st March 2011 at the latest.

We have been working closely with CIW over the past few years and have maintained strong links in this area.  This new award will sit alongside the existing PDA in Web Technologies: Fundamentals at SCQF Level 7 which is based on CIW Web Foundations qualifications.

Friday, 19 November 2010

New NPA and Big Business Breakfast

This week is Global Enterprise Week and, as part of that, Google has been promoting it's Getting British Business Online (GBBO) initiative. It held 25 simultaneous "business breakfasts" across the UK this morning, including one in Glasgow, which I attended.

GBBO is a fantastic opportunity for small businesses to establish a web presence - for free and in 20 minutes. David MacMurtrie, of Google, led the event. He emphasised the phenomenal growth of the Internet and how vital it is for all Scottish businesses to be online.

SQA is one of a small number of UK awarding bodies that is supporting GBBO by providing a qualification to anyone who gets involved in the initiative and wants to develop their knowledge of e-commerce. Our qualification - NPA in Doing Business Online [PDF] - is available now. Contact Hilary for more information.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Computer Games learning materials

Hilary and me met with Graeme Clark, of SQA's E-Assessment & Learning team, this morning to discuss support materials for the new NPAs in Computer Games.

We will be developing teaching and learning material for the entire suite of awards (at Levels 4, 5 and 6) in electronic format, suitable for delivery on a wide variety of platforms (such as stand-alone PCs or VLEs). Stevenson College will carry out this work, on SQA's behalf. The material will be available by Summer 2011.

The Support Materials team in SQA is currently working on assessment packs for these awards. There will be one pack for each "strand" within the courses -- one for Design, one for Media Assets, and one for Development. Each pack will be multi-level, covering Levels 4, 5 and 6. We're hoping to see these packs early 2011.

Finally, with respect to the NPAs, we plan to organise a support event in March of next year to help centres that are considering introducing these awards from August 2011. At that event you'll see (some of) the support materials, and hear from teachers who have delivered the awards during the current session. More information will follow.

Contact Hilary for more information about NPA Computer Games Development.

Friday, 12 November 2010

Sector Panel meeting

The Sector Panel for Computing & IT met today at The Park Hotel in Glasgow. Fourteen people attended.

The purpose of the Sector Panel is to provide SQA with guidance about what is happening externally and what we need to do to ensure our awards are relevant and up-to-date. Today we discussed the on-going HN review, Genny Dixon of E-Skills UK updated us on national developments, Chris Jones raised a variety of issues coming from the Scottish Computing Alliance, and we had a discussion about the Curriculum for Excellence.

The Computing Sector Panel is one of only two Sector Panels that still exists (there was a time when every subject had one) so I am pleased that we continue to work - and work effectively if today's meeting was anything to go by.

I keep the membership of all my committees under review and I usually apply the "three strikes rule" - that is, if someone misses three consecutive meetings (in the case of the Sector Panel this represents missing meetings for 18 months) I would ask them to stand down. I will be reviewing the membership of  the Sector Panel in the near future so please contact Caroline if you are interesting in joining the committee.

Reid Kerr prize giving ceremony

I was asked to present the SQA prize at the Reid Kerr prize giving ceremony, held at Paisley Abbey yesterday afternoon. It is a fantastic venue for an event like this.

Jean Hubert Kasubandi won the SQA prize, having overcome tremendous problems to acheive his HND.

These events are great. It's fantastic to see the pride on the faces of students and their families. I had a great time. The college did a great job in organising the ceremony, which went like clockwork.

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Visiting centres

The demands of my job make it difficult to get out and actually visit centres to talk to teachers and students but at the end of last week I managed to visit two colleges that I have previously taught in.

On Thursday afternoon I visited Clydebank College, at the invitation of Graeme Downey, and met several of my ex-colleagues. Graeme, kindly, gave me the chance to talk to students and I had a discussion with a group of NC students and a group of HNC students. It was very interesting to get the students' perspective on SQA courses. It will come as no surprise to readers of this blog that the amount and type of assessment figured prominently in the students' feedback.

On Friday, I met with ex-colleagues from Stow College and, once again, it was interesting to hear ordinary teachers' views on SQA qualifications. Ron Dillin had kindly arranged this. I got plenty of feedback on the strengths and weaknesses of our awards.

It's good to get out and meet teachers and students so don't hesitate to contact me if you would like me to visit your centre. I can't promise to always be available but either myself or Caroline or Hilary will try to accommodate you.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Qualifications Support Team

Over the past few years, we have established the HN Qualification Support Team (QST) for Computing which offers ongoing support and advice to allow for improvements and to exemplify national standards for our HNC/D & PDA portfolio of awards.

We are in the process of reviewing our membership of the group and in order to ensure full coverage of all areas, we seek some new volunteers (particularly those with experience in delivering Computer Games and Vendor Curriculum linked with SQA units).

The QST physically meet twice per year but have a dedicated e-group which offers an excellent communication channel between meetings.

There is no attendance fee paid for these meetings, however travelling expenses are fully reimbursed.

If you are interested in joining, please complete the HN QST Application Form and return to me.

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Oracle Academy and Thinkquest Information Seminars

There are strong links between Higher Information Systems, a range of Higher National Units and the Oracle Academy Programme. Here is an opportunity to get involved both in the Oracle Academy Programme and to find out about Think Quest which offers opportunities across the curriculum and a lot of potential support for Curriculum for Excellence activities.

Diva Update

In the background over the last 12 months we have been reviewing, renewing and expanding the Digital and ICT Vendor Alliance. This is a culmination of the review of the original project.  As a reminder DIVA originally set out to encourage
·         Liaison with global vendors giving early insight into up-and-coming developments
·         The Mapping of vendor curriculum and certifications to SQA units
·         Encourage new and innovative qualification development
·         Develop the Provision of expert training in Scotland for teachers and lecturers
·         Identifying  opportunities for Scottish staff to attend key conferences
·         Allow access to free or discounted industry curriculum materials for both learners and teaching staff
·         Provide added value support and communications about vendor activities for teaching staff
As we reviewed the programme  with Colleges  and vendors  and relevant sector skills councils we identified a range of challenges that should be taken into account in any refreshed programme.
The review exercise led to a set of 10 recommendations as follows:
1.       Re-affirm and re-invigorate the role of DIVA as a strong vehicle for delivering SQA Corporate Business Plan 2009-2012 objectives and broader policy objectives.
2.       Raise the profile of DIVA within SQA, in particular assign responsibility as an internal DIVA Champion to a senior level post within SQA with a cross-departmental remit.
3.       Create a process for regular strategic level dialogue with DIVA vendor partners.
4.       Review the Lead Centre model to encompass cross-sector and cross-regional Lead Centre Partnerships, leveraging the benefits of existing vendor/education sector relationships.
5.       Expand the range of DIVA partners but review the selection criteria for which vendor developments to engage with, placing more emphasis on mapping to key industry trends and existing/predicted demand to ensure take up by learners and relevance to employers.
6.       Focus on mapping vendor certifications to awards rather than creation of vendor specific units, but take into account good practice in relevant vendor developments when building new units.
7.       Encourage vendors to submit their courseware and certifications for SCQF credit rating.
8.       Explore how DIVA can help to deliver the objectives of the Curriculum for Excellence development work.
9.       Address the sector requirements for stronger DIVA communications, showcasing and peer-to-peer networking opportunities.
10.   Use greater collaboration to achieve DIVA goals and leverage the potential benefits of DIVA.

Following the review we have spent the last six months working with Vendors to review and refresh our existing agreements. Over the next few months expect to see more announcements as programme moves forward in step with  A Digital Ambition for Scotland

Friday, 29 October 2010

Heads of Computing Event

Just a reminder to say we have limited places available at the Heads of Computing Event on Friday 3rd December 2010 in Edinburgh.

If you are intending on coming along, please register soon here.

CISCO units

A writing team responsible for producing the updated HN units that link to the new CISCO curriculum met this morning to take forward this work. We hope to produce new units by the end of March next year. These units will fully incorporate the CISCO Explorer and Discoverer curriculum. Representatives of City of Glasgow, Motherwell, Angus, Cardonald, and Stow colleges attended.

A key part of the training was to try to produce very generic units that are fully compatible with CISCO but can also be delivered by centres not wishing to follow a specific vendor and also units that will not age too quickly and require regular updating. I appreciate that's easier said than done but the team were keen to try.

These new units will likely form part of the current HN review so Gerry Mackie, the lead developer for that project, came along and updated the team about what he is doing and what he needs from this development.

Contact Caroline for more information about this project.

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Qualification Support Team for NC Computing

The Qualification Support Team (QST) responsible for supporting non-advanced awards met this afternoon in the SQA offices in Glasgow. Representatives of various colleges attended to discuss ways in which SQA can support non-advanced awards such as the National Certificate in Digital Media Computing and the various NPAs that exist at SCQF Levels 4, 5 and 6, such as PC Passport.

The main purpose of each QST meeting is to discuss the suggestions for improvement or support that we receive from centres but today we also had an interesting discussion on the Curriculum for Excellence (CfE), which will have a big impact on vocational education. It was very pleasing to hear from the school representatives that Computing is already well positioned to meet the requirements of CfE through such provision as the new NPAs in Computer Games Development.

We also had a presentation from Julie Carruth, of SQA, who explained the new process for developing qualifications. The days when people like me decided (or not) to develop awards have gone and there are now formal processes that must be gone. Julie pointed out that this might slow things down a little but is more transparent and professional way to go about things.

An issue came up about the way centres sometimes ask for support. We receive requests in various formats and this can cause problems when we try to interpret what is meant (one request today had to be returned to sender because we didn't know what he actually wanted). So, we agreed, that from now on we would only accept requests for support if they were received on the proper forms, which is either an HN comment form or a QST form.

We're always looking for new blood so contact Hilary if you are interested in serving on this QST.

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Engage for education

The Scottish Government set up the Engage for Education website to stimulate discussion about education in Scotland. The associated blog has posts from various individuals about their daily work in education. I was recently invited to contribute to the blog about the new NPAs in Computer Games Development. You can see my post here.

Follow us on Twitter

The Computing team started to use Twitter around a year ago and, since then, there has been slow but steady growth in the number of people who follow us. We presently have 155 followers. But it would be better if that was 500. We use Twitter for messages that we would not normally post on the blog (such as to let you know when one of us is on leave - good to know if you are waiting for a reply to a message). The advantage of Twitter is that it is widely available on a lot of platforms from PCs to mobile phones to tablets. The team don't "tweet" very often so if you chose to follow us you would not get swamped with messages but you would be sure to know what's happening in vocational education in Computing.

Friday, 22 October 2010

Qualification Support team for HN awards

The Qualification Support Team (QST) for HN/PDA/SVQ awards met this morning. It meets twice per year. The QST has responsibility for ensuring that our HN/PDA/SVQ awards are properly supported by SQA.

The main part of the meeting is spent going over the various forms submitted by centres, which ask for changes or clarifications to units or assessments. If these suggestions are supported by the QST then I would normally implement them. We received eight suggestions for change today, of which the majority were accepted.

Today's agenda also included a discussion on the Curriculum for Excellence since it was felt that this will have important implications for HN programmes.

Gerry Mackie, the lead developer for the HNC/D Computing and Networking review, also gave a talk on how that development is progressing.

You can make your voice heard if you have ideas on how SQA can support the delivery of HN awards by joining the QST. Contact Caroline for more information.

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Scottish Education Quality and Improvement Agency

I got back from holiday yesterday and started working through my inbox. I got to an important message this afternoon about a new education body called the Scottish Education Quality and Improvement Agency that will take over the functions of the Inspectorate of Education and Learning and Teaching Scotland from 1 July 2011. This new body sounds like it will be an important part of the Scottish education scene in the coming year, particularly with the introduction of the Curriculum for Excellence. More here.

Thursday, 7 October 2010

PDA in Web Design

We are currently undertaking consultation on the development of a new PDA in Web Design (linking with CIW Web Design Specialist qualification).

As part of this consultation, a questionnaire has been compiled which the results will help form the structure of the new award.  I would be grateful if you could take a few minutes to undertake the questionnaire by clicking on the URL below.

The deadline date for responses is Friday 29th October 2010.

Your input would be appreciated.

Annual Heads of Computing Event

It's that time again!!  The Annual Heads of Computing Event will take place this year on Friday 3rd December 2010 at 1000 hours in the Barcelo Edinburgh Carlton Hotel.

We are busy organising this event and hope to have a range of items for presentation and discussion.

To register, please click on the URL below:

As places are limited, please ensure you book early to secure your registration.

A maximum of two places can be reserved by each registered delegate.

Look forward to seeing you then.

Friday, 1 October 2010

We're moving

I appreciate that the readers of this blog don't really care about the internal structures of SQA, but the vocational Computing team are moving to a new area due to an internal restructure. The new area is called Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) and the important bit is that the two parts of the Computing team will be working together (the "school" team and the "vocational" team). We're not physically joining, so I will continue to lead the vocational bit and Dave Main will continue to lead the school bit but it should mean that we work more closely. The responsibilities within my team are not changing either. The Head of Service is Alastair MacGregor. If the move goes smoothly, there should be no interruption to service. The new structure is effective from today.

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

National Qualification Frameworks

SQA runs a series of research seminars when we hear from educational researchers about their latest projects. I attended a seminar this afternoon about National Qualification Frameworks (NQFs).

Scotland's own NQF - the Scottish Credit and Qualification Framework (SCQF) - has been on the go since 2001 and countries across the world are introducing similar frameworks.

Stephanie Allais, of the University of Edinburgh, reported on her work for the United Nations comparing NQFs across the world. She looked at 16 case studies, from Scotland to Australia, which introduced its NQF in 1995.

She reported that the impact of NQFs is hard to measure, and their impact has been a mix of success and failure. Part of the problem is that few countries had tried to actually measure their impact in any systematic way so there was little hard evidence for their claimed successes or failures.

All frameworks used a number of levels (most commonly 8 levels), and all used level descriptors to define each level. Some frameworks were defined to a great degree of precision, and this had led to problems of complexity. Many were based on the NVQ framework, which originated in England in the early 1990's (and has subsequently been replaced). Every NQF managed to simplify the "jungle of qualifications" that often existed prior to their introduction. But there was little evidence that any new qualifications that were produced as a result of NQFs were any better than what went before. NQFs often led to highly complex qualification systems (she cited a Mexican qualification that ran to 90 pages).

Stephanie was positive about SCQF, which she considered a success. It was developed in a more consensual, collaborative way than most other NQFs and, as a result, had much wider respect and recognition than most others. Its implementation had also been a lot smoother than most other frameworks. Her only negative observation was that some educationalists didn't think it had had much real impact on the Scottish educational system.

One of her most interesting statements was: "The least ambitious frameworks achieved the most. And the most ambitious achieved the least." A principle that can be applied across education.

Friday, 24 September 2010

Scottish Learning Festival

I attended the Scottish Learning Festival on Wednesday and Thursday of this week. It's always interesting to catch up with the wider educational issues but we also used the event to promote some of our qualifications.

Wednesday's keynote by Mike Russell, the Education Secretary, was particularly interesting. His talk focussed on the Curriculum for Excellence (CfE). He spoke about "the unparalled opportunity to change the qualification system" and how there was "too much emphasis on tests and exams". He emphasised the need to change teaching and learning, and "think differently".

At lunchtime on Wednesday we launched the NPAs in Computer Games Development. There was a good turn-out at the seminar, where we explained what's in the new awards and their key features. There has been a huge amount of interest in these qualifications.

In the afternoon, in the discussion zone, Kate Farrell explained how her school had implemented the National Certificate in Digital Media Computing. Kate explained how her school timetabled the course and the resources she used.

On Thursday morning I attended a spotlight event on assessment within CfE, led by Frank Crawford, the Chief HMIE. Frank explained the need to change assessment and the importance of getting away from rote learning and learning exam techniques. SQA's John Allan also contributed (from the floor) and pointed out that the new unit specifications that SQA will produce as part of CfE will be "more open" with "more freedom for teachers". He emphasised the need for integrative assessment that assessed more holistically.

In the afternoon, we also had a slot on the main floor to promote the NPA in Computer Games Development when people could drop-by, take a seat and find out more about the awards.

CfE has implications for everyone in education, not just school teachers and pupils. It was pleasing to see that the new NPAs in Computer Games appear to be compatible with many of the principles and practices proposed.

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

National Certificate Games Development

I went along to the third meeting of the QDT for the new NC award in Computer Games. There was a good turnout with 13 people in attendance.

It was a crucial meeting and involved a lot of important decisions about the structure of the award. One decision was the name of the award: we agreed NC in Games Development at SCQF Level 5. We also made decisions about the precise structure of the award, deciding what should be mandatory and what should be optional. The new NPAs in Computer Games Development will be fully embedded within the award.

So lots of progress today. Of course, we need to continuously consult on every decision that we make -- and ultimately the award will have to be scrutinised by a validation panel, but it's good to see the award begin to take shape.

The consortium hope to validate the new units in February next year and the group award validation in May. So, if all goes well, the new award will be available to centres from August 2011.

The development is led by Fiona Jackson of Forth Valley College, along with a consortium of other interested colleges. Please contact Fiona for more information.

Saturday, 18 September 2010

NPA Computer Games assessments

Hilary and me attended an assessment writing training event today, held in Glasgow. It was for the teachers who volunteered to write the assessments for the new NPAs in Computer Games Development.

I don't normally attend these meetings but we are taking a slightly unusual approach to these units. We plan to write integrated assessment support packs (ASPs) for each theme within these courses. There are three themes: (1) game design; (2) media assets; and (3) game development. Each ASP will cover one theme - which will effectively assess three unitsSo it was important to go along and discuss with the writers the unique challenges of writing integrated assessments like this. The assessments must not only integrate three units but must also be able to be used by teachers who only want to deliver a specific level (unit).

We hope to have these ASPs available before the end of the year.

Contact Hilary if you want to know more about the new NPAs in Computer Games.

Friday, 17 September 2010

Today's Times Educational Supplement

Today's Times Educational Supplement (Scotland) has an interesting article on the new NPAs in Computer Games Development. These new awards are generating a lot of interest -- in the media and also in the classroom.

You can find out more about these qualifications here or contact Hilary.

The qualifications are being launched at next week's Scottish Learning Festival.

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Best practice in assessment workshop

When I recently asked how SQA can help you, there was a lot of support for a "best practice in assessment" workshop. So, I will arrange something on this theme sometime before the end of the year (probably December). Look out for more news on this blog. Please let us know (via this blog) if you have any ideas about what we should cover during this one day event.

Monday, 13 September 2010

PC Passport units and assessments

I received an e-mail this morning from a teacher who asked a question about PC Passport. He wanted to know if he could use the old PC Passport assessments with the new units.

In my update letter of 9 August I referred to the use of old and new units and old and new assessments. Basically, for the current year only, centres can use any combination of new and old units and assessments that they like.

This is because some centres will have began delivering the course before we published the final version of the units and assessments during the summer. Of course, I would recommend that you use the new units and the new assessments since we believe that these are improvements over what was there, but, if you don't, you will not be penalised -- for this year only.

Contact Hilary for more information about PC Passport.

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Meetings with E-Skills

I attended one of the quarterly Awarding Body Forum meetings, when the awarding bodies (such as SQA and City & Guilds) meet with the Sector Skills Council (E-Skills). Today's meeting was held in Cardiff. Some of you will know the convenor of the meeting, Chris Morrow who has done a lot of curricular work in Scotland.

These meetings cover a wide range of issues relating to the awarding bodies. The qualification sector outside of Scotland is very complex, with lots of different agencies, each with different roles, involved in the education system. It makes the Scottish system seem very straight-forward.

Two things of particular note came out of today's meeting. E-Skills wants awarding bodies to stop using paper-based portfolios by the end of 2012, and move all candidates' work to electronic portfolios by that time. E-Skills also proposes to develop new Standards relating to Internet Safety, computer games and "green IT" -- two of which are already well established in Scotland.

Contact Hilary if you want to know more about SVQs.

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Meeting with Sector Skills Council about vendors

I was in London yesterday at a meeting to discuss the links between the Skills Council, awarding bodies and vendors.

All of the UK awarding bodies have links with vendors -- and it was clear from the meeting that we also face the same issues. The main problem is keeping up to date with the regular changes to  vendors' courses. The situation is worse in England because it is a much larger and more complex qualification sector, with OfQual controlling what awarding bodies can offer.

There was general agreement about the best way to tackle this problem. Vendors should "genericise" their qualifications, making them less specific and, therefore, less in need of constant updating. The best way to do this is to "wrap" vendor qualifications in more generic language and put this on QCF. These generic units could be picked up by awarding bodies and included in their qualifications -- and being more generic, they would not constantly have to be changed.

The vendors also agreed to provide the SSC and awarding bodies with prior notice of proposed changes to their curricula and to adhere to any deadlines that are set by awarding bodies if they want their qualifications included in national awards.

So it was a very worthwhile meeting with lots of positive outcomes. You can find out more about SQA's links with vendors here.

Monday, 6 September 2010

Online assessments for Computing

I was reminded this afternoon, when I checked the SOLAR website, how many Computing qualifications are supported by online assessments. Computing is the most supported subject, by some margin, so it's a great resource for centres to use. You can check out what's available here.

Friday, 3 September 2010

What we do

I was sent a link this morning to an interesting new e-book, which explains what SQA does. It seems well presented and easy to follow. You can access it here. It states the SQA mission statement, which is:

"Our vision is to be recognised nationally and internationally as a leader in qualifications and assessment."

We're working hard to try to achieve that.

Thursday, 2 September 2010

PC Passport ASPs SCQF levels 4, 5 and 6

The revised PC Passport ASPs are now available on the secure site. I believe they were published last week although the e-mail from SQA mycentre did not go out until 31 August 2010. Please use the revised ASPs (August 2010 versions) as these match the updated Unit specifications.

Where there were two ASPs (for school and FE use) there are still two ASPs available but titled ASP 1 and ASP 2 and not differentiated for either market. Centres can choose which one they wish to use.

Friday, 27 August 2010

HNC/D Computing and Networking review

The first meeting of the Qualification Development Team for the review of HNC/D Computing and HNC/D Networking was held this morning.

There was an excellent turnout, with representatives of 11 colleges attending, including Adam Smith College, Central College, Dundee College and James Watt College.

The uniquely collaborative way that we develop qualifications, in partnership with stakeholders, is one of SQA's greatest strengths. These new awards will be shaped by the people who will ultimately deliver them.

The main aim of today's meeting was to set the scene, so I explained the background to the development and outlined some of the tasks that lie ahead of us. The immediate tasks for the team are to choose a lead developer and for this person to carry out consultation with interested parties. So I asked for volunteers and nominations for lead developer, who I am hoping to select in the next week or two.

There is a separate blog for this development, which will record all of the activities and keep you fully up-to-date with what's going on. I don't plan to post much about the review on this blog so please bookmark and visit the project blog.

Thursday, 26 August 2010

Edinburgh Interactive 2010

Once or twice per year, I get the opportunity to attend really interesting conferences, one of which is the annual computer games conference in Edinburgh, which I attended today. This year's Edinburgh Interactive 2010 was very good and covered such things as games design, distribution, and business models. You also got the chance to see about-to-be-released games.

The presentations were particularly good this year, especially the ones on digital distribution and business models. 62% of computer games are now downloaded (rather than purchased in a shop) and the presenter claimed that in future games would be installation-free -- played entirely online without the need to download anything. He pointed out that at present we have a mixed economy (physical products and digital downloads) but that the future would be entirely digital.

The talk about business models was fascinating. The speaker argued that we need to focus on high value customers and stop treating everyone the same. He spoke about the "LTV" ("life time value") of customers and advocated that games should be free to play but then make money through online/virtual purchases. He pointed out that some players of World of Warcraft spent thousands of dollars in the game. Computer games only need to convert a small proportion of the free gamers to high value lifetime customers to make a lot of money.

Both these presentations (digital distribution and online business models) are relevant to more than the games industry. I can see how it could be applied to SQA products and services.

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

HN update letter

The annual HN update letter was sent to Distribution yesterday to be sent to centres. It should arrive later this week. The readers of this blog can download it now.
Discover Simple, Private Sharing at
Save File: HN update letter - August 2010.doc

It contains important information about vocational Computing qualifications at SCQF Levels 7 and higher so please check it carefully.

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Work experience initiative

The Scottish Further and Higher Education Funding Council is providing funding a for a new student placement programme, focussing on three areas -- one of which is IT. The e-skills placement programme, led by Edinburgh Napier University, will place 750 students in IT companies. The placements will last up to one year.

I plan to meet with Michael Kowbel, of E-Skills UK, to discuss how SQA can link to this initiative.

In the meantime, contact Michael if you want to know more about it.

Friday, 20 August 2010

Mobile technology

The Sector Panel suggested that we look at qualifications relating to mobile phone technology so Hilary and me met with Jim Krieger, of Anniesland College, this morning to discuss a proposal from Jim for a new NPA in Mobile Technology.

It seems a good idea to me. We discussed the possibility of developing a suite of awards at SCQF Levels 4, 5 and 6 (just as we did with the new NPAs in Computer Games Development). The awards would be quite small, consisting of a new National Units at each level. There was a general view that such awards would be very popular in schools and colleges, and contribute towards the goals of a Curriculum for Excellence.

SQA has a new process for approving developments such as this (and part of that process is to check that we have the capacity to actually carry out the work) so I couldn't make any commitments today but it sounds like a good idea that we should take forward to the next stage.

Thursday, 19 August 2010

How can we help?

Although the qualification team spends most of its time developing and maintaining qualifications and their associated support materials, we can also help centres in other ways. I've created a survey to try to find out what sort of help you would like. I'd appreciate if you would take a second to complete it.

Me, and/or one of my team, can either visit your centre or arrange a public event if there was enough interest.

Please note that we don't do verification/development visits, which is the responsibility of the Assessment Standards team. But we can help in other ways some of which are included in the survey. If you can think of other things we can do for you, post a comment here.

If you have an immediate need for help, please contact me directly.

Monday, 16 August 2010

NC update letter

The annual update letter relating to non-advanced awards was sent to centres on Friday. You can download it here. This letter contains important information about NC/NPA awards, including PC Passport.

I am currently working on a similar letter for HN awards, which I hope to send out later this month.

Welcome back

Welcome back to the many teachers and lecturers who re-started recently after the summer holiday. The blog is an excellent way of finding out what's been happening during the summer so I hope you take a few minutes to look through the past posts.

This year we plan to make more use of Twitter for regular, small updates so please follow us on that service. I am going to close the Yahoogroup mailing list, and replace it with our Twitter feed. If you have a smartphone, you should be able to pick up our tweets using any suitable app. You can also subscribe to this blog using an appropiate newsreader on your phone.

Finally, if you haven't already, please join our Groupsite, which we use whenever we are looking for people to help us with our projects.

Please use this organisation chart when you contact SQA. If you contact the right person, you'll get a much quicker (and more accurate) response.

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Team development day

Once every year, the Computing team try to take some time out to review our use of online services. We met today to discuss our use of existing tools and consider the use of new tools. This time last year, we decided to give Twitter a try, which has proven to be successful.

The first thing we discussed was SQA's new, improved website. We all agreed that it is a huge improvement over the old version of the site. The Computing pages and qualifications are much easier to find now.

We also agreed to continue to use the blog and Twitter to communicate with centres. The blog appears to have a relatively large and loyal readership, with around 1400 hits per month from around 500 unique visitors. So it's clearly serving a purpose. Our Twitter feed has 160 followers right now but we would like this number to be much higher -- more like 500, so we will aim to get as many people as possible following the team via Twitter. That will be one of our targets for the next 12 months. If you don't already follow us on Twitter, please click this link.

We gave wikis another hard look today. They seem to be ideal tools for collaborative writing (and ideally suited to much of our work such as writing units) but we were left with mixed feelings when we looked at some of the free services available. We agreed to give them a try this year but only with a small-scale project.

Caroline set up a new blog for the HN review, which has just commenced. We hope to use a wide range of Web 2.0 tools to develop the new HNC/D Computing and HNC/D Networking awards.

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Meetings with E-Skills

E-Skills is the Sector Skills Council for IT. I came down to London yesterday morning to attend two meetings with E-Skills, relating to standardising the awarding bodies' approach to delivering NVQ/SVQs. Yesterday's meeting was about their IT Professional Standards (called ProCom) and today's meeting is about IT User Standards (called ITQ).

SQA's relationship with E-Skills is not quite the same as other awarding bodies due to the different roles Sector Skills Councils serve in Scotland compared with other parts of the UK. But it's always interesting to meet with my counterparts from other awarding bodies, such as City & Guilds, EdExcel and BCS.

The qualification sector outside of Scotland is pretty complex, regulated by OfQual, which has a lot of rules and regulations about qualifications that awarding bodies down here have to adhere to. So it's interesting to me to see how this market works.

One of the most interesting things for me was the discussion on new areas that E-Skills should consider for including in their Standards. It was pleasing to see that many of the new areas being proposed came from Scotland, which appears to be ahead of most of the UK in this respect, such as our qualifications relating to e-safety and computer games.

Another interesting outcome was that E-Skills is going to require paperless evidence i.e. it must be in digital format. This doesn't mean that centres must use formal e-portfolio systems but some form of digital evidence must be provided. Free services such as Google Docs or Microsoft SkyDrive were suggested.

The HN review will make extensive use of E-Skills Standards (for IT Professional) and Genny Dixon of E-Skills is serving on the Qualification Development Team.

Monday, 9 August 2010

Updated e-Learning Materials

As you are aware, over the last few years we have developed in phases a number of interactive e-learning materials for various Units within our HNC, HND & PDA awards across the Computing portfolio.

We have recently made some minor updates to the materials as well as create some additional packs. We have passed the files over to our Web Team for upload to the website - these should be available by Mid-August. Once live, the materials can be accessed here.

DH2T 34 - Computer Architecture 1
D75X 34 - Information Technology: Applications Software 1
DH33 34 - Computer Operating Systems 1
DH35 34 - Computing: Planning
DH3E 35 - Software Development: Structured Programming
DH21 34 - Working within a Project Team
DH30 35 - Software Development: Applications Development
DV6E 34 - Database Design Fundamentals
DV6L 34 - PC: First Line Support
F0N0 35 - Professional Issues in Computing
DM2X 35 - Computer Operating Systems 2
D75V 35 - Computer Networks: Network Technology & Data Communications
DF9M 34 - Client Operating System
DF9N 34 - Network Server Operating System
DM31 35 - Software Development: Array Data Structures
DM32 35 - Software Development: Linked Data Structures
DH3D 35 - Software Development: Relational Database Systems
D77F 35 - Systems Development: Structured Design Methods
DX43 35 - Information Technology: Legislation and Codes of Practice
DX42 35 - Internet: Web Technology and Security
F1VS 34 - Interactive Media: Planning
F1VT 34 - Interactive Media: Authoring
F1VV 34 - User Interface Design
F1YX 34 - Digital Imaging: Bitmap and Vector
F1VW 34 - Client Side Scripting for Web Applications
F1VY 34 - Managing Database Systems using SQL
F1VX 34 - Internet: Web Development Standards and Legislation
F1W0 34 - Project Management for IT
DH39 34 - Internet: Introducing E-commerce
DF9T 34 - Internetworking Concepts 1: Development and Delivery Concepts
DF9V 34 - Internetworking Concepts 2: Security and Business Concepts
DF9R 35 - Network Infrastructure 1: Implementation and Management
DG00 35 - Network Infrastructure 2: Planning and Maintenance
DV6F 34 - E-Commerce: Introduction
F1XA 34 - Computing: PC Hardware and Operating Systems Essentials
F1X9 34 - Computing: PC Hardware and Operating Systems Support
DH3J 34 - SQL: Introduction
DE1N 34 - IT in Business – Databases
DE1M 34 - IT in Business - Spreadsheets

Friday, 6 August 2010

Update letters

I've spent some of today writing my annual update letters to centres. I'm a little earlier than normal this year since they are usually sent to centres in September. As usual, there will be two letters: one for non-advanced courses and one for advanced courses.

There will be nothing in the letters that readers of this blog don't already know but some teachers and lecturers still don't use online communications and prefer traditional means of communication -- and for them, the letters will be packed with important information.

I'm hoping to get the letters sent next week.

Friday, 30 July 2010

GLOW and Internet safety

I met with Alan Hamilton, a GLOW Development Officer for LTS, this afternoon to discuss Internet safety resources available to schools via GLOW.

Alan told me that there is a the dedicated GLOW group called Internet Safety and Responsible Use that every teacher is automatically subscribed to, and also two blogs relating to Internet safety, one about resources and one for teachers.

I agreed to use the resource blog to link to the various SQA resources that support our Internet Safety qualification, which includes the entire course deliverable via mobile phone.

Thursday, 29 July 2010

Links with CIW

We met with Loraine Johnston, of James Watt College, this morning to discuss a new PDA linked to CIW. We currently have a PDA that links to CIW's Foundations curriculum but we have been planning on extending links to include the CIW Site Designer award for some time.

We asked Lorraine to do a mapping of existing units to the Site Designer course a few months ago. The results were mixed -- some coverage but not 100%. So we decided to revise an old unit (Internet: Web Development) to cover the missing bits. The result will be a new PDA entitled Website Designer at SCQF Level 7, which will fully cover the Site Designer curriculum. This might consist of three units:

1. Web Development Essential Content (existing)
2. Web Development Complex Content (existing)
3. Internet: Web Development (revised)

The Site Designer course will not cover all of these units, but we will produce guidance on what extra needs to be done to pick up these units.

Of course, we have to consult on all of this but we know from centre feedback that there is a demand for this award. We hope to have the new PDA available to centres from January 2011. The new PDA (and the associated units) would sit inside HNC/D Interactive Media.

Contact Caroline for more information about the links between SQA and CIW.

Monday, 26 July 2010

Changes to Unit Specifications and Frameworks

There is a new facility available on the SQA website which tracks all changes made to exisiting HN Unit Specifications and any changes to existing Group Award structures across all subject areas. This could prove to be a useful tool for all practitioners looking to ensure they have the most up-to-date information.

Click here to access.

Internet Safety update

The Internet Safety unit has been very popular in schools and colleges in Scotland -- and across the UK. Infact it's SQA's most popular award in England.

It was originally developed in 2006 as SQA's first "paperless qualification" with digital teaching, learning and assessment materials -- including SQA's first course deliverable on a mobile phone. Thousands of young (and not so young) people have undertaken the qualification. Some schools offer it to every pupil in specific years (such as S2). Many colleges offer it to older students who are worried about such things as identity theft.

But the unit and the associated support materials are now nearly five years old so we plan to commence a minor update on the contents of the unit and the materials. We haven't started this project yet so there is no timeline as yet but expect to hear more in the near future.

Contact Caroline for more information about Internet Safety.

Arrangements Documents - Update

The Group Award structures within each of the following HNC/D Arrangements documents have been updated and can be downloaded from the SQA website from 1st August 2010:

1. HNC/D Computer Games Development
2. HNC Computing
3. HND Computing: Technical Support
4. HND Computing: Software Development
5. HNC Information Technology
6. HND Information Technology
7. HNC Interactive Media
8. HND Interactive Media
9. HNC/D Computer Networking & Internet Technology

Computer games qualifications in the news

Today's Scotsman has an article on the new qualifications in Computer Games Development.

Friday, 23 July 2010

Comparing qualifications across the UK

It can be confusing comparing qualifications from different awarding bodies and, especially, from different countries in the UK. A colleague sent me this useful leaflet this morning, which explains how the different frameworks relate to each other.
Qualifications Can Cross Boundaries

I thought that you might find it useful.

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

CAA Conference

I attended the International Computer Assisted Assessment Conference today, in Southampton, where I presented a paper on the assessment of online writing. It was a good event with interesting keynote talks and presentations on a variety of topics such as the potential for wikis to assess collaborative writing, the barriers to the uptake of e-assessment, and selecting questions from an item bank.

My own presentation was based on a recent paper I wrote about the challenges in assessing online writing such as discussion forums and blogs. Some recent research I carried out indicated that current practice was not good. The talk seemed to be well received.
It was announced at the conference that a new International Journal of E-Assessment would be launched in the next few months, which would seek to share good practice in the design and implementation of online assessments. It sounds like an excellent initiative. The first edition of the journal will publish all of the papers presented at this conference.

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Working with CEOP

I was in London today to meet with representatives of CEOP, who we are working with on a new qualification relating to child protection called the PDA in Online Protection & Safeguarding of Children. This qualification is designed for teachers, police officers, social workers and others who work with children.

As far as I know, it's the first national qualification in this area in the world and, partly as a result of its innovative nature, it has been a long time in development. But we are now ready to pilot it. The qualification consists of two units and we plan to pilot the first unit (Online Protection of Children) during August and September.

CEOP hopes that everyone who completes their Ambassador programme will go on and at least undertake the above unit and, perhaps, the PDA too.

Contact Caroline for more information about this qualification.

Friday, 16 July 2010

National Units in Computer Games are now available

I received an e-mail this morning to inform me that the new units that were developed as part of the NPA in Computer Games Development (at SCQF 4, 5 and 6) are now available on the SQA website. These units are:
  1. F915 10 Computer Games: Design (SCQF 4/Intermediate 1)
  2. F916 10 Computer Games: Media Assets (SCQF 4/Intermediate 1)
  3. F917 10 Computer Games: Development (SCQF 4/Intermediate 1)
  4. F915 11 Computer Games: Design (SCQF 5/Intermediate 2)
  5. F916 11 Computer Games: Media Assets (SCQF 5/Intermediate 2)
  6. F917 11 Computer Games: Development (SCQF 5/Intermediate 2)
  7. F915 12 Computer Games: Design (SCQF 6/Higher)
  8. F916 12 Computer Games: Media Assets (SCQF 6/Higher)
  9. F917 12 Computer Games: Development (SCQF 6/Higher)
It's great to see these units now available to centres. I hope you like what's in them.

Contact Hilary for further information about the units or the associated NPAs.

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Manifesto for a Networked Nation

The UK's Digital Champion, Martha Lane Fox, recently published a report on the use of the Internet in the UK. The Manifesto for a Networked Nation makes interesting reading.

Her manifesto is simple: by the end of the current parliament, everyone of working age should be online and no-one should retire without web skills. She points out the size of the challenge - 10 million adults in the UK have never used the Internet. These are primarily the socially disadvantaged and the elderly.

The report also points out that far from being anti-social, the Internet "can provide a lifeline from social isolation". It also extols the use of the Internet for learning and points out that it provides opportunities to re-engage with learning for "those who have had bad experiences of institutions". She concludes by stating: "The disadvantages of being offline are becoming too great".

SQA is looking at ways we can contribute to the initiative. Qualifications such as Internet Safety are already available but it may be that we need to look at our portfolio to check if the specific demographics mentioned in the report are catered for.

There is a dedicated website for the initiative.

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Using web tools to develop qualifications

Online services provide a great way to communicate and collaborate with people, and I've recently been working on ways SQA can use web services when we develop new qualifications. I came up with this diagram.

It shows how services such as blogs, wikis, online storage and e-groups can be used during the qualification development process. I'll resist calling it "Qualifications Development 2.0"!

I hope to use this approach when we develop the revised HN awards in Computing and Networking. If you know any other web service that could be used, share it on this blog.

Scotland's great strength in qualification development is the collaborative way in which we work, involving ordinary teachers and lecturers in the development process. These tools support this collaborative and transparent approach.

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Launch of new NPAs in Computer Games Development at the Scottish Learning Festival

The details for this year's Scottish Learning Festival were recently published and the programme includes a seminar dedicated to the new NPAs in Computer Games Development. The lead developer (Julie McLaren of Madras College) will be leading the event. I hope you chose to come along and find out more about these new awards. You can sign-up for Julie's seminar here.

In the meantime, contact Hilary if you want to know more about these new awards.

Monday, 12 July 2010

Developing your own HN awards

I met with David McDade, of Stow College, this afternoon to discuss a proposal for a new HN award.  SQA's procedures permit centres to come forward with ideas for new awards - and I thought Stow's idea was a good one.

The process is very simple. Basically, the centre notifies SQA about the idea, fills in a form, and then gets on with developing the award. Most centres have devolved responsibility for validating SQA awards, although SQA has to validate the units.

There is an HN Toolkit that centres can use to guide them through the process, and it also helps them devise new qualifications. And, of course, me and my team are happy to help in whatever way we can, which might include advice about qualification design or unit writing training.

David is hoping that his new award is available from August 2011.

Contact the QPM team for more information about how to develop your own HN awards.

Friday, 9 July 2010

Team update

I updated the team organisation chart today.
Discover Simple, Private Sharing at

Please download and print this document and use it when contacting SQA.

Thursday, 8 July 2010

Oracle links

SQA has had formal links with Oracle for several years. Oracle has recently updated their Certified Associate curriculum (from 10G to 11G) and requested that we update the links to reflect this change. Our links with Oracle involve college and school programmes. I met with Willie McCabe (of James Watt College) and Wendy Reith (of Royal High School) this afternoon to discuss how we should deal with the changes.

On the college side, we agreed to update the PDA in Database Programming (at SCQF Level 8) to map it onto 11G. We also hope to take the opportunity to reduce this award from its current seven credits to five credits by giving it a core-and-option structure. Willie is going to take this forward.

On the school side, Wendy is going to map 11G onto the Relational Database unit within Higher Information Systems so that school pupils can continue to study the Oracle course in their fifth or sixth years at school.

We hope to complete this work by September. The end result will be that both students and pupils can gain a nationally recognised award (the PDA or the Higher) and also the internationally recognised Oracle Certified Associate qualification. Oracle provides its entire curriculum free of charge to any school or college wishing to undertake either of these awards.

Contact Caroline if you want to know more about SQA's links with Oracle.